How best to sum up this album? In a word – monumental. To go much deeper, it’s much like the Testaccio mound the record takes its name from. Made out of centuries of layers of broken amphorae: mysterious and strange yet fascinating and beloved, half-temple and half-rubbish dump; base and precious, natural and artificial; ancient and new, squalid and luxurious at the same time. And discographically monumental too, as Heinrich Dressel’s record is one of the pillars of that sound by which a certain Roman scene – and his label MinimalRome – has defined itself over the past decade. It’s a fusion of excessively epic minimal synth and Giallo-infused temperament, lightly peppered with the just the right dose of steel but also just the right dose of plastic.
The journey is a satisfying, exciting and even erotic one for those who decide to run with it. From the tensely suspended soundscape and vocoded ghosts of “Welcome to Mons Testaceum,” to the Frozen Autumn-meets-Goblin horror-soaked dance of “Night Comes on the Broken Pots Forest,” via the shiny futurism of “Fohat Digs Holes in the Amphora,” and the artificially insectoid washes of “Ghastly Signals from the Night”. If the more muscular nuances of Italian synth in whatever form make your heart beat, you should climb Mons Testaceum. Legowelt, who originally put this on a CD-r on his Strange Life Records back in 2007, can’t be wrong. And neither can 18-odd centuries of civilisation.