Today's Artist is Stefano Musso who began recording music under the pseudonym of Alio Die in 1989. "Alio Die" is Latin for "another day", used as a greeting in Roman times as a positive look towards a better tomorrow......N'Joy
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Stefano Musso studied art and electronics in his home town of Milan, Italy, and began performing ambient, electro-acoustic music under the name Alio Die in 1989. Characterized by evocative acoustic sounds manipulated and tendered electronically, Alio Die's work builds intimate soundscapes tied to the mystery and majesty of life and nature. His first CD "Under an Holy Ritual", released on his label Hic Sunt Leones in 1992 and re-released on Projekt in 1993, was received with international acclaim. Enthusiastically received in his home country, 'Holy Ritual' expanded Musso's international presence significantly in 1993 when it was licensed by the popular U.S. darkwave label Projekt. His music is a shadowy, cavernous, intensely detailed fusion of acoustical elements, step-and-repeat sample treatments, sparse, echoing percussion, and deep, atmospheric sound design, playing ambient's static tendencies off of shifting melodic and textural passages that suggest movement without sacrificing the music's vague, entropic formlessness. He subsequently released more than 25 CDs, and collaborated with many well-known artists such as Robert Rich, Vidna Obmana, Mathias Grassow, Nick Parkin, Yannick Dauby, Amelia Cuni, Raffaele Serra, Ora, Antonio Testa.
"Natural and acoustic sounds and selected noises, electronically treated and reworked, are integrated in a meditative and spiritual context that often, in the feeling, becomes close to a prayer. Visible static, this music is rich of hidden sounds, layers of elements to discover at each listening. Alio Die's music, in the consciousness space that creates, it's a melting of technology and mysticism, like a new ritual with echoes of a medioeval time, deep and grounded in introspection."
and as this bio is rather limited here's an interview he did in 2008
2008 intervew by Tobias Fischer, he is editor-in-chief of tokafi, publisher of 15 Questions and a cultural editor for Germany's biggest Printmag on Recording, „Beat“.
Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I’m fine, moving at a good point.
What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
If you mean the music business, yes it is in a kind of crisis... We know the reasons about that, downloads from the internet mainly. Less people buy original cds and more and more people copy. I’s happening to experimental and non commercial music, too, where listener were usually more motivated to buy the real cd. So we see that sales are strongly in decline and lots of shops and distributors have had to close down and cease their activities after many years.
On the other hand, the number of releases is still growing a lot, so the crisis it is not at all on the artistic activity side. With this in mind, I try to optimize the quality of the cd releases with digipack artworks and limited editions of 300 copies. The possibility of getting information quicker and exchange it is a good input to creativity, expecially for people which before lived in a kind of isolation from the rest of the world where they thought the things happened.
What, would you say, are the factors of your creativity? What “inspires” you?
My creativity derives from my special feeling about reality. Perhaps it is that what is forbidden and missing in our dayly life, which inspires me, it is a kind of ‘nostalgic’ feeling in a purified way, without the emotional aspect. I can find inspiration in nature or through observing life itself, or from other music and cultures as well. I’m intersted in disclosing the magic of the present moment in multilayered feelings of a simple complexity. The medicine must work on myself first, but the mixture must be usefull to everybody confronted with that listening experience, so I try to build up something not too personal, and perfectly tuned. I also aim at expressing the circularity of time, to find a point of view that is beyond time.
How would you describe your method of composing?
Taking inspiration from a kind of symbolic language through which I’ve found access to its code, I combine and decorate feelings by different sound elements, then add some random elements born from the present moment.
The process includes improvisation in the sessions with acoustic instruments and objects, but then the sounds are mixed in an accurate way and not so much things are left out.. I let Intuition guide random elements like synchronisation between layers and filters for example. I usually start experimenting with tunings derived from acoustic recordings and field recordings and then treat the sounds in my studio. I also like to sample in a creative way. By this I mean transforming the original source into something different...
How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
In my music, the qualities of sound and composition are very closely aligned. Some melodical elements are also a part of it, but the more important thing is the right relation between all the ingredients of the music, tunes and vibes coming together to create a new creature ready to work with moods and states of consciousness of the listener.
How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
Improvisations are usually directed to find a natural feeling that is not yet music, but sometimes it is a ‘controlled’ improvisation by special tunings already decided before. In any case, in the improvisational process I try to capture the feeling of the moment. This is already part of the composition, as it will help to give direction to the entire process of the recordings.
What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?
Something new is something that brings together different elements for the first time, or old elements combined in a new way.
There is nothing new at all, I think usually we transform differents inputs and styles into a new language that come from our personal sensibility and creativity. Creativity must surely be fresh and new everytime, but personally, I like the ancient and the mysterious knowledge that comes from the past, as I don’t belive in any kind of ‘evolution’... In our era, to speak about devolution it actually more correct.
Do you personally enjoy multimedia as an enrichment or do you feel that it is leading away from the essence of what you want to achieve?
I personally enjoy a creative use of new technology. The point is not to agree or disagree with a new way of entertainment, but in the way we use it.
