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Sola Translatio (Alio Die + Opium) - Mother Sunrise



2001. Italian ambient sound master Alio Die (best known for his previous collaborations with ambient & experimental artists like Robert Rich & Vidna Obmana), and younger Italian newcomer Opium, collaborate under the project name Sola Translatio on their first project for Hypnos, MOTHER SUNRISE. Combining an entrancing mix of natural recordings (water, wind, soil, forest) and electronic textures, MOTHER SUNRISE conveys a descent into the natural world at its grittiest, most organic, and most truly "alive."

Usually ambient & atmospheric music is primarily electronic, or perhaps utilizes guitars or other acoustic instruments, with electronic treatments. While this recording does integrate such conventional instrumentation in part, it derives its truly unique flavor through the liberal use of natural "location" atmospheres (recorded in the Far East as well as Italy), as well as organic percussive elements.

Opium is a newcomer, mostly unknown in the ambient & atmospheric music scene, but Alio Die (especially through his excellent collaborations with ambient stars Robert Rich and Vidna Obmana, but also through his proprietorship of the Hic Sunt Leones label on which most of his solo material has been released) is one of the increasingly respected & beloved artists of our genre. Taking a truly unique and personal approach to this work, Alio Die arrives at a sound which is distinct -- truly rich, complex, and substantial enough to bear repeat listening.

Track listing including MP3 sample clips:
1 Superior Spells
2 Sadness and Armony
3 Mother Sunrise
4 Awaken Spirits
5 Lullaby for the Desert Moon
6 Entrance Through a Self-Portrait
7 Floating Energies
8 Undercurrent in Castevoli


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Reviews

"Top 25 of 2001."
--Gordon Danis

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"Indeed a wonderful album."
--Vladimir Jovanovic, Inner Space radio, Zagreb, Croatia

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"Highly recommended."
--Daniel Farrelly on the Ambient Music internet mailing list

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"Two of Italy's most respected artists in electronic sound, Alio Die (Stephano Musso) and Opium (Matteo Zini), have combined their abilities on the album MOTHER SUNRISE. The duo, working under the name Sola Translatio, uses a sonic vocabulary that seeks to reach the human in us by speaking to our memory. Each of the eight individual tracks incorporates familiar environmental sounds with beautiful and unique electronic textures to produce an album of introspective and sensual ambient music. Each piece slowly develops its sense of place and mood and gradually colonizes the mind with an aural landscape only as varied as the intellects and experiences used to interpert this music."
--Chuck VanZyl, host of Star's End radio

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"The master/novice relationship at the core of Sola Translatio spawns a 74-minute series of scenic organic/electronic permutations. Veteran ambienteer Alio Die collaborates with newcomer Opium to construct the sprawling droneworlds illuminated by Mother Sunrise and decorated with tastefully-applied field recordings.

Trickling rivulets and warmly glowing tones seep from superior spells to simply simmer in a vast expanse of protoplasmic goo. Slow-moving cycles of warm air float on the rays of mother sunrise (13:59), hovering above avian chirps and fluid splashes. Clattering bamboo and thumping waterdrums (and maybe a little throat singing?) drift easily into this peaceful reverie. With nearly imperceptible waves and a backing of insect chirps, awaken spirits drones resolutely, gathering higher layers of wisp as it mutates. Low rumbles (percussive? mechanical? volcanic?) stir beneath the continual, shimmering organ breeze of lullaby for the desert moon (5:18). The hushed gurgling of an undercurrent in castevoli is entwined with synthesized streamers and occasional flutey twirls, closing this experience in their tranquil cascade.

Often still, but never stagnant, the musically-tinged atmospherics of Mother Sunrise evolve with eight tracks of organic listening at its most sublime. The veteran/rookie combo of Sola Translatio scores an 8.8 with their slow-motion environmental dronescapes."
--David Opdyke, The AmbiEntrance

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"Two levels of pseudonyms, wow! Even if these two didn't have names, the album would be tremendous. This is a new collaboration between conceptual electronic composers Alio Die, aka Stefano Musso, and Opium, aka Moffeo Zini, created within a atmosphere of natural elements (field recordings compiled in the Far East as well as Italy)combining an exotic blend of natural recordings (water, wind, soil, forest) electronic textures and music technology. that bond to the natural world playing a strong part in the conception of the opus, 'Mother Sunrise.'

