Ricardo Donoso: Saravá Exu (CD, Denovali, February 2015)

This album sets out to explore “the theme of Descent” and the “many myths in the shape of the hero going underground to pass a period of solitude”, for which purpose Donoso channelled “the sacred esoteric rituals of the Brazilian cult of Quimbanda”. Which is nice. If this were the dark ambient record it threatens to be, I reckon it would be a pretty good one: all doom-laden throbbing basses, screeching strings, disorienting clanks and thuds, ethereal chanting, and ominous atmospherics. What makes it a really great record is the subtle use of melody — mostly just some simple chord progressions, but their placing and execution makes them superbly effective — and especially rhythm. There’s a sort of frantic heartbeat that makes brief appearances in parts of the first few tracks, building a sense of urgency and then fading away. This comes to a climax in the second half of the penultimate track, Matutinum, which starts out as a bass-heavy growler and erupts into a dark technoid monster, with insistent tribal drumming propelling what could be a truly awesome soundtrack for the climactic running-about scene in a very classy noir thriller. The final track is another largely ambient number, the mood superbly controlled as it moves between serenely floaty and something just quietly but profoundly unsettling… It’s as if Donoso has used the music to look inside himself and seek some answers, and in the end has achieved some kind of resolution — but isn’t entirely comfortable with what he’s discovered. A thrilling, fascinating, and troubling record.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Dark Ambient / Drone / Metal.

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