"Xpujil Revisited"

Last year, French/Chilean duo NOVA MATERIA released Xpujil, a unique, experimental ambient album which came out as part of Crammed Discs’ Made To Measure composers series.

A single, 40-minute immersive piece mixed in binaural, Xpujil (pronounced ex-poo-khil) takes the listener on a sonic journey through an organic and shifting world, and blurs the limits between music, field recording and psychoacoustic trance.

The album’s material derived from recordings made during a walking trip in the Mexican jungle  (* more details below).Nova Materia have now asked three eminent artists to create tracks based on the rich material contained in the album:

Donato Dozzy: the enigmatic Italian master of experimental ambient creates a magical, trippy 18-min excursion into the supernatural world of the Xpujil jungle.

Lucrecia Dalt: the highly respected Colombian avantgarde musician’s affinities with mystery, storytelling, field recordings and poetry is reflected in her lovely, concise take on the piece.

Low Jack
: mostly known as an electronic music artist, Honduras-born, Frenchman Philippe Hallais has also worked with ethnographic recordings in his Garifuna Variations (commissioned by the Quai Branly Museum). Asking him to rework Xpujil was therefore a natural choice for Nova Materia.

In addition to these three reworks, the Xpujil Revisited digital release includes a new presentation of the original album, in which the original 40-min piece is segmented into four separate parts, thus enabling a different listening experience.

Xpujil Revisited  -  MTM 45.2  -  digital album  -  out 24 June 2022

* More on Xpujil

The project started with a walking trip taken by the Nova Materia duo (Eduardo Henriquez & Caroline Chaspoul) through the Mexican jungle, towards the ruins of the ancient Maya city of Xpujil. Under scorching heat, amidst omnipresent insects, dense and sinuous vegetation, and the cries of animals, they access a different, haunted world, which feels almost sacred and supernatural. The living beings of the forest (humans, animals, plants) are there without being seen, they are mostly perceived by the ear. And then, the ruins: this great city, which was a major political, scientific and religious centre in the Mayan kingdom, is still partly entangled in the jungle, but the pure, almost futuristic architectural design of the buildings is striking.

Throughout the trip, Nova Materia recorded the surrounding soundscapes with binaural microphones. Upon their return to their studio in Paris, these recordings became the foundation of this new work. They processed and transformed the sounds until melodies emerged, which they then enhanced by using sparse instrumentation (gongs, ocarinas and electronics). Different textures were added with contributions by two guests: New York-based musician Ikue Mori (of DNA fame), who has often worked on electronic reinterpretations of the world of insects, and adventurous cellist Gaspar Claus (who collaborates with musicians across all genres, from Rone to Jim O’Rourke).

Following the release of the album, the band was in residence at La Gaîté Lyrique digital arts centre in Paris, where they carried out a series of mesmerising, 360° performances in the company of various guests. Recordings of these sessions will soon be made available.

in the press

A haunted sonic architecture… Field recordings are processed, kneaded, diluted, slowed down… revealing the richness which was hitherto concealed to the explorers’ limited senses (Libération, FR)

The album is a single 40-minute song that takes you along the path of wonder, intimidation and the seductive nature of danger… an eerie ethereal experience that both captures a very specific moment yet morphs with you each time you come back to it (UK Vibe, UK)

Nova Materia are taking us into the Mexican jungle... Close your eyes, let yourself go and follow the guide. (Nova, FR)

An ecstatic sound world, in which the spirits of the forest become audible (Deutschlandfunk, DE)

Nova Materia are collecting music of the living sphere throughout the world, and are sculpting it with a sound ecology approach (France Inter, FR)

An incredible album. Futuristic yet primordial. Rare stuff (Todays, IT)

A wide-eared dive into the history of the conquest of Mexico... an almost supernatural atmosphere, inhabited by the cries of animals and the murmur of insects... an immersive sound experience (France Musique, FR)

Deeply ambient and full of mystery…Few recordings have managed to exhibit such a engaging sonic quality… while also remaining purposefully silent (Further, UK)

"Getting rid of productivist modes of listening” is a bold proposition… A long, carnal dive into a landscape inhabited by invisible forces (Les Inrockuptibles, FR)


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It Comes
NOVA MATERIA - Xpujil Revisited
Xpujil Revisited