The album's vast sonic panoramas have origins in both theoretical and practical considerations. 'Mother Sunrise' marks a departure from both artists earlier 'dark ambient' releases. It contains cinematic atmospheres and dark abstract rich textures, both detailed and organic. Alio Die's's transcendental atmospheres are entwined in slowly encircling notes from Opium's unique sampling, field recordings and digital effects. Its a collection of some of the most beautiful haunting music I've ever encountered. It is one of the most thought provoking and significant musical statements that Hypnos, has released to date. 'Mother Sunrise' brims with possibilities for the future, pushing electronic synthesis and acoustic manipulation into forbidden lines of enquiry. Highly recommended."
--Ben Kettlewell, Alternative Music Press

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"I grow increasingly impressed with this release each time I listen to it. The first track starts off with a sitar-like loop and some mellow drones, ends with the same timbres along with some environmental waterfall/stream noises... the rest of the album tends to follow the same sort of experimental feel. There's a lot of environmental sounds in this release, track 3 starts out with some evening crickets, frogs, and other nocturnal buggies/animals chirping away... slow pads drift in the background... the song seems to give way to "daybreak" as the birds wake up... more ethno-ambient drones and pads. This would be a great album to listen to in the morning."
--Jesse Sola, aka Numina

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"Mother Sunrise is yet another great ambient music recording which incorporates field recordings (this time from locales such Thailand, Italy and some place called Koh Pee Pee) with soft washes of musical ambience. The album joins with another recent Hypnos release, Paul Vnuk's superb Silence Speaks in Shadow, in setting the stage for what will hopefully be the emergence of a new subgenre, i.e. the "serious" environmental/music recording. If such a subgenre does indeed emerge, Mother Sunrise will be a textbook example of the best that the category should embody.

The album is the work of the duo Sola Translatio (artists Alio Die, a.k.a. Stefan Musso and Opium, a.k.a. Matteo Zini). The instruments listed include samplers, textures, drones, programming and electronics (along with the field recordings). The first song ("Superior Spells"), which may be the best piece on the album, illustrates the artful way the two musicians sculpt the washes of electronics and drones around the presence of field recordings (in this case, the sound of water lapping and birdsong). There is a fluid feel to the music, in keeping with the natural rhythm and sound of the water. One of the samples sounds like a tamboura/tanpura (the East Indian drone instrument). This vague world music texture is extremely subtle and may not even be apparent to some listeners. "Sadness and Armony" begins with the sound of wind and flowing water. High-pitched quavering tones merge with the water (which increases in loudness as the cut continues). Arrhythmic percussive effects (resembling the sound of rain hitting metal containers) bring a level of sensuality to the cut, even amidst the somewhat vague sense of mystery. Later in the song, this rhythmic sound is matched by real droplets falling either into a body of water or maybe onto the floor of a cave. When listening on headphones, the "presence" and stereo-imaging of this cut is astounding!

The music on this CD is not dark, per se, but it is less comforting, shall we say, than Vnuk's music was to my ears. Still, I enjoyed Mother Sunrise every time I played it. It didn't create the same emotional resonance with me, but few albums ever do that anyway.

The title cut begins as an unaccompanied lower register drone, which is soon joined by layers of synths amidst an underlying recording of crickets and other night-time insects. The drones and synth washes are perfectly suited to the mood established by the gentle chirping from the nocturnal creatures. This song is my second favorite on the album, although I must say the entire CD has a most satisfying "play-through" factor. As this cut evolves, bird song and the sound of gently flowing water is introduced along with an interesting series of electronic textures, somewhat like a sustained and/or distorted sitar(?). This effect becomes more pronounced and more sitar-like as the song develops. I loved the juxtaposition of all the elements, i.e. the drones, the quasi-sitar, the flowing water, the birds and other trace elements. Alio Die and Opium have a way of integrating these various sonic elements seamlessly into a unique and evocative whole.

Other songs on the album include the nature-enhanced spacemusic-meets-ambient number "Awaken Spirits, " the eerie and forlorn "Lullaby for the Desert Moon," and the enigmatically -titled "Entrance Through a Self-Portrait" which features some unusual sound effects along with the (almost ubiquitous) flowing water and a solitary whistling bird call later in the song. The album concludes with "Undercurrent in Castevoli" and this cut features still more field recordings of water sounds (and by now you should realize that unless you find the sound of water flowing and dripping at least somewhat appealing, you won't enjoy this disc). As with nearly all the music that has come before, the ambient/spacemusic itself is comprised of a combination of washes, drones, and subtle effects and textures. Even the shorter pieces on Mother Sunrise have a languid feel to them as they unfold patiently their layer upon layer of shadowy chords, notes, and drones.

Hardcore purists may not be happy at the existence of recordings like this one or Paul Vnuk's latest effort. Myself, I'm solidly enjoying this movement toward incorporating the organic world we live in with an ethereal and spacy electronic ambience. Mother Sunrise is a gem of a CD. Its slowly evolving soundscapes are evocative and serene, even though emotionally they can sound a tad somber or forlorn at times. By carefully integrating their field recordings with their impressive sonic poetry, Sola Translatio have fashioned a most beautiful and friendly "darker" ambient release. Highly recommended!"
--Bill Binkelman, WindAndWire.com

