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Eric Aldea Saturno o Cipolla ? Review

Album. Released 2002.  

BBC Review

Former post rocker Eric turns ambient soundscaper with this set of lo fi electronica...

Peter Marsh 2002

Eric Aldéa was a member of Lyons based post rockers Bästard, whose collaborators included Chicago luminaries Bundy Brown and Casey Rice, and was previously in industrial hardcore merchants Deity Guns. His first solo record betrays few of those influences though; compiled from various pieces written for dance company La Baraka, Saturno o Cipolla ? delivers a warm, organic take on experimental ambient electronics.

Aldéas approach is informed more by the lo-fi layering of industrial types like Zoviet France or the tapeloop outings of Fripp & Eno than by the cut 'n paste glitchscapes beloved by the average bald bloke with a Powerbook, though we do get a bit of digital snap crackle n blip on a couple of pieces.

Elsewhere Aldéa delicately weaves together shortwave transmissions, field recordings and acoustic instrumentation with rarely heard skill. While countless TV advertised ambient compilations may promise to, er, take the listener on a journey, Aldéas gradual unfolding of his pieces seems to do just that. The thirteen minutes of "02" are especially seductive; opening with a chatter of shortwave crackles and bleeps, an opressive string figure repeats itself to be swept away by a held, suspended chord flecked with bowed double bass harmonics and gurgling synthetics. A phone goes off somewhere; footsteps are briefly heard. A gentle synth loop fires up eventually to be overrun by glassy digital tones and telex bleeps which swarm and multiply before abruptly fading. Here Aldéa's manipulation of acoustic space recalls David Toop and Max Eastleys classic Buried Dreams, though is less likely to give you nightmares.

Less successfully, "03" and "04" stray into more conventional electronica territory, with looped sinewave drones, clicks and metallic synthbursts piling up and receding in typical minimal art techno fashion. The closing trio of pieces save the day though; revolving around mournful, muted strings, alternately decorated with bubbling analogue synth, dolorous cello and distant xylophone figures, they evoke a calm tinted with a vague sense of unease, like seeing a single black cloud in a summer sky.

Immersive, often beautiful and with a slightly ungraspable quality that makes you want to stick it on again as soon as its finished, Saturno o Cipolla ? may well turn out to be one of the records of the year...

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