What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
I don’t play live often. This is due to the fact that it is not possible replicating the works I create in the studio in a concert situation. So I tried to adapt some part of acoustical inserts and improvisations with real instruments with the looped electronic effects already embedded into basic sounds. I played live performances few times with Opium and with Zeit on the last two occasions.
I used also a support of a video with beautiful morphings of paintings by Yanusz Gilewicz,and kaleidoscopic mandalas images by Alessandro Vittorio(Ozis) and the results was wonderful.
Do you feel an artist has a certain duty towards anyone but himself? Or to put it differently: Should art have a political/social or any other aspect apart from a personal sensation?
Absolutely. I don’t take care of political/ social matter at all, but in any case I think the muse of art should guide one in some way, giving inspiration to new possibilities in cultural and human aspects. Apart from entertainment, this is a basic meaning and primary reason for music that can build bridges towards different levels of consciousness. If the work of an artist, apart from his originality, is totally disconnected from this important duty, it is totally devoid of any meaning and it is only self-celebratory.
How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences without sacrificing their soul?
In our times there is no risk of becoming too popular with this music or of become commercial- At least not for me... It does happen sometimes with other kinds of ”Ambient” music but still very rarely.
You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
Medieval-pagan music like Faun, Daemonia Nimphe, In Gowan Ring for the afternoon, Jack or Jive, Amelia Cuni and Terry Riley, evening and Robert Rich, all night long.
Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
Usually it is the last music released.. But in this case more than usually it is my last album AURA SEMINALIS. You must know that I considered Opus Magnum as the title to this one (I later rejected it for being too obvious..). By the way my Opus magnum will be researched again and looped again later, it is a work still in progress...
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There are two distinct types of Alio Die albums: the album length drone works and the albums comprised of short tracks, often culled from compilations and various other appearances. Alio Die has a strong back catalog of highly original work; these ambient records have served as touchstones for newer artists like Oöphoi and Amon to continue in a rich environmental ambient vein. An Alio Die Cd is always a pagan ritual with the odor of dirt and moisture in the air. The newest offering to arcane gods, "Il tempo magico di Saturnia Pavonia" is not easy to put in the album length drone or collection of short tracks categories. The Cd has ten distinctive tracks, but with a definite flow of purpose and design that past track collections like "Leaves net" have not quite successfully achieved. We begin with "A gift" which is a composition of whistles and highly processed accordion - immediately the recycling projects of Vidna Obmana, for example "Landscape in obscurity", come to mind. Gradually the accordion tones build up to form a harmonic mass of sound, rapturous in tone. Pretty good for an accordion! The next two tracks launch right into traditional Alio Die territory - repeated "melodies" featuring processed traditional instruments alongside rich organic drones. This is what we've come to expect and love in an Alio Die Cd. If I had a main criticism of this particular disc, it would be that the most tracks rely on too much Alio Die by numbers; similarly building trance tracks that we've heard since "Under an holy ritual" debuted. Alio Die has mastered this type of composition - not to mention the fact that the types of tracks he does are unmistakeably Alio Die - so this can hardly be a strong criticism. There are not nearly enough Alio Die discs to be tired of the style yet. The attention to mystic tone is so deep that it is hard to not be entranced even with minor stylistic tweaks to the Alio Die-style proper. A standout track is "Fragile-struggente," which is a very simple mixture of melancholy synth loop accompanied by the sound of a lemon peel burning on a stove (according to the liner notes). It's a gorgeous little piece, with incidental noises and creaks that remind me of Ora. It's tracks like this that have beguiled me with Alio Die from the start. A simple setup leads to pure ambient ritualism. A still later track, "Still here!" reminds us that past drone albums are not far off - I would not be surprised if this were an outtake from "Incantamento". I have always imagined Stefano Musso as some crazy Italian guy making ambient records out in the middle of nowhere. Sure, he's got an email address, but who's to say this isn't some strange sham? Whenever I pop in the Alio Die album of choice, it's not idle soundscaping with strange noises, it's not a journey into deep, dark space like so many other ambient releases fine and not so fine. This is the sound of a man with wild hair performing a magickal-with-a-'k' ritual on the top of a mountain amidst blowing crosswinds. As we all well know, black magic is not performed without consequences - Musso has tapped into some leyline of arcane energy, and it's seeped into the music.
Alio Die - Il Tempo Magico Di Saturnia Pavonia (flac 331mb)
01 A Gift 11:56
02 Harmonics Tubes I 5:28
03 Brace di Trasformazione 9:28
04 Fragile-Struggente 5:05
05 Il Tempo Magico di Saturnia Pavonia 9:52
06 Lo Scrigno del Cuore 6:56
07 Still Here! 5:37
08 The Circular Development of Time 8:42
09 Acqua Che Brucia 8:15
10 Harmonics Tubes II 5:16
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The issue of his most powerful album is contentious, but Aura Seminalis, released in 2008, is arguably his most magical. Sitting at odds with the rest of his discography, which focuses on the mystery and wonder of nature and life, Aura Seminalis is a much more religious, desperate and moving affair: painting an image of a lonely man in an old, empty hall, surrounded by god.
