The Orphic Hymns. They were already discussed in my previous review of ‘Music for certain rituals’ (AimA & The Illusion of Silence). They are a collection of poems from the late Hellenistic period and are situated around the mystery cult of Orphism. A movement that went against the Christian faith. Adherents lived ascetically in order to gain a better life after death through physical and spiritual purity. The core of ‘Elysian Chants’ are seven Orphic Hymns, each dedicated to various deities or natural elements.
Caverna Delle Rose is the name for the collaboration between AimA Lichtblau (Les Jumeaux Discordants, Allerseelen), Evor Ameisie (NRTHGTE, DDeM Label, Camerata Mediolanense) and Diego Cinquegrana. The band finds its inspiration in magical rituals and performance practices dating from ancient times to the present. They balance between (anthropological) research and (musical) reinterpretation. Their common interest in ancient or primitive cultures results in ‘Elysian Chants’, the collective’s first album.
The cover artwork of the record shows a strong image: the penetrating ‘look’ of an old black mask against a contrasting white background, half veiled by a dark red veil. Intriguing, just like the opener ‘To Dionysius’. The figure Dionysus or Bacchus is the deity of viticulture, fertility, theater and music, but also of ritual madness and ecstasy. The latter can clearly be heard on this more than six minutes lasting trip full of compelling rhythms and mysterious voices. It is one elongated Dionysian and particularly rousing evocation.
‘To Night’ brings back the calm by mixing nocturnal sounds of nature with a tranquil soundscape. Caverna Delle Rose seems to attach great importance to creating the right atmosphere and with results. Annamaria Bernadette Cristian’s e-cello gives the song that extra glow and mystery again. That elusiveness is also expressed through the male backing vocals and the ancient Greek lyrics that are given a voice by AimA. This is one of two poems to be recited in full, along with ‘To the West Wind’.
In the next hymn, the nemesis Erinyes or Furies are discussed. These underworld creatures were supposed to chase and torment criminals. ‘To the Furies’ is propelled by a brisk marching pace (referring to the chasing?) and enchanting vocals (“Terrific virgins, who forever dwell. Endu’d with various forms, in deepest hell”). The e-cello as an extra voice also proves to be an added value here.
As an extra track, in addition to the hymns, there is ‘Hyle, The Chant of Creation’ which divides the album nicely in two. It is an instrumental and dark intermezzo that evolves on what we previous already heard.
But let’s first go on, to say that for this project, (like for her previous album “Di AIMA il Segno”), AIMA has assisted again by various guest musicians. A notable difference from its predecessor is that on “Haiku” the vocals part is less noticeable. The subtle soundscapes form the main part of the music, but that immediately print an appropriate stamp on the abstraction that poetry brings. To name a few by name: Wutanes Heer, INsCissorS, Daimatland, Vinz Aquarian, Marco Milanesio, Miel Noir, Arthur Geoffrey, Nico Guerrero, Northgate: mostly strangers to me, but this just a nice way to get to know them. Just on “Invocazione a Sparta” she leaves the haiku form following an impressive declamation that aims to create a parallelism between the Peloponnesian War (the legendary battle between Athens and Sparta) and a new form of necessary “War” against all this “Emptologism” (a neologism to say the contemporary current with a void of ideologies). The Greek INsCissorS let the drums and rousing sound simultaneously restrained. Add to all this, the evocative presentation of AIMA’s afferent call bloody battle ( “The time has come. Time to wage war, O Spartan souls!”) And number ensures unadulterated goosebumps moments. Epic! There’s even a quotation from Heinrich Heine’s poem ‘Meergruß’ that makes the track a real highlight. It made me think of the way Diamanda Galas impressive “Orders from the Dead ‘.
In the second part there is ‘To the Fates’. Besides nemesis, there are also Fates or the Moira. They determine the destiny of life, both of men and of gods. “Whose life ’tis yours in darkness to conceal. To sense impervious, in a purple veil” I read in the English translation by Thomas Taylor from 1792. Do I find a link there with the image of the cover? In addition to AimA’s recitation in the first part of the song, the Italian poet and translator of Ancient Greek Angelo Tonelli also brings a few verses as a wise voice from the distant past.
