Album: Ignis Natura Renovatur Integra
Country: Cuesta Blanca, Argentina
Written by: Aaron Michael Kobes
Typically, when my lineup for what is reviewed is either taken from my own personal list of releases that I have discovered and enjoyed, a Cave Dweller list curated for theme week, through a casual discussion with one of the other contributors, being asked if I wouldn’t mind covering something, or combing through the solicitations in our inbox. Until now, I have never been personally sought by an artist who want to have their piece reviewed. It is a surreal experience to have someone you’ve never met believe that you are good enough to dive into a project that they have clearly invested a lot of time and talent towards. It’s a feeling I’ve only had once before in regards to my writing, when James Sweetlove, one of the main brains behind Cave Dweller Music who brought me on board with my initial review of Ends Embrace late last year, and I feel truly privileged to have been selected for both.
Abstractaeon was a name unfamiliar to me a month ago, and when I was initially contacted, I was on a vacation with my family and agreed to write a review after I listened to a quick blurb on Bandcamp (not to mention the huge ego boost received). What I was not expecting to find in my inbox when I returned was an immersive and transcendental experience that cleverly went beyond the reaches of Dungeon Synth into the NeoClassical and even Post-Rock genres seemingly without effort or problematic clashings. Ignis Natura Renovatur Integra, Latin for “Through fire, Nature is reborn whole”, takes a bold chance at deconstructing what is to be expected of any particular genre enthusiast, one that is a resounding success.
Sans ailes, meaning “Without wings”, starts off the album, and right away in the title we are given further evidence of Abstractaeon’s subversive and transcendental flair by way of the title being in French instead of Latin as was the album’s title. Additionally the tire comes as a chop-up of sorts in that it is part of the more common French phrase “ange sans aile” “angel without wings”. Despite its non-religious implications, as gleaned from the choice of dropping the word “angle”, Sans ailes takes on a near hallowed and reverential tone from the opening few seconds, that are rife enough with melancholy to make any practicing catholic proud. The melody of guitar pluckings are beautifully sonorous, filling up the bulk of the tracks space, and undercut with ambient noise- birds chirping and light synths, that serves as both filler and connective tissue to the following track, La tristeza del paso del tiempo. The saddened, almost depressive atmosphere is carried over in both song title (English translation for this one is “the sadness of the passage of time”) and instrumental tonality.
The main differences between the two tracks is the heavier reliance on synths in del tiempo, and the overall pervading drudgery that del tiempo is conjuring up with their palpable yearnings in the desire to slow down time so desperately that the entire track seems to play backwards. It is all at once a lamentation of what passes, anxiety over what comes and the near futility that is felt in trying to correctly express through any medium what is felt by the artist which employs it. Speaking to the fact in their Bandcamp info spot, Abstractaeon comments on the creation of the album:
“…also represented by the titles of the songs, predominantly in Spanish since I could not get the point across in any other way, which deal with despair, psychological anguish and anxiety… The spectrum of emotions that these songs generate in me is wide and at the same time they are reduced to what I know and can put into music.”
The blending of the Neoclassical by way of guitar pluckings, and incorporations of Dungeon Synth like ambient texturing with the synth creates an effective mood in a certain level of tranquility, even if it is laced by the downtrodden. The subversive nature exerts itself once again here as the musical output that we have been exposed to thus far belies the process from which they emerge. That these tracks are not firmly in one camp or another is a representation of the tumultuous nature within the creative process that brought it to life, a point Abstractaeon makes us further aware of on their Bandcamp page as they speak of adding and removing elements to achieve a “good balance”. The smooth edges and seamless transition between tracks makes it feels as if there was a clearly laid plan with little to no deviation, speaking to the incredible skill of the artist in both performing the piece and mixing/mastering it after the fact.
In a mixture that is both continuation of the preceding tracks, and transitional to what lies ahead in the rest of the album we come to, Lo que el alma calla. Meaning “when the soul is silent”, is a transmogrification of sorts and a deconstruction of the albums title itself, creating a self contained state of rebirth to the artistic sonic nature that is Ignis Natura Renovatur Integra. While not a raging wildfire that we have seen plague the States in recent years, taking large swathes of forests and residences, but rather a smoldering sleeper of a concentrated area, a controlled burn if you will, and one that goes on to enrich the soil to prepare for the verdant outgrowth of the following tracks. While Lo que is within the same vein of the NeoClassical-Dungeon Synth hybrid that we have already experienced, a reserved electric guitar makes an appearance about a third of the way through and takes the place of the acoustic one. This comes after a hypnotic repetition of a flute styled synth and acoustic guitar combination that keeps with the same light and reverential tone introduced in the first two tracks. This continues for nearly the remainder of the track, with the electric guitar taking on a more watery tone and experimental rhythm while the flute-synth keeps the steady melody. The final moments of the track serve as a coda , bringing back the acoustic guitar briefly before closing out with a rattling of a tambourine and a sustain note on the synth that carries over to the following piece.