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"If revered French impressionist painter Claude Monet (famous for his "Waterlillies" series) had suddenly found himself shot through a time machine to today's technologically-advanced society and was given a palette of digital samplers, synthesizers, and effects processors to work with instead of paint, brushes, and canvas, his music would very likely resemble that of Italy's Stefano Musso (aka Alio Die). Like Monet, Musso strives to express the essence of mother nature's soul, to touch the intangible by merely hinting at the mysteries within, rather than giving in to soulless, picture-perfect realism. And like Monet, his work allows the experiencer religious/spiritual epiphanies by finding "God" in the everyday natural world. Alio Die's quiet microcosmic soundworlds, achieved with heavily processed organic electronic drones, abstract harmonic textures, tape loops, and field recordings so lush you can almost touch them, have been slowly morphing and maturing over the last 10 years into a fully realized alchemical canvas of sonic impressionism, and have rightfully earned Musso a spot on the Hypnos roster with this beautiful release (among such ambient dignitaries as Robert Rich and Vidna Obmana, who have also collaborated with Musso on "Fissures" and "Echo Passage," respectively). "Mother Sunrise" elegantly showcases Alio Die's current artistic direction, which has more in common with the floating, meditative drone zones of Rich, Roach, and Grassow (see his 1997 long-form piece, "Password for Entheogenic Experience") than his early industrial-flavored tape loop experiments (1992's "Under An Holy Ritual"). Recorded with Matteo Zini (aka Opium), "Mother Sunrise" paints sublimely earthy scenes of mysterious forests, hidden springs, and sunlight-reflected ripples on still ponds. On "Sadness and Armony," gently narcotic drones hover beneath softly echoing water sounds, creating a perfect balance of light and shadow, without veering into the engulfing dark territory found on too many ambient discs these days. The 14-minute title piece features the glissando of what can best be described as a pedal-steel sitar (if there is such a thing!), backed by hypnotic tabla beats. The majority of this album, however, is pure beatless ambience, with highlight tracks like "Awaken Spirits" and "Floating Energies" consisting of multi-layered drones and field recordings (crickets, water, and various other environmental soundscapes), creating a contemplative listening space. Nature sounds are nothing new in modern instrumental music these days, as it seems their use if often synonymous with cheesy new age synth music. "Mother Sunrise" should shatter the illusion that this is always the case, and hopefully bring more converts into Alio Die's enigmatic world. And for the already initiated, it is the culmination of years of magic, making it stand as one of the artist's finest works to date."
--Chris Knowlton

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"Sublime surreal soundscapes from Italian ambient guru Stefano Musso, a.k.a. Alio Die, joined by fellow countryman Matteo Zini, who records as Opium. Together, they call themselves Sola Translatio! Whatever they call themselves, I call it excellent organic ambient textures. This is truly a sound collage, not at all music in the conventional sense. Both men make extensive and effective use of various samples, drones, electronics, effects, and programming. What really makes the difference are the excellent field recordings employed. Opium doesn't list the source of his recordings, but it is noted that Alio Die's are from wide-ranging, exotic locales such as Thailand, Koh Pee Pee (this must be an answer to a trivia question somewhere), and Lunigiana, Italy. Long, slow synth drones are interwoven to perfection with these field recordings of various nature and water sounds. 'Superior Spells' has rustling noises in the background, adding depth to the bright, metallic drone in the foreground. 'Sadness and Armony' includes percussion which I'm guessing may be the Thai sample. I've heard lots of tribal percussion in ambient music, but this has a unique sound, very bright and crisp. The spatial separation between the right and left channels gives this particular sample added richness and depth. Rain falls in the background. As the drums subside, it sounds like we're sitting in an African rain forest. What really makes this a standout ambient CD is the diversity of sounds. By the time we reach the title track, three very different sound palettes have been presented. The first was bright drones, the second was very organic and densely layered, and now, 'Mother Sunrise' presents somewhat darker sonic shades, with more water sounds, vaguely ethnic-sounding electronics, and light tribal rhythms. 'Awaken Spirits' is minimal but elegant. The closest resemblance to normal melodic structure is 'Lullaby For The Desert Moon,' though it is still not really close to coalescing into a distinct shape. The disc continues to alternate rich, organic compositions, like 'Entrance Through A Self-Portrait,' with smoother, silky pieces such as the dream-like 'Floating Energies.' This is chill-out and meditation music of the highest order."
--Phil Derby, SMD

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"Sola Translatio is the collaborative project between Alio Die and Opium. Many Ambient/ Space/ Atmospheric fans know Alio Die for his work with Robert Rich and Vidna Obmana, but few know his partner Opium, a relative unknown in the Ambient genre, but be sure your familiarity is unimportant because this recording can be appreciated without knowing any of this. Mother Sunrise is a fine Ambient recording that was undertaken in a profoundly interesting way, as it consists of mostly minimal electronic processing and percussion, and more importantly natural “location” atmospheres, or field recordings. This is important to note because as soon as this recording comes on there is something that makes this recording distinctly different and profoundly interesting. This is true Ambient, it’s not really atmospheric, it actually reminds me quite a bit of Robert Rich’s Somnium but I’m sure that’s just the use of the natural environmental sounds to compliment the minimal use of contrasting timbres. With Mother Sunrise Sola Translatio have created a profound excursion into the depths of a natural landscape ambience. Fantastic recording!"
--Matt Borghi, The Organization of Sound

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