The last hymn is one in praise of Zephyrus, the personification of the West wind. ‘To the West Wind’ is a somewhat soaring ending and is reminiscent of the musical idiom of Ataraxia. It forms a quiet climax after the dark atmospheres of the previous hymns.
As a concept and first album by Caverna Delle Rose, ‘Elysian Chants’ is certainly a success and deserves full focus when listening, preferably at high volume and in twilight atmosphere.
The album will be issued in a limited edition of 300 CDs and 300 LPs (various colors).
Under this name a high-level meeting is revealed for all lovers of dark, ritual and spiritual climates between AimA (Les Jumeaux Discordants, Daimatland) and Evor Ameisie (Camerata Mediolanense, NG), accompanied by Diego Cinquegrana on field recordings and keyboards. We know their penchant for haunting, possessed, alternately ethereal or demonic music, and fans will not be disappointed. Quite the contrary. The musicians show themselves here particularly inspired, carried by the pagan beliefs, the sounds of nature, the Orphic songs and the great poetic themes (the night, the creation …).
Beginning on a Hymn to Dyonisos, the album adopts tribal percussions and songs which are like so many waves, hypnotic incantations, dense sound dressing and ritual power which could evoke certain works of Swans and Jarboe. Night then takes over (“To Night”), between hoots of owls, funeral piano and enveloping and melancholic voices. The tone is more neoclassical with Annamaria Bernadette Cristian’s delicate cello, but also more restless. The musicians know how to create atmospheres where the imagination takes precedence. “To The Furies” returns to an apocalyptic intensity, and these pagan chants are reminiscent of the spirit of The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud or Hagalaz Runedance. Ultimately Camerata Mediolanense was part of this scene in the 1990s, so it makes sense that traces of it can be found.
The rituals in this second part pay tribute to Dyonisius, the night, the furies, sleep, the west wind, fate and Corybas.
“To Sleep” develops ancestral, luminous beauty. This time we are eyeing more the side of the universe of Dead Can Dance and Ataraxia, before returning to paralyzing and chilling songs with the incredible “Hyle the Chant of Creation”, one of the peaks of the disc. When the project launches into terrifying atmospheres, they reach perfection. “To Corybas” is among the other great moments of the album. Three heady synth notes, a few toms and string sounds, electronic sound effects, and the magic of Evor and AimA’s intertwined voices take care of the rest. The song could last for hours as we reach the trance. “To the Fates” digs the furrow of a menacing abstraction as possible. The sinister cries of AimA mingle with drones and dark ambient doldrums as the voice of poet Angelo Tonelli emerges. The calm, elegiac, comes to close this fascinating journey (“To The West Wind”) where the choirs and songs have transported us far, as much in the primitive, cavernous and unknown forces as in the most cottony ether.
If one were to ask me which singer has most appealed to my imagination in recent years, I would have to answer the name of AimA without thinking about it for a long time.
One can hardly blame me in that regard because damn, what an impressive course the Italian has completed in a short time.
I got to know AimA thanks to Gerhard Hallstatt, in any case an expert on female talent, who had AimA show up to sing some songs by Allerseelen. A golden combination, Hallstatt also decided, who not much later assigned her a permanent place in his group.
The starting signal was given to delve further into the work of this evocative voice. We soon found out about Les Jumeaux Discordants, the group they form together with Roberto Del Vecchio (who in turn we know from Gothica). But AimA was also active under her own name, that is to say: with Aimaproject she started working with artist friends from various backgrounds (Allerseelen, Wutanes Heer, members of Camerata Mediolanense, Miel Noir,…) and was can also be heard as a guest on an album by iNsCissorS.
Add to that her work with Allerseelen and her professional activities in the graphic/advertising world and you know that this lady has a lot of creative eggs to hatch.
Caverna Delle Rose is the name of her brand new clutch, and in doing so she enters into an alliance with Evor Ameisie, an artist with whom she has collaborated for almost twenty years. Ameisie is the founder of Northgate who would later also be active at Camerata Mediolanense.
