category: Gazette,Music

Impetus Moment

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 by

A quick shift. Then a sublime drop. A timbre frequency rapidly elevates - then descends deeper than it had before. Visions of floating islands and pristine panoramas mixed with shade and unknowingness. 

Shadowy figures, malevolently neutral, always just out of your field of vision.

Ambient music takes sonic forces to heights J.R.R Tolkien would be proud of having brought into this world. Creating a visualscape out of intertwining melodies, sweeping textures, unearthly terrain created via rising climaxes and chilling depths, an elongated skeletal appendage slowly going down your spine, you would be hard pressed to find a genre better equipped to be the soundtrack to ancient temples and seraphic encounters.


Whereas psytrance is akin to one being goaded by an unstoppable elemental force, the digital earth itself pushing you to your limits in an effort to find yourself and your own man made confines (and maybe even to push past those breaking points), ambient takes a separate route in its quest of self discovery. It is like what one would imagine stepping into Narnia would feel like; the ground subtly materializing in front of you with each step, each rhythm taking you further and further into the track’s unique vista, the vivacity of the highs and the unease of the lows become all encompassing, leaving you treading water, about to drown, then abruptly placing terra firma beneath your lost feet and lifting you from your nadir to kiss the heavens at your zenith.

This melodrama is not lost on the psytrance scene – at most psytrance parties, and at every psytrance festival, there is an ambient section, for those who need a moment to recollect themselves, for those who just want to chill for a sec – and for those in the midst of a delicate penetrative voyage of self discovery who cannot have the syncopated boom of Zeus berating them at that exact second.

“My music is intended for the individual who stops, listens and dives into his own imagination. The individual who slips down from a reality and floats into his own. My productions tend to shift quickly, or abruptly, making the pieces hard to listen to sometimes, but after a few journeys, you start to find the magic items hidden in between the lines and frequencies.”

Cygna’s organic atmospheres have been called “music for the cinema of the imagination”, “otherwordly and hypnotic”, “a listening experience that is always a visual experience”. But for Mario Sammut, the brain behind the Cygna experience, this music was just the obvious progression from classical piano. “Watching the fingers of a pianist dancing over the fingerboard really fascinated me as a kid” he smiles. But it wasn’t only music that he was intrigued by as a child.

“History, archeology, myths and the unseen were always interesting to me. I used to follow cart ruts with a compass to point me in the right direction, so that I could mark the routes as precisely as possible on a map.  I was convinced they’d lead me to Atlantis or Agartha or some hidden place.”

 This affinity for chimerical exploration goes hand in hand with his music. It’s no wonder that he wanted to play in one of the world’s oldest venues: Ħaġar Qim.

“Performing inside Ħaġar Qim was a wish come true. Together with Rubber-Bodies, Ultimae Records, Studio 7 and Heritage Malta, we put up this unforgettable concert right inside the temple. The audience had wireless headphones, so each person as an individual could get immersed into this magical place on their own.”

The ever elusive need to transport the listener to another fantastical place is more than present in Cygna’s 2011 offering, Opus : ένα. From the haunting Brahmin-esque Wooden Little People by way of the subaquatic geometrical theme song Euclidean Subspace to the emotional powerhouse that is the lead single Ada, Opus : ένα is easily Malta’s foremost contribution to the international ambient scene.

His specific brand of symphonic ambient has made waves, both locally and abroad. His potent music has been featured in art installations, art galleries, theatre projects, film productions, and he has played festivals and shows in France, Greece, Turkey, the UK, Hungary, and various other European slots. But you really need not search beyond the faces of his entranced crowd to truly see the power of his music.


“Reactions, facial expressions, gestures and other non-verbals…I am familiar with sound therapy, and other techniques, which I utilize in my productions. There are specific moments when I see that things are starting to happen in the audience, especially when they are under the influence of psychedelics. People from the audience come to me after performing and, when thanking me for the journey, ask me questions like what is the name of the place where I took them! Or telling me that at some point they could hear the sound coming from other directions, rather than the speakers. It’s nice to see how my music is provoking clear moving images in people’s minds, much like a film…but each person is his own director. However, I do believe it is music suitable for alternate mind states and normal mind states alike.”

Having the ability to provide the soundtrack to one’s intense pre-exam study sesh and one’s intense post-exam hallucinogen sesh is both unique and astounding; the robustness of Cygna’s work is evident from the first listen. Whereas most artists find that their music can only be heard in specific settings, similar to how one can only really listen to 2 Chainz while vomiting expressly from all orifices, Cygna has created blueprints for worlds, invisible soundscapes that come alive in one’s mind upon hearing his complex cornucopia of auricular architecture.

And these soundscapes will be present in myriad forms in the near future. Cygna’s feel for cinematic scores has not gone unnoticed, and he will be working alongside Reuben Zahra on the score for Simshar no less, Malta’s first foray into international level filmmaking. Following the solo-dance theatre performance Penelope, with internationally renowned artist Athanasia Kalapollupupoupou in Syros and Crete, an appearance at international tribal gathering S.U.N. Festival in Hungary will round off July.

 Cygna’s scope is admirable – he intends on bringing his elemental vision of music to the world, as he sees fit, on his terms. In these times of colossal genericity and overwhelming mediocrity, Cygna brings an emotional and, as paradoxical as it may be, authentic feel to his fantastical form of fused finesse.

 “I have a feeling that the Cygna sound will be different with every release. There will always be Cygna’s timbre somehow, but sound is a part of my journey – one in which I’m constantly writing music in parallel with the many other variables of life.”

 Judging from his variability in creative outlets, I can only hope he encounters unbounded flux in his life if this is the way to get more tracks to trip out to.


You can keep up with all the latest Cygna news at



All photography courtesy of Mario Cassar

Category Gazette,Music

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