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I started the Postcards from Italy series in 2011 as a way of exploring the Italian electroacoustic “scene” that I knew little about at the time. Most of the interviews were conducted face to face while others, due to logistical reasons, were the result of several email exchanges. Over the course of two years, I have been amazed by the standard and the variety of music I encountered, my only regret was not being able to travel to more destinations and include many more artists. Inspired by the series, the AIPS collective produced an album by the same title (release by Oak editions in October 2013), whereby field recordings taken in different locations were then redistributed amongst the group members and subsequently reworked. This project was then translated into a live setting for a memorable evening at Cafe OTO in London on the 16th of June 2013 and became an A/V installation which took place at the SoundFjord Gallery 14th June - 21st July 2013. Gianmarco Del Re

The sonic response to Gianmarco del Re’s Postcards from Italy series devised by the Archivio Italiano Paesaggi Sonori couldn’t be more fitting. Taken together, the interview series, album and audio-visual installation present more than a simple overview of the current landscape of Italian artists working with sound, though it does this quite well. Postcards from Italy is a nuanced artistic response to the current moment that does not seek to flatten out the contradictions but to make them productive. When we first encounter the poster for the performance at Cafe OTO and the a/v installation at SoundFjord, we see a series of rings spread across an olive green field. On the album’s artwork, these points create an abstract constellation. This image invites the question: What line can we draw connecting these disparate dots? The inner image reveals that each ring represents a city, and the constellation it implies is the Italian peninsula. Nine points, nine artists, and nine compositions, conjuring forth their own fictional landscape. When we look to the classical constellations of stars, we may have to imagine the images but that doesn’t mean that their power is only imaginary. All fantasies are group fantasies, and Italy is no different.

answer? No, rather than something to be solved, it is the tension of this aporia that has been a source of constant renewal and creativity. Italian identity is as defined by its multiplicities as it is by its unity. Postcards from Italy revels in this fact. Like Wordsworth in Germany beginning to write The Prelude honoring his absent homeland, the Italian ex-pat in London has embarked on a campaign of rediscovery, bringing together an eclectic group of artists from all over the Italian peninsula to attend to the question, what is the relationship between identity and place? Perhaps we should start with postcards. It’s easy to forget, but a century ago postcards were big business. One

Phrased another way, what unites such difference? This is the question of modern Italy, so what hope do I have of offering anything coming close to a satisfying


of the earliest of the modern collector crazes, billions were sold during this golden age. Often postcards were sent blank, or with only a signature. Even at its most passive, a gesture in someway akin to “liking” a Facebook status, these cards were not to say anything in particular but as a simple acknowledgement. “I’m here, I’m thinking of you.” Since the birth of writing, recorded communication has perplexed us for its ability to foreground distance, to make someone both present and absent simultaneously. This duality has produced many artistic responses, from Kafka obsessing over rhythms of the postal service, to Bartleby, The Scrivener in the dead letter office, to the anti-institutional collaborations of Mail Art. Originally cultivated by the Neo-Dada and Fluxus practitioners centered in New York in the 1960s, the international Mail Art network grew quickly. By about 1974, postal art (or arte postale) had taken off in Italy, no surprise perhaps considering that Marinetti’s LetteraFuturista had already explicitly aestheticized the mail during the Great War over half a century earlier. Postal Art is an anti-institutional yet collaborative practice, one that allowed for self-mythologizers and rock journalists to take part equally alongside the celebrity artists of the day. Important sonic innovators like Maurizio Bianchi, a frequent collaborator with many of the younger generation featured by Postcards from Italy, and Nicola Frangione were participants in this network, linking them to artists in the UK, Japan, and North America. There may not have been much of an audience or institutional support for esoteric sound collage or vocal experimentation, but by combining the new found DIY recording of cassettes with the distribution network of Mail Art, new aesthetic forms began to take shape.

soundscapes he found to be distinctly Italian. These tapes were distributed to six artists who wove these sounds into their own music, and most of the participants took part in a corresponding exhibition curated by Frangione. Not unlike Postcards from Italy, Italic Environments was an exploration of the link between Italian identity and territoriality. At that time the bonds of identity -worker solidarity, regional dialects and cuisines, local goods- were being deterritorialized by neoliberal reform and the acceleration of global communications technologies. Following the Years of Lead and the trial of Toni Negri that resulted in the exodus of the Italian Left, it seems inevitable that artists would react to this shifting cultural landscape by subverting the use of these communicatory bureaucracies. Likewise when reflecting on a similar theme today’s artists can’t help but be shaped by the destabilization of identity in the wake of media privitisation, political scandals, globalisation, ecological devastation, the Bologna Process, the Eurozone, and the Internet. The ability to cheaply make and share recordings cultivated a new approach to electronic music. The relationship between production and distribution is reciprocal; changes to one will inevitably affect the other. Both cassettes and digital file sharing resulted in new types of artists and new audiences, but prior to this electronic music in Italy was very much restricted to an elite which largely worked within the confines of “high art.”

The early electronic music studios tended to be state funded, which was necessary to cultivate non-commercial work but also restricted access to a particular ideological or aesthetic viewpoint. In Paris the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) pursued musique concrète, leaving no room for composers like Eliane Radigue who did not fall within their orthodoxy. Meanwhile the Studio für Elektronische Musik (WDR) in Köln resoThe cassette allowed users to cheaply record themlutely pursued pure electronic music, stemming from selves and share their work through the existing postal an interest in audio synthesis dating back to before the networks. A sort of sonic postcard, they essentially cre1920s. The United States had the Columbia-Princeton ated the first peer-to-peer music sharing networks. The Internet of course evolved under different conditions, but Electronic Music Center, which was predictably academic in scope. A bit later the more iconoclastic bricolemany of the aspects of Net Art were already present in urs on the west coast founded the San Francisco Tape the discourse of authority, collaboration, networks, and Music Center. Despite not being run by the state, this presence that were elaborated with regard to Mail Art. last studio seems most kindred in spirit to an Italian aesNicola Frangione’s 1983 Mail Art compilation LP, which thetic, which is resourceful in the face of constraints and featured short submission from dozens of international artists, is a fine documentation of the aesthetic explora- willing to find hybrid means to reach their own particular ends. tion occurring during this era. Perhaps the most important antecedent to Postcards from Italy is Frangione’s 1985 LP Italic Environments. Frangione made various ambient tape recordings from 4

Italy had the studio di fonologia della RAI di Milano from 1955 until it’s tragic and unceremonious closure in 1983, after decades of declining support. The studio was

host to such luminaries as Stockhausen, Pousseur, and Boulez, as well as John Cage, who recorded his “Fontana Mix” there. Of course it was also home to some of Italy’s most important post-war composers, namely Luciano Berio, Luigi Nono and Bruno Maderna. The studio’s technician was Marino Zuccheri, a master of sound at a time when organising sound was not yet accorded the same status as composing music as such. He demonstrated the importance a “technician” brings to the creative process, setting the stage for later generations working in this field. Starting out with just nine oscillators and tape, Zuccheri was able to manifest rich new sound worlds through resourceful exploration. Italian electro-acoustic music up until this point was mostly confined to these highbrow practitioners, however the ability to be expressive and innovative working within one’s resources continues to be an important aspect of anything one might call an Italian Aesthetic. Where do virtual postcards fit into this narrative? Like the postcards of the golden age, the soundscapes produced by AIPS serve an archival function while also intervening in the present. Paesaggi sonori is the Italian translation of R. Murray Schaeffer’s concept of the soundscape. Though use of this term has become widespread, it is constantly misapplied since it was first coined decades ago in service of the work of the World Soundscape Project. Schaeffer’s soundscape has an ecological component, and sees itself as making a normative judgment regarding which sounds are “natural” and which sounds are noise pollution. This becomes troubling when the implication is that there is an “authentic” reality that is being conveyed through the medium of audio recording, rather than an always already subjective experience that is inextricable from the medium itself. The soundscapes of AIPS are still concerned with capturing a sense of place and ecology, but the diversity of their methods and subsequent treatment of these recordings demonstrates an openness that is much more interesting, and one which is better suited to capturing the instability of identity in the early 21st century. Matteo Uggeri’s approach is paradigmatic of this. Aesthetically, he is working with the emotional resonance that the recordings have for him, evoking an experience with a particular place. The experience the listener has is coloured by this, though distinct from Uggeri’s.

innumerous decisions just in creating the recording itself, choices regarding subject, duration, microphone placement and/or movement through space. In this way, both artists – those making the recordings and those composing with them- are truly collaborating, adding an additional register of distance and hybridity to an already muddled question of place and identity. Gianmarco del Re’s accompanying a/v installation stems from a concern for urban planning and development, particularly the failure to meet safety standards that have resulted in many tragic deaths following earthquakes in recent years. By drawing out attention to these ongoing struggles, Gianmarco is reterritorializing the sounds and the people recording them, putting them in a particular cultural and historical context that is deeply rooted to a particular place. The artists featured on Postcards from Italy have each carved out their own practice. They are part of a tradition without being held captive by it, using their chosen media to their advantage. The collaborations that make up the nine tracks of Postcards from Italy mean so much more because they function on multiple levels, capturing well the incoherence and beauty that exemplifies the best of Italy. By trading their field-recordings anonymously they are decontextualized, freeing them from any preexisting notions while allowing the artists to respond to the materiality of the sound. Each track becomes rooted in multiple places, but like Italian identity itself the contours remain blurry. A tension that might otherwise be a source of conflict becomes a creative force, embracing difference as a beautiful thing. Joseph Sannicandro

Though the compositions on Postcards from Italy were created using raw material that was distributed anonymously, the act of recording is itself already an aesthetic, and an ethical, act. The artist is already making



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Andrea Ics Ferraris is a self-taught musician with a hardcore/experimental background. He started recording and touring Europe during the nineties with bands such as Burning Defeat and Onefineday, amongst others. While broadening his listening and technique he started playing with musicians hailing from a heterogeneous background be it rock, electronics, etc. Over the years he developed his interest for experimental music, using more and more effects/instruments and different techniques and started playing “cheap electronics” and/or laptop. He currently plays with the electro-acoustic ensemble Airchamber 3, the kraut-industrialist combo Ur, the experimental-psychedelic group Luminance Ratio and the IDM post-drum & bass duo Ulna, amongst others. Q: Hi Andrea you are from Piedmont and you are based in Alessandria where you took the field recordings for one of your most recent collaborations, Vir-Uz, which you’ve recorded with Maurizio Bianchi for Fabio Perletta’s label Farmacia901. The album is based on the Book of Job and the field recordings were taken in Alessandria’s Jewish cemetery. The book is centered around the issue of theodicy – whether or not one can have faith in the goodness and worthiness of an omnipotent creator who is apparently responsible for creating evil, and tolerating the suffering of the innocent. What is the connection between an album like Vir-Uz and previous releases by Maurizio Bianchi such as Symphony For a Genocide from 1981 and The Testementary Corridor from 2005? A: Ok, I’d like to say something about the location of these field recordings, which may not be the answer you might have expected. Quite simply, it was Summer and I ventured into the Jewish part of the cemetery in Alessandria, which nobody ever visits. It is an old and beautiful cemetery and it was bathed in sunshine. I had my digital recorder with


me, and I was sure that if I took some field recordings they would turn out just perfect. As for the link between Symphony For a Genocide, Testamentary Corridor and Vir-Uz, who knows… like it or not, both Jewish and Christian culture are at the roots of Western society, it is something we have to face somehow. For our collaboration, Maurizio proposed a biblical subject and even if I don’t believe in any organized religion, the Book of Job is one of the Books of the Bible I do know and I have studied, even if a while ago. My point of view on the whole Book of Job is probably different from Maurizio’s personal perspective, but the story itself is interesting. The fact that one can do one’s best only to be met with the worst possible reward, is a bitter outcome,, but also quite real. Q: Field recordings feature heavily also in your collaboration with Matteo Uggeri on ‘Autumn is Coming We’re All in Slow Motion’. Do you think enough has been done to capture the evolving soundscape of Italy?

ing obsessive. I cannot say if enough has been done to capture Italy and its sounds, but one could even dare to say that field recordings have no nationality, no religion and no race, as they belong to the specificity of the moment in which they’ve been recorded in any particular place. John Cage, used to say that traffic has a different sound depending whether you’re in Milan, Paris or New York… I might love or hate a specific sound but that has something to do with my background, my taste, or my preconceptions, not with the intrinsic nature of that sound.

Q: Your hometown of Alessandria is also where one of your most recent collaborations, Airchamber3 with Luca and Andrea A: In the case of Autumn is Coming…, it Serrapiglio was born. was Matteo who took care of all the field One of the tracks on recordings. I like the sound of the “world” your album Crumble even if I can’t say I’m a field recordis titled Silence Makes

a Dangerous Sound. Considering this is an “impro trio”, how did you tackle the subject of silence, which has been investigated by countless composers such as Sofia Gubaidulina and Giacinto Scelsi – who seem to be a big a influence on your work, – not to mention John Cage? A: That title refers to the fact that the track sounds quiet but mysterious, as if something menacing was slowly approaching. The Serrapiglio brothers (and their father, with whom we’ve collaborated on more than one occasion) are classically trained musicians, they respect silence and they’re able to use it more extensively than a “Peter-Panexperimental-punkster-wonnabe” like myself. I don’t know that much about Sofia Gubaidulina but we all love Giacinto Scelsi (as a matter of fact, one of the tracks on the album is a jokey homage to him, albeit rather a lame one: “Giacinto shell sea”). As for John Cage, he was probably quite a funny guy, (sometimes we tend to forget his sense of humor) a hero of the last century, a real philosopher. I would also like to add Morton Feldman to this short list of composers… Ever read one of his conversation with Cage? What an incredible pair of lovely freaks!! Q: You seem to be hyperactive in your collaborations. Could you please briefly describe your other projects to me, from Ur to Sil Muir and Ulna? A: Ulna is a studio project (even if we’re finally working on a live set), a collabo-

ration between myself and Valerio Zucca, whom some of you may remember from his albums with 3EEM or for his solo project Abstract Q (Bake/Staalplaat). As Ulna, we make electronic music, IDM, post-techno and I can assure you, in the recipe for our forthcoming album Ligment on Karlrecords, we’ve thrown in a lot of new ingredients. Sil Muir, instead, is a project I share with Andrea Marutti (Amon, Never/ Known, Afe records). It is drone based music generated, mostly, by me on guitar, then reshaped by Andrea and finally re-arranged once more by me. Finally, Ur is a power trio consisting of myself, Mauro (Stalker, Shiver, etc.) and Federico (Den LXV), two old friends of mine. They both have a hardcore punk background, same as me, but they have also always been into industrial, power-noise and extreme music. We started playing together a while ago and we naturally evolved into a psychedelic-proto-industrial unit just like it used to be in the early days of the genre. That’s probably why an “old school industrial guy” told us we were too “heavy” to be filed under experimental music and too experimental to be considered industrial. It is one of the live bands I enjoy playing the most, because it is an aggressive, restrained, noisy and psychedelic project and for all of us it is a cathartic experience. Q: Conversely, Luminance Ratio, your project with Gianmaria Aprile and Eugenio Maggi, appears to be more focused

on microsounds compared to some of your noisier experimentations. Is it an attempt on your part to move towards a lighter space, so to speak? A: The actual line up of Luminance Ratio consists of Gianmaria and I, Luca Sigurtà on cheap electronics, noise and Luca Mauri on guitar. Eugenio is no longer in the band. We have just released a new split 7″ with Steve Roden, and we are now working on a new series of split vinyls. Also, we have just mastered our second album. The project has evolved naturally into some-