The duo found in the person of Diego Cinquegrana a third member to complete Caverna Delle Rose.
As far as the division of roles within the group is concerned, Ameisie is responsible as the writer of the music and he takes care of the male backing vocals with his baritone. Cinquegrana went for the image of the project and, in addition to synths, also plays creatively with field recordings. AimA can do what she excels at: the dominant female vocals. The theme, the Orphic Hymns, is also close to her heart and Elysian Chants (working title Music For Certain Rituals II) once again offer her a unique opportunity to further explore this beloved theme.
Again, because last year the first part of Music For Certain Rituals was released, then a collaboration between AimA and The Illusion Of Silence.
Despite the title, Caverna Delle Rose would like to point out that in addition to the Orphic hymns, the focus will be on ancient spiritual traditions, not necessarily just the Mediterranean ones. A regular guest at Caverne Delle Rose is cellist Annamarie Bernadette Cristian, who has already appeared at Aimaproject, and who is using the electric cello for this occasion.
The rituals in this second part pay tribute to Dyonisius, the night, the furies, sleep, the west wind, fate and Corybas.
Just as soon as ‘To Dionysius (The Fumigation From Storax)’ opens the debates with its stirring drums and Aima’s haunting vocals, it is clear that great things are about to happen here again.
The influence of Aemisie and his Camerata Mediolanense can be seen throughout the album, just listen to (‘To The Furies (The Fumigation From Aromatics)’ and ‘To Sleep (The Fumigation From A Poppy’) which shows great similarities with the older work by the Italian group.It is certainly the case when Aemisie’s baritone joins AimA’s voice in battle (“Hyle. The Chant Of Creation”)—with AimA’s throat acrobatics taking on Diamanda Galas—.)
The temptation is great, force of habit, to put the majority of the feathers on AimA’s unique voice, but when Aemisie’s vocals are allowed to appear in the foreground during ‘To Corybas (The Fumigation From Frankincense)’ Caverna Delle Rose proves to be the bullseye. hit with more than one arrow in the quiver.
If ritual music usually focuses mainly on achieving a trance, and if one dares to work towards this in an extensive (read: at times long-winded) trance, the concise rituals of Caverna Delle Rose form a welcome change. The trance aspect is certainly present through the obligatory percussion, but fortunately the Italians do not forget to actually write songs around it, so that they know how to distinguish themselves from the umpteenth random act within the genre.
Despite its limited playing time of ‘only’ 42 albums, Elysian Chants has become a richly filled album. Again, we add. It’s not all gold that glitters, but if it comes out of the hands of AimA, the chances that this will actually be the case are sky-high.
Hello Caverna delle Rose and welcome to Brutal Resonance!
What does the name Caverna delle Rose mean? Why did you choose it?
Diego choose the name. It is obviously an intimate poetic figure, you can transfigure as you prefer, without limits of interpretation. Alternatively look at this as the possibility of inflorescence of the mystical sacral dimension of the rose within the darkness of a cave, where darkness is nevertheless a necessary condition for loss that precedes revelation and ecstasy. It is also the name of the Swedish method of condemnation / torture in the thirteenth century. It sounds romantic and the meaning is also almost similar also from this point of view.
You state that your project stands between research and reinterpretation. What does that mean?
Research, because there is a lot to know and understand about the ritual forms not only of the past, but also of those that today are erroneously defined as “primitive peoples”.
From the cultural point of view, these are investigations of an anthropological nature; from the spiritual point of view, they have their roots in spaces and times that are difficult to understand for our reason. They are more so from a spiritual point of view, studying these phenomena not from an evolutionary point of view, but reasoning according to those archetypes that are common to humanity (or that should be, I would add).
In this case we are talking about reinterpretation, in full respect of those cultures and in the awareness that we will never be able to talk about them.
From my point of view, but obviously I speak only in my own name, the reinterpretation takes place above all in the spiritual, instinctual sphere, very little mediated by reason.