Gaudi:Testa 1105 Continvvm


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Montreal, Canada
Gaudi & Antonio Testa - 1105: Continvvm

Format: CD (digipack)
Label: em:t recordings
Released in October 2005

1. prologue - helictite labyrinth 11'41
2. deimos' prophecy 5'58
3. night watch 6'24
4. dawn cliffs: il risveglio delle pietre 6'23
5. micro-evolution 7'18
6. interlude 2'47
7. dub hypnosis 8'49
8. bass instinct 5'33
9. space-mind continuum 5'24
10. no escape 5'41
11. epilogue - after the plunge 7'54

After having blown us away with his last release Bass, Sweat & Tears, Gaudi is back in collaboration with the music-therapist Antonio Testa.

This time, Gaudi goes into much more subtle territory exploring atmospheres and the mental imagery these atmospheres evoke. Even the title of the recording reeks of symbolism, Continuum, defined inside the digipack as “that which must be regarded as continuous and the same time which can be describe only relativelyâ€. Well, this is the main difference between this and the previous recording. Whereas, Bass… was a compilation of amazing songs, the new album is truly a continuum of sonic conceptualization. For this reason, I will not go over songs one by one, but will attempt to describe what the album as a totality does to me.

The continuum theme runs throughout the album, meaning not only that it is a concept piece, i.e. to be heard whole, but also that it contains a continuum of organic and spacey sounds.

To name some of the instruments used in creating this music that is meant to heal, moog, theremin (one we should by now be familiar because of its appearance on Bass…), ondes martenot, kalabash, mbira. The two musicians do not limit themselves to traditional instruments nor to the ones invented by Testa. They also use stones, stalagmites, shells, etc. to create that natural feel to the ethnic-infused ambient scapes. Do not get me wrong; I do not use the word ethnic in the same way as I would describe Bass… The pieces here are not unearthings of traditional styles from around the world dubbed by Gaudi. They are all highly original compositions by the two men going outside the traditional western music realm to get inspired. That is what I meant by ethnic for lack of a better word.

This is not an album that will expose its beauty during the first listen. At least, this was not the case for me. It took many casual and a couple of very serious listens to get the depth built into this.

The moods here are very dark compared to what we are used to from Gaudi. Nevertheless, this comes as no surprise, as he is not someone that sticks to a formula once he finds one. In any case, I do not remember him ever having a formula.

This darkness I speak of however is not the in-your-face darkness overused in music. What the composers achieve here is taking you into the recesses of your mind, influencing these recesses slightly by samples such as “Do you think the world is going to end?†and leaving you there gasping for air. The song with the above sample ends and never do we get an explicit answer to the question. Gaudi has realized that making one ask a question is more constructive than giving one an answer.

The thing is that whereas in his previous work, the quote was that “one would never get to heaven if one was afraid of getting high†(slight paraphrasing possible), here Gaudi assumes that one is past that stage already, and no longer afraid. On this recording, it is not about getting to heaven, it is about overcoming the heaven and hell duality, “by making the darkness conscious†instead of “imagining figures of lightâ€(Wordsworth quoted inside the digipack).

While at some parts, more so in the second half of the album, we get some very high-quality “psy†chill material, at other parts, the music becomes pure ambient, not losing any of its psychedelia in the process, reminding us that we are good if we stay true to ourselves and unhappy if we stray from this (my hebrew is a bit rusty). This relaxing ambient music often finds a way to become very intense with the didges bellowing and the other instruments following suit, only weaving a more intricate labyrinth in the conduits of our minds.

The percussion work Gaudi is usually known for is very present here, although more subtle once again, showing its presence when required and not one iota more. Micro-Evolution for example is highly percussive coming into and out of the foreground hypnotizing the listener with all of those perfectly placed sounds. The title is exceedingly fitting, as there is undoubtedly an evolution to this piece, but the evolution is painlessly slow, taking its time to go through the phases needed to put one into auditory hyperspace. Truly head music. Not merely for the head mind you, because your feet will inevitably follow. A very trancy micro-evolution having as a result a rebirth of nature with birds singing and a cello materializing out of the darkness gaining consciousness giving way to strong dub vibes after the interlude.

I want to emphasize once again that not only is the quality top-notch here and the originality way above par, but the flow… The flow is what makes it the opus that it is. I would have the sequencing no other way than it is. The hypnotizing dub would not be as hypnotizing had it not been so built up by what came prior to it. The massive layering that sounds so clean despite the quantity of sounds present is exemplary considering that nothing is out of place in the evolution of sound that is Continuum, a continuum with a definite speck of harmony and order at the end of the tunnel that is chaos. The above metaphor is nowhere more present than in the methodical yet cacophonous Bass Instinct, the primal cry that makes you feel as if the auditory receptors in your brain were constantly relocalized, and yet every new place they find themselves in seems more appropriate at the time to process the colossal amount of information.

Barely being familiar with Testa’s previous work, I was somewhat apprehensive of his being labeled a music-therapist. The work manifest in Continuum dismisses any such doubts. Finding one’s way out of the places the album brings one into is highly restorative. There is quite nothing like a thorough deconstruction of oneself brought on by a marvelous soundtrack. And yet, it is not quite nothingness the album brings us into. It creates new worlds, worlds inside the space-mind continuum, but still inside the continuum, a continuum the composers say there is no escape from, and oh, how spectacularly they do say it. But then again, who would want to escape lands such as are presented to us under the influence of these compositions, compositions that lure us back there time and again.

Finally, as for some constructive criticism, I would not have those piercing sounds in No Escape quite so high-pitched, even though I do recognize the usefulness of the piercing effect.

Overall, this is an album highly recommended if you enjoy good music and traveling. This is not an essential downbeat release. This is an essential music release. Music to heal to. Do take the plunge if you feel you are up to the task. You will not regret it.

available at amboworld, saikosounds, backroadsmusic and many of your other favourite online shops.