Xenomorphic

by Ascanio Borga

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about

Mixing guitars, bass, synthesizers, samples, percussions, objects, field-recording and even more sources,"Xenomorphic" is probably Ascanio's most evoluted work.
With its feet in Ambient territory, the album features a wide range of musical solutions, showcasing the author's will to create a work where appearently distant elements converge and experimentation is put into a more accessible form.

www.aferecords.com/releases/afe111lcd.htm

L'utilizzo di frammenti di "Archaggelos" dal disco "Avaddohn" di MB fa da cartello e dichiarazione d'intenti, o meglio, caratterizza il percorso comune intrapreso da Ascanio Borga e Maurizio Bianchi. L'artwork - anch'esso opera di Borga - sfocato e alieno fa da supporto e compare visivo di un suono che cresce e riempe tutti gli spazi, ombre e sospiri, un'apnea - come da titolo della terza traccia - che non si spezza, lacerando spiritualmente il flusso sottomarino fatto di onde e flussi continui. Una marcia immobile in cui la banda immaginaria - ma non gli strumenti, molti e ben calibrati - guida l'anima in spazi aperti. "Equilibrium" è elegante e precisa, bilanciata come un silenzio accarezzato, preso in grembo, cullato e reso suono puro, angelico ed infernale, simbolo degli opposti. I brani iniziati nel 2004 trovano qui la loro perfetta natura. La genesi è compiuta.

Stefano Fanti - www.rockit.it/album/12188/ascanio-borga-xenomorphic

Xenomorphic (2008) collects four compositions. The 30-minute Apnea is an exercise in slowly shifting textures, starting with subaquatic warped electronic melodies and transforming into more and more oneiric soundscapes, until the guitar ends it with a raga-like invocation. This probably marks the zenith of Borga's career together with Bad Ground. After a brief interlude of white noise, the 18-minute Xenomorphic blends shamanic drumming and sinister drones to create the backdrop for a loop of heavy-metal guitar riffs that is eventually attacked by industrial clangors and hisses. The 14-minute Equilibrium is a more conventional piece of ambient and cosmic music for electronics and guitar, but the 10-minute Raw Ground dabbles in harsh, disturbing drones that sounds like a counterpart to the stereotypical gentle textures of ambient music.

piero scaruffi - www.scaruffi.com/avant/borga.html

The title translates as "of strange form", unsettling yet vital and dynamic and freighted with possibility, to paraphrase the artist. Most of the tracks were produced over long periods of time, sometimes years, and the patient craftsmanship shows. Ascanio Borga produced all sounds heard on the album, especially showcasing heavily treated guitar, though he did borrow a little bit from maverick noisenik Maurizio Bianchi for the opening track.

A distinctly tribal setting is established on that track, pervaded with a certain sense of imbalance. Sound flies at the listener in jagged shards out of a dark cloud of drone, serrated and dissonant, a guitar under torture. The air is filled with grey dread, sweeping up and spinning everything in its path. "Equilibrium" is restored with a sense of calm returning to the skies above. As this second piece draws to a close, a shower of remnants, evoked by the twinkling of a windchime, serves as a subtle reminder of the storm.

"Apnea (The Hollow Mind)" is the last and longest of the three main suites into which Xenomorphic is arranged. Suddenly the sound field becomes populated as voices, traffic, hubbub can be heard. It is as if a reemergence is taking place: people are coming out of hiding, everything is now fresh and clean, the music conveys a sense of wonder and colour. The burst of electric guitar soloing sounds like joy and rebirth. It is certainly the most satisfying piece on the album. In showing great restraint it makes the largest impact.

The blistering guitar of "Raw Ground" serves as a coda, tearing up fresh earth in which to plant new ideas. In all, it repeats a theme of "Bad Ground" (a previous Borga album reviewed elsewhere in Sonomu), but with a more sanguine view of the future.