thing more psychedelic, more retro, than what we originally set out to do, but with a good amount of electronics, and electro-acoustic instruments. We are music freaks and we throw into the mix anything and everything we consider suitable for a specific project. I shouldn’t be the one saying it, but, in my humble opinion, it is an interesting live act. Q: Is the Italian electro-acoustic scene one big happy family or is it dysfunctional as all families are? A: Dysfunctional as many families are… but better than most… Q: Aside from being a musician you also write for Chaindlk, and Sodapop reviewing albums and interviewing a number of musicians including Taylor Deupree and Claudio Parodi. Who has been the most surprising and rewarding interviewee you’ve had the chance to meet? A: Jim Thirlwell aka Fetus and Scott McCloud from Girls against Boys. I knew Thirlwell to be cynical and ironic, but he’s been a real killer! I’ve always been a fan of Scott McCloud ever since he played guitar in Soulside (one of my fave bands on Dischord). When I started playing guitar his noisy post-hardcore style was a big influence on me. During the interview he turned out to be a smart and insightful person. Q: I would now like to ask you a series of questions you have asked to some of your interviewees. New technologies and the web have provided an increas-


ing number of people with the means to create and produce music. Democratically speaking it’s been a great step for musicians, but it also brought about an oversaturation of the market. Are you one of those who started thinking “there’s nothing new under the sun”, there are too many releases and there’s no space for those who really deserve it, or do you think it’s been a positive evolution, even if the record market has somehow collapsed? A: Ah, ah, you are trying to stab me in the back with my own dagger!! Ok, who decides “who deserves” what? And according to which parameters? I’m the first one to complain when music sounds like something from ten, twenty or thirty years ago, but having said that, I’ve always been lucky enough to find something good, interesting and sometimes even exciting. I like original music and brilliant artists, but sometimes I also like copycats much more than their originators. You’re right, the market is collapsing under an overabundance of releases, but even if I download music from the web I still love the physical format and I still love trading records! It’s full of interesting music out there, there’s just more crap you have to sift through before finding something that wets your appetite. I’m a nostalgic guy, but when I hear some of my coevals glorifying the good old days I think it’s sad. And don’t get me started on the whole “reunion” phenomenon. Q: What is the socio-economical context that has nourished Mr. Ferraris, and

what were the milestones in the musical growth of his musical skill? A: Context: A small town in the North West of Italy. Background: I’m from an upper-middle class, catholic, white family. As many other middle class boys like me, I’ve had a hard time trying to dismantle, as much as I could, my bourgeois upbringing. My personal milestones? Many records and musicians, and above all, many friends who were deeply into many different kinds of music. Also, the repeated exposure to my friends’ record collection and to my own record collection. As a “musician”, my musical development owes a lot to the fact that I have been lucky enough to meet many open minded people, whom I admired and I still do admire, and I’m not just talking about musician or music related people here. Q: Can you remember when and how you discovered electronic music? A: Sure, I did know about electronic music, but during my early twenties there were two friends of mine who were into labels such as Warp, who got me into it. Also, at the time, Federico (one of my Ur bandmates) was into industrial music and was listening to people like Maurizio Bianchi (way before he became trendy again), and Merzbow, etc. During that time, I bought a second hand copy of “Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks” by Brian Eno and Danielle Lanois. I’m an Eighties kid, and I’ve been exposed to new wave and synth pop in my childhood. I remember when M/a/r/r/s came

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out with Pump Up the Volume and when I saw for the first time the clip Beat This by Tim Simenon, aka Bomb The Bass. Q: Why have you changed so many styles? A: I’m tempted to answer: “Because I have something to prove to myself ”, but that’s just one of the reasons. I’ve always been inspired by people like James Plotkins, Justin Broadrick, John Zorn, Ennio Morricone, Mick Harris, Teho Teardo and Eraldo Bernocchi. I don’t necessarily like all their albums, but I respect them for having always been eclectic and unpredictable artists. Q: Is there anything you sought to accomplish (music wise or in general) but you found simply out of reach? A: Ah, ah… There are just too many things I would like to accomplish, but most of them have always been far out of my reach, especially in terms of my life and my personality. Music-wise I would like to create something really special. Maybe that will always be “out of my reach”. Still, it might be that the actual point is not to “reach something” but “to strive” in order to reach something… Who knows? Q: Professional musicians aside, there aren’t that many

people over thirty playing music in Italy, especially if compared to other foreign countries… This is still seen as a hobby. Why do you do this and why do you keep doing it? A: It’s the real million dollar question: Why? To avoid having to grow up, to pursue a childhood dream, to feel less alone, to stay alive, to satisfy my aggressiveness side, to find an outlet for my repressed aggressiveness. Sometimes I ask myself if it’s not just a stupid shelter from “real” life and everything it implies. While playing and collaborating with other people, I have met a lot of interesting musicians, and sometimes I’ve had the indisputable luck of taking part (directly or otherwise) in what is a transcending process through music. That is why I’m still playing. Q: Finally, what are you currently working on? A: New releases for Ulna (the CD is currently at the pressing plant!!) and Ur. Giuseppe Ielasi has just mastered our new Luminance Ratio full length album and by the beginning of the Summer we should be ready with a new Airchamber3 release. Also, at present, I’m collaborating with Simon Balestrazzi (T.A.C.), with Me Raabestein from Nonine records (our moniker is Mycroft Holmes) and with “my old buddy” Matteo Uggeri. I’m finally about to finish a solo recording, a sort of soundtrack-like work, with acoustic instruments, electronics and several contributions by friends.

Q: You have recently relocated to Genova, which is a city with a strong musical heritage and a compelling social-political history. How does it compare to Alessandria? Also, have you taken any field recordings in Genova and will it provide inspiration for future works? A: I love Genova and I have always loved it. It is a beautiful “messy town” by the sea. It reminds of Barcelona, but also of Naples. What I have always found interesting about this town is the incredible amount of contrasts one can find in it, its decadence and the fact that it is far bigger than the place where I was living before! Despite its size, though, Genova is still a sleepy town. If you want to be “where the action is” (and I’m thinking of the Californian hardcore band Black Flag here) well, forget it!! But who cares? You can bet I’ve already taken some field recordings. I do find the town inspiring, but as I said before, I am not a “field recording artist” and, to be honest, sometimes I find “field recording” releases pretty “dogmatic”, not to say boring. Genova feels familiar to me, I should have relocated here a long time ago, but I am still trying to understand how it is actually affecting me. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re


BIELLA – LUCA SIGURTÀ Posted In: July 2013

Shared between the passion for silence and noise, Luca Sigurtà made several releases on labels like Fratto9, Creative Sources, Afe Records, Dokuro, Lisca, Tulip, Karl Schmidt Verlag. He’s played and recorded with To Live And Shave In LA, Andy Ortmann, Jean-Luc Guionnet, Praying for Oblivion, Claudio Rocchetti, UR, Der Einzige, Sanair, Fhievel, and xNoBBq, amongst others. In 2010 he joined Luminance Ratio recording two 7” split singles with Steve Roden and Oren Ambarchi. In 2012, he founded the label Kinky Gabber. In 2013 he released a 12” split with legendary American noise band Panicsville and a split with Francisco López. Q: I have had the pleasure of catching you live recently at Macao, the occupied space in Milan. Could you talk me through your set and could you describe to me the way you generally approach a live gig? A: First of all, I’d like to say that playing live is what I prefer doing. Also, I like to do something different with each performance. I like to add, take away or simply modify something every time I play live. In the case of my set at Macao, Milan, I have used many self-constructed loops, which I have since used in an installation in the Liguria region using the same tapes as sound source. When playing live, though, I generally use tapes, different cd players, synth and a lot of other analog “refuse”. Q: Last year’s album Bliss (Fratto9) showed your gentler side, but you have a noisier streak which is represented in your band Harshcore. Are you just finding hard to let go of your punk roots and a general “punkish” attitude to music, if you pardon the expression? Also has releasing a split one-sided 12” with Panicsville been a long time dream come true? A: Yes, amongst all of my releases, Bliss is without a doubt the most introspective or “soul” as it has been described in some reviews. It is an album that conveys the dreamier aspect of my work, my gentler side, even if it is characterised by a certain degree of disquiet. It is a kind of musical representation of what


I was and am. When it comes to my attitude, I would say that my approach is decidedly punk. Over the years, I have come to realise this is the main characteristic of my music. I like a certain roughness of sound, even though I am trying to refine certain sonic traits. Gianmaria Aprile, who has been producing my latest works, has helped me considerably with this. We may often bicker, but he manages to contain and mould my punk attitude in the best possible way by guiding the sound in the right direction. The 12” with Panicsville has bee a dream come true. After a split tape with Andy Ortmann, released in 2011, he and I forged an excellent relationship so when I asked him to if he was interested in doing a split album with the band he was happy to oblige. Q: You have also a new split album, ERM, this time with Francisco López, which has just been released on Fratto9. How did this come about and at what point did López get involved? A: With Francisco López it was more or less the same as with Panicsville. If the latter are masters of noise, though, López is, on the other hand renowned for his skill in dealing with silence (once again, we are back in the same dichotomy I was talking about earlier). The main difference is that with Francisco, I had already been in touch for a number of years and had exchanged a number of albums, before we decided on a split. We decided to work on the same material in order to create two completely distinct tracks whereby I would work on his sound processing and mutations and vice-versa. The resulting tracks are really different, even though one can hear, at times, some of the same samples being used. The album was released mid June on Fratto9 with promotion being taken care by the top German company Dense, specialized in experimental music. Q: Reverie, the new Luminance Ratio album, is coming out, on the Polish label Bocian. In a recent interview with Gianmaria Aprile, he stated that for this

particular release you selected and processed hours and hours of recorded material, which you then assembled and integrated with acoustic parts on cello, sax, baritone clarinet, and double bass courtesy of a number of fellow musicians. Is this post processing work something you had originally planned or something that evolved naturally from the kind of material you found yourselves with? A: We’ve made a habit of recording all of the band’s rehearsals, which meant that we accumulated a lot of material. By listening back to what we had, we realised we actually had something which could’ve been worth working on and releasing and it is thanks to Gianmaria and Luca who did a sterling job with post-production, that this is what actually happened. In terms of new and future material, we are now trying out a different approach and rather than going for long sessions, we prefer to concentrate on single tracks and shorter takes. This way we are hoping to get a more direct sound, something akin to a live set, dirtier and grittier. Q: You’ve released on a number of labels over the years, but have recently set up the microlabel, Kinky Gabber, which co-releases your own output with Gianmaria Aprile’s Fratto9 Under The Sky. Was that motivated by a need to share costs or as a way of exerting artisticcontrol over your albums? A: I’d been thinking of starting a small label for a while. The first Luminance

Ration 7” was the trigger that set everything in motion. Ideally, I don’t want to limit it to my output, but, unfortunately, I have very little time to dedicate to it. Still, I am hoping to release something by a different artist before the end of the year. Running parallel with Kinky Gabber, I would also like to start up a line of “cheap fashion” with screen-printing clothing, but I’ll have to wait for this. Q: You live in Biella, in the Piedmont region, a town located roughly halfway between Turin and Milan. Where do you tend to gravitate towards the most when it comes to playing music and going to see bands live? Also, do you feel part of any particular music scene? A: On the one hand, the geographic location of Biella is one of its positive aspects as it is so close to both Turin and Milan, that it makes it easy to catch

interesting gigs in either city. On the other hand, though, it means that Biella itself, all too often, gets bypassed and culturally speaking it is not that vibrant. Having said that are a number of good local bands such as Morkebla, Rainbow Lorikeet, Hilary Snuff e Ass-Olo just to name a few. Q: Who are in your opinion amongst the most interesting musicians currently active on the Italian electroacoustic scene at present? Also, which labels/venues do you rate? Q: I would say that, especially over the past few years, the Italian experimental scene has been thriving, with an output of very high quality, which has been gaining an increasingly positive response and echo. The most tangible effect is that it is reaching a far wider audience than it used to. People are

generally more interested and “maybe” even more receptive. I do believe the Italian scene to be amongst the best in Europe and I have said this recently in another interview as well. This is thanks to the very high standard of the different projects on offer, and the care and attention given to both the sound and the visual aspect of it. There may be more opportunities in other countries, especially when it comes to number of venues dedicated to this particular genre and the general “infrastructure”, whereas we have to roll up our sleeves and try and come up with new ways of promoting our work, but other than that we have no reason to suffer from an inferiority complex. In terms of recommendations, I won’t name names, as I would run the risk of writing down an exceedingly long shopping list. I prefer to just invite anyone interested, to explore the Italian scene as there’s so much interesting stuff out there. Q: Finally, what are you currently working on? A: I am currently working on a new album, which will probably be titled Warm Glow and which will keep me busy throughout the summer. I am also working on new material with Luminance Ratio. There’s other stuff in the pipeline as well, but it still it its very early stages. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re



Photography: Elisabet Armand

Posted On: May 22, 2013

Stefano Pilia was born in Genoa and currently lives in Bologna where he graduated at the music conservatory G.B. Martini. His work draws on his research into the sculputural dimensions of sound and it’s relations with space, memory and time suspension both through instrumental executionalexperimental practices (mainly on guitar and dbass) and investigations into the recording and production process. He is one of the founder members of 3/4HadBeenEliminated, a group that synthesises improvisation, electro-acoustic composition and avant-rock sensibilties. Since 2008 he’s been part of the Italian band Massimo Volume and since 2010 of In Zaire and has collaborated with Mike Watt (il sogno del marinaio), David Grubbs (bgp trio), David Tibet and ZU (zu93), Rokia Traorè and John Parish, Phill Niblock, Marina Rosenfeld, Andrea Belfi, Valerio Tricoli and Claudio Rocchetti (3/4HBE), Giuseppe Ielasi, and many more… Q: You are involved in many different projects, six at the latest count… How do you manage to juggle so many different projects from a practical point of view considering that you are all living in various locations? A: I like to work as much as I can, trying to have a discipline and a schedule, of course. For some of the above projects we meet a couple of times a year to work together (touring and /or recording or doing a bunch of gigs). With others, like my solo stuff or Massimo Volume and In Zaire, there is more continuity at present… 3/4 has seen strong continuous work, both with recording and composing, for many years, even if there hasn’t been that much on the live front… At present, we’d like to take a break for a while. Q: What would you say were the main characteristics you are able to explore with each of these different projects? A: One can experience and experiment different processes and musical approaches, but mostly, for me, it is all about the possibility to connect with people and sharing ideas. This is something very precious. Something I can really


learn a lot from. I usually do not like very much the pairing of long distance and short time collaborations. I always find it hard to work that way and the musical results are not always very interesting. Also I’m a slow learner, so I need to spend time with the people and to be with them on the material together. Q: There’s a couple of recurring names in your collaborations, mainly Claudio Rocchetti and Andrea Belfi which you have known for a number of years now. They are both established musicians in their own right with a number of solo albums to their name. What would you say you have learnt about your own approach to the music? In other words, what have you learned about yourself as a musician, rather than what have you learned from them? A: We have worked a lot together, we are still doing so and we still like it… I think they both have a great music sensibility and indeed they are close friends of mine… Of course we have influenced each other a lot. We actually grew up together musically and at the same time each one of us developed a unique musical vision. I think the communication with them has been always very interesting and stimulating. Q: You have recently been touring with Rokia Traoré. How’s that experience been? Also, how did the current situation in Mali affect the tour and the way her music has been perceived? Was there any pressure on her to act as a kind of spokesperson on the political situation in the country? A: I play guitar for her. Last June we recorded in Bristol with John Parish, and we will soon go on tour. She spontaneously feels she has to speak about what is happening in Mali and she is very opinionated and critical about the society and the politic situation there. She has a very strong personality. When she speaks about this, it is not for external pressure but because she feels her responsibility about this as a Malian citizen and as a person who deeply loves her country, I guess.

