Surrounded By Hermits


Surrounded By Hermits

July 2009

IE CD Pieros 014

  1,   yaoowaah

  2,   klangkosh

  3,   plunkshaa

  4,   hmmee

  5,   hooze

  6,   aarhwee

  7,   prrhye

  8,   some feeling

  9,   toopaah

10,   wwrroomaah

11,   mekanik mik

12,   will kompressed

13,  tudutudam

14,   ooaahh

15,   loadooda

16,   plinkplonk

Electro-acoustic piece divided into 16 sections crisscrossing echoes of varied


Starting with section build on a bowed chinese gong modified by waw-waw pedal moves

into cluster chords of conch-shells and flugal horns. String ensembles augmented

by 20 voices randomly reciting Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, honky tonk

piano plays surreal dream motifs.

Comes in an individually hand-made wood and hessian case with a small woodcut print.

Review by Anthony D’Amico

Aranos has always been reliably unpredictable and this strange, disorienting,

and difficult new album will do nothing to dispel that perception. It begins

as a cerebral drone work, but Surrounded by Hermits gradually escalates

(degenerates?) into Dadaist cabaret, absurdist noise, and mischievous buffoonery with characteristic anarchic glee.

There are a number of pretty unique things about Surrounded by Hermits

(aside from, of course, Aranos himself).  For one, it is packaged in a handmade

wood and burlap case.  Secondly, it contains some rather unusual instrumentation, even for the experimental music genre.  For example, the droning opening segment (“Yaoowaah”) is played on a bowed gong filtered through a wah-wah pedal.

Aranos’s beautifully sad violin playing, on the other hand, appears quite seldom.

That was a bit disappointing for me, but it is an admittedly pretty ballsy move

for him to avoid relying on his greatest strength and instead attempt to carry

the melodic weight of an album with seashells and gongs.  Also, of course,

it should be noted that this album follows a singularly warped and confounding

trajectory.  Aranos did not take the easy road anywhere on this album. 

Surrounded by Hermits is essentially one very long piece split into 16 separate

tracks that uninterruptedly segue into one another.  Many of the segments

are quite brief and very few constitute distinct songs, so the transitions are

generally quite seamless.  The first half of the album takes quite a subdued and

somewhat meditative tone, as the opening gong piece is followed by a series of

interludes populated with somber pianos, mournful conch shell moans, chittering insectoid noises, queasy microtonally shifting drones, discordant flugelhorns, and beds of whooshing and whirring electronics.  This early eccentric ambience does little to hint at some of the material that appears later in the album.

As alluded to above, of course, things gradually take a turn towards the very

weird (even by avant-garde standards).  I suppose the bottom officially begins

to drop out with the commencement of the eighth segment, “Some Feeling.”

While it marks the first appearance of both relatively conventional musicality

and Aranos’s gypsy-tinged violin playing, it is also frequently disrupted by

loud sighs and recordings of a Shakespeare rehearsal overlapped to the point

of incomprehensibility.  Things return to deceptive tameness for a little while

afterwards though.  In fact, the lurching strings of “Wwroomah” are actually

somewhat beautiful before they are electronically splintered and enveloped

in rumbling.  However, that piece transitions into the lunatic cabaret of

“Mekanik Mik,” which is followed by more disjointed Shakespearean chaos,

then the absolutely ridiculous, improbable, and crazy drum machine funk of


It is surprising that the album continues after that frenzied, noisy,

genre mash-up, but it does somehow.  In fact, Surrounded by Hermits' brief

denouement actually yields one of its clear highlights, the fiery violin

showcase of “Ooaahh/Loadooda,” before drawing to a hushed close with the

lengthy piano dirge of “Plinkplonk.”

Surrounded By Hermits is certainly a worthy addition to Aranos’s already rather aberrant and uncompromising back catalog, but it probably is not a good starting place for those new to his work.  This is definitely an unabashedly self-indulgent and deranged album, but it is also quite a wild and fiercely iconoclastic one.