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Ato Vari - Stele [Perfect Aesthetics - 2019]

Ato Vari's latest release Stele is a real gem of sound art! After the  2017 debut album Brevis, put out by Danish label Posh Isolation,  with his mystical second release Louise followed on Holy Geometry in 2018.  Now Ato Vari, also known as Mads Gravers Nielsen, returns with his third cassette release Stele on the wonderful Russian label Perfect Aesthetics.  Three releases in three years - that means quality instead of quantity! .That alone awakens clear sympathies for me. Stele is a furious work, which caught me from beginning to end.  The minimalism, the aesthetics in its entirety and the artwork of this release is so wonderfully successful and reflects exactly what is important for me on my own label Geräuschmanufaktur: The authenticity of the concept!
 
The white, un-labeled cassette comes in a clear case, with a professionally printed and folded J-Card. The artwork shows us a minimal, abstract sculpture on a very dark, green background. On the inside is a little poem:
'Night in the garden of the dead.
A soft hiss in the gentle air.
Solitude. An animal sleeping.
Life's casualties.'
 
I almost want to say that with the verse and the artwork Stele is already explained perfectly...
 
In the clear shell, the green background of the artwork gives us a greyish, almost black appearance. Even this small, unimportant aspect fits so well into the meaning of this poem and the tonality of the two about eighteen minutes long pieces.
 
Stele I & Stele II are perfectly composed for the medium of the cassette and its magnetic tape! The hiss, which is typical for the cassette and its Ferro band at a certain volume and also represents a natural limitation in the frequency range, fits perfectly into the gloomy structured concept. The artwork and its colors are playing with the ambient light coming in on the clear shell, blending everything together in a very subtle way. 
 
Stele presents us two minimalistic compositions, telling us the story of the night in the Garden of the Dead.  A faint hiss is persistently present in the air and creates a gentle, yet oppressive, almost cold mood. Like light rain pattering on old, dry earth, gentle but persistent.
The feeling of loneliness builds up, accompanied by the monotonous, almost persistent tension of hiss.  A sleeping animal slowly stirs as gentle ambient textures and synthesizers work out.
The sacrifice of life is the end for all of us ...
 
I can not recommend Ato Vari's Stele enough! For lovers of minimalist sound art, a must-have! Mads did a great job and for me, this wonderful overall-concept make this little gem already one of the best publications of the year!
Go and support Perfect Aesthetics and catch a copy! It's limited to fifty copies and at the time I wrote this review only six remaining cassettes are still available.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Jan Warnke
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