Q: Contrary to many “bedroom artists” you seem to have a pretty good idea of what life on the road is like. Would you say that this has been an integral part of your development as a musician? And how has this experience filtered through into your own solo work? A: Yes absolutely. Playing in front of people is something different. You need to communicate with the audience. There is a performance aspect involved. Music becomes something between the musician or the performer and the listeners. And the act of listening in itself is a very strong action, kind of a subtle one, but very powerful and plays a great role in the results of a music performance. But there is also amazing music done in bedrooms from musicians that barely play live. Take for example “Plux Cuba” by Nuno Cannavaro, just to mention one name. I do not think he has ever played live as far as I know. The relation between the musician-performer and the listener and the aspects that this relation brings in terms of music and musicality is something very expressive for me. Q: Your solo album Action Silence and Prayers out on Die Schacthel has been one of the success stories on the label’s catalogue. Has it allowed you to explore the more introspective side of your character? A: Well, I think that record, and my music in general, are a consequence of the way I am and I change… not the opposite… also in perspective all this work helps me to gain a better consciousness about myself. Q: How did the track Sky from the same album end up on a Doctor Without Borders film on Sleeping Sickness? A: Some of the people that were working with Doctor Without Borders really liked my records, so they just wrote to me asking me

to use some of my music, which I was very happy about. Q: Of your recent solo album Strings you wrote: “Strings is a composition which belongs directly to my ‘sound diary’, a collection I started keeping almost 10 years ago. The collection is formed by a certain number of tracks, which I consider as independent sounds pictures. I use some simple rules about how to select, cut and then play together the sound material I record. It is conceived to be a piece of work, which is getting longer in duration as time progresses. So yes, I guess Strings could be considered as a self-portrait piece made of sound memories.” I am really fascinated by this album and would like to know more about these rules and how you selected the field recordings for the three tracks of the album? Also, what are the actual geographical coordinates of this album and is there going to be a follow up to Strings? A: The way I choose the recordings is mostly based on their sonic characteristics. I choose the ones I like the most. The real geography is not the direct criteria I follow in selecting the material. I deliberately avoid recordings which contain spoken language or any obvious musical idioms. With the exception of some clear and naked nature field recordings, I generally choose sounds that carry some ambiguity: I like it when the source of a sound is not immediately recognizable and also when the recorded sounds do not express a deliberate act or a will to produce something with musical or linguistic purposes, since these have inevitably the tendency to impose themselves on the more “interrogative” material. (I guess this is the reason why urban soundscapes are much less present in my selections). I found that these simple choices allowed for all the material I selected to work much better together and in a greater variety of different combinations. I always cut and edit the material in order that every file can work as a little piece in itself, but this really depends on

every single recording. Strings is a continuously evolving work so, yes, I keep adding to the sound collection that constitutes the main body of the piece. Q: About Strings, you have also stated that: “My work has become progressively concerned with the research of the sculptural dimensions of sound and its relations with space, memory and time suspension both through instrumental executionalexperimental practices (mainly on guitar and bass) and investigations into the recording and production process.” Is this something you are able to bring into your collaborative projects or does this only refer to your solo work? A: I guess I always carry this approach with me, as this is how I approach my instruments of choice and my way of playing. This aspect is therefore always present, even when in the final results of a music piece, solo or collaborative, this may not be as evident. I always think first in terms of sounds rather than notes and I always bring this approach to my collaborations, trying to make everything work in the best possible way. Q: There’s a wide variety of influences in your work, from Loren Connors to Italian prog music, which makes it very difficult to place you especially given the rage of your collaborations. What do you answer when people ask you to describe the music you make? A: Eheh, yes, difficult question. I say avant-garde and punk because that is my spirit and the main approach I always have had. Q: There’s a telling episode from your childhood that gives a clue to your relationship with sound. “My grandfather was a carpenter and lived in the countryside. In his workshop he kept many machines to cut and plane wood. On summer afternoons, I would sit outside while he worked, mesmerized by the sounds of those machines. In the meantime I would look at the sun, the fields, the lines of ants on the wall. When suddenly the machines were turned off, everything all around appeared renewed.” Daniel Barenboim refers to hearing as the memory sense rather than sight, would you agree with that?

even stronger than hearing. I was explaining my experience to Daniela Cascella a few years ago in an interview and she told me about some works by Max Neuhaus centered round this specific kind of sonic experience. Q: You are from Bologna, which benefits from a vibrant student population thanks to its university. Has this made things considerably easier for you as a musician in terms of finding other people to play and experiment with and how has the city shaped your outlook on music? Also, have you ever been tempted to follow Claudio Rocchetti and move to Berlin, or are you quite happy to stay in Bologna with your friends and peers Luciano Maggiore and Francesco Fuzz Brasini, amongst others? A: I moved to Bologna from Genoa when I was 16. Genoa is a beautiful town but kind of tough if you want to do something, or even if you just want to go to concerts and listen to music. Bologna is a smaller university town compared to Genoa, richer, less rough in social terms and less complex and problematic than a big city. Still, there has been a lot of interesting music going on with situations that gave satisfied and inspired my curiosity. I’m thinking about venues like the Link, the Angelica Festival, Raum, the TPO experience, just to mention a few names. I met Valerio and Claudio and Massimo Volume here in Bologna as well as many other interesting people and friends. Now I would say that the city got a bit down compared to 10 years ago… but this is not just a “Bologna problem” I am also traveling a lot more, so I spend less time in Bologna. Genoa, the city I born in, was virtually dead in the 90′s. Berlin is a great city but I do not that keen on it. The atmosphere there now is too easy and relaxed. I need more hardship. I think it is useful to me. - Interview: Gianmarco del Re

A: I agree. Smell too has an incredible memory power, maybe


BRIANZA – MATTEO UGGERI / HUE Posted On: April 24, 2012

Matteo Uggeri has been making music since 1994, at times under the moniker Hue, and within different collaborative projects such as Der Einzige (noise / industrial) and Sparkle in Grey. Over the years he has also collaborated with De Fabriek, Claudio Rocchetti, Ether, Punck, Cria Cuervos, Nicola Ratti, OvO, Nuno Moita, Mujika Easel, Andrea Serrapiglio, Telepherique, and others. His first solo release Un’estate senza pioggia (2006, Grey Sparkle), released under the Hue moniker, mixes field recordings with melancholic sounds of acoustic and electric guitars, glitch electronics and other instruments (organ, didgeridoo). His latest album, Pagetos, a collaboration with Luca Mauri and Francesco Giannico, is the final chapter of the Between the Elements quadrilogy initiated by Maurizio Bianchi, Spyros Abatielos and himself… Q: You seem to specialise in field recordings, what is your musical background? A: I grew up listening to electronic pop (Howard Jones, Depeche Mode…), and then new wave (The Cure, Joy Division, Bauhaus…) before moving to industrial music (SPK, Controlled Bleeding, Caba-

ret Voltaire…). In the ’90s I discovered Warp and later Morr Music. I never really studied music, but I have always loved to record sounds in different places. Having said that, I am not such a big fan of Francisco López or similar artists… I didn’t even know the term “field recordings” when I first took some crap mic to try and record things around me. My biggest influences, have been other Italian musicians and friends, such as Fhievel, Logoplasm, Punck and my Meerkat mates. Q: You sometimes record under the moniker Hue. How did you choose the name Hue? Also what differentiates Hue from Matteo Uggeri? A: It’s an old moniker that I prefer not to use anymore. I loved it at the time, because I like sinesthesias and, from what I could gather, it means both ‘scream’ and ‘colour’ in English. Also, it recalls the initial of my surname, “U”. Q: Your first album as Hue, Un’estate senza pioggia (A Dry Summer) was born from a journey you undertook on your own between Bologna, Arezzo, Roma and L’Aquila. At the time you carried a minidisc with you and a microphone.

How has your use of field recordings changed throughout the years, both from a technical and a conceptual point of view? A: It hasn’t really changed. I’m not really into technical equipment and I do not invest that much in it. Back then, I had a tiny Sony stereo microphone, of the kind one uses for interviews, and a minidisc. Then I bought binaural mikes and a M-Audio digital recorder, but it wasn’t very good (unreliable batteries and ugly interface) so I got myself a Zoom H1. Always pretty cheap stuff… I’m more interested in the concept of field recordings as such, in the emotional meaning they may hold for me or for the listener, rather than in the purity of sound, even if I spend hours in post-production and EQ afterwards. Still, when I read an interview with Chris Watson on The Wire I must admit I was pretty envious of his equipment. Q: More often than not, you seem to indicate the locations of the field recordings on the linear notes of your albums. Why is it important to you, if indeed it is, to be able to locate precisely each track? Is it a way of introducing a narrative element or simply a way of grounding the music into a specific space and time framework? A: It’s related to this “emotional” and meaningful approach I have to field recordings, yes. A while ago, I read that Francisco López doesn’t give titles to his files, so that he can completely forget where and when they were recorded. Some other artists use them with documentary purposes, when visiting very special locations and somehow it feels as though they were taking sonic photographs of these places. In my case, on the other hand, what is important to me, is my relationship with a specific place and its people; it’s more of a personal sound diary, sometimes a way to document moments from the life of friends and family, or even of myself. Un’estate senza pioggia is, in fact, full of (credited) sound recordings from the people who


are dear to me. I know this is not, strictly speaking, an experimental approach, but more of a “melancholic new wave” take on things. But I do also take great care of the purely aesthetical side of things. I spend hours mixing the right sound at the right place, as well as recording and introducing new ones into a specific track, if I feel it needs it and aids its dynamic and concept. A fitting example is the sounds of cooking (boiling, burning…) which I’ve inserted into “Kapnos” (Smoke) by Meerkat… Q: In a similar way, the titles of your tracks are usually quite descriptive. I am thinking of the album you did with Andrea Ferraris out on Hibernate for instance, with tracks such as: “Steps on leaves, kids on skateboards, steps in the mud”. In the case of Pagetos you also indicate a precise time such as 4:56 pm : Ground Frost Breeding. Are you not afraid of giving too much of the game away, so to speak, or of signposting too precisely a direction for the listener to take? A: It’s funny what happened with the album I did with Andrea because it was actually him who convinced me to give these titles to the tracks precisely in order to allow the listener to “undertake his/her own journey” with the music. At the beginning I had selected different titles altogether, more evocative, more personal, even sillier, but Andrea told me it was better to just indicate the sounds in the tracks. This way I even wrote where the sounds were actually taken (ie. “Steps on leaves in Monza…” etc). In the end, we came to a compromise, but I think he was right: I give too much of the game away. This may be because I am something of a control freak and it might have something to do with my desire to direct the listener in the direction I would like him/her to take.

With “Pagetos”, however, to be honest, the time indications do not refer to anything in particular, but only to the idea of an unspecified cold morning with the frost slowly melting by the minute. What I care about is the meaning attached to any specific record I work on. Q: Pagetos (Morning Forst) 2012, out on the Italian label Boring Machines, is the latest chapter of the quadrilogy Between the Elements. The previous ones were Nefelodhis (Cloudy) 2007, Erimos (Desert) 2007, and Kapnos (Smoke) 2009. The concept and inspiration is by Maurizio Bianchi, Spyros Abatielos and yourself. Could you tell me something about how the quadrilogy came about? Also, has the project developed in the direction you were hoping, or indeed expecting, considering different artists have been contributing to each single release? Finally, why isn’t Maurizio Bianchi appearing on Pagetos? A: To begin with, Maurizio asked me to collaborate with him on one record. I was indeed honoured and surprised. Afterwards we had a thick email exchange about concepts (he was fond of the idea of clouds, I was into the concept of desert) so we decided to do two differ-

ent records. I had quite a lot of time on my hands back then in 2006/’07 (even though it sounds strange now) and we agreed on doing two albums on these two very different subjects. Later on, speaking with Spyros, a Greek friend of mine, whom I consulted for proof reading, we came up with this concept of “between the elements”, that M.B. loved. Now I think it sounds a bit new-agey, but I still like the idea of something which is “between”, something with shaded boundaries, and I think this is captured by the musical outcome we got: four albums that have independent lives of their own but at the same time that have a sort of common thread. Maurizio’s contribution faded out slowly from Nefelodhis to Pagetos even disappearing from the liner notes of the latest album as he also completely gave up making music for a second time now. Also Pagetos is a much less of a noise or industrial album than the first two. Q: About Maurizio Bianchi, he is something of an institution within the Italian electro acoustic scene. He is an incredibly prolific musician who in recent years has been collaborating with a number of different young Italian artists. What do you feel you have learnt from working with him? A: I learned so much from him. I even tried to write an article about all of his collaborative projects, but I got lost within the wealth of material. A lot of people, and most journalists, ignored or were dismissive of these collaborations, but I feel it is a mistake to overlook this output. He made something really crazy and unusual by accepting to collaborate with unknown artists form the world over, giving away the same samples to different people, disseminating his sounds and concepts in various manners. No one, really has a clear map to navigate through all this. It’s all very chaotic and

Photos by Gaia Margutti and Roberto Uggeri taken at the regional park of the Valley of the Curone and Lake Sartirana.


Photos by Gaia Margutti and Roberto Uggeri taken at the regional park of the Valley of the Curone and Lake Sartirana.

I must admit there is some questionable stuff in there, but there also great masterpieces. He has forced listeners and fans to work out for themselves which were the pearls… I sometimes even doubt about how much he’s aware of this. When I see him (which unfortunately is seldom), he always comes across as so down to earth. I have great admiration for him. Q: On a general level, most of your work stems from collaborations. How do these come about? For instance, with Pagetos, Francesco Giannico told me you contacted him specifically to create the piano parts for the album. Do you generally have the whole album mapped out before you initiate a collaboration or is every project different and if so, in what way? A: Yeah, you got the point: I can’t work alone just by myself. I do not know exactly why that is but I do not like doing things on my own. I like sharing, exchanging, even arguing at times. Music is mostly a collective art. On the other hand, when I draw or work on graphic design projects, I strongly prefer to do everything on my own, but that is different. Moreover, I don’t play any instrument (except for the trumpet, but I’m a real amateur at it and I stopped studying it), but I love the sounds of cello, guitar, bass, violin, every instrument. So I need someone else to play with me and for me, which is beautiful. So sometimes I ask precisely what I’d like to get from someone (see Francesco’s piano

melodies), at other times, someone else suggests an idea to me (Andrea Ferraris acoustic guitar in “Autumn…”, or Alessandro Calbucci drones for “The Distance”). Having said that, my very firsts solo releases should be out soon: one is an EP on Fluid Audio, and another one is a full length album on Will Long’s (aka Celer) Two Acorns label (fingers crossed). Q: You are part of a growing number of Italian musicians who have started their own label. Also, many of the musicians double up as graphic designers, I am thinking of Fabio Perletta and Lorenzo Senni, to pick but two names. Does this come from a DIY approach or is it symptomatic of a difficulty to find an outlet on the international market? A: Personally, I’m more of a graphic designer than a musician: I studied graphic design and I like to draw. The idea of the label came mostly because I wanted to give a specific “brand image” to the products I was involved in, and it has a DIY approach in the sense that, again, I like doing things in a very specific way. Also, yes, it is not easy to be released by an international label. Sending demos out is a time consuming and emotionally draining exercise, which means that, sometimes, I just give up. Q: Could you tell me how Moriremo Tutti Records came about and why do you state that you “express nothing through sounds”? A:

Ehmm… that is quite a teenager-ish sophism, isn’t it? This slogan came up in 1996 during a conversation I had with Marco Volpi – one of the very first guys I’ve ever collaborated with, and with whom I had an EMB band. At that time, I was into the kind of philosophical musings which can be found in the first SPK’s records (mostly Michel Foucault), so I really wanted something extreme, like the name of the label itself (We Will All Die), but at the same time it was meant to be ironic. “Maximum Redundancy / Minimum Information”: everybody knows we will die, but no one says it (not like this). So the music I release on Moriremo Tutti is sort of iconoclastic but ironic industrial stuff (like the VHS “Remote Control”). Q: What is the concept behind Grey Sparkle and the cartoonish visual element of it? A: This is the “lighter” label, devoted to electronic, post-rock, and even pop music. In 1999, I was tired of noise and doom and gloom, and I discovered the Warp label and Morr Music, as I said earlier. Therefore, I wanted to create a new logo – the “sparkle dancer”, a chubby smiling boy on a couch – as well as new imagery. That is how these cartoon characters I like to draw, and which I call the Roundmen, came about. I often draw them during meetings at work and at first I did it mostly, if not exclusively, for my girlfriend. Now they’re the visual representation of Sparkle in Grey, the band I play with, and people have come to recognise them. I think they match the sound. Q: Yes, you also play in a number of bands, most notably Norm and Sparkle in Grey, which is “a 4-member band devoted to a sort of electronic and eclectic post-rock”. This reminds me in a way of Nicola Ratti who, aside from releasing


taken there my digital recorder with me. Not sure exactly why that is, but it must mean something… Anyhow, the idea of an escape and that of the call of the wild are – I think – a frequent occurrence in my collaborative albums such as Sparkle in Grey’s Mexico or Autumn is coming…, – the album I did with Andrea Ferraris -, and the whole quadrilogy.

great albums of electro acoustic music, also plays in a similar band called Ronin. Both bands, Ronin and Sparkle in Grey, could be seen as composing soundtracks for imaginary road movies. Rather than picking “Paris, Texas” or Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western films, though, you have only listed the Italian documentary Sentire l’aria as a favorite on your Facebook page. What is your relationship with film, and the visual arts in general, when it comes to your music?

