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CD Feature/ Asianova: "Magnamnemonicon"

img  Tobias

Some records are hard to put a finger on. Mostly, that can be quite disturbing, but with “Magnamnemonicon”, it’s part of the concept. As a new volume in an ongoing series on his newly formed Drone Records-sublabel “Substantia Innominata”, Stefan Knappe invited a string of select artists to set certain aspects of the “Unknown” to music: The “Un-thinkable”, the “Un-speakable”, the “Un-nameable” – you, err, name it. The point behind the endeavour is to delve into the world of ideas, uncover the source of the arts and ignite a debate about the origin of creativity. Asianova have come pretty close on achieving these aims on this one.

That is, if you accept the inevitable constraint that, by definition, none of these goals can ever be fully realised by the music itself. After all, trying to exemplifiy the “Un-hearable” by sound will make Sisyphus’ sentence seem like a holiday. But this kind of criticism is clearly beside the point and lead by a mistaken belief that the “dark continent surrounding us” is in fact made of the same matter as that slab of earth you’re standing on. And so, “Magnamnemonicon” does not want to express what can not be expressed, but rather take that faintly burning candle of conjecture down the road of intuition and turn it into a brightly blazing fire of certainty. It does so by a process of gradual disposal: First, the structures within the chaos are made visible on the A-side of this vinyl offering (thereby depleting our supposed knowledge of the order of the world), then the second side, entitled “Mnemo” (and referring to the associative actions of the cognitive apparatus) prooves all rational terminologies null and void. Which means that you can put your dictionary aside now and simply wait for the mystery unfold. The short title track and the six-minute long “Black Ocean, Blue Midnight” still contain faint traces of traditional Western compositions, harmonic shifts in slowmotion, deep and yearning echos of melodies, like listening to the “Blade Runner” theme at the bottom of the deep blue sea. Already in the first few minutes, waves of randomly patterned noises break against the rocks of consciousness, caving in the solid stone and dissolving its substance in the ocean’s embrace. “March of the Anenome” is the old order rearing itself up one last time, a clattering and dubby Indian excursion, with ominous strings roaring underneath Pam Passmore’s seductive vocals filled with a sense of premonition. It’s all downwards from then, even in the titles: “A sharp descent into sweet mania”’s backward choirs lead into the “Deep canyons of the Arianas”, a landscape of murmuring voices and meandering noises, “doomed to a watery gravy”.

If this voyage should seem frightening, it is because it is such a direct encounter with something beyond our sensory system. Which is the same reason why it should seem so powerful. Many of the usual Drone Records releases return to the same place, but the extended playing time of these 10’’ (almost thirty minutes) take things just one step further. In the end, of course, it is still hard to put a finger on why “Magnamnemonicon” is such an intense experience. But as we mentioned earlier – that’s what it is all about.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Drone Records / Substantia Innominata

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