by anonymous
from Suspiral blogspot ( april 2013)


"already awake in the night" is composed by amelia cuni & werner durand with the support of david trasoff on two of the three tunes. it was released on ini.itu in 2011, a vinyl-only release in a limited edition of 250 copies. the record is one the greatest records in recent years. please check out other records like "the art of buzzing" by werner durand or amelia cuni's "18 microtonal ragas", a tribute to john cage. basically, all their records are worth recommending, but this one here stands out. [...]


        by Sietse Van Erve
from his Collecting Records blog ( december 2011 )


There sometimes passes a record that you would call magic. This because it is has this special sound, something new. It might be a discovery or something you already knew but never really noticed.
The album Already Awake In The Night by the duo Amelia Cuni and Werner Durand(with help from David Trasoff on 2 pieces) is such an album. In this case it is discovery of a very special sound, something that is familiar but at the same time is totally new.

Already Awake In The Night is released on the Belgian/Indonesian label Ini.Itu (This Here, That There in Indonesian) which used to have a focus on sounds from Indonesia (in some form, field-recordings, instruments or anything else remotely connected) though stepped away from this with some of the last album.
Though, even with this step away the albums still have a focus on something non-Western. Like on this album where the duo is inspired by two Hindustrani raags, Raag Lalit and Raag Todi. Lalit is usually played before sunrise and Todi is usually played after sunrise, though here they are combined in one way so they would interact.

On side A we find the title piece which has Amelia Cuni performing her vocals with a bamboo resonator (although I have no clue what that is, but it sounds amazing), Trasoff on sarod and Durand on blown kalimba, sine waves, phase shifters and digital delays.
We get to hear slow transforming sine waves creating meandering drones over which the Sarod plays the ragas combined with the special vocals who are overtone and throat singing a Latin text from a Cistercian hymn sung just before dawn.
The piece reminds a lot of Indian music, but has influences from modern minimal music as well. It is a deep track with lots to discover.

On the flipside we find two pieces. Both are in the line of the one on the first side, but B1, Wavering Twilight, is without singing and B2, Morning Surge, is without sarod.
Though, while in the same line there are also distinct differences between the several compositions. Take for example Morning Surge where the singing by Cuni is going through  bamboo resonator again, creating a sound which sounds organic and unearthy at the same time.

The album is really consistent in sound and quality without becoming boring. The music is on the edge of Indian classical music, minimalism, drone and new age and knows to find its way in between these genres. And with the peculiar sounds used it proves to be really standing out among a lot of other albums.
A well deserved spot in my top 10 of this year, and really a shame it never got picked up very well. As such a hidden treasure.


        by Ron Schepper
from Textura ( september 2011 )


Amelia Cuni & Werner Durand: Already Awake in the Night 

Two new releases from ini.itu perpetuate its commitment to explorative music-making, with one based on Indian music (specifically, on the “Hindustani Raag Lalit and its modulation to Raag Todi”) and the other a new outing by Frans de Waard under the Frieband name.

Already Awake in the Night is a three-part, forty-two minute piece by Amelia Cuni, David Trasoff, and Werner Durand recorded and mixed between 2004 and 2010. All three bring extensive backgrounds to the project. Cuni, who currently lives in Berlin with Durand and teaches Indian singing at the Vicenza Conservatory in Italy, brings more than ten years of training in the tradition of dhrupad singing to the recording, with the Berlin-based singer having studied between 1978 and 1997 in North India under the guidance of the R. Fahimuddin Dagar, Dilip Chandra Vedi, and Bidur Mallik. Trasoff studied sarode performance and North Indian classical music with the late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (1922 - 2009), while Durand has performed his own music for saxophones, Iranian ney, and self-made wind instruments since the late 1970s and has collaborated with David Toop, Ulrich Krieger, and many others.

The sparsely arranged, vinyl-only release, hand-numbered and available in 250 copies, layers the sounds of Cuni's voice (with bamboo resonator) and Trasoff's sarode against a sine-wave drone generated by Duran (he's also credited with blown kalimba, phase shifters, and digital delays). The side-long title piece is a spectral meditation (appropriately, the Latin text is a Cistercian hymn from the 10th-12th century sung by the monks just before dawn) of peaceful character which effectively conveys the stillness of night-time and its slow transition into morning. On side one, Cuni's mournful voice ululates against the subdued sine wave backing, her voice deftly swooping between the notes, after which Trasoff takes his turn. With slow exhalations heard alongside the drone, the music seems to gently breathe as the bent notes of the sarode mirror the melodic paths navigated by Cuni. Eventually both appear together, their respective murmurs coiling around one another. The time-slowed ambiance carries over to the second side's “Wavering Twilight,” the meditation still in play but with Cuni's vocals absent, until her voice reappears during “Morning Surge,” this time in slightly more agitated form. In truth, the musical material doesn't stray from the curdling tempo established at the outset, but perhaps that's in keeping with the performers' attempt to distill a time-transcending state of stasis into an album-length format.