Ignis Natura Renovatur Integra, the titular track, and also the longest on the album starts off on a wholly different, yet comfortably familiar setting with its solo electric guitar work resplendent with a light melody and pinched harmonics. The feeling of deja-vu stems from the fact that the melody utilized within the start of this track is the same as the preceding. Though this may seem an artistic cop-out, the variance created both through the use of electric guitar and dropping of the flute-synth makes for a compelling argument against the fact. More to the point, if we look at this from an allegorical perspective, especially given the track’s title, we can view this within the context of continuation by means of rebirth; or to use our continuation of an allegory, a fresh shoot or budding emerging from the burned and enriched soil. Moving into the track a little farther we start to see more variations that, such as the sole reliance on the guitar work to carry the bulk of the track, there being a tambourine, but seemingly to only keep time and give the track slightly more body, in addition to the acoustic guitar coming back as a touch and go sort of “past remembrance”.
Where this track really deviates and comes into its own is around the four-minute mark where there is a note hit and held to the point of quavering while all other extraneous noise falls away, leaving the electric guitar on to stand on its own shaky feet like a newborn deer covered in afterbirth standing for the first time. The notes that follow are slow and deliberate, and have an almost Blues feel to them, with the acoustic striking a chord every few measures, an anxious mother steeping alongside its fawn on its first steps, before it takes off into a quiet frenzy of finger plucking scale climbing, that is closely accompanied by the acoustics and supplemented by a heavily reverbed rhythm guitar. The track ends in a harmonious joining of acoustic and electric with the resurgence of the tambourine to end in a Sort of Neo-coda that is not unlike Lo que, but dissimilar enough to be a more than fitting end to this emboldened piece.
Luces del Uritorco, or “Lights of the Uritorco” is a pause in headiness by way of introspection. It is no wonder than that the tracks Uritorco is actually the name of a mountain next to the Calabalumba River, located in the providence of Cordoba in Argentina, which is the artist’s native land, meaning it probably holds special significance to the artist themself. The track is a short dreamy one, that relies heavily on repetition and a marriage of Neoclassical acoustic guitar work and a cosmically ethereal Electronic Ambient soundscape that serves as a bridge to the more upcoming experimental pieces, as it relates to what we have heard thus far, while maintaining the transcendental nature that has been cultivated.
Abrazo fraterno, or “Brotherly hug” is the next track and opens with an electric guitar playing a soft melody that is filled out by ambient Electronic noise. As it progresses the Electronic ambience takes on a little more weight as it begins to have intermittent phazed notes that blaze for a brilliant moment before fizzling out. The ambient noise is dialed up for a brief moment before being dropped entirely for a piano accompaniment, leaving just the two instruments to play the same melody. It is another unifying moment, with both instruments given equal weight as it pertains to tracking volume, before the piano takes center stage in an indulgent flushed out version of the melody that the guitar is now playing a soft support to. It is as powerful a moment as it is interesting, with the piano seemingly taking on both rolls of filling space with ambient sustains, while playing the main riff, seemingly showcasing how even the more “archaic” of instrumentation can create layers and textures. Perhaps it is also a homageny of sorts, a musical blending of the past with present in a mixture where neither instrument, as representative of modalities in time, is allowed to overpower the other, rather they are teach given about equal time within the track and even work towards complimenting each other at various points, which is probably the reason the track suggests familial bonds.
Closing the album is El desierto de sal, or “The salt desert”.This is a continuation of what we saw in Abrazo fraterno, or at least the beginning parts of it, with heavy focus on electric guitar work and without the appearance of a piano.The same melancholy that we have seen throughout the album is also present, but it seems just a little bit more isolating the fact that there is no blending of styles, as we have seen so prevalent within Ignis Natura Renovatur Integra.Additionally, the opening guitar work has a degradation chord progression that makes one feel as if they are traveling down an increasingly lonely path. However, El desierto de sal is not without its small version of comfort, at one point the chord progression is given an to uptick in W alongside the reintroduction of the watery guitar effect that seems to offer a form of sonic reprieve in its open-endedness, like being surrounded by a riot of fall colors when walking alone through the woods.It is a fitting end to such an inspired work, in that is a variation of the opening track in feel and atmosphere, steeped in modernity as the opening was in antiquity, and for an album that is predicated on feelings and emotions it makes all the more sense.
Abstractaeon has presented us with an album that mirrors the cyclical nature of the emotions they are representative of, and by the way in which they can interchangeably feed off one another so it seems a never ending loop. Much the same could be said of Ignis Natura Renovatur Integra as a whole in the best possible circumstances, as it is an album easily placed on repeat to a never-ending loop, and most worthy of doing so.
Be righteous by listening to and supporting Abstractaeon on Bandcamp: