|The Venerable Dark Cloud|
69-minute extended re-release
2016 Projekt PRO330 (CD) – limited edition of 300
An ambient hybrid of traditional Indonesian soundscapes and electronics. Originally released in 2000 on Italy's Amplexus label, Loren Nerell extends THE VENERABLE DARK CLOUD's original 22 minutes to over 69 minutes, culminating in a complete vision capturing a sound that Sequences described as "modern ambient drone music (that) melds with ancient tribal cultures to form something entirely new, sounding ages old".
In 2000, Glen Hammett wrote for The Raging Consciousness Desk, THE VENERABLE DARK CLOUD "is spectacular, creative, and a delight to listen. Enchanting! The sensation the listener comes away with is one of a sacred mysterious quality, and I found myself wanting more when it ended".
Sixteen years later, the wait is over. Capturing an ambient sound informed by Indonesian gamelan music, and the concept of animism, Loren remarks, "What would it be like to be a soul or spirit inside a gong? You would not think in human ways but maybe in gamelan tones. This album is how I imagine it would be to be that gong".
From the liner notes, Loren writes:
This project started back in 1998 when Stefano Gentile asked me to contribute to his Amplexus mini-CD ambient label. The timing was perfect: I had just finished my masters degree in ethnomusicology, it had been a while since I had any time to create music, and I was very eager to get back to creating again.
The first thing that came was the title; well, actually I stole the title. THE VENERABLE DARK CLOUD is the English translation of the name given to the UCLA Javanese gamelan ensemble "Kyai Mendung". I felt this title fit the mood of the music I was writing, plus I also had this concept for what the album was about. Indonesia is predominately Islamic, but underneath there are many layers of other beliefs including Animism, the belief that everything has a soul. This has filtered down into everything including gamelan ensembles; it is thought that the spirit of the ensemble resides in its largest gong. As an outsider, I was fascinated. I wondered, "What would it be like to be a soul or spirit inside a gong?" You would not think in human ways but maybe in gamelan tones. This album is how I imagine it would be to be that gong. "Within The Cloud" is how a gong would think created using only gamelan tones that I processed.
One unique aspect of the Amplexus concept that I found challenging was the short capacity of the little 3-inch CDs they released on; they held about 23 minutes rather than the 74 minutes on a standard CD. It was a challenge, but I found around 22 minutes of music to include. I felt and still feel it is the strongest work I have produced to date.
Fast forward about ten years; the CD is long out of print. Steve Roach suggested that I release the CD again but this time as a full-length version. I went back into my archives and found a couple of tracks that I did not include on the original release due to length. "Liquid Metal Statis" appeared on the Hypnos Compilation CD Weightless, Effortless and has been slightly remixed for this disc. The other was an alternative version of the song "Eclipse," now called "Another Cloud". Completing the vision are tracks "Tenganan Grove" and "Lambat Lane".
|The Venerable Dark Cloud|
1999 Amplexus XUS12 (Mini CD)
Loren Nerell is known for his fondness for gamelan music. You get the idea of his blending of music elements when you see that his latest CD was recorded over the last few years in Bali, Java, and... Los Angeles. Modern ambient drone music melds with ancient tribal cultures to form something entirely new, sounding ages old. As usual with Amplexus limited edition 3" singles, the packaging is beautiful, featuring a large 3-fold booklet with photography by the label's Stefano Gentile. Being a single, this is 21 minutes of new music. The journey of musical exploration ends far too soon, but it is very, very good while it lasts. The textures are rich, as drones blend with sparse tribal beats and ancient instruments, such as the crystal clear but other-worldly bell tones in "Eclipse". Just reading the credits for the instrumentation used is fascinating, as I couldn't tell you what most of them are. They are fused into a hypnotic mix of soothing sounds, truly transporting you to another place and time. The music is simultaneously dark and yet spiritually uplifting. "Within the Cloud" is appropriately named, as it is light and delicate, though again with a dark quality that keeps this far from new age realms. This track takes surprisingly smooth musical turns, given at least three distinct movements over its less than four-minute run. The disc is clearly intended to be played at one sitting, as it all runs together as a single piece of music. "Ablution" begins with flutes, rain, thunder, and a rooster crowing. The spatial effect is amazing, as the rainfall seems to be coming from deep within the speakers. Then, just when I'm fully drawn in, it's over. More, please. -- Phil Derby, Sequences
rare limited edition 3-inch CD