Alio Die - _The Hidden Spring_
(Crowd Control Activities, 1998)
by: Andrew Lewandowski (6 out of 10)
Even if ambient artists don't have to rely on the nasty formulaic song structures of rock-derived genres, ambient bands can easily fall prey to that form of impotence which has turned many a handsome young man into an Alio Die. Despite one or two noteworthy tracks, _THS_ contains few distinction nuances. Instead, AD rely on the same basic pattern -- repetitive, forlorn drones with miscellaneous shards of ambiance strewn about -- which Brian Eno beat into the grown twenty years ago. AD's predecessors have already come damn close to perfecting most of this album's best moments; the simplicity of "Amniotic Pot", the best representation of the album's sound, tries to embrace the sublime, yet lacks the substance of more evolved artists, while the slightly incongruous "Internal Top", easily the most developed and disorienting track, sounds suspiciously similar to a hybrid of Maeror Tri (Stephan Knappe from the band plays gong on the track) and the ethno-ambience of Alio Die. Also, many of the tracks feature annoying sound bites, such as rushing water or bird chirps, which sound like an anemic attempt at invoking an ethnic ambiance. Also, the tracks come across condensed and, as a whole, the album is fragmented -- not surprising since the album was recorded over a four-year period and six tracks have been released on previous albums or compilations.

(article published 10/3/1998)


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