Fountains for Assisi, Seven Movements for M.R.M., Australia, Vienna Press, Keys to the Field 034, cassette (2019)
Not often do I come across an album that combines both folk and country music influences with electronic music, especially one that not only dives deep into such a fusion but surfaces with results that are sonically rich and complex, beautiful to hear, and stark and emotional in their minimal delivery. What’s amazing is that this album is (as far as I can tell) the debut work of Fountains for Assisi, a project headed by Virginia Aveline. As its title indicates, the recording consists of seven tracks of atmospheric, darkly brooding music, all dedicated to a person dear to Aveline. The passage of time, and with it the gradual fading or disappearance of memories or objects associated with a beloved friend or relative – and perhaps by extension, the fading of aspects of culture as changing fads, trends or technologies render current customs and practices redundant or irrelevant – may be a major theme here.
At just under 29 minutes in length, this album really is best appreciated heard in one sitting so that the contrasts among different musical elements and layers, and the atmospheres and feelings they evoke, become manifest and can be appreciated fully. Most tracks are quite short which in a way is a pity because the music and the moods that appear don’t stay for long to be savoured. While much of the recording can be quiet and the pace is fairly slow, it does have its moments in tracks 3 and 6 where weeping acoustic guitar melodies dominate and the atmosphere is heavy with unspoken emotion, and in the final track where the mood darkens considerably and a deep, almost sinister power starts to emerge from what had initially been quite po-faced music. There are moments also throughout the album which appear quite angelic if a little frosty, and their placement in amongst darker passages suggests something ambiguous about them.
In its own unassuming and modest way, this recording possesses charm and powers of enchantment that draw listeners deep into worlds of nostalgic reminiscence.