        by Tobias Fischer
from Tokafi ( august 2011 )



The night is a strange country. Life withdraws from the streets; colours turn to a grayish blue; the din of the city is replaced by a silent orchestra of tactile sounds, one's field of vision reduced to two lonely street lamps glowing like torches in front of grimly towering trees. As the world is descending into rest, the mind begins to wander. For those tossing and turning in their beds, a curious journey begins: There are phases of rapid eye movement and passages of all but absolute stillness. The territory of dreams beckons, opening up and then dissolves into ashes and dust again. At around two o' clock, awareness plunges headlong into deep sleep, at four, body temperature has sunk to its low point. In just two hours from now, the sun will rise again, waking sleepers from their state of hibernation. But until then, embedded into a tiny pocket of time opening up in the trough between the material and the spiritual world, the shapes and structures of quotidian life are taking a break. This is the time of the Raag Lalit from the canon of Hindustani music, and for years, Amelia Cuni and Werner Durand have returned to it time and again to explore and work out its mood as precisely as possible. Their patience has paid off: On Already Awake in the Night, they are playing a centuries-old form of music like no one's ever heard it before.

Given their approach, that is a most astounding outcome. For although the three pieces contained on it, named („Already Awake in the Night“, „Wavering Twilight“, „Morning Surge“) to reflect the transition from the above mentioned early morning unreality to a hopeful and expectant post-sunrise ambiance, are not actually classical raags, they have very much been meticulously modeled on historical blueprints. In fact, large portions of the album appear to be entirely traditional, Cuni singing or breathing through a bamboo resonator and befriended instrumentalist David Trasoff contributing sarod lines on two occasions. It is, at least at a first glance, mainly in Durands parts that a transformation takes place. Instead of accompanying the soloists with the familiar stringed tanpura, he is working with sine waves tuned in the raag's original intervals and minutely processed through effect devices to create a sense of slow, sleepy movement. What may seem an insignificant change has a momentous impact on the compositions. Far softer in timbre than the tanpura, the sines are creating a tranquil cloud of gentle oscillation, a field resonating with corresponding and conflicting sensations of mystery, warmth, solitude and comfort. Tucked away behind it, the musicians are treading as carefully as though they were playing underneath a blanket, their sound peacefully muffled by a soft sourdine of silken fabric.

And yet, this isn't pleasant background music. In fact, Durands sine waves are of such an incisiveness that they caused repeat problems at the pressing plant in the production stage of the LP. Cuni, too, has a penchant for the otherworldly, especially when she whispers or breathes through her bamboo or gently blows its rim to create fragile, slightly askew melodies. There is a continuous friction between their contributions, a tension which is never fully released or resolved and which places the pieces forever outside one's natural comfort zone: Whereas ambient will fade away the more attentively one listens, this music gets more intense as one comes closer. It grows richer and rewardingly more complex, too: Although they may have provided the initial conceptual trigger, the electronics are just one outward manifestation of the album's sonic landscape. Just as importantly, and quite probably as an immediate response to this shift, the interaction between the musicians as well as their relative dynamics have become both more insular and interrelated, more inscrutable and intimate. The drone is no longer just a tonal grounding here. All but imperceptibly expanding and contracting and frequently overlaying the vocals and sarod improvisations, it is just as much a compositional factor as any other element.

Durand and Cuni have been working towards this delicate balance between the present and the proven, between communal texture and individual contribution for at least over a decade, this release alone collecting materials recorded between 2004 and 2010. Which means that although there is undeniably an element of „let's try this and see what happens“ to the tracks, they are never „experiments“ in the true meaning of the word, but precisely planned and worked through realisations of long-term artistic processes, reflecting  personal maturing, learning curves and a deep interest in history, performance practise and tradition. Embedded into the arrangements, on the hand, is Durand's fascination for collaborations between Eastern and Western concepts of „the drone“ as well as his penchant for building his own instruments as organic extensions of his body. Also ingrained into their structure is Cuni's individual interpretation of the dhrupad singing style, as part of which a set of syllables is continually recombined, put to music and woven into perpetually changing patterns. As such, Already Awake in the Night doesn't so much offer a new beginning. Rather, it documents yet another fruitful plateau on an engaging journey with a forever open end.

