It can be taken as something of a given in the ambient world that if the name Alio Die appears on an album, it will be good. Stefano Musso has been consistently turning out beautiful music for 20-plus years, often collaborating with other stellar talents. Holographic Codex, his new outing with Italian composer Lorenzo Montanà carries the legacy forward. Although it opens with a surprising touch of micro-beats on “Muns De Etrah” (I’ll get back to that), it soon levels into a smooth, mostly beatless place that will, in the course of an hour, move us through pure ambient vistas and the call-to-prayer feel of sacredly inspired music. That opener, though, balances a lounge-like feel—thanks to the tiniest of percussive elements—with the soft drifts to come. I get a little trace of Carbon Based Lifeforms in its easy groove and sway, and I like how Musso and Montanà offer us a cool uptempo cocktail to begin before we get down to being quieter. Its followup, “Hydra E Vers,” moves us toward that prayer-like feel with a vocal sample chanting over a backdrop of slow-moving, echo-packed piano and quiet ambient washes. The shift in pace from the first track is superb and unexpected and takes us into a very meditative frame of mind. The sacred feel carries through quite a bit of Holographic Codex; it returns in the opening moments of “Silent Rumon,” where unless my ears deceive me, the chant blends with touches of throat singing. (That distinct whistling sound of the high tone…) It elevates the choral singing on the very beautiful and cleansing “Eternal Wisdom.” There are so many rich touches here. The chimes on “Akvil” are big and resonant, and the way they clatter together feels absolutely organic. Bold chords and pads rise beneath them, giving the piece a dramatic air and a real sense of scope. “Silent Rumon” works to reintroduce a beat-based element into the flow, perfectly breaking up this ritual-feeling outing to make sure we’re still with it. It builds and swells, eventually spiraling back down while pizzicato notes pepper the flow.
Here is an album whose effects you will be unable to resist. Sound causes physiological changes, and the sounds on Holographic Codex are undeniably calming and moving. Your breathing slows, your mind quiets and opens, you connect with the sacred regardless of how secular you may be. On top of that, it’s the kind of deep sound that you just want to peer closely into with your mind’s eye to take in all the imagery that arises. Headphone listening is an absolute must. There is so much beauty to take in here, you shouldn’t miss the slightest moment of it. A masterful album from two stunning talents, and easily a contender for the best albums of the year.
Available from Projekt.