The Orphic Hymns are part of the Orfica, writings attributed to the legendary Orpheus. The hymns contain references to other Orphics, such as the Rhapsodian theogony. They have been related to the Homeric hymns and hymns of Callimachus and the neoplatonist Proclus. The humanist and neoplatonist Marsilio Ficino translated them from Greek into Latin. During the Italian Renaissance, the Orphic hymns were studied in conjunction with other texts believed to contain ancient wisdom. Examples are the Chaldean oracles and hermetics. You see, and could already see it on the other AimA albums: thematically, you already have a big chunk with Music For Certain Rituals. Again and again she succeeds in throwing at us a subject in which we not only eagerly sink our teeth, but in which we also immerse ourselves with full dedication and with great pleasure.
The hymns AimA chose are dedicated to specific deities, as well as cosmic elements and the type of incense used during the rituals. In addition to performing these hymns, two of the gold leaf tablets found in tombs of Thrurii (now on display at the Naples Archaeological Museum) and Hipponium (now on display at Vibo Valentia at the British Museum) were also set to music. AimA leaves nothing to chance: in addition to the fascinating theme, there is the elaborate elaboration. But also important: AimA also gives shape to the most important basic principle regarding the interpretation of history: two of her own poems convey all these classic meanings to the contemporary world. Such as “Spiritui Carmen”, a purely passionate and uplifting song that she wrote with in her mind another figure that appeals to the imagination: Hildegard van Bingen.
Where her previous two albums still contain a colorful mix of artists, and the musical accompaniment was just as diverse (from neoclassical to industrial to martial) she now does it with only one musician (Camerata Mediolanense’s Northgate background vocals on ‘Spiritui Carmen’ not included): Luca Bonandini. Since 2012 he has been making music under the name The Illusion Of Silence, which is described as dark folk, neoclassical and ambient. He writes calm, melancholic songs in which piano, guitar, strings and ancient instruments are combined. Especially through the use of instruments such as a thirteen-string harp, zither, kanklès (a Lithuanian string instrument) and percussion, he knows how to distinguish himself and forms a dream equivalent to AimA’s vocal acrobatics. Although these are rather modest in nature. On her previous albums she sounded like a fusion of Diamanda Galás, Lisa Gerrard and Nico, for Music For Certain Rituals she chooses a less prominent role. The influences are still there, but let it be clear that the ritual itself is the main protagonist here.
AimA started working on these Hymns on the album ‘Di AimA il Segno’ (an earlier review can be found) with Insula Lucis, a collaboration with Nico Guerrero. This ambition can now be finalized with TIOS. A first impression makes us realize that this work is best listened to and experienced as a whole. In this way it completely brings the listener into the atmosphere of those rites and occult texts. AimA herself sounds more intertwined with the music than on her other records, which makes the experience more intense and coherent. The rich musical support, packed with lovely little details, creates a real ‘grand cru’ within the genre. The ritual itself gets all the attention not so the artists themselves, although their skills are very admirable.
Before writing about that listening experience, let’s talk about the cooperation with Luca Bonandini from ‘The Illusion of Silence’. With TIOS, this Italian lad creates “songs about existential questions, light and darkness with a melancholic mood”, as he describes himself on his Facebook page. The instruments he plays are quite exotic, based on names such as bowed psaltery and zither (ancient string instruments), santoor (Indian dulcimer) or the m’bira (thumb piano). In addition with piano, keyboards, guitar, percussion, melodica and flute, this multi-instrumentalist has everything to fully support AimA’s phenomenal voice.
I have to say it once more: the Italian AimA, this time in cooperation with TIOS, has created another very fine album. It is perfecty built up with a sophisticated eye for detail, including the graphic design of it. In the booklet she thanks the Greek Muses, with which she proves to be in exquisite company. The album is only released in a limited edition of 300 copies. Buy the cd and make yourself one of the initiated Orphikoi or AimA-adepts!
You might as well say it straight away, it’s the kind of album where you close your eyes from the first few seconds and get carried away. The ethereal vocals, the vocals that will undoubtedly recall those of Lisa Gerrard and Dead Can Dance, the delicate and rich instrumentation, everything invites you to travel. The introductory “To the Sun”, with its Indian santour and its flutes, lifts us towards the skies of the East.
Used in mystical rituals, the Orphic poems and hymns of the 3rd century, which served as the basis of the pieces, are addressed as much to divinities as to cosmic elements. They keep the dimension of prayers in AimA’s mouth until the dark melancholy of “To Death”. There is a lot of research and translation work around these ancient texts and we will appreciate the very complete nature of the booklet, which allows us to delve deeper into the complex conceptions of the faithful of Orphism. A real beautiful conceptual and emotional work.
The introductory “To the Sun”, with its Indian santour and its flutes, lifts us towards the skies of the East. “To the Moon” reverses the sounds and supports the Italian language with subtle drones and sparse piano notes. But the evanescent character of the songs can cause some concern (“To the Graces”) and the bewitching charm can turn to almost demonic incantations (“To Mars”).
The ambient toppings do not at any time remove the ritual dimension of the whole, which develops a little more in the second part, integrating rhythms and songs that sound like ancestral melodies (the magnificent “The Paetilia Tablet” and ” The Turiis Tablet “).
Provenienti da una silloge di 87 canti, riconducibili a tempi immemori, i diversi Inni Orfici opzionati da AimA and The Illusion of Silence per Music for Certain Rituals, rivestono le fasi liturgiche di una messa alchemica intrisa di energie ultraterrene.
Sono orazioni in musica rivolte alle divinità del Pantheon antico, doni votivi ai Numi del Sole e della Luna, offici ancestrali ai Signori del Mare e della Vittoria.
Memorie di miti e culti pagani mai così vivide e conturbanti, percorse da brividi solenni e formule strumentali che ricreano l’aura sacrale del rito, mentre i temi canori di AimA evocano misteri e saperi perduti, calandoli in un dedalo di oscura passione.
We are pleased to talk about Music for Certain Rituals, the debut album of a project born from the union of two musically already known figures: AimA & The Illusion Of Silence is in fact formed by Aima, active in many areas but who we also remember for the beautiful experiences by Les Jumeaux Discordants and Allerseelen and Luca Bonandini who, under the monicker of The Illusion Of Silence, has been creating atmospheric music for some years, between neoclassical and dark-folk.
Music for Certain Rituals is therefore a demanding album and valuable, which deserves to be discovered and loved.
The record certainly cannot be called an easy listening but, even without the support of a solid classical culture, it definitely knows how to ‘capture’ with its cryptic, gloomy scenarios. “To the Sun”, for example, opens with very dark notes that flow into a singular melody with a harmony to be discovered, perfect to accompany Aima’s lyrical invocations. “To the Moon” opens a cold and sidereal landscape ‘smoothed’ by slow singing, of bewitching sweetness, so much so that the words recited in Italian add little to the magic of the context; “To Mars”, one of the most successful episodes, is pervaded by a dark suggestion for the sounds rich in tribal echoes and for the voice that unfolds forcefully. Also to be appreciated is “To the Graces” in which the ambient landscape is even more obscure, almost oppressive, despite the singing being close to a prayer, while “To the Sea” returns an ‘aquatic’ scenario dominated by ‘otherworldly’ vocal tones. ‘; “To Victory”, another beautiful song, literally reaches heavenly heights.