Which is why the result sounds remarkably potent. If anything, only words could harm these pieces. World music, experimental, sound art, drones - it is only when the sleeper awakes that these terms take on a meaning. As long as you're eyes are closed, the world is without boundaries.


        by Doug Mosurock
from Still Single ( august 2011 )


Vocalist Cuni, trained in Northern India and here performing in the dhrupad style of singing, and electronic musician Durand, an associate of Arnold Dreyblatt’s, perform Hindu spirituals which cast a long and inviting shadow. They’re joined on two of these three tracks by David Trasoff on the sarod, a traditional stringed instrument, its lonely string-bent plucks dotting the landscape of sine waves tuned to the raag and pushing the direction of the music in darker, more alien directions. At first I was given to fears that this was going to be assaultive along the lines of that Ghedelia Tazartes LP, but those fears were quickly dispatched, the long-form pieces cutting wide and gentle swaths into a landscape of uncertainty and melancholy. Beautiful record for those with the patience to appreciate it. 250 numbered copies.


        by Ian Holloway
from Wonderfull Wooden Reasons ( august 2011 )


A beautiful set of compositions from this pair. I say pair but two of the three tracks feature the sarod of David Trasoff but he's not listed as a composer so doesn't get title billing (which seems a bit mean to me but there you go). The music, according to the text on the back of the sleeve, is based around the Hindustani Raag Lalit and the Raag Todi and are here reinterpreted through Cuni's voice and Durand's sympathetically and warmly processed sine waves (not forgetting Trasoff's sarod). The music is alive with gentle movements that bestow a vaporous quality that allows it to drift through the air. In many ways I am reminded of the compositions of Armenian duduk master Djivan Gasparyan as they share deeply spiritual, translucent and nebulous quality.
A really rather lovely release, delicate, warm and very human.


        by Scott Foust
from Swill Radio ( september 2011 )


Ragas with electronics - very spacious and a little odd sounding. This is not Sitar Music For Potsmokers however, but rather an evocative mix of slow pulsing and subtle electronics with vocals and instrumental solos alternating throughout. Amelia Cuni is a great singer and the music is low key like a morning sunrise after staying up all night.


        by Fabien
from Liability Webzine ( august 2011 )


De la musique indienne je n'avais que ces clichés ringards baba cool des 60's et 70's ainsi que des images furtives de films bollywood kitschissimes. Autant dire que je ne sais rien ou pas grand chose. La démarche entreprise parAmélia Cuni, qui est une spécialiste de la musique dhrupad et qui enseigne le chant indien à l'université de Vinceza (on lui doit également des collaborations avec Terry Riley ou David Toop...), et son compagnonWerner Durand, membre du Arnold Dreyblatt's Orchestra of Excited Strings et qui a croisé le chemin de MuslimgauzeHenning Christiansen ou David Moss, m'a permis d'avoir une vision un peu plus ouverte sur la chose. Already Awake in the Night est basé sur le Hindustani Raag Lalit, un chant qui se pratique au petit matin, qui évolue peu à peu vers le Raag Todi qui, lui, ne peut être chanté qu'après le couché du soleil. Le concept ainsi posé c'est le chant d'Amélia Cuni, en résonance avec l'usage de bambou prévu à cet effet, qui va entrer en action en symbiose avec le minimalisme électronique mélé à l'utilisation de kalimba de Werner Durand et le jeu de sarode exécuté par David Trasoff.

De fait, Already Awake in the Night a quelque chose de mystique, spirituel mais qui n'a qu'un rapport vague avec une quelconque religion monothéiste même si la première pièce de l'album utilise un hymne cistercien en latin des Xème-XIIème siècles. Le texte fait référence à un dieu mais retranscrit dans le contexte de l'album est-ce que l'on parle d'une divinité actuelle et reconnaissable. Rien n'est moins sur. On reste dans l'incertitude et dans des interprétations abstraites. Ce champ d'interprétation est sans doute plus vaste et fait sans doute plus appel à une spiritualité intérieure, individuelle, un rapport que l'on a avec l'indicible, la nature, le soleil, tout ce que vous voulez et qui peut toucher à des notions qui n'ont plus rien de terrestres. La musique indienne qui rencontre ainsi le minimalisme électronique expérimental donne lieu à des instants méditatifs qui ouvrent de nouvelles portes. L'effet est alors saisissant et fait disparaître tous les présupposés sur une musique dont on aurait pu avoir une image passéiste.


