a closer listen

Deison | Mingle ~ Tilaventum

One needs a poet’s heart to appreciate the wrapped gift of Tilaventum: a stone from the river included with every physical purchase.  Mine is a perfectly rounded skipping stone, so I’ll need to resist the urge to try it in my own sea.  An instant connection is formed across bodies of water, across continents.  The photos show that many stones are ringed; my grandfather once told me that such stones are good luck.

Stretching from the Alps to the Adriatic, the 111-mile gravel bedded Tagliamento River (whose Latin name is used in the title) incorporates glacial melt and the shade of black pines.  It serves as a border, but is known more for its beauty.  The current project, designed by Sandra Tonizzo, offers a tactile impression to accompany the music and keepsake box.  One holds the stone in the palm and wonders at the impact of a river so beautiful that it turns the music of Deison and Mingle from dark to light.

Yes, this is the same duo whose music has been (pleasantly) unsettling people for years.  But there’s something about the Tagliamento that calms the soul, and is translated to this release.  The CD feels different from the duo’s other projects: more restrained, even reverent.  The beats are still present, but the textures are more important.  The river itself makes an appearance on “Tilament”, along with the sounds of birds in the trees.  One imagines a river journey by boat or on foot.  For a while, the album simply flows, awash in ambient touches like floating leaves.  Not until the fourth track do we hear the expected Deison | Mingle sound, as the drums presage the entry of a nearly industrial timbre.  At this point, it comes as a surprise, an accumulated density that imitates the collection of debris around a bend.  After this, one begins to imagine the album not merely as a reflection of a river, but of the things that might happen along the river.  The Tagliamento is not just a body of water, but an ecosystem, a divider, a bearer of history.

The processed river sounds add a sense of mystery.  “Sotteraneo” (“Underground”) is as murky as its namesake, a descent into unknown territory, while “Grave” rattles with dark pulses.  In these tracks, we are able to form a connection to the duo’s prior material.  But there’s also a sense of excitement, found in the splashing of “Pietra Viva” (“Living Stone”).  Water is the foundation of life, and life and death are always intertwined.  In “21.00.12”, the battle finally breaks the boundaries, with electronic horns like trumpet calls and the sound of clashing swords.  The banks are overflowing.  But then, as they are wont to do, as they have been doing since the beginning of time, the waters recede, revealing soft placidity.  The cycle is complete, ready to start anew, as sure as the stone thrown in the river will eventually find its way back to the banks.  (Richard Allen)