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Ricardo Donoso — Sarava Exu


Sarava Exu, the latest release from Boston-by-way-of-Rio electronic experimentalist Ricardo Donoso, represents an almost direct expansion of the ideas he previously explored on his fantastic Assimilating the Shadow LP. That record dealt with the Jungian concept of coming to terms with one’s own “shadow,” or the darker, more id-driven aspects of the self which much of modern Western culture tells us to suppress. On this new release, Donoso tackles the concept of the “descent.”

While today’s culture teaches us to be in near-constant pursuit of achievement and productivity, a cultural space existed in most traditional societies and mythological frameworks for a period in a person’s life when they must “go underground,” as it were, to pass through a period of solitude and uncertainty. This was seen as necessary in order for the initiate to reconnect with their past and with the collective unconscious.

On Sarava Exu, Donoso expresses and channels this period of isolation through the language and ritual of Brazil’s Quimbanda cult. The seven sections of this interconnected musical suite move through the Seven Lines and Kingdoms of Quimbanda. Song titles chart this descent through the course of a single day, starting at “Crepusculum” (dusk – Quimbandan rituals generally occur at night) and moving through “Conticinium” (the dead of night) before arriving at “Diluculum” (dawn). Along the way, Donoso incorporates traditional Candomblé rhythms and the Brazilian percussion elements so common to much of his work, along with panoramic string arrangements and elements of drone and techno, into a cinematic and emotionally resonant dark-ambient tableau.

Much like Assimilating the Shadow extolled the virtues of coming to terms with one’s darker self, Sarava Exu extolls the virtues of allowing one’s self to surrender completely to the void, not as an act of destruction, but as an act of restoration. A means through which to come out on the other side a stronger and more complete person.

This is much heavier intellectual content than you get from most electronic music these days, even in the more experimental realms. The music is so far-out that it would easily stand on its own, but it’s really fantastic that people like Ricardo are out there on the fringes of philosophical and metaphysical thinking, giving us something to meditate on while we zone out to their trippy soundscapes. I can’t wait to hear what sort of statement he makes next.

Sarava Exu is available now from Denovali.

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