Music Reviews
Arrington De Dionyso

Arrington De Dionyso

Breath Of Fire

K Records

Difficult album alert! Oh fuck you, if only it was that easy. It never is. Arrington De Dionyso has earned my eternal respect and love as frontman of kinetic garage proselytizers Old Time Relijun, a taut and wiry corps never averse to a call-and-response/hallelujah chorus or two. But De Dionyso’s new solo record for K, Breath of Fire, is another beast entirely, and trust me, that careworn metaphor has never been more apt. Recorded spontaneously and instantaneously (no overdubs for you) over Christmas 2004, at a home in Italy, using only bass clarinet, jaw harps and VOICE, Breath of Fire feels like an ancient incantation or summoning. Whereas Old Time Relijun is tense and disciplined, De Dionyso’s aesthetic here is ecstatic, visionary, pagan and experimental. And yet, the 21 pieces on the disc are compact and self-contained, almost perversely so; Arrington is like a Satie, or Mortician, of meditative free-noise-improv, there’s no sprawl to be found on these tracks.

At various times, the music on this album reminded me variously of Michael Patton, Yma Sumac, John Zorn, Pharaoh Sanders, Deicide, Captain Beefheart, Tuvan throat singers, Yamatsuka Eye and Diamanda Galas. And that’s some fucking good company to share. The photos and packaging are a revelation too, providing clues behind the creation of such an intensely individual work. Arrington stands or kneels on a spartan stage, completely focused on the work at hand. A small array of instruments are arranged in a semicircle around him, and tellingly, he’s removed his shoes and placed them almost offstage, as if he’s entered a sacred space. Ah, perhaps that’s the key; while many of the sonic outlaws that I alluded to earlier are in search of a more extroverted, angry, or gleeful expression of noise, De Dionyso’s explorations emphasize elements of séance, trance, ritual, meditation, confession.

Or perhaps the compositions on Breath of Fire are like little prayers, each one distinct, a separate evocation or purpose. Not nearly enough people are going to hear this album, fewer are going to take the time to wrap their heads around it. That’s a fucking shame. De Dionyso has summoned forth a brave record, with an overwhelming sense of wonder, devotion and even loss. Listen to this with the lights out.

K Records:

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