        by Sergey
from Maeror 3 ( july 2011 )


Итальянка Амелия Куни и немец Вернер Дюранд познакомились на почве интереса к классической индийской культуре, причем этот интерес подвиг музыкантов на длительное проживание в Индии, глубокое изучение традиций это страны и грамотную пропаганду их в кругу европейских интеллектуалов. Амелия известна как исполнительница в стиле «друпад», секреты которого ей передавали на протяжении многих лет известные мастера, а Вернер, ее спутник по жизни, получил некоторую известность среди исполнителей, склонных к минимализму, свободной импровизации и постиндустриальным экспериментам - знаменит он тем, что занимается изготовлением инструментов не только по «классическим технологиям», но и создавая нечто новое из того, что попадается под руку. В частности, отличные флейты по версии Дюранда получаются из труб ПВХ.

       Релизы этой парочки не частые гости на музыкальном рынке. Тем интереснее иногда встречать их в новостных рассылках лейблов и ждать встречи с их необычной, экзотической музыкой. Винил «Already Awake In The Night», подготовленный для «ini.itu» (кажется, первое издание этой конторы, не связанное с гамеланом) построен на гармноиях традиционных индийских раг, посвященных тому мимолетному отрезку времени, когда ночь уже вроде бы отступила, но рассвет еще не окрасил небо первыми лучами солнца. В это время сновидцев, находящихся под безграничной властью Морфея, начинает тихо играть сарод в руках приглашенного мастера Дэвида Трассова, звуки которого вьются вокруг клубами дыма благовоний. В это время Амелия начинает тихо петь, используя «бамбуковый резонатор» - по ощущениям, это что-то вроде трубы, в которую направлен голос исполнительницы с целью получить довольно необычные резонансы. В это же время Вернер берет записи сарода, превращая их при помощи delay-эффекта в тихий, вибрирующий, монотонный дроун эмбиент без начала и конца, лишь иногда вызывая возмущение на его поверхности свистом и сипением своих самодельных дудок. Гипнотический эффект гарантирован уже на первых минутах, когда Куни еще не начинает петь свои колыбельные или изображать «голосовую перкуссию», характерную для индийской музыки. Правда, где-то на периферии сознания неотступно мелькает мысль, что при помощи задержек и нехитрых приспособлений сделать можно и не такое, и, что характерно, из гораздо более худшего материала. Но это так, брюзжание. В целом интересно и приятно для слуха - подъем в указанную рань и медитации под звуки «Already Awake In The Night» я пропагандировать не буду, но с удовольствием порекомендую пластинку для вдумчивого прослушивания в любое удобное время.


        by  James Wyness
on his blog Fouter & Swick   ( may 2011 )


So much excellent music has been made by contemporary artists who respect and follow time honoured traditions. Like it or not, we are all  products of what has gone before us. Even artists who firmly ensconce themselves in the avant garde idiom, a form which literally forbids backward glances, will acknowledge that there is a solid tradition to be drawn upon: the free experimentation, the unconventional performances, the outrages, the puns, the breaking of boundaries and so on.

Amelia Cuni and Werner Durand have produced an album of music strongly influenced by their respective research and practice into specific forms of Indian classical music married to elements of new electronic music creation.

This vinyl release on ini.itu, a very welcome addition to my growing vinyl collection, is an investigation of non-Western idioms, a reconfiguration of ancient forms within the context of new European music – and it works beautifully.

Durand is an improviser in the minimalist tradition. Cuni has studied dhrupad with eminent masters of the tradition. Dhrupad is reputedly the oldest Indian singing tradition. With roots in the Vedas, dhrupad focuses primarily on the depth and richness of the human voice. David Trasoff has trained with various sarod masters. From their collective catalogue of work it is clear that these artists take their music very seriously.

I have an ambivalent attitude to Western explorations of Eastern forms, born of my own forays into improvisation informed by raga. Sometimes the simplicity of a generalised ‘spiritual’ approach to modal improvisation in a manner similar to raga can work very well, particularly where the preparation of the performers is considered carefully, respect shown for the traditions, and so on. Some very beautiful simple music has been made with guitar, tanpura, flute, harmonium, sruti box. Crossing a fine line, the music can begin to resemble a New Age healing experience, which is fine if you need that kind of healing, but we’re probably talking less about music in these instances. Raga goes so much deeper – in the right hands and ears it becomes music as spirit, carrying all the power of deep introspection, spiritual tradition, prayer, meditation and respect. It invokes God’s blessing – I can’t imagine many hardcore atheists really appreciating raga. It won’t just make you weep – it will melt your heart and possess your soul.

