Review: Cisfinitum - Devotio (2006)


artist: Cisfin­itum
release: Devo­tio
format: 10″
year of release: 2006
label: Sub­stan­tia Innominata
dur­a­tion: 23:49

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

One of the ways in which exper­i­mental music can be thought-provoking is to take a famil­iar sound source and bend, stretch, twist or mangle it until it achieves a whole new level of expres­sion. Listen­ing to such an every­day sound an sich can already be an amaz­ing exper­i­ence if you listen attent­ively and with a recept­ive spirit. But there is some­thing intriguing about hear­ing a sound actu­ally mod­i­fied, unlock­ing sound levels nor­mally only access­ible through the ima­gin­a­tion.

Here we have Cisfin­itum (Evgeny Voro­novsky), and on Devo­tio, his medium is the church bell. While the tolling of bronze is a staple in gothic, ambi­ent, metal, pop, or indeed any genre with a poten­tial for pom­pous­ness, it is in itself a mod­est but extremely rich sound, laden not only with mul­tiple sound lay­ers, but a great many cul­tural echoes as well. On this EP, though, it serves as the car­rier of many musical tex­tures. The deep, rever­ber­at­ing sounds work as under­ly­ing drones; the moment where the clap­per hits the metal, when looped, becomes a rhythmic base; the tolling itself, clean, echoed, delayed, provides many melodic lay­ers. Together, two intric­ate and soph­ist­ic­ated sound­scapes are craf­ted, pieces that util­ise the pos­sib­il­it­ies of sound manip­u­la­tion to nigh per­fec­tion. Des­pite the usage of a single sound source - and a very spe­cific one at that - as the build­ing blocks of these tracks, Voro­novsky avoids the pit­fall of exag­ger­ated min­im­al­ism. The over­all sound is always layered, and het is not afraid to add a small touch of dif­fer­ent sounds here and there, such as some faint violin or dis­tor­ted voices.

There’s a bit of many indus­trial sub­genres in here: drones, metal per­cus­sion, loops, ambi­ent waves, theat gen­eral sense of being caught in an irres­ist­ible musical mael­strom. When done right, such ele­ments lend music a ritual and spir­itual char­ac­ter that is a unique qual­ity of music only. The abil­ity to take your con­scious­ness to new modes, if only for a short while. In the case of Devo­tio, it’s all in place: the music, the pack­aging and cover art, the muddled white vinyl. This is, quite simply, how it’s done.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

A. (12:59)
B. (10:50)