Manuele Cecconello, the director of “Sentire l’aria” seems to like “Pagetos”, so we might collaborate on something in the near future, or at least I hope so.

A: I never really worked on soundtracks, even if many people told me “Wow, your music is nice but strange, a bit melancholic, even gloomy… have you ever thought about doing soundtracks?” Personally I am not against the idea, but I prefer (as far as I can) to play music with no ornaments, so to speak, just on its own, free from a specific aim related to a movie. But I’m open to the idea…

Q: You are based in the North of Italy and, to be more precise, in Brianza. Has this particular location influenced any of your works and if so which one in particular and in what way? Pagetos, for instance was recorded in Merate and Seregno, both small towns in Brianza, as well as in Taranto, I suspect thanks to Francesco Giannico’s presence on the album. Has living in Brianza shaped the concept of this album at all?

I like Ronin, and Bruno and Nicola are good friends. I really like what Ratti plays, solo and with the band, but mostly I am a big fan of his collaborative project Bellows, with Giuseppe Ielasi. We even collaborated on the very first Sparkle in Grey album where he made a great remix/cover of one of our tracks.

A: Oh God, yes, I think so. Milan, with its environs, is densely populated, extremely polluted, and rather suffocating, but Brianza is no better, even though there are still quite a few green areas one can escape to. It is like a jail with open doors. One feels the need to flee the urban areas, but at the same time is attracted by its opportunities. One goes away, takes a holiday, and eventually returns. In particular, in Brianza, my wife and I enjoy the regional park of Montevecchia and of the Valley of the Curone. It is a protected area, even though it is not strictly speaking a nature reserve. That is where we always go to whenever we are in need for some fresh air and to enjoy the countryside. Strangely enough, I have never

Q: Finally, you also interview fellow musicians and contribute to a number of online magazines. From an insider’s point of view, what is the current state of the Italian electro acoustic scene? Any particular names / locations / venues / festivals you would recommend? A: I’m happy to notice the interest we get from abroad. It is wonderful for me to see that people in Europe, US or Japan think that the “Italian experimental scene” is interesting. Festivals like Tagofest (Marina di Massa, Tuscany – which alas is no more), Musica nelle Valli (S.M. Spino, Modena) and the NOfest in Turin are great, as they mix experimental stuff with rock, pop and whatever. Alas, Milan is not the best place in Italy to play, mostly because of political reasons, as a recent article in The Wire pointed out. In terms of the musicians… I would recommend all the above mentioned in the interview, plus Luca Sigurtà (and the bands he plays with, Harshcore and Luminance Ratio), My Dear Killer (Stefano Santabarbara), St.ride, Andrea Marutti from Afe records, Airportman, Stefano Gentile’s label Silentes, Claudio Rocchetti and all the projects he’s involved in… I could go on for hours, but since they are mostly friends of mine, I shouldn’t be seen doing such blatant promotion! - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re The Brianza is a geographical area at the foot of the Alps, in north-western Lombardy, northern Italy.


CASTELSARDO – SAFFRONKEIRA Posted On: February 28, 2013

SaffronKeira is a project established in 2008 by Eugenio Caria from the island of Sardinia, Italy. With SaffronKeira, Eugenio Caria lives out his passion of being a researcher of the possibility of expression offered by currently available technology. Indeed, in his tracks he experiments a lot with electronics and unconventional elements, which sometimes seem meaningless at first sight, but uncover their significance only on closer examination.. Combining subtle and sometimes even almost invisible rhythms with textures of sound, he confidently moves between minimalistic pieces and classic ambient tracks, which should please both the analytic ears and the listeners who just want to dive into the music. Q: You come from techno music and the clubbing scene where you used to deejay. You’ve now left that world behind, and yet, the way some of your tracks are constructed, their duration and the way they unfold tells me you haven’t quite abandoned that musical mind-frame. I’m thinking, for instance, of a track like Motion on Tourette with the slow build up, the loops and the reverb used on the spoken word section. A: Yes, that is correct, I have now left behind me the world of techno, even if, to some extent, I still feel represented by it. As you pointed out, its influence still filters through in my work since when I start working on a new track, I never do so in order to achieve a predetermined result. Everything evolves quite naturally in my music to the point where any contamination from different musical genres is possible. Q: Could you tell me something about the way you compose, and your setup? A: My studio is configured in a very simple way, with a laptop, two monitors, an audio card, a drum machine, preamplifiers, field recordings, several midi controls, and a few guitars, pedals and plug-ins. Q: You’ve talked about struggling to find the perfect label for A New Life and how there was always something that didn’t feel quite right until you got in touch with


Denovali and got an affirmative answer straight away. You say it’s been love at first sight. What makes a good label in your opinion and what made you feel so at home with Denovali? A: Yes, it’s been really hard finding a label for my first album A New Life. There have been a few false beginnings but I wanted to be absolutely sure I was picking the right label. When I sent to demo to Denovali they got back to me straight away. It was love at first sight. Through their emails I could feel their enthusiasm for my music. Also, Denovali never came up with absurd requests regarding the length or the sound of the tracks, which is something other labels did. Two years after I first joined Denovali, which I came to as a fan, I can say that they have never put any pressure on me. I feel quite free to compose anything I like without having to conform to any particular standard! This has been incredibly important for me. I feel at home at Denovali and I believe I have indeed made the right choice. There are different factors that contribute to make a good label, and there are many good ones around, from the right choice of artists, and the quality of the sound, to the careful selection of the artwork and the crucial ability of recognising the potential in an unknown artist. Furthermore, and this is the case with Denovali, it is important to be able to work with different musical genres in an original and fresh way without ever becoming banal. Q: I’ve read in a recent interview of how you were completely mesmerised by physical albums when you were little and that you owe your musical education to a vinyl cutter in Sardinia. I have the impression, though, that releasing A New Life on vinyl held more than just sentimental value for you and that it goes to the heart of the way you understand music, is that correct? A: I have always been mesmerized by vinyl since I was a child. I used to play old 12” albums on my father’s stereo while staring at artwork with a mixture of awe and wonder. I still remember the

hypnotic sound of Pink Floyd and I probably wore out those albums by playing them incessantly. I was always buying tapes to record the albums in order to listen to them on my walkman while going to school. The release of A New Life on vinyl holds more than just a mere sentimental value for me. It is something priceless, something that is part of my life and it will always be so. Q: You’ve talked about A New Life as being a very personal album. The advise writers are often given is to write about what they know. Is that something you feel should be applicable to musicians as well? A: I believe that in any case where an artist writes something personal that has marked her / him, they end up with a stronger and more truthful product. When someone works in a more instinctive way, the results are generally more convincing, which doesn’t always applies to those who see music as a mere money making exercise. Not everyone can apply this process to her / his work, though. Q: Tourette came out hot on the heels of your debut album, A New Life. Such a short time is unusual due to generally long production times, which also need to fit into a label’s release schedule. How did you manage this? A: Yes, this is indeed unusual. When A New Life was released in July of last year, though, I was already close to the final stages of my album Tourette, which I finished back in Septem-

ber and I immediately sent it to the label, who were eager to release it as quickly as possible. Within four months of its completion, Tourette came out in record time! Q: The cinematic quality of your music is quite apparent. Have you ever done or will you do any sound design work for theatre/dance/film? A: Thanks for this. I would love to work both for the theatre and as a film composer. I hope one day to be able to do so and to be capable of such a task. A: There’s a darkness in your music that comes to the forefront with titles such as Acceptance of Mental Disorder, The Endless Agony of Being Sick, Psychologically Destroying, all on A New Life. At the same time, there’s Pregnancy, and the title of the album, A New Life. Without wishing to sound “new-agey”, there’s something yin and yang in your music, which is compounded by the highly contrasted black and white art work of your releases. How do you translate that in musical terms?

live set is very simple and spontaneous and at the same time creative and strongly interactive when running in parallel with visuals. On the 18th of April I will be performing at the Störung festival, which is my ideal kind of festival as it is giving me carte blanche to develop a 50 minute long set where I’ll be able to experiment with new material. Another characteristic I cherish, is the opportunity of discovering new artists alongside tried and tested musicians who don’t always live up to the expectations. Q: You seem to use field recordings to add texture to your work, but they are never immediately traceable and are used quite sparsely. Do you have an archive of them in your studio or do you gather them especially for any given project you are working on at the time? A: Yes, I did include field recordings on both albums! All samples were recorded by me during my travels through Europe and Australia and I now have a substantial library of sounds. Many of these filed recordings, though, are not immediately apparent because they have been heavily processed. Some were taken while I was working on the album for a number of specific tracks while others were added at a later stage. Q: Were any of these field recordings taken in Sardinia?

A: There’s a considerable amount both of darkness and sadness in A New Life, but at the same time there’s the other side of the coin, which is an integral part of the concept of this album. The Yin/Yang dichotomy reflects my music as the pairing of life/ death, black/white or light/darkness demonstrates.

A: Yes, many of them were indeed recorded in Sardinia. As a matter of fact, last summer, my colleague Alex Gamez and I set off for a 10 day full immersion field recording venture taking in the whole island to capture all its great sounds including those from its rivers and lakes as well as the sounds of the sea, with some fantastic hydrophones!

Q: What is your approach to live sets? Also, you’ve recently played at the Denovali Swingfest and before then at the Störung Festival in Spain. What is your ideal kind of festival?

A: Capo Caccia, Castelsardo Borgo Antico, Terme di Casteldoria, Lago di Tisiennari, Lago Baratz, Tempio Pausania, Valle della Luna and Martis cascata di Triulintas.

A: My approach to a

Q: Just out of curiosity, could you name a few of the locations?

Q: In a number of interviews, you have expressed your interest in working on a few collaborations in the future. Anything you can anticipate?

A: At present, I am working on a new soundtrack for a very well know film by David Lynch with two other Sardinian musicians: Claudio PRC and Svart1, which we will present in Cagliari in April. Furthermore, together with Svart1 I am also developing a new visual concept for my next live performances. Also in the works is a remix for Abul Mogard a musician from Belgrade. Q: You are from the Sassari region in Sardinia. Do you speak the Sassarese Language? A: I know the Sassarese language very well, even though I seldom speak it. This is mainly because in the small village where I live, Castelsardo, we speak a different dialect: the Castellanese with a purer and more archaic pronunciation. Q: Has its musical tradition had any influence on you? A: No, I wouldn’t say Sardinian traditional music had any influence on me. As I child I used to dislike it, nowadays, though I would be quite interested in working with Sardinian choral music and traditional music. Q: Where would you position yourself within the Italian experimental and electroacoustic scene? A: I find it very difficult to answer this question as I really wouldn’t know where to place myself within the Italian electroacoustic scene. A: Any possible collaborations in the pipeline with any Sardinian musicians such as Waves On Canvas? A: Ahahah what a coincidence!!! As a matter of fact, I have recently started collaborating with Stefano Guzzetti, aka Waves on Canvas. We got to know each other some time ago on facebook and later physically met in Cagliari where we decided to work together on a joint project. We have already completed the first few tracks! We’ll see what will come out of this. - Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio



Attilio Novellino is an Italian sound artist born in Catanzaro in 1983. Guitar, electronics, deep basses, field recordings, piano and harsh distortions are used to build dreamy and melancholy soundscapes, to draw floating layers of burning material, to launch dronic textures that become noises, streaked with misty romanticism, characterized by a pronounced emotional side that combines post-industrial visions, nocturnal glows, blurred pictures and old memories…

digital processing to draw a small soundmap of labour, represents, in my opinion, a good example of the kinds of issues that AIPS tackles. Q: Your track Calme Cementi is based on field recordings taken at a cement plant in Marcellinara near your hometown of Catanzaro. How did you go about recording and constructing the resulting track?

recordings, one strives, in the majority of cases, to capture a less “polluted” sonic environment to the one which we have grown accustomed to, an environment Q: You have recently taken part in the A: I have always been fascinated by this that we manage to perceive with greater clarity, precisely because it appears as Loud Listening release out on Crónica, cement plant, since I was a kid as there a project curated by AIPS, the Archive aren’t that many big factories in my area. unusual. of Italian Soundscapes, set up by AlesEvery time one takes the motorway In Italy, there are still places where it sio Ballerini and Francesco Giannico for coming into Catanzaro, one is confrontis possible to immerse oneself in napromoting soundscape culture in Italy. ed with this imposing structure. It is not ture and to record the sounds of water, Since you’ve taken care of post-produc- something that one can avoid noticing. plants, and animals. I have frequently tion, could you describe the album and Therefore, it was only natural for me to done so. It is an extraordinary and relaxhow it fits in with AIPS’ remit? select it and to ask permission to visit ing experience, almost spiritual. And the plant and to take sound recordings A: The idea of Loud Listening was to within the different units. I have recorded yet, one cannot live under the illusion of being graced but that sort of landscape. make an album made of field recordings sounds next to the furnaces, amongst It is important to listen to all the facets all taken in industrial plants in four difthe conveyer belts transporting the raw of our soundscape without turning away ferent cities throughout Italy. We wanted materials and in the corridors and hallto give prominence to industrial labour, ways where sound travels alongside the from the harsher realities. which is carried out by thousands of walls, producing great natural drones. Q: Catanzaro is also know as “la città tra workers every day, in order to enable the Basically, I have tried to document all due mari”, the “city between two seas”. listener to come into direct contact with the different types of sounds generIf one was to subscribe to the tradition of the sounds of the factories’ apparatus, ated by the cement plant. Once in the amongst the raw materials and the marecording studio, I’ve edited the material psycho-geography, would you say your music has been shaped or indeed influchinery. In a word, to place the listener selecting the parts that excited me the enced by Catanzaro’s location? at the core of the industrial production. most in order to create a “pleasant” and varied aural structure without altering A: I do believe that geography can influOur aim was to reflect both on the imthe nature of the field recordings. ence one’s psyche, but I wouldn’t say portance and the role of industry and that Catanzaro’s location has directly workers, in a time of economic crisis Q: Considering the large-scale pollushaped my music. Most likely it played a in Italy, and to provide a sound map tion and the aggressive urbanisation of role in forging my personality. This small of labour, taking into consideration the the countryside why is it that, at least town perched on three hills, gives a undoubted appeal that the symphonies to my knowledge and with the excepclear view of the sea while keeping it at produced by certain mechanical sounds tion of AIPS, electro-acoustic musicians can have, without being unpleasant and working with field recordings don’t seem bay as if it was trying to protect you from the water. Catanzaro is so enclosed irritating to the ear. interested in tackling the destruction of on itself that it inevitably creates great the Italian landscape? expectations towards anything that may Our samples were then processed by lie beyond its perimeter. It is also very ten different artists who operate within A: I believe this is because we live in similar to a mother’s bosom. This has experimental and digital music, and who big urban centres and we are now used contributed in keeping alive my child like treated the sounds according to their to the sounds that the industrialized enthusiasm towards life and has spurred own sensitivity. cities produce on a daily basis to the me to use my imagination. I still consider point of not noticing them any longer. myself a nostalgically complying “hosListening Loud fits perfectly within AIPS’ Nobody pays any attention to sounds tage” to the city. remit as the Archive aims to promote that up until a few years back wouldn’t the culture of soundscape and everyhave been tolerated for more than five thing that is connected to the concept of minutes. Nobody is surprised any longer Q: Also, Catanzaro is known as the city “soundscape composition”. This album, by the continuous frequencies that have of the three Vs, namely San Vitaliano, the patron saint; velvet, as an important which combines field recordings with become a part of our lives. With field


Photos Attilio Novellino

silk centre since the time of the Byzantines; and wind (vento in Italian) as constantly experienced by the strong breezes from the Ionian Sea and Silas. Is it just a coincidence that you have chosen as a moniker another V word: “A Vortex of Low Pressure”? A: For both historical and cultural reasons both of the first Vs are very distant from my experience. The third one is a completely different kettle of fish. The wind is an intrinsic presence in Catanzaro. There are no open spaces within the city that aren’t governed by an unrelenting and chaotic windpower, regardless of the seasons. In winter it is cold and piercing, in summer it is hot even though seldom sultry. It is like a permanent disturbance that becomes a psychological trait of the inhabitants. The constant presence of the wind doesn’t just blow through one’s hair but also through one’s thoughts, so to speak. There are only very few days throughout the year when it actually dies down. Still, one has to contend with the wind even indoors. In my bedroom, for instance, a daily battle takes place amongst the shaky frame of the windows and the air, which tries to filter through any opening it can find after having clashed noisily with the windowpanes. There’s a definite correlation between my old moniker “Vortex” and this wind or “Vento” as we say in Italian. Q: Keyboards play a large part on your first solo album, Anonymous Said. Was the piano your entry point to the world of

electro-acoustic music?

notions of spirituality into the equation?