Some investigations into Eastern forms haven’t always worked, to my ears at least. I never quite got the point of John McLaughlin’s modal flights with the likes of  Zakir Hussain and Hariprasad Chaurasia on his Mahavishnu and Shakti projects, apart from perhaps appreciating the displays of virtuosity. I much preferred listening closer to the sources and it’s in this respect that Durand and Cuni make their impact.

To the music now, Ready Awake in the Night stands out as the strongest piece on the album. The concept is simple but very clever – take a 12th century Latin Cistercian hymn and set it within the context of raga. In a similar way Western choral composers have taken sacred Eastern texts and set them for chorus. This of course taps into strong connections between Eastern and Western contemplative spiritual traditions – the times of day and night of the ragas finding correspondences with the ‘hours’ of western monasticism, Vespers for example. Meditations on these have of course inspired countless choral works of great beauty. Furthermore we have John Tavener whose sacred choral music often explored the simplicity of a modal line with background drone and who maintained that the drone, or ground, represented the Divine presence.

An in-depth discussion about the modes themselves would take months. What I would point out is that the skill of a seasoned raga player in negotiating these modes and their subtle inflections, according to the ‘rules of the game’, allows the music to go beyond a simple linear drone plus melodic line, a figure on a ground, which is what we often find in freer improvisational contexts. The music here is more circular or spiral in its evolution. I was particularly impressed by the attention given to the electronic drone: just enough surface detail to let you know it’s an electronic creation, yet unobtrusive enough to sit perfectly with the voice. In addition to the timbral qualities, the phase shifted sine waves are tuned to the specific tones of the raga. Then we have Amelia Cuni’s voice which, as with all good raga, is the closest you’ll get to dancing with Krisna in a forest by Vrndavan. I can’t even begin to describe where such music and its spiritual tradition might lead you.

This music is too ‘serious’ to be a mere flavour or a blob of film music. There is no trivialising of the idiom, yet we can sense clearly that the artists are involved very much in their own creation.

The two tracks on side B sound to me as if they tip over into a more contemporary European context, occasionally (but only just) losing the balance that Ready Awake in the Night had established.  For example the electronic processing is more evident in the drone. In Wavering Twilight the pervasive drone overpowers the beautifully played sarod at times, wavering dangerously into the ambient synth lane, though that might be the result of my listening habits and the comparisons I tend to make in the field of new electronic music. The vocal extemporisation onMorning Surge is excellent, bordering on the sort of abstraction that the Dagar Brothers create when they work up a head of steam.

Small criticisms these, and certainly easy to set aside given the overall strength of the album’s appeal. I was impressed and inspired by the direction the musicians have followed in candidly marrying their musicality with the Eastern influence, a beautiful and generous attempt to make something new and lasting.

A speculation – it must be difficult for Indian based musicians trained in raga, a seriously conventional and traditional form, to make radical changes to the music – Westerners are somewhat privileged in this respect. Here, Amelia Cuni and Werner Durand have expertly negotiated the fine line between respect for tradition and the desire to stamp their own artistry on the music.

This album is one of the finest of its kind and I pay homage to the artists’ research, dedication, craftsmanship and vision.


        by  Seb Bassleer
from Gonzo Circus  #103 ( mei 2011 )
        by  Fabio
from SoundOhm  ( apr 2011 )



"Mindblowing new LP"


        by Frans de Waard
from Vital Weekly 774 ( march 2011 )


Ini.itu releases music that deals with Indonesia, but on this new release expands its horizon to India. It combines the wind instruments of Werner Durand (who also gets credit for sine waves, phase shifters and digital delays) with the voice of Amelia Cuni, who also plays on two pieces (out of three) bamboo resonator. On the same two pieces David Trasoff plays sarod. Durand started out with the 13th Tribe, who played ethnic music on self-built instruments, while Cuni is a trained singer of Dhrupad music, which she has studied for ten years in North India. This album, one track on side A, two on side B, is one of utter minimalism. The singing seems wordless to me, while the sarod slides every now and then, and Duran waves a bed of tones to go along. To say not much is happening is probably an understatement. On the surface the music is almost like a stand-still. The most active component is the voice, and then probably only in ‘Morning Surge’, which sounds like an improvised tone poem, embedded however in the slow moving sine waves from Durand. Yet, I think this is a record of great beauty. Very austere, very minimal, but full of captivating beauty. An excellent example of Indian music that is connected well to the history of Western minimal music. No rhythms, but an excellent tone poem. Music with great style. (FdW)