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‘Rituals’ is the new album of spiralling drone & ambient formations by Italian artist Danilo Betti aka April Clocks (Union Editions / Mixed Up); a new work of sublime disorientation by the Rimini-based outlier, arising from a period of reinvigorated artistic practice.
Emerging just over a year after the project’s second album ‘It Takes Time’, ‘Rituals’ heads deeper into spheres of consuming, hypnagogic haze, coursing through nine coalescent compositions of amorphous yet absorbing electronics.
Where ‘It Takes Time’ represented an autodidactic interpretation of Betti’s formative influences – namely shoegaze & proto-ambient - ‘Rituals’ is an enigmatic proposition, the product of subconscious resonances, a mysterious sound world that finds traces of evanescent beauty and uncanny captivation in sustained tones, cavernous oscillations, and aesthetic imperfections, like the notes of subtle surface noise embedded within many of these productions.
Attesting to the value of Betti’s background as an industrious solo artist, making music away from prevailing sites of activity, ‘Rituals’ consolidates the inspirations and hallmarks of the April Clocks project into an acute reflection of Betti’s vision, one that feels completely his own.
In the buried somnolent splendour of the opener ‘Hypersleep’, through the sound art rustle and time-stretched cycles of ‘A Cure’, into the stroboscopic magnitude of ‘Ceremony’ and the haunting string loops of ‘Coward’, Betti captures compelling impressions drawn from a submerged perspective; a deluge of smokescreens and crosscurrents from the other side.
Bearing the influence of subliminal states, ‘Rituals’ is nevertheless lucid and arresting. There are sumptuous holding patterns of ambient evaporation that stream into vast maelstroms of sound (‘Displaced Euphoria’), enervated organ themes that distil sensations of stasis and dissociation (‘Wound’), as well as psychedelic movements in wide tracts of negative space (‘No Time, No Land’). From here, the acoustic glitch of ‘Disappearer’ and the stratospheric slipstreams of ‘Mirror Being’ bring the album to an astonishingly dramatic conclusion.
Throughout such moments of reverie and tension, ‘Rituals’ makes for a hypnotic listening experience. It’s an album that signals a pronounced sense of development for the April Clocks project, from past vestiges of physicality to present degrees of heightened abstraction and ethereality, from the Warp-influenced rhythms and frameworks of ‘It Takes Time’ to the wide- ranging, experimental sounds that unfold here.
Encompassing forms of decomposition and otherworldly futurism, decay and sublimation, distortion and lustre, this is unique, cerebral music that reaches inward and ascends outward, drifting elsewhere, according to its own coordinates.
Recorded and Mixed at Tower of Disintegration, 2022.
Mastered by Miles Whittaker.