I Suoni Della Viterbo Sotterranea released by EMusic is not an ordinary CD release. No way! It is a scientific-musical project based on the transformation of geophysical data into music. I Suoni Della Viterbo Sotterranea translated from Italian into English means The Sounds Of The Underground Of Viterbo. What you hear on this release is the world's first example of sonification of a hypogeal environment.
The pieces of music on this album are in fact the result of a scientific-musical project based on the transformation of geophysical data into music, recorded right near the network of underground galleries in Viterbo in Italy.
I Suoni Della Viterbo Sotterranea is the first CD recorded, worldwide, by a group of scientists (geophysicists and geologists) and musicians, all of Viterbo origin, who are carrying out a scientific-musical project, called EMusic, or Music Electromagnetic. The main persons for this project were Sergio Cesarini (director of Viterbo Sotterranea), Antonio Menghini (creator of the project and scientific manager) and artistic project manager and main composer and guitarist Stefano Pontani.
The basic idea is to extract musical notes, from the voltage values that the Earth returns if excited by an electromagnetic pulse. It is a geophysical methodology usually exploited by geologists to investigate the subsoil, looking for water and mining resources. And since each geology responds differently, emitting different turns from time to time, we can say that in this way it is possible to extract a real "Sound of the Earth" that faithfully reflects the stratigraphic structure.
Composed for this special release were three long pieces that can be labelled as ambient and electronic music. The first piece Fall sees guitarist Stefano Pontani, skill fully intent on creating a layered wall of guitars, never invasive or cacophonic, using the loyal loop station, an instrument he has already successfully used with Vu-Meters. In the second piece Ascent, the music is enriched by the saxophonist Marco Guidolotti and keyboardist Riccardo Marini, with the consequence that the sounds are coloured with very varied influences. Sometimes sounding like the very early work of Tangerine Dream. But also vague jazzy influences are notable. Stefano Pontani gives from himself a glimpse of lucid and delicate radiance in Variation No. 1. The last piece on the album, in which he deliberately deviates towards a more relaxing and serene aestheticism, with connotations at times joyful, sometimes even elusive, but always reassuring. All done on the electric guitar!
In conclusion, the project appears both courageous and captivating: the magnetism of the underground path lives in perfect osmosis with the seductive and bewitching sounds determined by what can certainly be defined as the first union in the world between science and music, perfectly realized through the inebriating interaction of musical instruments and scientific machines.
Music wise you do need to love experimental music which moves towards ambient and electronic music. It's difficult to judge such a musical project as presented here. But if you like to relax with your eyes closed and imagine you are in the underground galleries in Viterbo in Italy you certainly have a great time listening to this album!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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