Roberto Opalio - "The last night of the Angel of Glass, Vol.I & II" 2xCD (A Silent Place)

My Cat Is An Alien / Fabio Orsi - "For Alan Lomax" CD (A Silent Place)

MCIAA / Christian Marclay & Okkyung Lee - " From the earth to the Spheres, Vol.6" CD (A Silent Place)

Praxinoscope - "s/t" picture disc LP (A Silent Place)

My Cat Is An Alien - "Different shades of Blue" LP+7" (A Silent Place)

Using just voice and guitar, Robert Opalio has crafted a swirling, drifting soundscape on "The Last Night Of The Angel Of Glass Vol. 1&2". Recorded in one take, the music has an energy of its own, creating a magical invocation as it changes the very room in which it is playing, demanding to be heard. Vol. 1 was originally released as the soundtrack to one of Roberts own films, whilst part 2 is previously unreleased.
As well as working as a solo artist, Robert Opalio is one half (along with brother Maurizio) of My Cat Is An Alien whose split CD "For Alan Lomax" with Fabio Orsi contains two long pieces of drone inspired psychedelia. As ever changing as the clouds "Spring No More And Love Come In The Wind" -Fabio Orsi, is a delicate and uplifting piece, full of subtle textures and pulsing percussion, that calms and soothes as it gently tumbles from the speakers. By contrast "Heart Of The EartH"-My Cat Is An Alien, has a harsher metallic feel, full of scraping and rattling, sounding like a colony of short-tempered robotic seabirds, before the piece slowly dissolves into a distorted cavernous drone.
My Cat Is An Alien also share a split CD with Turntable-manipulator Christian Marclay and cellist Okkyung Lee, and it is their live collaboration "Rubbing" that opens the album. Full of disjointed sounds, scratches and stabs of cello, the piece is a rollercoaster of sonic experimentation, the two players complementing each other to create a wonderfully playful piece of music. After A tentative sounding opening "Beyond The Limit Of The Stars/Beyond The Limit Of The Grooves" Slowly begins to become denser and more claustrophobic as heavily distorted sound begin to engulf the music, until you are looking over your shoulder waiting for the aliens to arrive.
With Robert Opalio on voice and cosmic effects, and Ramona Ponzini on Japanese bells and wind percussion, the self-titled album from Praxinoscope is a fragile and extremely beautiful album that has an almost Zen-like atmosphere. Recorded with no overdubs the album transcends time and space to create a stillness that has magical power, transporting the listener into another realm, the music of dreams. Released on picture disc, this is an essential purchase for the curious listener.
Much as I enjoy all the side projects that Robert Opalio is involved with, I feel his best work is achieved when working with his brother as the aforementioned My Cat Is An Alien. Proof of this can be gained by listening to the re-mastered vinyl edition of "Different Shades Of Blue" (Originally released in 2004), on which the brothers work their magic to full effect, taking the listener to a remote planet where strange thing can happen at any moment. Sounding not unlike a 1950s sci-fi soundtrack, the music sweeps and glides through the cosmos, echoing and bouncing across space with playful abandon. Within all this strangeness there is a warm humanity, shades of melody, and a pure heart that gives the music a very listenable quality. With one of Roberts paintings as the cover this is another exceptional release from an exceptional band.
(Steve Pescott, March 2007, Terrascope)

Painting Petals On Planet Ghost - "s/t" LP (Time-Lag Records)

