Alone In The Hollow Garden – A.I.T.H.G I & II

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[Reviewed by: Iaha Crax]

Dan Serbanescu is better known for Divine Muzak and its follow up Tanz Ohne Musik project. Under A.I.T.H.G. he lets us take part in another facet of his musical personality. There are two discs released by Red Cavity with visuals by Color Nurse, limited to 20 unique, limited handmade copies.

In present times, you always expect to come across ambiances that are hyper-polished and worked out to the border of perfection, with the help of digital devices and software. The ambient genre has become the business of technical medium improvisation, occulting the improviser’s persona completely. From the first track “Wind In A Lung” you have the feeling this is not the case with this record. Its particular approach combining sounds made up from strange instruments and electronic mixes offers an innocuous picture of sound effects. The musicality here is profoundly material and yet manages to recreate a dematerialized aura of objects around.

This radiance of a cutting realism is scattered also from the next track “Last Six Minutes” that alternates the pulse of hissing frequencies with tiny hammerings of a soft spinning. A.I.T.H.G. gathers space-ambient sounds that do not fall into the reverie out-of-earth realm because concrete, object-oriented noises build a rhythmic, almost tribal structure. The artist’s use of several sound devices functions as guidance throughout his inner garden.

In the homonym track his shamanic voice is no more than another instrument populating this intimate space. Sounds seem to indicate a worker’s movements in gardening his space. Somewhere anthropologists say that rhythm was born from the worker’s voice accompanying his body’s movements when working. In an analogue way it seems like the artist here reveals his inner rhythm through these uncertain noises. Through the hollow ambiance the garden where the gardener breeds himself is turned into a receptacle for mystical entities.

“Blowing In Bones” brings together Megaptera’s sub-bass death industrial forgery and the delicate and soothing alienation of Lustmord’s recess cartography. It achieves a mining effect like a slow dive into one’s mind: stillness but not serenity. The bones become a channel through which the winds hiss, unlike the body that stands in nature’s way. The pace changes very abruptly with “Statues Eating Light”, where echoing, phantom-like metal percussions are communicating all the way through the track in unnatural voices. The musical structure goes back to minimal old-school industrial reminiscent of Coil’s manner of composing. Considered more closely, the musical ambiance denotes a desire for primitive epics, it narrates of a symbiosis with urban post decay, a sort of nihilistic aesthetical perspective of existence.

“Primitive Sun” tracks its way back to a Stone Age replica of the present insensitive urbanism, an ISN percussive style dominance in a purged and aseptic environment. It is a rough alliteration between raw industrial consonance and virginal eco-ambiental hazard.

Just looking of the track titles of the second disc and you derive a recurrent imagery made of skin, sand, stone, bone, scars, crust, tears, caves; they all denote decomposition and absence, the filling of an empty space. “The Earth Skin” breeds a terrible feeling of anxiety confronted with deprivation: the hollow space is filled only by a constant flesh of calm, falling sound that disappears at some moments. Such intimate music is not only a research for the revealing of inner textures, but an endeavor to shape silence into sound. Musically, the beauty of the track is suffocating, a dead beauty.

“Silenced By Sand” plays on a digital source of sound, a rough beeping that obsessively brands an area of eerie atmosphere, somehow reminiscent of Fata Morgana, Mortiis’ project. The alarming pulses are temperate by ghostly calls that hopelessly freeze the mind. The music is mostly narrative here and peaks are almost absent: there are impressions of impotent, very tactile images that like in “Fields Of Stone” appear in our mind as if by telepathy. This is because the power of suggestion works excellently by reason of a tremendous sound manipulation capacity. Absence of life, grey views and petrification are the only elements of this landscape. The sound devices, although scarce and reduced to variate percussions, nonetheless act in balance with the track’s objective.

“Bone Ritual” replaces real bones with effective metal replicas and manages to brood an unexpected picture with a gloomy effect. There is much in common with the Helixes projects, but where Halo Manash or I.Corax use a musical transformation of their rituals, A.I.T.H.G. endeavours instead to ritualize their inner understanding of reality through music. In “Desert Scars” the artist builds a highly suggestive tableau over a limitless desert by the use of wind instruments, shaping a hollow oasis announced by the tragic choda of an African instrument. The connection with the elements that compose nature appears as the substratum of the record.

“Evolving Crust” seems to envelop the listener with rigid, yet structured percussions as if the crust multiplies around your perceptions until the self if buried and forgotten. “Bitum Tears” is built on multifaceted, fragile noises all finally arranged in a coherent orchestration. This kind of special ‘pantheistic ambient’ (because of the large range of sounds) is very wrongly understood by other projects in this area due to hazardous and inoperative improvisations. Here, every drop of bitum tear is calculated together with its falling effect so that the outcome is delightful. Indeed not many melodious tunes in this record, but are such elemental aspects of psyche mineralogy of physiology to be seen as melodious? “A Breathing Cave” has the savoury, indefinitely minimal melody sufficient to bring reverie and depict slow movements of matter.

An obvious difference in musical register slightly detaches this second disc from the first: here the landscape is mediated from the interior, the perspective being mainly earthbound, even subterranean, while the disc tries to hover on the surface and breathe out under a primitive sun. Such interpretations are sustained by the discs’ covers: the first shows a pyramid shelter of seclusion and metamorphosis, the tree on the top rising backed up by a distant sun; while the second disc’s cover sees a man eating himself up, an image of desolation and the desire to disappear and become a part of the garden. A.I.T.H.G will surely be a pleasant discovery for most of you. As with us listeners the artist should go on cultivating his garden,allowing us a taste from its fruits.

Alone In The Hollow GardenA.I.T.H.G I & A.I.T.H.G. II
Red Cavity Records, RDCVT-CDR-011 & RDCVT-CDR-012
CDr, Digital 2013

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