A: I’m glad you’ve noticed. As a matter of fact, when I was working on Anonymous Said I was very much influenced by specific minimalist works and by the way a number of musicians close to that musical language approached the piano. Even though I had already started to process sounds, at the time I focused on compositions made of just a few notes and a few keys, with pattern reiteration and combination.

A: With that statement I was referring to the generative power of certain creative processes. The idea for Through Glass came to me after having worked on a light set for a photography project. I was fascinated by the way the light gets refracted, distorted, altered and fragmented when passing through glass creating new and autonomous forms, which held very different meanings to the original ones. My approach to sound is very similar in a way. By processing an audio signal, by turning down certain frequencies, and highlighting others, by fragmenting the sound and accentuating specific tones, one can reveal the intrinsic design hidden in the original material.

The piano is the instrument I am most confident with, therefore it was only natural to bring that into my first musical works. Aside from having an extraordinary “classical” elegance, the piano produces sounds, which represent a great source of material for adventurous manipulations. Q: Your second solo album Through Glass has recently come out on Valeot. As the press release indicates, it “emerged from thoughts about the power of the light filtered through glass”. You also state that sound, just like light, can be reflected in a thousand directions, giving rise to previously inaudible material. By saying this, are you introducing

Q: The name of Fennesz has come up in the press in connection with Through Glass. Does his work, and that of Tim Hecker, act as a sort of beacon for you? A: Fennesz and Tim Hecker are two of ma favourite artists. I bought their albums and I went to see them live. I would lie if I told you that I’m not influenced by them in my approach to music and most probably this transpires in my work. Having said that, they are not


my only influences. Also, I have never consciously gone for a calligraphic reproduction of any particular model. I am not surprised the press has picked up on this thanks to the enveloping nature of my music with its melodic and discordant elements. Fennesz and Tim Hecker are two of the most well known names with experimental music therefore, those who are not familiar with my work can get a quick, even if vague, idea of the kind of atmosphere evoked by my albums. Every comparison, though, is only an approximation, which, by highlighting specific connections, inevitably omits other peculiarities and characteristics. Q: Through Glass also feature contributions by Alessio Ballerini, Enrico Coniglio and Ennio Mazzon. What was their involvement on this particular project? A: I invited Enrico and Alessio to take part in my album and I have asked them to send me some material. I have then worked on those sounds in different ways more than once. I then added extra parts to create the long track that opens the album A Footpath for Night Dancers. Alessio sent me additional material, which I have immersed into my own sounds to create Yosemite’s Night Sky. In terms of my collaboration with Ennio Mazzon on this album, I have used excerpts from a track he had sent me for Underwater Noises, that never made it onto the album. I “embroidered” that material with sounds I created with low frequencies and synthesizers to produce the title track. A second track, After You’ve Had a Life, was something we’d been working on for a while. It was meant for a different project, but it ended up fitting perfectly within Through Glass. I would also like to stress that Alessio, Enrico and Ennio’s contributions have been instrumental. I knew they could add an extra layer to my music and I was very keen on having them along-


side me on this particular journey. I cannot thank them enough. Q: Speaking of collaborations, The Silent Bride recorded under the moniker Sentimental Machines is a collaborative project between Gianfranco Candeliere: guitar, laptop Saverio Rosi: synth, fender rhodes, piano, guitar, laptop and yourself on piano, guitar, laptop. The participation of Emanuele Tonon reading excerpts from his novel Il Nemico (The Enemy), gives it a retro feeling underlined by echoing and muffled piano lines featuring on tracks such as Avril (A Train to Venice). It also makes me think of a certain strand of Italian experimental cinema from the 60s, with films like Un uomo a metà by Vittorio De Seta, who coincidentally made a number of films in Calabria, your own region. Is this intentional? A: We specifically aimed to create a sound, which recalled a different era. We wanted to make Emanuele’s voice sound as if it came from the loudspeakers of an old radio, and the piano parts as if they came from an old vinyl played on a gramophone or, indeed, as if they could be heard echoing from an old drawing room from the beginning of the last century. We wanted to take those sounds alongside dusty dirt roads and on old and rusty tracks. It is most likely that the sum of those elements has produced a tone and feeling similar to the one suggested by the films you have indicated. This is hardly surprising, considering that film is a common interest amongst all three members of Sentimental Machines and something we talk about a lot. I discovered the work of the late Vittorio De Seta only in 2011, after his death. Watching Un uomo a metà, I came to a very similar conclusion to yours, finding

strong connections between the atmosphere of that film and that of an album such as The Silent Bride. Other people have mentioned the work of Tarkovsky, Fellini and Carmele Bene. In fact, Saverio is actually a great fan of Carmelo Bene. These parallels are all rather apt. Q: You also feature on Domestic Tapes vol II an album by Leastupperbound, a solo project by Saverio Rosi, of Sentimental Machines, with whom you have also performed live at Flussi in Avellino. How did you approach your set and how important are visuals for you when performing in front of an audience? A: I consider visuals as a double-edged sword. On the one hand they can enrich the music in a live setting, on the other, they risk pushing the music in the background, in a way, since the audience is generally speaking more receptive to visual rather than sonic stimulus. Moreover, they can inhibit the imagination of the listener, which is the last thing I would want. To prevent this collateral damage from happening, there has to be a very strong connection between music and visuals and good chemistry between the artist or filmmaker and the musician. I would like to repeat the experience in the future, but I believe music can be enjoyed even without the aid of images. Q: Together with Leastupperbound you have also taken part in E-ArtQuake, a collective exhibition that aimed to connect digital arts and new technologies,

Photos Attilio Novellino

Photos APS

waves and samples we processed live. The powerful ending was meant to reproduce the earth tremors. It has been a very important commemoration. I have always been fascinated by the idea of utilizing a tool, which epitomizes modernity, such as the laptop, to undertake sonic journeys through memory in order to evoke past feelings and memories. I consider the language of experimental and electronic music free from any formal rule, and particularly apt in recovering snatched from the past in order to bring them back to life in a new way. Field recordings and sampling enable to insert sounds, voices, instruments and noise from the past into a new work, not just by dressing them up under a new guise but using them as means to produce new concepts. It is as if these elements become musical instruments themselves. William Basinski with his Disintegration Loops has given us an extraordinary picture of human suffering captured in one of its most intense aspects: the anguish and dismay that a sudden loss provokes. The sounds that seem to endlessly repeat themselves, are in fact subject to process of deterioration that consigns them to memory. They envelop the ruins of the twin towers on the wake of the 9/11 leaving nothing but the echo of tragedy.

with themes relating to memory, trauma and loss of identity in the aftermath of traumatic events such as the Irpinia earthquake of 1980. What is, or should be, the role of electro-acoustic and experimental music in uncovering memory? Also, what are in your opinion the best works that reflect human suffering within electro-acoustic music? A: What we did was to build our set around original recordings with survivor’s accounts, which Saverio managed to procure, in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. The voices of the witnesses were mixed with drones, short

Another album which has affected me deeply is Ich bin bei Dir by sound artist and designer Cristiano Rinaldi, who records under the moniker Simultan. It came out on Resting Bell in 2008 and it is a tribute and dedication to Etty Hillesum, a Jewish writer from the Netherlands, who was murdered 1943 after nazi-deportation in Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is a deep, intense and mournful work. Q: Back in 2010 you curated a compilation together with Enrico Coniglio of Italian sound artists on a theme of underwater noise. Also, there is only one female name on it, that of Elisa Luu. Why do you think it is that female musicians working within electro-acoustic music are so under represented? Also, generally speaking what is your view on the Italian scene, any names, festival,

labels, or venues you’d like to recommend? A: I don’t know exactly why that is, so I’ll improvise a psycho-anthropological explanation. Women are, generally speaking, more extrovert, they find it easier to express their own feelings and therefore such an intimate and solitary field as electro-acoustic music might not be as appealing to them. Still when they do venture within this world, they do it with a specific sensibility and a distinctive touch. Also, I have to say that I find the electronic scene in Italy very vibrant and full of interesting people and ideas. There is a great will to do stuff and also a greater cohesion than in the not so distant past. I believe it is most definitely on a par with the scene in other countries, which benefit from greater exposure. Aside from the artists with whom I’ve worked and which we have already discussed, I would like to mention Easychord, Valerio Cosi, Alberto Boccardi, who released his latest album on the Fratto9undersky label, one of Italy’s most interesting labels. Also, Giovanni Lami, Giulio Aldinucci, Pietro Riparbelli, Architeuthis Rex, Andrea Belfi, Dramavinile, Francis Gri with his Krysalisound output, and Silentes and Onga Boring Machines, who all do excellent work. I’ll stop here as I simply cannot mention everybody. As for festival, I would pick Flussi and Interferenze in Campania, Node in Modena, Chorde in Roma, and Transmission in Ravenna as personal favourites. Q: Finally, if you were to put into words the sound of 50,000 disembodies screams how would you describe it? A: A path through a dark tunnel, made of shadows, aural detritus and snatches of melody. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio The album Loud Listening is available as a free download on Crónica


Photo courtesy Marianna Giorgi

CIRIE’ / TORINO – ANDREA VALLE Posted On: November 14, 2012

Andrea Valle is a composer, improviser, and researcher. Originally an electric bass player, he studied composition with Azio Corghi while attending masterclasses by Trevor Wishart and Marco Stroppa. His work as a composer is mainly focused on algorithmic methodologies, indifferently in the electroacoustic and in the instrumental domain, with a particular interest in compositional methodologies for automatic notation generation. His work includes multimedia installations, film music, and more recently music for the theatre (Cotrone, by Marcel·lí Antúnez Roca, 2010, now published as Arsenale delle Apparizioni by Nephogram). He is a member of IVVN, a collective devoted to free improvisation, and he appears -performing the “Rumentarium“, his own-built computer-controlled mechanical ensemble- on Hopeful Monster (Die Schachtel, 2010). Q: On the topic of computer generated music, you profess not to be so much interested in sound synthesis or in a compositional approach regulated by algorithms as you are in learning from a computer. In other words you delegate the generation of sounds to electro mechanical systems, which you then control through your laptop. Does this make you more of a creator conductor rather than a composer? Also, could you illustrate how your Rumentarium sound mechanism works? A: Well, while I’m not particularly interested in sound synthesis, I’m totally devoted to algorithmic composition. To such a degree that I included automatic score generation and typography into my compositional processes for acoustic instruments. So, I surely think about myself as a composer. It’s exactly this “high level” approach that pushed me to create my electro-mechanical stuff: this way, I can control those “instruments” like an orchestra, but using computational strategies. To be more specific, the Rumentarium is a set of electromechanical little percussions assembled from scavenged stuff. I’m particularly fond of its debris-like nature, because it is mirrored in the sound it produces. It includes various everyday modified objects (I tend to modify the setup for each


performance/work, at least when I have time) that are excited by means of DC motors. The whole electro-mechanical setup is then driven in real-time by four Arduinos, that act like DACs. The software is entirely written in SuperCollider. Over the past couple of years I extended this approach to other setups using different hardware systems both for control and sound production. So, I have now included into my personal sonic wunderkammer solenoids, radios, hair driers…. And I’m not using Arduinos anymore (although I might get back to them in the future) but custom hardware.

the subjects of the poem are wandering meaninglessly in the waste land around them. By the way, I don’t like the typical Italian translation of the title, with “waste” becoming “desolata”, which is, actually, “desolate”. Guasta is rotten, devastated: in my opinion a much more perspicuous translation (also from an etymological point of view).

A: From the perspective of the audience, the unheimlich (and fun, of course) aspect is that people see and hear the Rumentarium moving and buzzing at different paces and with different dynamics, but then sometimes it stops abruptly. This depends on the fact that blank spaces and carriage returns But I agree with you, delegating sound generation to other subjects (the objects are mapped to silence, so long pauses of many seconds appear, for instance, composing Rumentarium) surely allows me to face uncertainty as there is always between a section and the following one of the poem. At that point people typia specific electro-mechanical randomcally think that a sort of performance has ness I am not able to foresee, and thus ended and they approach the Rumento learn from it. Which is pretty a good tarium. But, then, after an undetermined side-effect for me. amount of time, it starts again. This animistic feature is quite effective. Q: Your installation La terra guasta is a good case in point to illustrate your approach to sound. This particular project, Q: You are also a SuperCollider buff. What does this particular software enthough, hides not only an ecological able you to achieve that you couldn’t principle at its core, but also a poetic have otherwise done with other prodrive, as it is effectively composed by grams? T.S. Eliot. Could you please elaborate on this for me? A: I’m not a fan of software apostleship, but surely SC allows me to do substanA: La terra guasta is one of the two tially whatever I want, because it seaminstallations that are based on the Rulessly bridges state-of-the-art real-time mentarium. The whole poem by Eliot audio with high level programming. is scanned, letter by letter. Each letter SC is very elegant, and you can realis mapped into an activation pattern ize large audio and multimedia projects for one or more subsets of the Rumeninvolving complex data structures and tarium. So, it’s like the Rumentarium is interaction with other programs and with reading Eliot’s poem, enacting through the Unix console. While I understand for its discarded, heterogenous matter the sure the theoretical argument that visual Waste Land’s critique to modernity. programming software (Max/MSP, PD Technically, it’s a kind of sonification etc) can be expressive at the same destrategy. I like working with language gree of SC in terms of Turing completestrings very much because phonologiness, for example, when I am working cal patterns in languages show a very I’m interested in typical logic structures unique structure of repetitions and varithat find their most natural expressive ations. vehicle in a language: “Do something with that object having those properScan rate for the text and subset comties under that condition until something position to be activated in the Rumentarium depend on a function implement- other has happened etc”. In this sense, SC is also far superior to Csound, as the ing a Brownian motion. I thought Brown latter is mostly a descriptive language motion was an apt control strategy as

Photography Andrea Valle

and not a programming one, having limited possibilities in data structures and information flow control. I’m using SC for very different projects, for real-time audio but also for scripting graphic programs in order to generate music notation, or for controlling the Rumentarium and other physical computing devices. Moreover, SC has an incredibly competent and responsive community. And it’s open source. So, there’s no comparison with any other competitors from my (probably very idiosyncratic) perspective. Q: SuperCollider has also been instrumental in the implementation of GeoGraphy, an environment for algorithmic composition you worked with for almost a decade, which is at the basis of your work Acta GeoGraphica (2001-2007). As you explain yourself, “Each series is generated starting from a unique imaginary landscape, a sort of map of pulviscolar sound objects. The numbers of each series define different trajectories that literally explore the same space. At the end, the latter emerges as a virtual, “compossible” soundscape, unifying the different perspectives.” How important is it notion of landscape translated into sound to you? I have now implemented GeoGraphy in SuperCollider, event though all the tracks on Acta GeoGraphica bar one have been generated without SuperCollider. Mostly in Csound, and one (Paesaggi su pergamena) directly in Python (a bizarre and instructive experience, as Python is designed to do exactly the contrary of number crunching required by DSP). So, GeoGraphy comes before SuperCollider and originates from two interests. The first is an idea of sequencing sounds following a generating model based on additive rhythm, the second -the one that you mention- is indeed a reference to landscape. I am not interested in landscape in terms of soundscape as targeted soundscape composition, for instance, that is, in terms of a figurative reference to certain real soundscapes. I’m definitively not a field recordist (not until now, at least). What

