Scene & Heard

Donoso puts the thoughts of Carl Jung into song

Ricardo Donoso is one half of the ever morphing electronic duo Perispirit and also performs solo electronic music under his own name.
Seze Devres
Ricardo Donoso is one half of the ever morphing electronic duo Perispirit and also performs solo electronic music under his own name.

In the writings of Carl Jung, the concept of “the shadow” represents the unconscious parts of our personality, like those negative traits that we work to repress.

Got that?

The idea behind “assimilating the shadow,” wherein we recognize that shadow for what it is and try to incorporate it into our personalities, producing a more fully developed self, is a fitting one for an electronic artist. It’s especially fitting for an artist such as Ricardo Donoso, whose most recent record, “Assimilating the Shadow,” takes its name, and much of its framework, from these ideas.


Donoso, a native of Rio de Janeiro, moved to Boston 10 years ago to study composition, film scoring, and music synthesis, first at Berklee College of Music, then at the New England Conservatory. He has woven Jung’s theories into this music, and on his break-out record, “Progress Change,” from last year, so subtly that the thought process might well have landed in your subconscious before you realized it.

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Of course, you could simply appreciate the compositions for what they are: experimentally ambient tracks that sound something like a race through the unconscious labyrinth — whether or not you want to come right out and call it that.

Donoso, who began performing in concert and jazz bands at an early age, playing saxophone, then percussion, was also, until recently, performing as the drummer in a death metal band called Ehnahre. He also was running his own label, Semata, where he put out records from the likes of Prurient and Stillbirth, and recording as part of the abstract experimental duo Perispirit. All of that is on hold as he focuses on his solo work.

He has plans to release music again, however, under the moniker Scuba Death. “It’s darker music,” Donoso says, “but kind of the other side of what I do, all about samples and analog electronics, and field records and acoustic sources.”

Another product in the planning stages is with Swedish techno and house producer Adam Rivet, who says he finds an uncommon depth of feeling in Donoso’s music. “Even in his branch of electronic music, ambient, experimental, I find that a lot of the soul is lost in post-production. Ricardo seems to have realized the importance of leaving things a bit rough. . . . It’s a nice break from all the super-polished, maximized and, in my opinion, over-produced music of today.”


Donoso’s path began his junior year of high school when he was in a “very serious jazz program” at school. The teacher purchased a sampler and a synthesizer. “I started messing around with it, seeing what the possibilities were. At the same time I started going to kind of raves and techno parties in Rio and it all clicked and I started to see potential in these machines and this whole type of music. I was pretty much hooked at that point.”

His training in percussion in particular has helped to inform his recording process today. “You see a lot of studio engineers, or electronic musicians,” he says, “and a lot of them have a percussion background, a lot of them were drummers. As far as making beats or producing electronic music, it definitely makes sense to come from a background of being interested in rhythm and manipulating it.”

In Donoso’s case, today it’s more often a melody or a harmony that launches him to record or to play around on the piano. Surprisingly — and this is something that might not even jump out on the first couple listens — there are no drums on “Assimilating the Shadow,” which was released on Digitalis Recordings. “Sometimes it’s a melodic line or chords, and I’ll just structure it together and think about form.”

“I think what initially drew me to Ricardo’s work was his ability to articulate an idea and vision so well through his music,” says Brad Rose, head of Digitalis. “His skill as a composer is vastly underrated.”

It makes for a more interesting whole, this real full-length record in a culture of singles.


“Each detail in the work and the way that each smaller piece of music led to, as a listener, understanding the whole, the bigger picture he was presenting always struck me as impressive,” Rose says. “He’s a master at taking these big ideas, like the idea of the shadow in Jungian psychology on his most recent album, and breaking them down into small, sonic nuggets. It blows me away.”

Assimilation, you might call it. “For Jung the idea was that for everything that is conscious there is a direct and equally opposite subconscious,” Donoso says. “If you don’t integrate these kind of heady forces it will rule and dictate your actions in your conscious life. It’s about integration and balance really.”


Party like it’s the end of the world tonight at An Tua Nua for the Mayan Apocalypse celebration. DJs Static of Ceremony and Factory, Znuh of Ceremony and Plague, cosinezero from Jive, Pulse, and Video Bleep, and Anomaly of Superstition and Xmortis will play industrial, bass music, goth, electro, breaks, and ghetto funk — sadly, probably the last sounds you ever hear. It could be worse.

Boston’s Durkin premiered the new track “,” a collaboration with Victor Radz, in a mix done for Doorly’s Rinse FM show last week. “I named it that because I like song titles that double as nonexistent hyperlinks,” Durkin explained of the “Somebody’s Watching Me”-quoting track. “And also because I kept imagining a Body Worlds figure singing the vocal.” That image inspired the rather frightening artwork, too.

One of the worst parts about New Year’s Eve is that the party has to end so soon after it gets going. That’s where Thump 2013 at Rise comes in. For the first part of the night, Boston favorites like Baltimoroder, Glowkids & Fuse, and First Night festivities regular Die Young will perform from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Then Vermont’s Craig Mitchell and Rise resident Mike Swells keep it going until 6 a.m. “New Year’s Eve at Rise rocks because it’s two separate parties, but one long celebration. The whole night is built on the back of the artists who know best what Boston party people want,” Swells says. “For those looking to keep the party going until 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day, this is the place to do it.”

Luke O’Neil can be reached at