That’s pretty ambiguous, right? But it sounds good, which is pretty much as close an explanation as you can give for Aura Seminalis. Split into two separate tracks, the first, titled “Sine Tempore” (or “Without Time”), centres around plenty of short, soft drones overlapping and blending into each other. While fairly minimal, it’s constantly changing nature keeps it busy as we hear little flickers of melodies pierce through the soundscape. Alio Die adds a fairly metallic ring to his foreground, and juxtaposed next to the flatter, deeper backdrop it creates a strong sense of space that, along with the echoes and EQ, feels as if it fills a Cathedral-sized void. “Sine Tempore” is completed as a perfectly frail vocal chant (or at least horns distorted to sound like voices) is heard amongst the unravelling of the drones around it. Comparatively solid in such a liquid environment, the sense of isolation and loss is palpable; and in its quiet way “Sine Tempore” becomes incredibly beautiful. “Part II” takes the track to a darker, more fearful edge, truly echoing the medieval-Christianity strain of religious fear yet oddly more peaceful as the vocals and drones begin to entwine into chords. The vocals take a more prominent role here, too, but wind down entirely for “Part III”, which sees the piece slide gently to standstill in a simple and deconstructed (and deconsecrated and pure) manner.
The solely instrumental title track may not be as hard-hitting as “Sine Tempore”, but it fortifies itself with a wealth of subtle tweaks and shifts. Leading on from the less-structured “Part III”, it exhibits more of a classic, 70’s ambient approach while still carrying Alio Die’s masterful use of texture and depth. As opposed to the first track, however, “Aura Seminalis” is also rather withdrawn and contemplative: a piece less concerned with living the moment but more so reflecting it. As such the drones are more drawn out, with only gentle and quiet splatters of more solid, rasping tones on top to build up the mood. Despite this less urgent and head-strong approach, the track still manages to bleed the same kind of warm and sorrowful whimper as the first, although in a much more general and somewhat less focussed way.
Alio Die’s Aura Seminalis is an absolutely outstanding display of unique, emotional and finely crafted ambient music. With its heavily spiritual tones it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to liken the album to a full-on religious experience, and as it is the quality doesn’t sit too far from perfection. The obvious piety makes the album feel very old indeed, and as such it becomes quite timeless. A mainstay in his epic discography, and an album well-worth visiting for any soul who wants to feel small in the presence of something truly glorious.
Alio Die - Aura Seminalis (flac 234mb)
01 Sine tempore - Part I 16:48
02 Sine tempore - Part II 8:48
03 Sine tempore - Part III 7:12
04 Aura seminalis - Part I 5:45
05 Aura seminalis - Part II 23:02
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"Horas Tibi Serenas" is the third chapter of the series "Castles sonorisation", bearing the signature of Alio Die, an oratory of digits collected and highly evocative, upon reflection addressed to the sense of the sacred that saturates every aspect of earthly things. The instrumental texture is the result of a suffused handwriting,entrusted with the use of drones, loops and sounds found, which recreates the atmosphere of the liturgical poem in three long suites rarefied and minimal, just by lapping noises echo in the distance andattendance just transmusicali palpable. A granted to souls who crowd in a chorus of sounds wavering and circulars, designed to propitiate the harmony of the cosmos and with itthe opus of inner stillness.
Alio Die - Horas Tibi Serenas (flac 301mb)
01 Horas Tibi Serenas 3:05
02 In The Labyrinth Garden 43:13
03 Ultima Latet 33:32
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Alio Die's, Deconsecrated And Pure, starts with the 16-minute "Layers Οf Faith", a New Age requiem which dissolves into emissions, and then the emissions further dissolve into pure atmosphere: floating, drifting, flying, essentially becoming the atmosphere. This isn't ethereal, it is the aether itself. This superb meditation is heaven incarnate and one of the best works of the genre since Steve Roach's Structures From Silence. The 12-minute "Obliterated Alcove" distills this sound into a more dense mass hanging in space, driven by a magical weave of droning harmonies and angelic whispers, before the track lowers altitude to meet a nebulae of clanging bells and eerie hymnals, which abstract further to turn to a ghostly glow that engulfs everything.
The 9-minute "Peel Away This Mortal Coil" feels more tangible at first, but actually returns to the motto of the first track. It's more palpable structure evaporates into abstraction, losing itself in it, before what is already an elusive atmosphere dissolves further in a grander fluorescent environment. By the 10-minute "Cerulean Facade", the musical fog appears to clear from what been an otherwordly journey so far. However, things remained elusive by the 18-minute "De-altared", it's hallucinogenic ambiance taking a very long time to reach a poignant feel that lost sight of the first three tracks' nirvana, settling instead for a more mundane drug-addled perceptive enhancement.
Alio Die - Deconsecrated and Pure (flac 270mb)
01 Layers of Faith 15:42
02 Obliterated Alcove 12:08
03 Peel Away This Mortal Coil 9:21
04 Cerulean Facade 10:08
05 De-altared 18:10
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