I like in landscape is the notion of a point of view that it implies. A landscape exists by definition in relation to an observer. They are structurally coupled, to speak with the jargon of autopietic systems. Thus, in GeoGraphy sounds are organized in graphs, which are spatial structures with topological and metric features. The question is how to render the multiple relations that these sounds share thanks to their spatial organization. Hence the idea of literally exploring sound data. I guess a picture is worth a thousand words in this case (for images see below). In Acta GeoGraphica I am not interested in picking the best among the possible resulting landscapes, but to display their differences. Hence, the structure of each piece as a series. Q: You are also something of a music scholar. Could you illustrate how you approached the Musica per un anno project, a spatial and digital reconstruction of Enore Zaffiri’s work? Also, early Italian electronic music has been rediscovered by a new generation of artists thanks primarily to the work of the label Die Schachtel. What would you say its legacy has been and do you see your work owing a dept to that legacy? A: Musica per un anno has been a real surprise for me. I have always been aware of Enore Zaffiri, since I was a child: he is from Ciriè, my hometown, and we live almost in the same street (and by the way, his wife was my music teacher at school…). But I never realized that Musica per un anno is such an impressive work. Totally algorithmic, radically using only sinusoids, it is a project for an ambient sound installation not far from La Monte Young’s ideas, like no other at that time (1968). It proposes a kind of occasional listening, but at the same time the sound material is very rich as it continuously changes during a whole year. The composition is completely formalized and accurately described: far from an ideology of mystery, Enore plainly explains in detail – with a sort of open source attitude – how to create your own version of Musica per

un anno. The Zaffiri project started as the first local project resulting from the collaboration between me and my partner in crime Stefano Bassanese (we already organized the Italian Colloquium of Music Informatics in 2010 when he was still at the Conservatory of Cuneo). Stefano is now (luckily) teaching electronic music at the Conservatory in Torino, a teaching program that remained vacant for years, practically since Zaffiri’s retirement. Since Stefano has arrived in Torino, we have started sharing activities between the Conservatory and the University. Going back to our roots, we decided to reconsider Zaffiri’s output, trying to redefine and recreate a link between that experience and the projects we are trying to pursue now. Thus, we organized a two-day event including scientific works and music performances (we are now collecting the proceedings that will be available on the AIMI site and we will soon put some videos of the event on line). From my point of view, I had to think how to contribute to the event both from a musical and scientific point of view. So, I started pondering about Musica per un anno and I decided to implement it on a computer. This kind of digital philology by reimplementation is very interesting for me, because you really have to understand what was going on in order to recreate it. I used a literate programming strategy, mixing theoretical considerations to code implementation (another funny part of the project). The resulting software application is interesting for many aspects. First of all, Zaffiri had been able to generate only some “hours”, because working with tapes was quite timeconsuming. Now, I can simply select the hour I want and it gets generated. This helps exploring the sonic potentialities


Photography Andrea Valle

of the work. Secondly, tape manipulation (e.g. bouncing signals from a track to another) by Zaffiri necessarily introduced a lot of noise into the sinusoidal signals: on the contrary, the version I presented was really pure, and the aural experience was really overwhelming in its abstractness. Thirdly, Enore had the idea of workingwith sound spatialization but he never had the technological and economic possibilities to realize this project. The imagery at the base of Musica per un anno is both combinatorial and geometric, as frequencies and intensities change following different paths (triangles, squares, hexagons etc) on a circle. So I suggested Enore to use exactly this information to define spatialization: each path on the circle that changes a sinusoid’s frequency at the same time defines its position in a simulated circular sound space (we used four channels in Torino). The result was very immersive. In general, Enore was very happy of the digital version, and so were we. Now I’d like to publish a digital version of the piece, and I am looking for labels that may be interested in publishing it. The Italian so-called regional schools (Zaffiri, Rampazzi, Grossi) are indeed very interesting, even if I cannot say that they have influenced me in depth as I have practically been discovering them only over the past few years. Q: Other composers that have influenced you are Cage, Nancarrow and Xenaxis. Nancarrow for instance was one of the first to use machines to play beyond the scope of human possibilities. Aren’t you in danger of sacrificing the “human factor” in your own work? A: Well, culture is intrinsically human (at least, providing that we mean culture as material culture in an anthropological sense). And machines are indeed part of material culture, like clocks, scissors, books, carpets, basset horns etc. And to generalize, the simple (which is not simple at all) act of selecting something from a world of facts is indeed a cultural – and thus human – position. A robot taking a random photo or capturing a random sound snapshot from the environment, far from doing something non-human, implicitly refers to a huge amount of cultural values, accumulated in centuries of technological development, that is, in a very long history of cultural competences. So, in other words, one cannot escape the human. Myself, I’m interested in exploring some


fringes of music culture, in terms of sound production and listening attitudes. By the way, I consider technological experimentation as a liberating experience exactly because it allows me to find or show a human factor into it (well, of course in relation to my limited possibilities). It’s liberating for me also because of my personal history, as I come from “strict” humanities studies (I earned a PhD in Semiotics). And I really feel uncomfortable with the idea of technology in Postmodernism, I much more prefer Baroque! Q: You work a lot for the theatre. Most recently you have collaborated with Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca on Pseudo. How did this come about and what are particular challenges of working for the stage? A: It’s the second work I’m doing for theatre and the second with Marcel.lì. The first one was Cotrone in 2010 and the occasion came out quite fortuitously, as the production was in Turin, he was in need of a composer, and my friend Antonio Pizzo, who collaborated on the text, put forward my name. Marcel.lì and I kept in touch and this year he asked me to work with Pseudo. So, my experience with theatre is (I guess luckily!) limited to the very particular perspective of Marcel.lì. Working with Marcel. lì is quite demanding mostly because of scheduling. During the production he is continuously firing up new ideas (at various rates! Peaks are a bit of a nightmare…), and to cope with this attitude, together with the tight scheduling typical of theatrical productions, can be complicated. But I really appreciate his attitude, because he is really devoted to what he is doing and has of course a very strong personality. In relation to technology, he is always at the forefront while thinking and designing new stuff, but on the other side he is deeply involved in his own, very personal, archaic, primitive imagery. This feature definitively marks a difference with most tech-based performances, that are mainly interested in just displaying the technological aspect, typically resulting in a hyperbolically boring display of power. During production, we discuss in depth all the aspects of the show. With regards to Pseudo we talked about narrative and figurative elements, the general pace, and the sound spatialization over four channels. He is also very open to other people’s suggestions, so I feel very free to integrate my own sound ideas into the work, and I really feel at ease with Marcel.lì. We opted together for a very concrete, acoustic sound, making references to a sort of

proto-instrumental imagery. On the other side, all pieces are strictly generative. So the result both in Cotrone and Pseudo is a sort of algorithmic concrete music, sometimes near to some free jazz stuff, or echoing Javanese music for instance. For Cotrone I used recorded music, while for Pseudo I created an entirely generative setup that could be triggered and controlled via OSC. In each scene of Pseudo a different SuperCollider process is loaded and executed, thus performing real-time algorithmic composition. In Marcel.lì’s production, tech stuff must be integrated in a complex audio-visual-physical network and work with no glitches. This is really challenging. As an example, in the end Marcel.lì, whenever he reprised Pseudo he opted to use recordings instead of real-time sound generation, because if I am not with him for the performances, it can be more risky. Q: You are also big on improvisational music and you played in AMP 2 together with Gandolfo Pagano, Dario Sanfilippo, Domenico Sciajno and Antonino Secchia. AMP 2 then mutated into IVVN with the departure of Domenico Sciajno. A: I have always performed improvisation with the bass, as I come from a rock music background, which is, in my view, a real oral tradition based on a listenunderstand-play attitude that strongly focuses on variation. Also, improvisation is very near to algorithmic composition, because when you improvise you have necessarily to (re)define and use certain activity patterns, sometimes more abstract, sometimes directly related to sounds, sometimes including muscle memory. In AMP 2 and then IVVN, I always use physical computing systems. This is related to a clear instrumental organization, as Gandolfo plays his prepared guitars, Dario a computer, and Nino acoustic percussions. Luckily, this sort of balancing act has not been radically altered by the departure of Domenico (he was playing a laptop), even if, of course, I enjoyed his contribution very much. Thus, I am very happy with IVVN because of this real ensemble sound that yields to a great complexity and subtlety: I’m fond of a definition given by a reviewer of AllAboutJazz, “Think free improvisation meets Harry Partch”.

a couple of bucks, while physical supports (think of CDs) are rapidly declining.

Diversification in sound is important for us because we typically improvise with no previous agreement. But also when we played Cage’s Sculptures musicales with Thomas Lehn in Palermo, the quartet’s heterogeneity has been a key point. Unfortunately we seldom perform: as experimental music is a no-money venture, to move a quartet of musicians living in four different cities (and Nino is in Germany) can be very complicated. Q: Your work has been released by fellow musicians Franz Rosati on Nephogram and Ennio Mazzon on Ripples! amongst others. How important is it to have a supportive network of fellow musicians in the context of the Italian electro acoustic scene? A: It’s fundamental. The issue is very complex, and I still have no clear idea of what to do with music production in current times. The most terrible Chinese curse is said to be: “That you may live in interesting times”. Well, our times are indeed very interesting. On one side, to produce music is now (luckily) a possibility that substantially everyone can afford (with electronic music you just need a laptop, that thing one uses for writing emails or chatting on Facebook… while the most advanced audio softwares are mostly open source and multiplatform). And to publish music with internet is again a non-issue (net labels, bandcamp, soundcloud, personal websites etc). This for the technical side. But, as I said, experimental music is a no-money venture. Nobody is willing to pay for music on the web, even if you ask for

So, a supportive network of fellow musicians as you said is crucial for me to ensure that at least my music can reach an audience that mutually shares the same interests and that have mutual respect. Given the amorphous nature of the web, hubs that allow to define certain specific internal relations among their connections are crucial, even if I think that the audience (me included) have still to really understand this point in their listening practice. So, I am grateful to Franz and Ennio for their enthusiasm and help. Q: Torino seems to have quite a lively and diverse music scene, with people like Easychord, Carlo Barbagallo, and Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo. What influence has your hometown with its socio economical and geographical context had on your own music? A: Torino indeed counts a lot of musicians. What I think is still missing is a real scene for experimental music. In order to have a scene you need at least a space devoted to the cause. You go there and you know there is stuff going on. So, actually you have many people involved in experimental music but mostly not really interconnected. I think there’s a club scene, but I’m not interested in it, and by the way I find it a bit too invasive for my taste, they are everywhere with their MIDI consolles… Concerning influences, I don’t know. Surely I’ve been influenced by the rock scene from the ’90s when I used to play bass guitar. In Turin there were Negazione, Fluxus, other hardcore and grunge stuff, etc, but I also had many friends interested in John Zorn’s experiments with Naked City, NY avant-garde jazz (e.g. Tim Berne), and more remote experimental/avant-garde stuff, like Area (which is one of my favourite bands ever). I listened to my first contemporary live concerts thanks to the glorious Settembre Musica festival, which was a first class festival, with Xenakis, Berio, Nono, Donatoni, Ligeti, Reich coming here for dedicated concerts. Unluckily, it has undergone a teratomorphic process and we now have MiTo, which is just another, useless, classical music festival with big names playing always the same music.

Q: If you were to take a visitor on a three stop guided tour of Andrea Valle’s Turin, where would you take them? A: I’m fond of Torino, but I was born in Ciriè, where I live (the negation of nomadism… by the way I also studied with Azio Corghi, who’s also from Ciriè, and to be more specific from my very own neighbourhood, it must be a sort of curse…). So, “Ich bin Turiner”, but always from a sort of external point of view. Actually there are three places that I maybe won’t propose for a guided tour, but that I find peculiarly interesting. The first one is the Egyptian Museum (the third for importance in the world), because it’s a crucial element in the definition of the identity of the city while at same time being totally incongruent with it. Try figure, you are near some baroque building in a cold, industrial city of North Italy, then once you step into the entrance you’re faced with 3,000 year-old mummies from Egypt. It helps to put one’s own position in the world into perspective. The second is the XIX century gallery of stuffed animals at the Museum of Natural Science, where there’s also the skeleton of a whale beached in Bordighera and the elephant Charlie, that killed his guardian after 40 years of quiet service. It’s an incredible space, very high and reverberant where animals are strangely reconstructed (the taxidermists often didn’t know the shape of the living animals), it reminds me of Chris Marker’s La jetée, the sequence when he met the girl at the Museum of Eternal Animals. The third place is the Natural Park of Meisino and the Isolone di Bertolla. It’s the point of conjunction of three rivers Po, Stura and Dora. An impressive natural, aquatic place practically within the city, with migrating birds and pebble beaches. The Isolone is artificial, it has been cut by a channel for an electricity power plant. Hence on, colonies of migrating birds rest here. You’re driving in the city and, bang, you’re elsewhere. That’s what I need for my Salgarian attitude. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio



Images by Tristan Da Cunha

Posted On: September 4, 2012

Leandro Pisano is a curator, writer and new media producer for projects and events focused on new media, sound and technological arts. He also specialies in ICT development strategies for rural areas. He is founder and director of the new arts festival Interferenze, taking place in the South of Italy since

2003 and is also involved in projects and events on electronic art, including Mediaterrae Vol.1 (2007), Province Digitali (2005/2007), Sentieri Barocchi (2010) and E-Artquake (2010). Q: Hi Leandro and thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for FluidRadio. I would like to begin with a question you have asked yourself on the occasion of the Struttura Organica Festival of 2007. Considering that the perception of nature has been deeply influenced by the evolution of production and communication technologies through history, is it fair to state that nowadays a new idea of nature is emerging? Could you summarise your findings in a couple of paragraphs? A: It is obvious to notice that the digital era has changed our perception of the world, and this is clear, especially when we talk about nature. The development of technological environments related to digital information has changed the concept of nature, which was strongly tied to a modern aesthetics approach up until a few years ago. Now I think that we can see new spaces emerging in order to redefine the sensorial and physical perceptiveness, generated by the


constant cross-breeding between material and immaterial, analogue and digital, visible and invisible. Digital technologies are based on models and systems identifiable as proper dynamic processes, that involve invisible data, from which we can reconstruct entire environments, translating their components in visible objects, that are not simply representations obtained through optical systems, but rather natural aspects structured within the logic of “computer aided nature”. It’s an open view that has been defined by Japanese critic and curator Yukiko Shikata in terms of an “open nature” which deconstructs the canons and the contrapositions of modern and classical aesthetics to redefine in a broader and more problematic way the relation between art and technologies. Q: Interferenze and Mediaterrae Vol.1 are two projects oriented to firmly re-design the identity of a rural territory. Furthering this investigation, you have also been linking sound and food as a research topic both in the psychology of perception and new media art studies with Click’n’Food. How was this initiative structured and what was the outcome of it? A: We started to experiment with the relationship between food and sound as a way to delve into the roots of Irpinia’s territory, which are strongly tied to high quality food and local products such as wine, cheese, chestnuts, olive oil and many others. This is something strictly related to the history and the economy of the whole region. So we decided to establish the Click’n’Food programme as a part of the Interferenze festival. This project offers a panoramic view of performances based on the relationship between food, sound and new media. By involving traditional food and wines of the Irpinia region, we usually ask the artists to follow a path that, through

