Stele by Ato Vari

Ato Vari | Stele
Perfect Aesthetics (CS/DL)

There’s an eerie chill in the air on Stele by Ato Vari (Mads Gravers Nielsen). This is his third tape in each consecutive year since 2017 under this moniker, all on a different imprint (Holy Geometry, Posh Isolation, and Perfect Aesthetics here). The wandering ambient texture breathes the finest hiss and gently tuned synths. There are two tracks Stele I + Stele II, each running at eighteen minutes and fourteen seconds, one per side. This encompasses a well circulated low-fi mass that emulates the aspects of its medium, tape – expressing a mood that shifts like a spool or loop, but doesn’t repeat itself in the process.

The dusky, textured mix sounds like soft rain courting your attention to a sense of absence, a deadpan cinematic b-roll survey that lightly scratches the surface. Imagine being in a watery cave sitting almost at its mouth, motionless in twilight. Ato Vari drapes a glaze over the proceedings that slowly feels as though it is crystallizing. Perhaps it’s a riff on molten steel, or simply highlights from the corners of the psyche. Of course, the title refers to a stone (or wood) type slab, presumably one where secrets might be entombed.

The play of ambient light and dark is quite gorgeous (and so subtle) throughout, and the two pieces here merge effortlessly into one another. If you love minimalism, this will be your ‘jam’ – I happen to be all ears. It is a work that could be the stirring soundtrack of a small ghost town in the deep south, its cadences whispering aptly on the wind.


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