The Faded Orbit is a joint project between Iranian composer Siavash Amini and Sardinian sound artist Eugenio Caria, who goes by Saffronkeira. The six selections herein began life as field recordings sourced by Caria, who then handed them to Amini for his musical interpretation. The resulting music is difficult to describe but nowhere near as challenging to absorb. All you have to do is start the album, lean back, and let it do the rest of the work. The Faded Orbit is something that only Denovali could have released, and we’re all the better for it.
Amini may qualify as a composer of electronic music, but the music of The Faded Orbit sounds too organic to be rooted in electronics. It could qualify as beatless, isolationist ambient, but some passages wouldn’t be considered “soothing” by anyone’s definition. “Musique concrète” gets a little closer to the heart of the matter but sounds too clinical to define the sounds accurately. Traditional musical characteristics like key signature and tempo are non-existent, but The Faded Orbit still behaves like music – the kind that puts stuff commonly assigned as “cinematic” to shame. The formless, nebulous blobs that Amini and Caria have sculpted have taken on a life of their own, transcending words like “dramatic” and “experimental”.
At 34 minutes, The Faded Orbit does not overstay its welcome. “A Lambent Assembly” gets the album started paradoxically, blending bright rays of the morning with ominous grows from the underworld, all set to chirping crickets. “Concave” and “Emanation” employ droning to different severities, the latter sounding like someone sanded the edges around Boyd Rice. “Forgotten Machinations” contains noises that could pass for someone sitting on an organ, someone learning the cello, someone dangling a microphone into a windstorm, and a sample of bagpipes that the two weren’t sure how to incorporate. I’m likely wrong on all counts, but that is how the sounds are coming across. But as intense as “Forgotten Machinations” is, it’s no match for “Kernel”, arguably the album’s centerpiece.
“Kernel” fades in like an approaching sandstorm, giving just a hint of the forthcoming tension. A droning tone then turns to metallic static, grinding away at the mix with a ferocity not typically found in most electronic music. The noise comes to a dead stop at 2:18, resetting “Kernel” to its place of origin. This time the foreboding tones keep the metallic static at bay as they morph into sky-wide chords that hover over the arrangement. “Kernel” began life as one of the most violent tracks on the album, only to become one of its more peaceful moments towards the end of its 7:10 run.
The longest track is the final one. In just under ten minutes, “Sanguineus” uses its time to create a strain that almost escapes the listener’s notice. It has its serene moments, but they are constantly undercut by low-end rumbles, cavernous cadences, and unresolved chords that have to compete with the sound of chattering birds. It’s a fitting conclusion to such a beautifully strange journey. Anyone with a $200 keyboard can make spooky music, but Amini and Caria have gone and made eerie sounds that move in an intoxicatingly musical way.