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Khen Introduce Silence


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Brian Bourassa
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Brian Bourassa While relying heavily on unique drones (and this is not a bad thing), this work is a quiet and peaceful series of sketches that lull you to a place of relaxation.

Alio Die is a master of mini-melodies and fantastic drones.
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Khen Introduce Silence, comprised of all new solo Alio Die tracks, all derived from the sound of the khen--a mouth organ from Southeast Asia. "Organ" is an adequate description of this instrument in the context of this album--when processed by Alio Die, it begins to sound reminiscent of a sonorous and otherworldly church organ. Its sound is dissonant and tonal, close in spirit to the Forrest Fang track "Some Unfinished Business" on Gongland. This dissonance is jarring at first, but once the listener relaxes into the sounds, it begins to make a strange sort of tuneful sense.
The opening track, "Puntar orecchio alle sfere" immerses us immediately into this strange tonal world, with environmental noises accompanied by the strange hooning of the processed khen, which, after a time, begins to twinkle in an otherworldly way. The sounds are unabashedly organic, as with the rest of Alio Die's work, managing to create a strange natural stillness from what is essentially a man-made element. Things get really ambient on track three, "Accarezzando soma come si fa con una piuma," when the khen is processed down into a slow stillness as the different drones wax and wane--the khen is still recognizable here, but it is used in a soft, almost phased, manner, creating an ululating zone of tones. "Introduce Silence" manages to transcend the khen origins, making the sounds drone even more softly--taking this ethnic instrument and bending it to the will of Musso, in order to create a zen-trance state of quiet ambience. The final track "In Vulvica Risonanza" is perhaps one of the most exciting and experimental pieces Musso has done to date. It begins with a swirling drone and heartbeat vibrations that gradually give way to a frog croak--which quickly transitions to khen harmonics--which blend back into the swirling drone--which transition back (with the frog croak) into the khen harmonics. These two loops continue thus for five minutes, basically the same two strips of sound, making what is essentially an eternal Mobius strip of music--activated by your CD player's repeat button. The transition is jarring at first between loops, but eventually, after a few cycles, it lulls you into a trance of repeated sonic elements.

I've never heard anything like this on an environmental ambient recording and the effect is truly awe-inspiring. Khen Introduce Silence, while maintaining a certain sameness between the seven tracks, integrates an unusual instrument into a shockingly beautiful ambient setting.
Alio Die continues to make work that progresses into newer terrains, while still maintaining the sonic touchstones that made the music so exciting in the first place. This disc is like a magic window into an ancient time where the sound of a human instrument and nature around meld into otherworldly harmonies.

Brian Bieniowski


released March 21, 2003

Basic improvvisations conceived and performed by Alio Die in spring 2001.

Edited and mastered on Pro Tools at Temple Studio, Milano 2002.
Stefano Musso plays: khen (mouth organ), drones and loops, enviromental recordings taken in Thailand and in Lunigiana - Italy.
Percussion on track o5 by Gianfranco Cualbu.

Thanks to for enviromental sounds to Francesco Paladino (recorded in Katmandu - Nepal) on track 02 and by Teo Zini/Opium (recorded in Topolo' - Italy) on track 03.

Cover photos by Bjorn Mascher.

Graphic by Hic Sunt Leones 2003.

All pieces copyright BMI 2003


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Since the late 80s, Stefano Musso has recorded deep, evocative experimental ambient & electro-acoustic soundscapes under the name Alio Die.
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, textural passages..by the music's vague, entropic formlessness.
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