projects based on sensory experiences, is designed to promote a virtuous cycle where the quality of food, coupled with its production and consumption is linked to sustainability, environmental awareness and social relations. Local traditions, like the ancient transhumance of the Podolian cattle in the Appennines of Southern Italy, are analyzed during artists’ residency projects. In our ongoing research into the connections of elements belonging to technology, tradition and rural landscapes, we are striving for a different kind of narrative of the natural environment focusing on rural landscapes and marginalized places, while highlighting the sense of the complex semantic re-appropriation of the identity and sustainability of the territory. Q: You are from Irpinia, a beautiful region in the south of Italy, which, in 1980, was devastated by an earthquake that killed almost 3,000 people. Could you tell me something about the e-artquake project you run back in 2010 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the earthquake? A: In November 2010, I was invited by the festival Flussi to curate an exhibition called “Mnemosyne” (http://www., which was part of the larger “E-Artquake” event, organized on the 30th anniversary of the Irpinia earthquake. The programme I curated was focused on the memory reverberation of seismic events through the perception of the

territory, which has been modified over the years on different levels and from different points of view (landscape, psychology). It was interesting to notice how people visiting this exhibition reactivated to some extent their own aural memory of the earthquake they lived through 30 years before when listening to the works. This was especially clear with “Tellus Totem”, by Enrico Ascoli, a site specific installation based on a soundscape composed from abandoned objects which are brought back to life in order to resonate and tell us forgotten stories. What we discovered is that people mainly reconnected with their memories from that terrible day thanks to a particular sound linked to those events: objects moving, shaking or breaking. Q: The most recent project you have been involved in is The Third Soundscape – Irpinia Field works, which ran up until June 2012. Can you tell me something about it? Also, how do you get different artists from different countries to narrate the specifics of any particular local culture and the natural roots of territories alien to them? Would you consider these sound artists the 21st century equivalent of 19th century landscape painters such as Edward Lear? The Third Soundscape/Suoni dal confine series project is connected with the “Third Landscape” definition given by French landscape architect Gilles Clément. This is basically a residency project that aims to explore marginalized areas and landscapes through the research of a multidisciplinary hub involving not only studies on the aesthetic of (new) media but also sociology, geography, anthropology, landscape architecture, design and the soundscape theories developed in the 60s by R. Murray Schafer. When we approach abandoned places through a creative discovery of sound we can be led to a reflection on a

controversial aspect: sound is emarginated in a world where the visual aspect dominates in the same way that abandoned places are left behind for their innate functional uselessness. Focusing on marginalized areas and abandoned places can lead us to a different sense of experiencing the territory, taking out from the drifts and the folds of the borders an alternative and sustainable way of approaching (and reappropriating) the landscape in the post-digital era. I think that, with such a project, sound can be considered as a privileged medium, bringing to the foreground what is hidden and forgotten in our technological society, which is usually characterized by a compulsory listening approach (e.g. news on trains, commercial advertising on buses, etc.). What we have lost can be paradoxically regained only through a marginalized medium like sound. I absolutely agree with British sound artist

Mark Peter Wright, when he says that listening is an act of affirmation, of selfawareness, that can be considered in terms of a political and cultural action, as a platform for making an attempt that is social, historical and ecological at the same time. So looking at sound from an aesthetic perspective can help us to recover an active concept of listening and sound in our society, too. I think it’s very important that the artists invited to join our projects should work with a wide perspective, collaborating with experts, local producers, scholars, in a way that can be considered “scientific” and aesthetic at the same time. So it’s not just a matter of “painting” a landscape, but rather of analyzing a territory as a (new) medium. Therefore, artists, local people and those attending the exhibitions and performances are able to get in touch (and communicate) in a creative way with this territory, and to experiment


Images by Tristan Da Cunha

unexpected relations through processes and strategies resulting from this communication, with the unexpected allowed to happen in the space between transmitter and recipient. Q: How can sound art, in your opinion, articulate themes such as those of memory and identity linked to the territory and what would you say are recent examples where this has worked? A: This is one of the key points of research in my work. Over the past few years I’ve been curating a number of projects, such as Mediaterrae Vol.1 (2007), that explore how sound and new media art can re-mediate the relationship between collective memory and identity. With Mediaterrae Vol.1, we decided to look at the Montemaranese, a traditional form of Tarantella from the small village of Montemarano in the


Irpinia region, which has an ancient and mysterious origin, and is played with traditional instruments such as the ciaramella and the zampogna, coupled with the clarinet. Eighteen audio and video artists belonging to the digital art scene and hailing from different countries in Europe and overseas were invited to take on the tradition of the Montemaranese and the Montemarano carnival, in a residency project that also saw the production of an audiovisual piece and a closing event. The invited artists joined the locals and took part in the traditional rites and festivities in which “the forces of tradition are competing with the ones of modernity”, as Giuseppe Gala wrote. They were also assisted during the sampling and production of the audiovisual material and while consulting literary and iconographic sources. It’s also interesting to note how in our rural societies, where the main form of

communication is based on oral tradition, memories were transmitted through folk songs, recipes, proverbs, nursery rhymes, and generally speaking through all those forms of communication we usually define as myth. This is a really ancient cultural model coming directly from the Indo-European tribal society: as an example, I could mention the “tribal encyclopedia” concept as it was defined by Eric A. Havelock when talking about the transmission of culture and memory of a whole society through Homeric poems. In our contemporary society, the oral tradition is strongly coming back again as a way of communication through new media, but in terms of a completely different cultural model, if you compare it with that of the traditional/rural society. Our oral communication model is devoid of memory, being linked to an enormous remote archive of data, which is accessible anywhere and anytime we want. Our world is basically a huge database where a large amount of material is deposited without any selective criteria. This is completely different, if you think, from myth and the oral tradition of ancient/rural societies, which acts as a selective way to transmit to posterity only the most relevant elements of a whole culture.

by Kim Cascone at the beginning of XXI century, but has recently been raised again in the analogue practices of some electronic musicians (I’m thinking of Simon Reynolds’ definition of “hauntology”) and in the work of Terre Thaemlitz, who is refusing online culture, because of its contamination with the distribution system of digital content on the internet. Q: Who, would you say, are the most interesting names working with field recordings within the Italian electroacoustic scene?

rized stereotypes. Q: You’ve written a recent article on Post-Digital artists on La lettura, the cultural supplement of the Italian daily paper Corriere della sera, referring to a new low tech approach to electronic and experimental music. Is analogue really the new digital?

A: A number of Italian artists, who emerged in the past few years within the electro-acoustic field, are working in interesting ways, trying to bring into their practice a critical reflection/attitude that relates to different issues within the acoustic sphere. The first names that spring to my mind are those of artists from different generations and with different approaches, such as Paolo Inverni, Davide Tidoni, Enrico Coniglio, Attila Faravelli, Enrico Ascoli, and Pietro Riparbelli. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio

A: Basically, this low-tech approach is not a brand new thing, as it is something that has already been in existence since the beginning of the new technological era. In a way, it can be defined as a critical perspective towards all compulQ: You have interviewed a number of sive, obsessive, and invasive aspects artists, such as Chris Watson, working of digital culture. What I find interesting with field recordings and the ecology of is that many artists have decided not sound. What would you say are the most to exit the realm of technology, and still exciting developments within the field? operate within it as a resistance force Are people like Jacob Kirkegaard and against the uncritical and unJana Winderen pushing the boundaries? qualified use of digital tools. So, for these artists, brushing up old A: I think the most impressive aspect technologies or reviving languagof these artists’ work is their scientific es and tools dating back to the approach to sound, which is really deep. origins of digital culture means to They are really able to read soundevoke symbols of a free technoloscapes not simply with an impressionisgy. Even when forms of resistance tic approach, but rather by delving deepto the large scale and passive use ly into a landscape and its elements. I of digital tools appear to be radical mean, they use meticulous and precise actions made by activist artists, methods of research, which allow them these are not simply the result of a at the same time to give a lyrical sense nostalgic attitude, but rather they of a specific place. I think this is a quite stem from a critical approach tounique and recognizable approach, in a wards some superficial behaviours world where ‘soundscape’, ‘field recordinspired by our everyday use of ing’ and ‘acoustic ecology’ are frequently digital media. The post-digital conbecoming trivialized terms and categocept has already been discussed



Posted On: July 23, 2012

Pietro Riparbelli is a philosopher, composer and sound-multimedia artist based in Livorno (Tuscany). His compositions have been published by TOUCH (UK), Radical Matters Ed/Label (IT), Aurora Borealis (UK), Actual Noise/20buckspin (US), Afe Records (IT), Boring Machines (IT), Old Europa Cafe (IT). He shows his installation work at Enrico Fornello in Milano… Q: You have included three quotes on your website, which I would like you to elaborate on and tell me how these have informed your own work. I’ll start with the easiest one. When one enters a Gothic sanctuary, it is immediately noticeable that sound commands the space. This is not just a simple echo effect at work, but rather all sounds, no matter how near, far, or loud, appear to be originating at the same distant place… Chartres and other edifices like it have been described as “music frozen in stone”… (Bill Viola). For a number of years now, you have pursued a project based on field recordings of Cathedrals, which has lead to your collaboration with Mike Harding of Touch. Where does this fascination come from? A: I have always been fascinated by sacred places and by the atmosphere of contemplative peace and I have always listened to and recorded their acoustic environments. At some point I felt the need to transform this passion of mine into a proper project directly linked to my activity as a sound researcher. That’s how I started Cathedrals, which is a sort of sound archive collecting material from cathedrals, churches, and other sacred places. This material will be used in other projects such as sound installations or recordings. A first step was the 4 Churches album published by Mike Harding on Touch as a web edition with field recordings from the churches of


Photos Pietro Riparbelli I

Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Notre Dame de Paris, the Duomo of Orvieto and the Basilica of Assisi. I subsequently opened up the project to all interested sound artists and I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the level of attention it got. I received many contributions by artists the world over. I consider Cathedrals as a psycho-geographic itinerary and, at the same time, as a linear and collaborative artwork, and not, therefore, as a simple sound archive, since it is something which can develop towards other fields connected to art and the phenomenology of perception. It investigates two different topics. The first one is linked to the historical dimension of cathedrals over time, and especially to their function, as places for aggregation, dialogue and meditation. Cathedrals were sculpted books: they harboured biblical scenes or episodes of local history aiming at educating the faithful and divulging large narratives through a language of symbols. In fact, the architectural criteria for the construction of large cathedrals were linked to symbols and to precise geometric and mathematical calculations. “Divine proportions” were researched, which, according to Leonardo Fibonacci (1175-1235) and other mathematicians over the centuries, equaled the golden ratio. Cathedrals were conceived as “spaces for sound”, with organs constructed in situ and optimal acoustics devised for chanting. The second topic of investigation is instead linked to archaeoacustics, which involves the study of the acoustics of archaeological sites in two ways, by exploring the natural sounds and / or the acoustics of the monuments and by measuring the acoustics parameters of archaeological sites with electronic means and tools. The sound one can find inside cathedrals is directly con-

nected to archaeoacustics in as much as the perception of their acoustic phenomena has remained unchanged over time. Q: Your most recent work, Three Days of Silence seems to stem directly from the Cathedrals projects and is conceived as a complete phenomenological experience of listening. The work was recorded at the Sanctuary of La Verna on the Mountain of the Stigmata in Tuscany. How did this experience come about and how did you negotiate the logistics with the monks and what was there reaction to the end product? A: For sure, Three Days of Silence is not only linked to the Cathedrals project but it is an in depth elaboration of the same. It is complicated to educate oneself to the art of hearing, since western culture is so focused on seeing and anything that is visual and doesn’t place the same importance on sound, contrary to what happens in far eastern culture. A sanctuary is a privileged space for this kind of exercise and I can guarantee that spending hours immersed in the silence of such places, trying to hear every single variation of the sonic landscape, is a mind blowing experience that often makes one perceive silence as anything but silent. As for the monks, I can only say that they are extraordinary people and that they understood immediately what I was attempting to do and were very curious about my work. Naturally, I try to be as discreet as possible during my recording sessions so as not to disrupt their contemplative dimension and the energy released through the act of worship. Often, my recordings inside cathedrals are taken in a furtive manner, almost as if I was trying to steal those sounds without being noticed. This sometimes affects the quality of the re-

cordings, but it guarantees their natural and spontaneous character. Q: Three Days of Silence is also reminiscent of Into Great Silence, Philip Gröning’s portrayal of the everyday lives of Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse high on the French Alps. Which leads to the next quote: “The twentieth century is, among other things, the Age of Noise. Physical noise, mental noise, and noise of desire – we hold history’s record for them. And no wonder; for all the resources of our almost miraculous technology have been thrown into the current assault against silence.” (Aldous Huxley). Many composers have tackled the subject of silence in their work, often with a spiritual connotation. I am thinking of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Silenzio, and the work of Pēteris Vasks, Giya Kancheli, Valentin Silvestrov, and Alexander Knaifel amongst others. Is silence a spiritual element in your work as well? Also, could you tell me something about the collaborative performance you have done on the subject of silence Silenzio: Zero Assoluto –273,15 °C | – 459,67 °F? A: Into Great Silence is a masterpiece and it has inspired me a great deal. I would also like to add the name of Arvo Pärt and sacred minimalism to the list of composers you have cited above as another source of inspiration. My interest in silence is both spiritual and philosophical and often these two worlds overlap. I believe that we are now facing a time of crisis in relation to words, which leads inevitably to non-communication and deception. The failure of logocentrism within modernity is a crisis of the medium through which modern conscience pretended to change the world and life in general. This is why we probably have to uncover a new way of listening in silence and rediscover the nature of words. The challenge is to find the ways of silence, not in relation to sacrifice and

solitude, but as a space for hearing, as the dimension from which words come. The discovery of the depth of things is expressed through silence and hearing. Silenzio: Zero Assoluto –273,15 °C | – 459,67 °F is a collaborative performance between three sound artists (Nicola Ratti, Lorenzo Senni and Massimiliano Viel) and a visual artist (Massimo Bartolini) centred round the concept of silence taken from Cage-ian philosophy. The three sound artists worked on that concept and performed live while interacting with a video piece by Massimo Bartolini. My role was that of the curator but I also acted as a conductor, in the sense that I received all the audio works in my audio mixer, which meant I could modify the overall sound in real time. It’s been an interesting experience and most of all a good way of experimenting with a new format. Furthermore, this project gave life to Aedo, a meta-curatorial platform I

created together with two curators from Milan, Francesco Bertocco and Marco Dolera. Aedo aims to promote artists’ events that fall somewhere in-between visual arts and sound art. Q: And now on to the last quote this one from Maurice Merleau-Ponty: “Our experience of perception comes from our being present at the moment when things, truths, and values are constituted for us; that perception is a nascent Logos; that it teaches us, outside of all dogmatism, the true conditions of objectivity itself; that is summons us to the tasks of knowledge and action. It is not a question of reducing human knowledge to sensation, but of assisting at the birth of this knowledge, to make it as sensible as the sensible, to recover the consciousness of rationality. This experience of rationality is lost when we take it for granted as self-evident, but is, on the contrary, rediscovered when it is made


Photos Pietro Riparbelli

to appear against the background of non-human nature.” Your practice is not just “observational”, so to speak. How do you integrate questions relating to perception within your work? A: Merleau-Ponty wishes to begin in a dimension of experience which has not been “worked over, that offers us, all at once, pell-mell, both subject and object – both existence and essence – and, hence, gives philosophy resources to redefine them”. This because, before thinking the world, we inhabit it and we perceive it, and it is thanks to the fact that we perceive the world that we create it. Therefore the role of the phenomenology of perception is the one indicated by a return to a world before conscience where one attempts a direct description of a subjective experience and reveals the mystery of the world and of reason. The field where I integrate any questions relating to the phenomenology of perception is that of art, precisely because art is a discipline that holds the right to look at all things without the obligation to asses them. According to Merleau-Ponty, the role of artists is to project what can be seen in them; artists have to let themselves be penetrated by the universe and they shouldn’t want to penetrate it themselves but, rather, they should try to give a visibility to what the “profane” vision considers to be invisible. Q: It is difficult not to talk about field recordings without mentioning the name of Chris Watson, amongst others. What are the most recent works based on field recordings that have excited you the most? Also do you see, or would you like to see any particular developments within this specific field or is it just a


question of archiving specific soundscapes for posterity? A: Chris Watson is without a doubt a great master and a veritable beacon in the world of field recordings. The coherence with which he pursues his work is second to none and the results only confirm the stature of this incredible artist. Amongst field recordings, one of the works I consider a real masterpiece is 800000 Seconds in Harar by CM Von Hausswolff. Its simplicity and profundity are mind-blowing. I don’t really believe in archiving material for future generations, though. This might seem strange as I have embarked on the Cathedrals project. I believe, though, this to be a good exercise to develop our propensity to hearing and by this I mean to get to know the time and space we live in and to communicate with our inner self and the world at large – and not just being a sound archive for future generations. Q: Aside from recording under your own name, you have also adopted the monikers K-11 and PT-R. What is specific about these different projects?