Stephen Fruitman - sonomu.net/text/~ascanio-borga-xe/

Fluviale, il polistrumentismo di Ascanio Borga a base di chitarra "trattata", sintetizzatori, percussioni,
strumenti etnici. Suoni alchemici e tribali, Dead Can Dance, metal ed ECM ("Xenomorphic"); sviluppi ambient ora esoterici ("Equilibrium"), ora isolazionisti ("Raw Ground"). E poi quel processo iniziatico che dai field recordings arriva ad un riverbero cangiante di chitarra ("Apnea"), summa d'una poetica massimalista ed arcaica ma non priva di suggestione.

Dionisio Capuano - Blow Up 133

Ascanio Borga cut his teeth playing guitar in noise rock bands, evidence of which rears its head fairly early into Xenomorphic, his new disk on the under-recognized Afe label. The (title) track starts off in an ambient neo-Eno vein and then splits off into a thumping one chord metal riff. It's only metal in relation to the guitar tone actually. If the tone was different it could pass for a Krautrock motif because of the stuttering, repetitive rhythm. Borga augments the guitar pattern with other guitar noises, sometimes gratuitous soloing, tasteful percussion and a bevy of granulated background sounds. There also seems to be some bass, which sounds like the real deal, though it's getting increasingly more difficult to tell these days, with the advent of digital music programming. Borga has a musical background, and the painterly quality of the aforementioned title track makes this very evident. He starts the piece with noise, subtly piling on each element, slowly building forward momentum, the caps it off with the same noisy background which began it.

The next track, Equilibrium, is a bit closer to what some might simply label "ambient", for lack of a better term. It features similar tribal percussion, along with a sound which could have been generated by either very carefully controlled guitar drones or synthesizers. Regardless, it's a sweeping sound which starts somewhere off in the distance, then gets nearer sounding, the tone of which reminds me of a woodwind instrument. The spatial quality of the track puts sense to the title, yet for some reason I imagined the sound as large birds swooping overhead.

The centerpiece of the album is the thirty minute long Apnea (the Hollow Mind). It's more nightmarish than the album's other tracks, at least in part. It's very subtle, wandering into little interludes of almost cinematic clarity over the first twenty minutes or so. Close listening is rewarded. Percussion doesn't figure into the piece, which I suppose takes it into "beat-less ambient" territory, but it's best to forget the terminology and enjoy the ride. After the first twenty minutes, the music dies down to near silence, then fades up slowly to a drone, which sounds generated by keyboards, then e-bow guitars. Borga then adds a few minutes of wandering guitar soloing over the backing to the track's conclusion.

The last track is a noisy, feedback encrusted swirl of drone called Raw Ground. It's simple, but quite effective. The various frequencies generated by guitar feedback, a mid toned e-bow (or in any event an e-bow-like sound) and a boatload of unidentified sounds make for a fine end to Xenomorphic. Borga hasn't really created anything completely new here, but what makes it interesting is that he isn't afraid to follow his own lead. It's rare to hear an experimental musician nowadays mix rock elements with ambient sounds, and it's even rarer for such a thing to succeed. Borga pulls it off because he sounds authentic, like he's making this music for himself. It's this attitude which also makes it a distinctive experience for the listener.

