Review: Gandum – Rituali Selvatici (El Mondo Niovo, May 20)

Rituali Selvatici is one of two inaugural releases by newborn Dutch label El Mondo Niovo, which will exclusively release recordings of experimental music that are “focused on a specific sound-space, technique, instrument or praxis.” The nearly half-hour, single-track album is (to my knowledge) the first official release by Gandum, the duo of Hague-residing sound artists Darina Žurková and Riccardo Marogna, and continues the techniques and approaches explored in 2019’s Dingen performance. True to the EMN mission statement, Rituali Selvatici is largely based on the unusual timbres of Žurková’s prepared zither, a wondrously versatile sound-making device used here to conjure crystalline drones comprised of sharp metal edges and almost sonorism-esque atonality. These enrapturing textures get the piece off to a strong start, immersing the listener so thoroughly that the gradual entry of supplementary elements like synthesizer patches and electronics goes almost unnoticed; all the parts are so seamlessly integrated that the entire track flows like the hypnotic flow of molten metal being poured into a vat. Even the most drastic alteration that occurs around the halfway point is executed flawlessly, the gossamer ambient unspoolings naturally giving way to a lush garden of delay-affected clarinet and subtle string clatter that slowly becomes more complex. Rituali Selvatici may start off sounding a bit… difficult, but stick with it and witness the careful unfurling of a beautiful, detailed soundscape.