Heathen Harvest: Itineris I Review

Review published on September, 01, 2011, in Heathen Harvest Periodical.

Aura Noctis is a brand new project from Spain, comprised of two female musicians, Pilar (cello, vocals) and Olga (piano, vocals, arrangements). “Itineris I” is their first full-length album, following their very recent self-titled promo presentation. It comes in a CD jewelcase packaging accompanied by beautiful artwork, depicting snowy natural landscapes in a melancholic, romantic manner. Their home is the also Spanish Gradual Hate Records, which has released recordings by acclaimed artists, among others Francisco López, :Igniis: and Silent Love of Death. Ethereal neoclassical is a difficult genre and requires a significant amount of talent, dedication and creativity in order for a project to distinguish itself within its boundaries. Perhaps for that reason, and despite the entrance of classical elements in the general post-industrial world, few projects manage to make themselves truly noticed. Its affinity to classical music makes the listeners more demanding, whereas the all too common occurrence of these elements – sometimes with questionable taste – detracts from the potential effect they might have otherwise been able to cause. It is an extremely pleasant surprise therefore, to see new blood in the scene, following the tradition of names very dear to fans, such as Arcana, Artesia, Dark Sanctuary, Dargaard.

Aura Noctis adapt that tradition properly, using its forms to create, but not to imitate. The first impression from “Itineris I” is that it’s a fresh, inventive album made by two musicians clearly skilled in interpretation, vocals and composition, as well as arrangement. The piano and cello dominate the ensemble, but each track has its own character and various components are accordingly introduced. The artists themselves label their music as Neoclassical/Darkwave. Listening to the album carefully I believe their influences balance evenly between classical and neoclassical/darkwave. For instance the sharp, quick, flowing piano sequence of “Progresiva” is very reminiscent of the renowned contemporary Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi – the same vein of intensity and harmony can be found here. The track is given a more majestic, sombre tone by the cello opposing the main melody. “Ad Ocasum”, the album opener, begins with an ominous, heavy female chorus sung in Latin, which could’ve easily been part of Wojciech Kilar’s “Dracula” score, if only it had been a little faster and more high-pitched. The voices and the piano interpose one another to bring the mood back to the realm of neoclassical.

“Breaking Thoughts” with its distressing, anxious piano sequence, the combination of ethereal and operatic vocals, the dramatic pauses, the sudden turns in melody and its overall tension evokes the much loved sounds of Michael Nyman. “D.E.S.” combines cello, piano and heavenly voices to create a downcast, fallen-from-grace atmosphere, very similar to Dark Sanctuary. “Solitude” continues from there, introducing a few lighter, electronic elements and operatic vocals, which we also find in “Luctu Furiata”. “Fantasia” and “Encontrarte” (the only track in the album with Spanish lyrics) are two more captivating, mournful tracks, while the “Journeys” trilogy (Erste, Zweite & Dritte Reise) is the climax of the compositional complexity which seems to be the stamp of Aura Noctis’ music. All three are truly inspiring, to the point where it is impossible to choose one over the others.

I started listening to “Itineris I” with the expectance of being once more carried away to enchanted forests, dreamy landscapes and poetic fancies, as is always the case with good records of this genre. The essence of romanticism is to find the beauty in melancholy, the melancholy in beauty, to focus on yourself and allow the sensations and thoughts to flow freely, the imagination to run wild, your humanity to be felt completely. An escapist form of art to some, to me it is cathartic if nothing else. Filtering the emotions through an artistic process, creating harmony and meaning out of the very depths of the soul, is that not the definition of art? My expectations were wonderfully fulfilled and now I am optimistic again, that we have something new to expect from this genre in the future. Aura Noctis have created a fine work of romantic art, impeccable in all its aspects. Loyal to their ethereal/neoclassical descent but also imbibed with their own, personal lightness of spirit, their Mediterranean freedom and harmonious plasticity. Highly recommended for fans of neoclassical as well as classical music.

Rating: 5/5

Written by: VITRIOL

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