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Alio Die & Amelia Cuni - Apsaras projekt13

2001. With 15 different collaborations to his name, Italian ambient soundscape constructor Alio Die presents his most stunning release to date. His work with Robert Rich and vidnaObmana have set the stage for the unusual beauty of this dramatic work, celebrating nature and the magic of the human voice. In Hindu mythology, the Asaras are female spirits of nature, usually water nymphs. Flowing in the waters, these celestial nymphs come out of the waves like the first seeds of the mind: desire. Talented artistically, the Apsaras are very beautiful; charming musicians and dancers for the pleasure of the Gods.

island of the rose apple tree
water memories
churning of the ocean

"Italian singer Amelia Cuni has a voice like a drink of mountain stream water, a voice that you might expect to find operating in popular song. But her area of expertise is that most ancient and rigorous of Indian styles, dhrupad singing. Cuni's vocal clarity and dusky sweetness sit oddly but perfectly in this austere context. Recent enthusiastic collaborators have included Paul Schütze, Terry Riley, Werner Durand and David Toop. This is not music that borrows a few Indian flavours, but a serious attempt to make something new and expressive from within Indian art music. It's both extraordinarily beautiful and very easy to listen to." - Clibe Bell, The Wire Magazine April 2001

A review from Outburn Magazine
5 out of 5 | ATMOSPHERIC AMBIENCE WITH FEMALE VOCALS: There aren't enough words in the English language to describe the imagery and moods that are created on Apsaras. Simply put, Alio Die combined with the incredible vocal talents of Amelia Cuni transcends all boundaries of peace and tranquility that we are consciously aware of. Milan, Italy's own student of compositional art and music, Stefano Musso, weaves sweeping wound structures based on the simplicity of electronic drone, cemented on a foundation of naturally occurring environmental sounds, while Amelia Cuni adds an enchanting human element. The music is multi-dimensional and awe inspiring. The theme of running water, whether it is the ocean, an approaching rain, or a tiny secluded stream, drives the peacefulness of Apsaras. As with all Alio Die works, the music is devoid of common structure and about as intimate as any music of its kind can get. Amelia Cuni, well known for her North Indian studies in dance and oral transmission, uses her masterfully trained voice to surround the ambient textures with her warm Druhpad style of singing. Cuni's vocals aren't always straightforward. Clever production and vocal treatments lend greatly to the experimental nature that Alio Die is so fond of producing. Only the title track, the final cut, defies the continued mood created throughout the album by pushing electronic drone to it sonic limits without becoming annoying. Fitting for a quiet evening or a long chaotic day requiring alternative forms of relaxation, Alio Die and Amelia Cuni will provide the perfect backdrop for such an occasion. - Joseph Graham

A review from
Apsaras is named after the female spirits of nature in Hindu myth, who are most often portrayed as water nymphs. Very beautiful, they are also highly skilled artists, serving as dancers and musicians to the gods. Like its namesakes, Apsaras is also breathtakingly beautiful, combining soothing electronic textures, drones, and organic sound samples from Alio Die (Stefano Musso) with the amazing North Indian dhrupad singing of Amelia Cuni. Each of the six tracks on this hour-long CD takes its time to unfold, slowly growing and changing, drawing you in until you become completely immersed in the music, your mind and spirit opening to cleansing visions and dreams. The opening track, "Ambhas," like much of the album, explores the idea of water as uniting our spirits with the soul of the world. Gentle drones and samples of flowing water open the track, together with Cuni's lovely voice. Over the course of "Ambhas," we hear water falling from the sky, flowing to the sea, and surging in our blood, as Cuni's voice waxes and wanes with the tides, floating where the sky and waters meet. Often Cuni hits a perfect note and holds it seemingly endlessly, like a moment of perfect beauty in your life you wish you could remember forever -- and do. On "Aapaha," flowing water laps at the shore while bird calls and insect sounds echo from the forest. The track showcases Alio Die's outstanding ability to integrate natural sound samples into the music; here the repeated lapping of the water is used to create a soothing rhythm with an almost hypnotic quality, while the occasional bird and other sounds keep the water sounds from becoming stale. Cuni's voice begins very quietly on "Aapaha," borne on a breeze with tinkling chimes. Her singing has a bit of a nasal, droning quality to it here, like a chanted morning meditation; sometimes her voice is so very gentle and quiet it takes on almost subliminal quality, calming nerves you didn't even know were frayed. Not every track on Apsaras is sweetness and light. "Water Memories" is a good example. Repeated, rhythmic cricket calls set a night scene, with dark synthscapes humming and glowing eerily behind them. Cuni's voice is also low and dark, stretching out to hold some notes for what seems like an eternity, like long memories extending deep into the past. An instrumental drone and heavy synth atmospheres build the tension, then suddenly clear up, like clouds occasionally occluding the moon, then dissolving as you float on ancient currents through the endless chasms of your subconscious mind. Slowly the drones, synthscapes, and voice fade, bringing you back to the present and leaving you with the chirping crickets that began the track.

A truly outstanding album for fans of dark ambient textures or hypnotic, sensuous South Asian singing. - Dave Aftandilian