"The resoundingly well-named Painting Petals on Planet Ghost is a My Cat is an Alien side-project featuring MCIAA brothers, Maurizio & Roberto Opalio, and their longtime collaboarator, Ramona Ponzini. However, this record is the obverse of what one might expect, traversing a spectral, isolationist landscape light years removed from the comsmological outings of MCIAA. For this project, Ponzini plays Edo-period shrine maiden to the Opalio's indentured court musicians. Except, instead of Maurizio and Roberto playing shamisen, koto or taiko, they construct a rice-paper thin-but-strong structure from toy piano, ghostly keyboard tones, antique accordion, percussion, tape effects, and the occasional treated acoustic guitar. The five pieces on the record are, at their most basic level, Japanese poems intoned in a child-like manner over a bed of toy and antique instruments. However, the effect is somewhat other than basic - the trio skilfully intoning Zen mantras for the easing of frayed nerves, played out in encapsulated space, and with many resonating voids for the receptive to fall helplessly into. As in traditional Japanese music, much is made of the power of the silence, the resonance of decaying tones, and the weight of the suspenseful interval. Listening to Ponzini, in my minds eye I see the heroine of the first chapter of the 1966 Japanese compendium horror film 'Kwaidan' - the supernatural "woman with the long black hair" as she extracts her revenge against the archetypal unreliable husband. This film, from which so many have subsequently drawn, has an exquisite visual and sonic aesthetic that is not easily matched, but this release is certainly not disgraced when placed alongside it. From the opening 'Sakura No Hana No Oto Ga Kikoeru' with its simple incantations over Roberto's "cosmic piano toy", to the closing 'Sakurabana', where accordion drones leave inedible tracks in the mind, not a note or instrumental choice seems anything other than deeply considered and transcendentally placed. The artefact matches the music for attention to detail. The LP comes pressed on 180 gram virgin vinyl, and packaged with a letterpress printed cover and insert printed with copper ink on thick handmade ivory art paper, each sheet cast one at a time and air dried, apparently. As far as I know, there are no plans for a CD version, so expect the numbered copies of 560 to go quickly, as seems to be the way of things now."
(Tony Dale, Terrascope)

My Cat Is An Alien - "The Cosmological Eye Trilogy" 3CD set (Last Visible Dog)

Combining Two previously released tracks with five new recording, this sprawling triple disc set re-defines kosmiche musick with its deep space exploration made sound approach. Each of the disc uses a far away galaxy as its inspiration, the music easily re-creating the distances involved, invoking a physical isolation in the listener, a sense of being utterly alone and completely over awed by the sheer size of the universe.
Disc one is dedicated to the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy, which lies 19 million miles away and was discovered by Edward Pigott on march 23, 1779.Opening track, the 14 minute “The Cosmological Eye Introduction” is a magickal ritual of drone, voice and cymbals, drawing protection for the traveller as he prepares for the epic voyage ahead. For most space/drone bands it would be the centrepiece of the album, but for these seasoned travellers it is merely the beginning, a mere preparation, before “Into The Sleeping Beauty Galaxy” takes us deep into the heart of the cosmos, a slow moving, fifty five minute drone, that settles like dust around the room, creating a timeless ambience that defies gravity as it creaks and stutters towards its final destination.
Disc two concentrates on the Sombrero Galaxy, which lies 28 million light years away, was discovered by Pierre Mechain on May 11,1781, and is thought have a black hole in its centre. Opening with “The Helix Nebula” the shortest piece on the set (7:59), this disc takes on a different hue, sounding like a distant explosion, the reverberations of which head towards the listener threatening to engulf him in a brutal wall of primeval drumming, before the storm slowly passes revealing the vastness of space in all its cold impartiality as we enter “Into The Sombrero Galaxy” 40 minutes of reverb and echo, guitars and percussion scratching random pattern across the universe, the aural equivalent of a painting by Miro. Lastly on disc two “The Triffid Nebula” is another variation on the theme, a pulsing shapeshifter of a drone, sounding like a meteor shower as it moves through space, each separate sound creating the illusion of a single body moving in unison, and possibly my favourite piece on this astonishing album.
For Disc Three the inspiration is the Whirlpool Nebula discovered on October 13, 1773 by Charles Messier, whilst its even fainter companion was discovered on March 21,1781 by Pierre Mechain.It is believed to be 31 million light years away, and is one of the finest examples of a spiral galaxy. “Into The Whirlpool Galaxy”, the first of two tracks on this disc, is almost a whisper, a sound that conveys the faintness of the galaxy it represents, a gentle swirl of ever expanding space debris, the violence of its centre dissipated by the great distances involved. Finally we reach “The Orion Nebula” more whispered drone, giving us time to contemplate the vast journey we have undertaken, as we slowly drift into uncharted space, lost in the infinite, alone but unafraid.
(Simon Lewis, February 2006, The Ptolemaic Terrascope)