Sunja (2003)

Magic has blown its precious spores in the air. A human rite, humble and quiet, has evoked a red hot globe that gently illuminates the path toward the borders of Sunja, the dream place where all vibrations start. Sometimes the light comes down from the sky, clear like a crystal.  Sometimes it climbs slowly from the earth's depths, but it's always comforting. Crossing the thresholds of Sunja is like landing on an uncontaminated island, furrow its white sea-shores lapped by tepid foamy waters, been inebriated with wide floral smells and saltiness in secret places of the inland and in caves dug from time, gain the top of the plateau from which it is possible to see beyond... Sunja is creative strength enclosed in two long tracks of incredible intensity, rich in levels of knowledge, pure enchantment and beauty. The deep sound has an extraordinary symbolic and evocative power and it has arrived to a supreme purification owing to millenial percolations across the rock. Music shines, beholds, resounds at the bottom of ourselves, lives and spreads out. We realize, in listening, that a light warmth closes in upon us, everything loses its own original sense, the gates open... the road is  beaten!  

Label press

Finally, we approach the collaboration with new artist Zeit (perhaps named after the Tangerine Dream album?), Sunja. "Approach" is an adequate word, because the overall impression of this album is of a marvelously long and dreamlike journey. Sunja is only two mammoth tracks; two legs of the journey towards spiritual transcendence. "The Gates Are Open" is a wonderfully tranced out dronescape of harmonic khen and accordion (processed, of course) with zither ruminations by Musso that resemble the triumphant El-Hadra album by Klaus Wiese, Mathias Grassow, and Ted De Jong. This is a half-hour of first rate ambient music; the type of stuff that ushers you into a dreamstate of bright sun and the odors of nature and forestland. Strange birdcalls pierce the veil of ambience every once in a while, gently bringing you out of reverie, only to lapse back in just as gently. The different flavors of this track are intense; it's beautifully paced, never seeming too long, allowing you to bask in its glow until the next track. It's hard to believe, but "At the Threshold of Sunja" is even longer and more intense. The sound elements are the same, but are used less sparingly to create a sensual dream-reality. The otherworldly swirl of Sunja is potent, making this one of the best ritual-ambient discs I've heard in the last few years. Such simple elements create a work of staggering power--I'm duly impressed with this material and give it my highest recommendation. I'm satisfied truncating my description to give you time to pick up the disc, which is limited to 1000 copies. Don't miss this one, it's clearly going to be on my top ten for 2004.In total, Alio Die and his collaborators have given us a worthy triptych of albums as a gift for 2004. While none of the releases push Musso's sound into new terrain, this makes them no less exciting and essential. Casual Alio Die fans will probably do best with Sunja or Khen Introduce Silence, but I heartily recommend them all to fans of Alio Die's original and inimitable style of soundscaping.

 Brian Bieniowski

Sunja is a collaboration work between Alio Die and Zeit. Alio Die barely needs introduction; Stefano Musso and his label Hic Sunt Leones are well established names. Zeit on the other hand is a rather unfamiliar artist. Zeit is Tommaso Cimo’s musical pseudonym since 2001. He recorded two CDr's in 2001 and 2002, which are still left unpublished. In 2003 Tommaso met Stefano, and this led to the Sunja release.
As you can see from the tracklisting, this release can be the soundtrack for a story. I'm unsure what Sunja is, if it's a made up city or something real. The only thing I could find was that it's the name of a municipality in Croatia. But I doubt this was the intended meaning, but I could be wrong here. This release consists of two gigantic tracks, the one even longer than the other one. I'm usually not into tracks that go on forever, and also usually not very fond of what Stefano & co. produce, but Sunja proved me on both aspects that it can be different as well. My main problem is usually that the music tend to get boring and repetitive. With Sunja however, this is absolutely not the case.
In a long 32 minute walk, one goes to Sunja with its gates open wide. The air is filled with sounds of nature, backed with whispers, a constantly but slowly changing drone and rattles. One can imagine a pelgrimage through the woods, surrounded by nature, with in the distance the goal; the city of Sunja. The atmosphere is both friendly, haunting and mysterious. Who knows what occurs the next couple of minutes? Who knows what the next turn in the road brings? But eventually, after numerous of side-adventures, one reaches the gates, where the next chapter begins. At the tresholds it's quiet at first, but rather quick the sounds of nature are being accompanied by a zither, played by Stefano. This second chapter is longer but also more pleasant and more varied than the first chapter. This is caused mainly thanks to the zither, which produces a variety of different tones. One can imagine strolling through the city of Sunja, again getting into various side-adventures. One can near a well, or are it the sewers? The story will change each time you listen to this album.
The music is so relaxed, layered an open to interpretation that it's very nice to just listen to. Not just as background music, while doing something else, but really focused on the music alone. I've spend an afternoon listening to this record after a tiring day, and Sunja soothed and relaxed me. It helps to reflect a busy day, and it brings one in a state of peace. At first I was rather reluctant to play this disc, but after numerous times of listening, this one grows to be a real favourite when it comes to music to relax to.

ChAwech / Heathen Harvest

This is totally an unknown gem in the ambient genre. I'm familiar with most of his (Alio Die) work, but this is just awesome. Total, lush, organic soundworlds with some live instruments, just droning away, harmoniously. Not dark, not light, just being there. Two massive tracks, there's not really any distinctive elements. Birds, water flowing, very relaxing. Perfect for background droning, easily for fans of Robert Rich, FSOL, Lustmord. Asmorods' "Hysope" might reach some same levels, but I prefer this any day. Perfect.

ultra171 /   Dec 26, 2007