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Asofy : Nessun luogo

The new album from Asofy has the capacity to both absorb and stimulate with its meditative moodiness.

Good to see Asofy making a reappearance - in fact, this was an album that, when I heard it was coming, inspired me to put in a preorder for the limited-to-50-unique-copies boxset version. That's sold out now, so, well, tough if you weren't as quick off the mark, but you can at least still get the standard digi version, which does at least contain exactly the same musical oeuvre. And I'm going to lay my cards on the table up front, and suggest that you do so post-haste, even though that probably makes the rest of the review a little redundant.

Still here? Then I'll be delighted to tell you a little more about why I rate both the band and the album. Starting with my long-held view that's it's a very narrow path to successfully steer, if you set out anywhere on the Black/Doom spectrum - you need a particularly deft hand to reconcile those antagonistic aesthetics in a meaningful way. Well, Asofy, and particularly main man Tryfar, have that touch in spades, and the evolution from 2001's 'ebYm' to 2013's 'Percezione' album culminated beautifully with the latter's lush, ambivalent, and largely-instrumental look at the fate of one of Satan's ordinary foot-soldiers after losing the Great War against Heaven. Seriously, who could argue against that being the metaphysical heart and soul of what Doom is about?

Asofy 2017 would appear to have returned to being an entirely solo project with guest contributions. Probably a wise move, in all honesty - their chosen path requires a very specific hand on the tiller to negotiate, which is one of the few situations where the purity of an individual vision generally trumps the synergy of a band working together. And Tryfar's vision is very much an individual one. It's moved some way from the raw and more obviously Black Metal-influenced debut, towards a much less classifiable blend of guitar-driven blackened Doom and Post-Rock that varies from tranquil and dreamy to harder-edged and threatening, backed by crisp, clear and precise percussion. The sparse vocals are whispered hoarsely, often only semi-distinguishably, in Italian. Compositionally and sonically, this comes a lot closer to revisiting the laid-back 2007 sophomore short album/long EP 'Lento procedere prima del sonno' than it is to predecessor 'Percezione'. Minimalist in instrumental approach, the layered guitar and bass sometimes stand alone for entire tracks, for others they're joined by drums. Guest female vocals make a brief appearance, as ghostly and wraith-like as the male ones. A glockenspiel features, surprisingly effectively, alongside them for the track 'Fosca', while keys are used sparsely to ornament tracks like the ominous-sounding 'Orizzonte'. The latter, along with the atypically urgently-paced title track, perhaps come closest to a decent touchstone comparison, in that they're reminiscent of Akira Yamaoka's atmospheric and cinematic game soundtracks - though in common with 'Lento...', there are also moments where bands like Dolorian may come to mind.

In addition to the standard booklet containing lyrics and credits the box set includes a second Compendium, elaborating on the concept behind the album (this is also available as part of the digital version, though it's not specified whether it comes with the standard digi). Nessun luogo, meaning 'Nowhere', is a non-linear look at the gradual destruction and change wrought on the outer suburb where Tryfar lives as the city overtakes it and modernization and rebuilding follow along. There's no particular narrative behind it, just moments of observation and poetry illuminating Asofy's characteristically ambiguous balance between viewing both positive and negative aspects.

It's quite a gentle presentation, in point of fact: without storyline or insistence on any particular standpoint, the music seems very much a starting-point for the listener to populate with their own thoughts and images - or those suggested by the photographs of the suburban area provided in the Compendium - whilst floating on its largely melancholic tides. Clearly, that sort of thing isn't for everyone, but 'Nessun luogo's capacity to both absorb and stimulate is its real strength. It's proper, hauntingly atmospheric, meditative and gloomy mood music that allows you to take as much out of it as you want: a perfect soundtrack for dark days and long sleepless nights, and different enough to be a welcome diversion into rarely-trodden doom territories.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Lontana da me
2. Nemeton
3. Fosca
4. Infine
5. Figure scure
6. Orizzante
7. Memoria
8. Piccola disperazione
9. Nessun luogo

Duration : Approx. 60 minutes

Visit the Asofy bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-06-04 by Mike Liassides
Rotten Copper
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