Alio Die & Lorenzo Montana: Holographic Codex

Recorded in 2013, Holographic Codex presents sixty-four minutes of deep ambient soundscaping courtesy of Italian artists Alio Die (real name Stefano Musso) and Lorenzo Montanà, both of whom bring years of experience to the project: more than sixty Alio Die releases have been issued (some on his own Hic Sunt Leones imprint), and Montanà's released five collaborations with Pete Namlook on his FAX label as well as ten solo albums. On this, their first collaboration, Montanà's credited with piano, electronics, echo strings, and EFX, and Alio Die drones and loops, zither, treatments, and field recordings.

“Muns de Etrah,” with its softly illuminated swirls of IDM atmospherics, provides a fitting scene-setter for the release. During “Silent Rumon,” the first of two fifteen-minute pieces, a supplicating voice—itself evocative of a muezzin calling faithful Muslims to prayer five times a day—rises from a potent alchemical concoction before the music grows animated with rhythmic pulsations that wouldn't sound out of place on Phaedra or Rubycon. The other long-form setting, “Cinta della Breccia Divina,” inhabits a slightly hazier realm where zither plucks flutter amidst enveloping ambient textures, the combination of which produces an air of temporal arrestation, especially when the music slows to a crawl during its final minutes. The album's loveliest moment arrives last: “Eternal Wisdom,” a gently uplifting and ethereal choral piece that's so stirring it could be mistaken for something by Arvo Pärt.

Holographic Codex turns out to be an apt choice of title, given its associations with multi-dimensionality and ancient writings. Certainly the music exudes oft-ritualistic and mystical qualities that extend its lineage far into the past, and the album's sonic character feels more strongly connected to the music of early synthesizer explorers like Klaus Schulze and early Tangerine Dream than anything more recent. Moods vary from one track to the next, with the mysterious “Silent Rumon” different from the peaceful ambient of “Egetora” and dazed psychotropics of “Cinta della Breccia Divina.” Don't be surprised if images of heat-saturated desert lands and ancient, remote monasteries repeatedly come to mind as the album's shadowy dronescapes unfold.

February 2015