Ritual of Senses // Summer 2024

May 23, 2024
Ritual of Senses // Summer 2024

Ritual of Senses returns after a brief hiatus. This release, coinciding with the Summer Solstice, represents a different direction for the club. The elements that remain in place are a celebration of seasonal shifts, a sense of place (Asheville, NC, USA) and a deep spirit of collaboration. What changes is the format and the overall complexity of the club package. I'm now focusing in on a simple experiential pairing of music and wine.

The name VISUALS alludes to a mind altering trip. A psychedelic state where abstraction conjures otherworldly moments of introspection and at times, can reformat our psyche. The music I love is abstract and thought provoking. The mutated, aromatized, botanical wines we produces under our "Abstractions of Earth" series possess that same spirit.

Unlike simple grape based ferments, these aperitif style wines have the potential to be infused with a nearly infinite combination of sugars, fruits, spices, herbs, nuts, flowers, etc...and thus make an excellent canvas for collaboration. Now, the wines that pair with each ROS release are produced with direct inspiration and input from the musician that wrote and recorded the accompanying album. This new approach allows for a deeper connection to be made between the elements of the pairing, and a richer experience is created in the process.

The ROS packages, from now on, will be quite consistent in their look and content. A wooden box will house a cassette tape from an Asheville experimental musician and an aperitif wine. The simplicity of this approach allows for a much more approachable price point, and also eliminates the previous challenges of needing to sell these strictly as a pre-order. From now on, these packages will not be exclusive to the members and will be available to the general public after the official release.

Just to be clear, I do want to retain the club aspect of ROS, as I feel strongly that the communal aspect that was fostered through the previous release events was important and powerful. There will still be release events, and they will be open to all who pre-order the package. These release events will continue to feature live performances by the featured musician.

Why cassettes? Great question. I loved pressing vinyl for many reasons, some of which include supporting a local business (Citizen Vinyl) and offering a playback medium that's simultaneously tactile, ceremonial, and accessible. The major downfalls of vinyl are that it's very expensive and the minimum order quantity is high. For me, operating in this format became unsustainable. Cassettes, on the other hand, are cheap with low minimums. Cassettes, like vinyl, are tactile and ceremonial (and equally analogue) but their downfall is that many people don't have a way to play them (though I think that will slowly change in time). In an effort to make playback more accessible, we are offering a limited amount of portable cassette players here.

Another way of thinking about cassettes is that they are often very similarly priced as digital downloads. Most cassettes sell for somewhere between $8-$12. I could simply offer a digital download of the album, but here you get a physical keepsake for the same price, along with a download code.

The Summer package includes:

May the Forest Outlive us by Xor
The first single can be heard here: https://xoravl.bandcamp.com/album/may-the-forest-outlive-us

With haunting melodies, pulsating rhythms, and seductive hooks, XOR propels electronic music into a realm of sonic uncertainty. At times ambient, at times darkwave or synthpop, the tracks draw listeners into a labyrinthine soundscape where the familiar dissolves into the enigmatic.

Matthew had been recording under various monikers over the past decade before XOR. Somewhat arbitrarily, he named the project XOR after the logic gate inspired by his burgeoning interest in software development. His debut full-length was an electropop album, written and recorded amidst the pandemic's disquiet.

In recent years, Matthew began exploring the world of modular synthesizers, reshaping mundane days of remote work into impromptu compositions he would later live-stream against sunsets or amidst the flowers in his garden. "Ephemeral Tracks, vol. 1" emerged in 2022 from these sonic experiments, followed by the 2023 release of “vol. 2.” The name draws inspiration from the ephemeral woodland wildflowers that briefly bloom in Appalachia's early spring, mirroring the transient nature of his modular-first compositions.

In 2023, XOR also released the EP "beyond the tall trees somewhere.” Branching out from his previously more straightforward darkwave, the five tracks explore the complexities of human existence, the nebulous boundaries between natural and artificial, and the discomfort of existing in a dying world.

XOR has remixed tracks for many artists, including Secret Shame, Cold Choir, and Shadow Age, adding his unique sonic signature to each collaboration.

VISUALS // Emerge From Hallowed Land // Aperitif
Red wine as a base and featuring botanicals that have significance to Matthew including chamomile, lavender and skullcap.
The release event will be on June 20th from 6pm to 8pm at the Asheville Art Museum. The program will begin with a Gallery Talk within the current exhibition "The New Salon" with Asheville based visual artists that have work on display. Xor will perform on the roof deck by the museum cafe at 7pm.

*Please note: access to this area of the museum requires museum entry. I think this is a good thing because, in case you haven't seen it, the current exhibition entitled "The New Salon" is excellent and features several Asheville based visual artists. If you are planning to pre-order the release and you know you want to attend the release event, we will be offering a package that includes a discounted entry. Be sure to select that item when purchasing. 

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