Empty Chalice – Ondine’s Curse

The new work of Antonio Airoldi (Antonine A.), in its incarnation called Empty Chalice, is the fourth in a series of releases by Ho.Gravi.Malattie, a label with a name that is undoubtedly bizarre but completely relevant to the proposed catalogue, since each disc is dedicated to one of the many diseases that afflict humanity. Empty Chalice deals with Ondine Syndrome, a very rare but highly disabling disorder, since the organism forgets to breathe during sleep: this choice seems immediately appropriate, since the Trentino musician has long accustomed us to the performance of a form of claustrophobic ambient but at the same time always restless and in progress. If, compared to the canonical genres, ambient can be rightly defined as a sort of sound flow, in Ondine’s Curse its flow appears as disturbed as ever, as if to photograph the dyscrasia caused by a brain that refuses to provide the commands to ensure its survival. For about three quarters of an hour Airoldi offers what proves to be, once again, a peculiar and above-average interpretation of the matter, really succeeding in making the listener live the terrible battle that is fought within an organism affected by the syndrome, torn by the physiological need to sleep, on the one hand, and by the impossibility to give in to sleep otherwise the cessation of vital functions, on the other. Empty Chalice‘s ambient music certainly doesn’t flow without leaving traces: on the ground there are traces of ancestral fears and unresolved inner conflicts, with sounds that, if in The Awake, possess a hidden melodic semblance, in II they exhibit a substratum of Gregorian chants, and from III onwards they turn into the musical transposition of a bolted electroencephalogram: all this without any note or noise appearing superfluous or out of place. Ondine’s Curse confirms once more the status acquired by Antonio Airoldi, who is going to become (if not already) one of the leading names of our musical avant-garde.

2018 – HgM