Erwin Michelfelder - www.musiquemachine.com/reviews/reviews_template.php?id=2209

È proprio quando do le cose per scontate che mi capita di venire smentito, ma ho finalmente capito che sono gli alieni che mi mandano messaggi come a Perry Farrell, se la qual cosa accade in occasione di un disco, beh, c’è sia da stupirsene che da esserne felici, forse non sono ancora inchiodato ai miei preconcetti (o almeno non del tutto). Ennesima riprova di quanto detto è il nuovo lavoro di Ascanio Borga su Afe, avevo delle buone aspettative dato che i primi due dischi erano molto ben fatti, ma direi che seguendo una progressione dal primo lavoro all’ultimo questo rappresenti un gran salto di qualità. Borga era partito facendo dark-ambient ed in un certo senso è rimasto coerente all'idea, ma l'estetica è cambiata parecchio, innanzitutto direi che ha finito per introdurre gradualmente sempre più suoni di chitarra riconoscibili e in questo caso ha assemblato un disco di fronte a cui ci si può togliere il cappello senza indugi. In un certo senso il musicista romano per cercare la propria identità si è guardato alle spalle e non di fianco, quindi niente drone-ambient di quart'ordine alla Sunn o))) o black metal dei poveri e cazzate del genere, a tratti ci si ritrovano scorie di Robert Rich, ambient e isolazionismo del periodo d'oro di etichette e di circuiti che partorivano Muslimegauze, Extreme, Amplexus, Fripp, Measure for Measure, Hic Sunt Leones, Alio Die, Amon, Maurizio Bianchi e giù di lì. Verrebbe naturale pensare che questo quindi sia un disco "vecchio" ed invece no, ha semplicemente un gusto retrò, quello di sicuro, ma è un disco parecchio maturo tanto che basterebbero le prime due tracce per giustificarne l’acquisto. Percussioni tenute sul fondo, droni morbidi e micro melodie, tappeti cupi e ambientazioni semplicemente intime ma non necessariamente cupe. Un album molto ben prodotto e ricco di suoni che vanno dalle chitarre trattate ai bassi, ai sintetizzatori, carillon, campioni, oggetti e tutto nei termini in cui sia necessario per il disco. Un lavoro che per quel che mi riguarda ha tutto quello che si può ancora trovare di bello in un disco ambientale/ambientoso nonostante si tratti di un circuito tanto per cambiare saturo di mateirale (di cui molto scadente). Proprio di recente mi era capitato di sentire un gran bel lavoro di Markus Reuter insieme a Robert Rich e di pensare che per quanto certi suoni o certe melodie (o più che altro certi percorsi) siano stati molto battuti, la differenza di livello c'è e si sente ancora e anche nel caso di Borga direi che ci sia poco da commentare in merito visto la fattura del disco salta subito all’orecchio. Drone ambient a tratti cupa, a tratti depressa ma sempre profonda come la gola di Linda Lovelace "...una vita per il cinema".

Andrea Ferraris - www.sodapop.it

Releases by Ascanio Borga seem to come with the ticking of the years clock. The first three were reviewed in Vital Weekly 550 and then 'Peripheral Vision' in Vital Weekly 600 and little over a year later (57 issues!) his first non-private release on Afe Records.
It seems to me that his music has made a nice step forward. Until now it was all mainly non-rhythmic ambient music in the best Hypnos tradition of heavily treated guitar works, here he adds percussion, windchimes, Japanese carillon, frog guiro, samples, found sounds and objects.
Three long pieces and one shorter coda 'Raw Ground' at the end of the release. The music is still largely in the ambient sector, with the addition of pseudo ethnic drumming and careful percussion. Somewhere towards the end of 'Apnea' e-bow guitars come in, adding an extra texture of seventies cosmic music.
Still there is nothing new under the sun for Borga, but these new pieces mark an important step forward, the deepening of the sound of Borga. It makes a fuller, richer sound, still with all things beautiful. Borga wants to lull you to sleep, late at night and he does a very fine job at that.

Frans de Waard - www.vitalweekly.net/657.html

credits

released October 27, 2008

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ab - treated guitar & bass, synthesizers, percussion, windchimes, japanese carillon, frog guiro, samples, found sounds, objects

all music & cover design by ab

track 1 recorded january 2005 - june 2008
track 2 recorded december 2004 - april 2008
track 3 recorded december 2004 - march 2008
track 4 recorded september 2007
mixing/mastering may-june 2008

track 1 contains fragments of ARCHAGGELOS by Maurizio Bianchi, from the album AVADDHON (Transmit, 2007), courtesy of M.B.

thanks: Andrea Marutti, Maurizio Bianchi

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