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Cucurbitophobia delivers "Rituals"

Cucurbitophobia was brought to life by Robert Benaquista, a talented multi-instrumentalist and composer hailing from New Jersey. As early as 2010, Robert embarked on a journey of crafting intricate music compositions. With a classical background and mastery over multiple instruments, he found inspiration in the works of contemporary horror film composers, as well as pioneers of neoclassicism, expressionism, serialism and atonal composition. Drawing from a wide range of genres including experimental electronic, dark ambient, prog and avant-garde music, Benaquista's unique musical vision took shape within the realm of Cucurbitophobia.

Rituals is the name of his recent album. On his Bandcamp page he explains “Rituals is a collection of music works that take the listener on an adventurous, ambient journey through the depths of the mind and on a path of self-discovery - to contemplate the meaning of universe, to introspect the trials and tribulations of one's own experiences, and purging all toxic thoughts and deterrents.”

In all honesty this is not the type of music I would use for self-discovery. It’s simply a little too terrifying, haunting and dissonant. A lot of the music reminds me of feeling isolated, lonely and disconnected. Take for instance the opener “Ritual I: Aurora” where piano is built upon gray pads that sound foggy. I felt like I was in a haunted mansion.

“Ritual II: The Offering” focuses mostly on piano. It’s again very haunting and I was picturing some kind of ghost playing this in a Victorian style mansion. We get into the heart of the album with “Ritual III: The Purge” and this sounds like music that would be used in peak moments in a horror movie. The sound design is really great and the sense of tension is very well done.

“Ritual IV: Crepuscule” is arguably the highlight. The song soars and feels cosmic. I would compare the sound to early M83 minus the drums. It also has plenty of terrifying moments.

“Summoning the Sleep Demon - I: Crossing the Abyss” and “Summoning the Sleep Demon - II: The Abysmal Cometh” were the longest compositions. The former relying on piano with trickling effects and the latter filling up the stereo field with tension filled ambience.

“Nebula of Unspeakable Darkness” is distorted and perhaps the most cinematic composition. It sounded like it belonged in a movie. I thought it would be perfect in this older movie from 1981 called Heavy Metal. Last up is “Illusion of a Withered Orchid” which sort of feels like it winds things down to oblivion.

This is a great album but I would say it has a certain time and place. For instance I could see this type of music being played on repeat during Halloween. I also suggest using headphones for maximum effect.

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