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Of Those Things Left Unsaid

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Antonio Testa & Michel Moglia
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Rigel Orionis - Night Heat

Artist: Rigel Orionis
Title: Night Heat
Hypnos Secret Sounds (hss09)

Rigel Orionis - Night Heat

2007. This is our first release on Hypnos Secret Sounds by an artist new to Hypnos since Stephen Philips (Dagboken, 2005). We're excited to commence with one of the original plans for this Secret Sounds imprint, which is to bring new artists to Hypnos listeners.

Rigel Orionis is a relative newcomer to the ambient genre (and a pseudonym for Jim Brenholts), but already has collaborated with Stephen Philips (Dark Duck Records), Ben Fleury-Steiner (Gears of Sound), and Darren Rogers. Night Heat, described by its creator as "desert ambience," has a shimmering, nocturnal feel, with a pronounced tribal/ethnic sound element. Percussion is just as much a part of it as atmosphere. It consists of four long tracks of which you'll find sample clips below.

Track listing, with MP3 sample clips:
1. The Damp Desert (21:58)
2. Arctic Sunstroke (21:07)
3. Drastic Eventuality (09:58)
4. Centrifugal (26:13)

Purchase direct for $9.99


"The musical landscape of Night Heat, as crafted by Jim Brenholts in his Rigel Orionis guise, is barren, sparse and more than a little intimidating. It's open tundra under an uncaring sun, a journey of a thousand tortured yet unavoidable steps. And it's stunning. The piece kicks off with a strong tribal sensibility with "The Damp Dessert," where potently hypnotic drums pulse over quavering, slightly discordant synth textures. This is music to completely lose yourself in if you dare. It's an invitation to journey, but you know the destination will be somewhere dark and utterly foreign. After 20 minutes of floating bliss, Brenholts segues into the insanely and brilliantly sparse "Arctic Sunstroke." Prior to hearing this piece, if you had suggested that I would willingly listen to 22 minutes of nothing but a shaker, random electronic burbles and a quietly keening synthetic wind, I would have patted you on the head and sent you on your way. But having listened to it, including the roughly 10-minute stretch where it's absolutely nothing but the shaker and a very pared-down, constant wind, I find it astonishing—you know, in a very minimalist way. Clockwork urgency hovers in the background of "Drastic Eventuality," a piece rife with subtlety and suggestion. Between this and the closer, "Centrifugal," the disk truly enters ambient territory, where all pretension to musicality is replaced by pure sensation, effect and the sense of things going on at the periphery of understanding. It works better in "Eventuality" than in "Centrifugal," which is 25 minutes of murmuring voices, barely audible drones and dark atmospherics. Length is one of Night Heat's greatest assets. These long-form pieces allow the listener to fall fully into and appreciate Brenholts' minimalist complexities. Each piece is hypnotic in its own way, complete journeys in and of themselves, pieced together to create a mind-massaging, cooly immersive experiece overall."
--Reviewed by John @ Hypnogogue


"Rigel Orionis is longtime music reviewer Jim Brenholts, one of those genuinely nice guys who find something to appreciate in most others’ music. I am pleased to say that Jim’s music has much to recommend it as well. “The Damp Desert” is a cool collage of sounds, combining organic and synthetic sounding textures into a unique mélange. “Arctic Sunstroke” swirls psychedelically at the start, and then gets even trippier as strange occasional snippets of vocals bounce about in the ambient darkness. It is a churning, restless piece, alternating dark sparse passages with more abstract experimental ones. At times the twisted vocal snippets seem a bit too intrusive, but they do come and go, allowing a respite. Though the 26-minute running time could’ve probably been cut in half, it makes for an interesting listen. Next is the tribal sounding “Drastic Eventuality,” bringing to mind Steve Roach and Robert Rich. However, Brenholts does a nice job of keeping a certain signature quirkiness running throughout the album. Another long track at 22 minutes, again there may be a question whether it could have been halved, but it works well enough as music to get lost in for a time. “Centrifugal” is the closing number, featuring a sinister deep echo that swirls about, accompanied by shakers or something along those lines. After several minutes a sound like a solar wind rides over the top, replacing the swirling echoes. Eventually it devolves into a low rumble for a long time, ever-so-gradually increasing in pitch as it goes. It builds to a climax of sorts, though each track tends to find a comfortable space and stay there. Night Heat is fascinating in its ability to be experimental yet eminently listenable."
--Reviewed by Phil Derby, ElectroambientSpace


"This CD from 2007 offers 79 minutes of controlled chaos. Rigel Orionis is Jim Brenholts, who plays loops, found sounds, ocarina, lap harp, acoustic guitar, mountain dulcimer, and various chimes, whistles and samples to achieve quirky soundscapes. Strange resonances saturate the first track, beleaguered by muffled percussives and quivering noises. Ethereal textures waver and throb while hesitant embellishments punctuate the ambience with a plodding presence. The second piece combines shakers with gurgling waters and a spectral bearing. Whispers that could be voices (but aren't) filter through the mix, hinting at arctic fairies. A surge of frigid electronics seeps in, ebbs, then experiences a climactic resurgence before harsh tones and wicked bells crash in and command the sonic terrain. Rattlings and remote chitterings generate a mechanical agitation in the third track. Faint tonalities inspire a tension that gnaws at the edge of the mix. The final piece spins a web of gravitonic waves that seem to draw in peripheral sounds like a sonic black hole. An overall grind dominates this consumption until finally everything seems to dwindle down a cosmic rabbit hole. Generally more atonal than harmonic, these compositions exemplify seductive experiments with sound construction."
--Reviewed by Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity, www.soniccuriosity.com