Posted on Oct 5th 2010 01:14 am
Desire Path Recordings 2010
04 Tracks. 39mins34secs
Norman Records: LP
This inaugural release from Desire Path Recordings sees Australian duo Solo Andata delivering, with their third opus, one of the most striking records heard this year. On their debut, Fyris Swan (Hefty, 2006), Paul Fiocco and Kane Ikin combined beautiful textural soundscapes and acoustic instrumentations, but on their self-titled follow-up, published last year on 12K, the melodic aspect was partially withdrawn in favour of stark and dense formations. With Ritual, the pair continue to develop the textural aspect of their work to create impressively spacious and evocative sonic vignettes.
Comprising four tracks, the longest one spanning a healthy twenty minutes, Ritual is a record all in shades and delicate touches, evoking at times the finely detailed sound formations of Substrata-era Biosphere or the sombre undertones of Miasmah. The album opens with the pastoral buzzes and hums of insects on a summer’s day in the country, but these are soon altered by alien drones which tear through this idyllic setting and progressively build strength as layers are added, triggering, it appears, a much more frantic activity in the background, until the drones die down. There is something very organic here, as if the introduction of a totally foreign sonic object was directly affecting the piece of field recording presented.
Things takes a very different turn for the remaining three tracks, signaled by the return of the high-pitched drones in the opening moments of Carving. These are soon replaced by much deeper sound forms which give the piece a perspective never until now heard on a Solo Andata record. There are at times hints of Tangerine Dream’s most atmospheric cosmic synthesis from Rubycon here, but this is seriously tempered by the pair’s flair for creating organic textures. This process continues on Myrmecia, once again threatened by high-pitched drones on one side and dense formations on the other. Here, a prepared piano occasionally seems to count down the passing of time in a vain attempt to prevent the piece from crumbling upon itself.
The piece de resistance of this album is the side-long Incantare, which spreads the somewhat sombre mood of the preceding tracks over its full length. This allows Fiocco and Ikin to develop a truly impressive narrative, where what may be distant voices or discreet electronic flashes can be heard deep in the background, covered with crackles and statics, while nearer the surface, muffled percussive sounds, ranging from wooden to bells and other metallic aspects, mark the piece with insistent irregularity as ambient noises morph into sound waves, which in turn decay until they are wiped out of the spectrum and replaced with another cycle of sonic evolution, and another after it.
Solo Andata give the impression of assembling extremely complex soundscapes here, and in a way, they do, yet, they actually work from a fairly restricted set of sounds, which are used, at times in recurring patterns, at others in very different contexts, throughout the record. This deceptively minimal approach has defined the work of Solo Andata from the early days, but it is taken to a much greater level here. The way the pair manage to build extremely rich sonic compositions from only a small pool of sound sources is truly spellbinding. This record may fit the ‘dark ambient’ description, but it is so much richer and more exquisite than most of what the genre generates that it makes Ritual sounds all the more exciting.
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