Aeriola Frequency by Rafael Toral is nothing short of a toxic green sleeved masterpiece. More than anything else I’ve heard so far in this fucked-up year, this is pure spine-tingling alchemy.
Like most of Toral’s work, this album, originally released in 1998 (on Perdition Plastics) explores a particular set up. Other than mocking myself for missing it at the time, what better time than now to submerse in this feedback looping mandala? Gone are the guitars, strings or any actual instruments of his previous Sound Mind Sound Body (1994), Wave Field (1995) or Chasing Sonic Booms (1996) albums. There is nothing here other than pure electronic resonance that dances and digests itself for every breath-taking second of this Black Truffle reissue.
The album groups Cyclorama Lift 3 and 4 (the digital version also includes the 46-minute Cyclorama Lift 2) but the what we really have here is a recording that steps outside any normal notion of tracks. What we have here is a stash of sonic drugs.
Imagine the actual sound components that make up your favourite electronic drone record. But all of the long electronic spaghetti strands of sound become separated and shattered rather than stretching towards the infinite. The slow illusion of growth or expansion reconfigured instead into hanging knots of ebb and flow. Out of that gradual levitation inherent in the sound, a matrix of ups and downs tighten into focussed clusters.
The effect teases out a gently billowing curtain of sound that slowly moves through the ghost of every conceivable instrumental fingerprint. Harmonicas, trumpets, guitars, harps, pianos, everything half oozes out the syrupy spectral thread – a concert in another realm.
There are points where these embalmed fragments gather into patterns that suggest rock grooves or orchestral forms but are purely mirages formed out of ethereal broth. It’s tempting to continually try to understand what’s actually happening as the sounds move but sooner or later, it’s just clear we’re being invited into something truly special. Headphone and speaker listens, both yield breath taking unique wonders.
Much discussion around Aeriola Frequency likens the process and outcome to that of plants. An environment of forms expanding and enmeshing, stretching up and reaching down, all hemmed in by clear geometries and structures. It’s easy to feel the album is like a generative slow pan through a botanical space. But for us, the clearest analogy is the thought of the wind turbine on the sleeve. Heavily pixelated and colour fried, the blades slicing through vast banks of unseen gas, slicing and ribboning countless turbulent edges drawn in space.
It might be accurate to describe this music as one that simply outlines a phenomenon, possibly even a little more than a scientific experiment on some levels. But in Toral’s hands, the academic dissolves into a rarefied and potent strain of creativity delivered by a true artist.
Aeriola Frequency revisits the psychedelic strata layered world mapped out by visionaries like Alvin Lucier, except this time, you’re wearing a virtual reality headset. It’s absolute perfection.
Aeriola Frequency out on 30 October on vinyl and digital on Black Truffle Records