A: I consider the three projects as different parts of a unique body, whereby each one of them is expressed through different methods of communication and investigation. PT-R is a project that utilizes field recordings to create rhythmic patterns and it is the one that remains the closest to my musical background as I studied percussions at the conservatory when I was younger.

With K11 instead, I am more focused on radio signals and in particular on the world of Instrumental Transcommunication (EVP) and on esoteric themes. Finally, the works I release as Pietro Riparbelli aim to bridge the gap between the visual arts, conceptual art and sound art with specific reference on soundscapes and the phenomenology of perception. Q: You also work as an installation artist and you have been tackling instrumental transcommunication and composing tracks with signals from short wave radio receivers. Could you tell me something about these works? A: I have always been fascinated by radio and by the old short wave receivers of the 60s and 70s and especially by the fact that they can transmit and receive information thanks to radio signals refracted in ionosphere for thousands of kilometres with the minimum effort of amplification. Radio waves are all around and travel through us, but we only perceive them through the use of decoding devices. The most interesting aspect of the way I use radio in my work is to search for a lack of information through frequencies; this lack of info then becomes sound and therefore it becomes a different kind of information. When I started working with radio receivers I was shocked by the number of sonic possibilities they could offer me as an artist. The sounds produced by a short wave radio receiver are thrilling and comparable to those of a synthesizer. My interests for machine based transcommunication and for EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) comes from meeting Marcello Bacci, director of the psycophonic group of Grosseto and subsequently from reading several essays on the topic by the theologician François

Brume. Radio seems like one of the principal medium for a study on the subject and even Gugliemo Marconi had asked himself if this new type of waves could transmit information between our world and other worlds such as that of the departed. What I find fascinating is the possibility of the existence of other dimensions that can overlap radio waves and the so called phenomena of “residual waves”, often beyond the reach of our senses and of our technological means. These waves can remain inside a specific place for many years situating themselves at a level of reality where time and space no longer exist; probably at a quantum level. Residual waves can manifest themselves through certain specific phenomena which can be perceived subjectively or captured by a specific equipment. I am keen to stress, though, that my interest for this phenomena is exclusively poetic with no desire to communicate with other worlds nor of being a medium. Q: Sound artists frequently lament the fact that very little space is given to sound within art galleries. A: Regarding the space given to sound art, I believe that after the initial few years of interest on the subject, any possible enthusiasm has progressively waned, which has meant that nowadays very little money is destined towards sound research and experimentation, but then again this is applicable across the board as investments in culture are diminishing. Q: Who do you consider the visual artists who integrate sound more effectively in their work? A: The visual artists who I believe has best integrated sound within his work is indeed Bill Viola. I am very fond of his poetics and especially of his early works and I consider him to be one of the few living artists to have always tried to knock down any barrier between different artistic practices.

poetic references. My experience in the park has been really exciting especially considering that at first Bomarzo only looks like an old and well-tended place full of really bizarre stone sculptures. Gradually, though, one’s perception of the space starts to change and one feels sucked in as if following a path, which goes deeper and deeper and becomes more and more psychedelic. I remember that at the end of my first recce I felt dizzy as if I’d lost my bearings, but at the same time I sensed a powerful force coming from that place. The work I do on field recordings while composing isn’t always the same. As a first step I normally just listen to the recordings and carefully select the material. I will then use some of these recordings just as a pure sound source, while others will be modified through an analog system. For instance, often, in order to create a melody within a piece, I utilise fragments of looped field recordings processed through reverb and delay effects or else I use a sampler to be able to access the sounds on a keyboard. The use of analog systems is a must for me, as it requires interaction, with frequent unplanned variables often coming into play. - Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio

Q: I am fascinated by your album The Sacred Wood, which was recorded at Bomarzo’s Monsters Park. How did you go about reworking the field recordings? A: The Sacred Wood of Bomarzo is an interesting place full of cultural and



Photography: Fabrizio Paterlini by Matteo Bricchi // Mantua by Gianmarco Del Re

Posted On: April 10, 2013

Fabrizio Paterlini began playing piano at six-years-old. From the first moment he stroked the keys his life irrevocably changed, music becoming “a choice made every day… explored in all its aspects.” Q: You have a new album coming out, what can you tell me about it? A: The album is titled Now and I started working on it at the end of August 2012. I wanted to take a new direction with this album away from the first three I did, which are solo piano works with tracks up to four to five minutes long. With Autumn Stories, I had already started working in a different way, with shorter pieces, something that was also implied in Fragments Found. What was also new in Autumn Stories is that I tried to introduce new elements within the musical framework such as a cello and a piece for strings. With Now I really wanted to develop this and to give voice to other instruments. Therefore, I had to adapt my style accordingly, as with other voices to contend with, the piano had to be pulled back with a more restrained sound. In a word, there are even fewer notes and the tracks are shorter. Q: How did you work on the instrumentation? A: I wrote the parts for strings myself, but for the electronics, I enlisted a London based Italian musician, Davide Costa, who goes under the moniker London DC. I really like using electronics but unfortunately I still don’t feel I am capable of using them proficiently enough myself to the point of expressing what I would like to, so I looked around for someone else who worked in the same way the electronics as I did with the piano. Browsing on Soundcloud I stumbled on Davide.


Q: So electronics were not an afterthought then, but were already integral in the original idea of the album? A: I’d been wanting to work with electronics for two-three years now. I’ve recently shared the stage with Greg Haines at Piano_anders and I was struck by the way he improvises with electronics. I wish I could do the same, but I am aware of my own limitations, that is why I brought in Davide. The results have been astonishing because it sounds as if the same hand wrote the music. Our interaction worked so well that, instead of just doing a couple of tracks together, more than half the albums is coloured by electronics. As a matter of fact, there is only one piano solo track on Now. I did want to have at least one clean piano solo track, as this is my signature mark. There rest are either with strings or with electronics or both. Together with Davide we worked track by track with the last ones being written in November / December. The piano is heavily processed with lots of reverb on the high chords and feels rather dark. We both wanted to go out on a limb and outside our comfort zones trying stuff we had never tried before. This was the point of this album. Q: How did this collaboration work on a practical level? Was it a case of sending files backwards and forwards over the net? A: I started off by writing the tracks and then sending them to him. Sometimes it was just the piano solo, at other times they had strings on them to give him an idea of what the sound would be like and Davide played over them. Often he got it right at the first attempt, just perfect. The track titled Iceland, for instance, was completed by him in one single go. This is how the album developed. At the same time at the end of the year, Headphone Commute got in touch asking me

to contribute to the charity album And Darkness Came. The track I supplied, There’s a Light We Might See gives a good overall idea of the sound of my new album and will in fact be included in the digipack version of Now. Q: Do you have any plans for a vinyl release as well? A: That is something which is still too expensive for me, I am afraid, so it will be a digipack. This time round, though, I’ve pressed 1,000 copies of it. I was encouraged by the success of Autumn Stories. I sold out all 500 copies of it in less than a year and that was mostly online as unfortunately I still do very few live gigs. With Now, I’ve doubled up figures. The difference is not that much in terms of costs with the SIAE being the major cost [the Italian equivalent to the PRS]. With the next album, though, I am hoping to do a vinyl release only, with a digital download code, and skip the CD version. Q: Going back to the instrumentation of the album, how did you go about writing the string sections? A: Now is a very different beast from Autumn Stories, which was just piano led, with a warm and reassuring sound. It still shares the same melancholic tone of Autumn Stories, but the sounds and the tracks have a different atmosphere altogether. For the strings sections, I generally use a plug-in at home to write the music and then call some professional musicians to play in the studio. The album has a couple of tracks for quartet while the rest consists mostly of duos: piano and violin, piano and cello. There’s even a track with drums! The main thing was to get the dialogue between the different musical parts just right. When I sent my tracks to Davide, he sometimes sent back lots of music

for me. One cannot flog a dead horse. Once a track is complete, it is complete. The album total length of the digipack release is of 35 minutes while the digital download, which has only 11 tracks instead of 13 is of about 30 minutes. It is reduced to the bone, but that is how it was… Q: I get the sense that taking a new direction for you didn’t just mean introducing electronics into the game…

and I would then ask him to strip the sound down. I wanted to reduce the musical communication to its core. Q: Have you and Davide actually physically met? A: No, we talked extensively on Skype. Our collaboration though worked very well as there was a lot of chemistry between us and there was no need even to discuss themes and concepts. What we mostly talked about were issues relating to planning and scheduling. In terms of the musical imprint we had blind faith in what the other was doing. Instead of having to say, “I would like this or that”, I would just say, “I trust you”. Q: Did it ever happen that he wasn’t convinced with one of your compositions? A: Yes, it happened both ways. What he was mostly surprised by was the length of the tracks. He kept asking me, “Why are they so short?” The track Summer Nights, for instance, only lasts 1’50”. He said that if it were longer he would’ve gladly listened to it for 8-10 minutes. There was nothing I could do about it, though. That was the perfect length

A: I feel there has to be a will to try out something new in the creative process. What I like to listen to, I then try to incorporate in my own work. I’ve mentioned Greg Haines as an influence, but I could have mentioned Ólafur Arnalds as well, and the labels Erased Tapes and Serein, for instance. The more one broadens one’s listening habits, the more one is encouraged to experiment. Having entered this world from the front door, so to speak, with Ludovico Einaudi, who is one of my all time favorite artists, I am now trying to evolve. I didn’t want to remain anchored to a specific sound and I tried to push myself. Q: Where does the artwork come from? A: The album cover shows a scene with snow, that is the theme of the album. I like the artwork very much, because Eugenio, who also worked on Autumn Stories, has interpreted the concept to perfection. The album is called Now and shows a very still and glacial landscape, but for an accent of colour which represents something extemporaneous. Melancholic moments, then, but also filled with hope. There is a coincidence between graphics and concept. Q: What is your compositional ap-

proach to any particular track? A: It has remained the same over the years. I sit down at the piano, I switch on my PC and I play. As soon as I play something I like, I record it and 9 times out of 10, it makes the final cut. I hardly touch the tracks after that. There are instances where I may expand the themes, but mostly I don’t touch them again until I go into the studio to record them. With the string sections, it is a different matter; the process is more labour intensive and there’s more thought behind it. When I wrote the cello part in Now, for instance, I was already thinking of what the viola should do. Q: Are you classically trained? A: I went to a private music school here in Mantua that enabled me to take the entry exam at the Music Conservatory. I do know the theory of music so when I sit down to write the string parts I have an idea of what to do. The strings parts are generally speaking more thought out, whereas the piano parts are more instinctive and improvised. Q: You started playing the piano when you were six, is that correct? A: Yes, we had a piano at home and my father used to play the piano himself. From then on, and since I was eight years old, I had a teacher and I took piano lessons up until my college years. By that time I was playing in rock bands. I sang in a cover band that played Pantera, a band I loved, and Deep Purple etc. We wanted to be famous! I went back to the piano only many years later. Q: Did you ever used to listen to Italian prog rock? A: Not at the time. We preferred to listen to British and US stuff. Only now I’ve rediscovered many gems of Italian prog, but at the time, it was all about Genesis and Dream Theatre. When I went to college, though, I took up jazz music and had Antonio Zambrini as a teacher. He is a great musician. I loved jazz and I wanted to study the difference in harmonies between classical and jazz music. I even set up a jazz quartet with guitar, double bass, drums and piano. The last thing I did was a Hammond based tribute to the James Taylor Quartet. I then quit playing the piano for a long time, until one day, as if by magic, I sat


down and wrote my first track in my 30s. Q: Just like that? A: It was a bit of an accident. My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, got me a copy of Ludovico Einaudi’s scores in 2006. She knew I liked him and had sensed my frustration at not being able to play Herbie Hancock. I spent many a nights transcribing Herbie Hancock’s and Keith Jarrett’s solos without being able to play them! That is when my wife suggested I gave Einaudi a go. I started studying his work and a whole new world opened up to me. I sensed a certain familiarity with his writing style. Shortly after I wrote my first piece. As a matter of fact, my first album Viaggi in Aeromobile is heavily indebted to Einaudi. It is something I acknowledge and it is an album I am very happy with. I was discovering my writing style at the time and in fact the tracks were all quite long, four-five minutes, something that I wouldn’t do anymore. With Viandanze I took a different path finding my own way, but to begin with I did immerse myself in the sound of Einaudi. Q: What was it that you liked the most about Einaudi’s music? A: I liked his sense of balance. Especially up until his Divenire album of 2006, his piano playing feels to me like watching a Kandinski painting, there is nothing that is out of place. Everything is perfectly balanced. And he has a particular and specific touch, this is his great strength, if I may say so. The tracks are just perfect. This is something that is peculiar to him and which I cannot find in other musicians. Max Richter on the other hand is great in the way he mixes piano and electronics, but the balance that Einaudi has is specific to him and to him alone. With In a Time Lapse he has shifted his style, but if one listens to his double album live at La Scala, that is quintessential Einaudi. Q: Are you also suggesting that you like things to be polished and don’t allow for any roughness in your music? A: I am very open, and as I said when I


Photography: Fabrizio Paterlini by Matteo Bricchi // Mantua by Gianmarco Del Re

was younger I used to sing Pantera! Achieving a sense of balance in a track is very reassuring both for the listener and the musician. The feeling of already knowing how a particular track will unfold is reassuring and when one listens to Einaudi or O’Halloran for instance, there is something reassuring in their style. That is not to say that the tension one can hear in a Nils Frahm track isn’t welcome. I love both approaches. What I like the most at present is a certain melancholic tone, which I feel very close to. I once read an interview with Arnalds where he said he tries to make a living by writing melancholic music! At the end of the day one cannot choose what one writes.

Q: Without resorting to psychogeography, here, but would you say your melancholic streak comes from the particular atmosphere of Mantua, which is often immersed in thick fog? A: (Laughs.) I don’t know. Q: I was asking because just by talking to you, you don’t really come across as a melancholic person. A: No. I am quite jolly in character but when one writes music, one cannot choose the tone. Whatever comes natural comes natural. Once I was talking to someone who suggested a did a Summer Stories album after my Autumn Stories to see what could come out by writing in 40 degrees, with blinding light. As a matter of fact I don’t tend to work a lot in the summer. There are different reasons for this. Mostly, in Summer I tend to spend more time outdoors and I do tend to write music more easily from autumn to spring. I don’t know… It is true that I have always like the fog, with its different degrees. People do ask me to write jolly tracks, but there is nothing I can do about it. I cannot choose what I write. Or at least not just yet. Q: What does your wife say about it? A: (laughs) She is fundamental part of my music. She is the one who gave me the initial kick and the first one to listen to a finished product. She plays my music when I am not there and would either say:

“That’s good”, or “Hmmm…”. She is always the first one to listen to what I do. Q: Does she see your melancholic side? A: She calls me “the depressed” (laughs). So, yes, I would say that she does see it. Q: Let us talk about Autumn Stories. It was written one track a week. More often than not, with this type of project, things start to unravel halfway through. How did you manage to keep it going? A: I had to be very focused and it really happened the way I set out to do it. I posted each new track online on a Wednesday. I wrote the tracks on Thursdays and Fridays, then mixed them and mastered them over the weekend. Also, I wrote the album entirely at night. My child was still small; he was two years old at the time in 2011. He took up a lot of my time during the day and at night I worked on that album, one week from the next. I don’t know if I would be capable of doing it nowadays, but at the time I was really motivated. Q: Did you ever ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” A: No, I found the response I was getting online very comforting. The tracks were freely available and they gave me a lot of exposure. It was a very positive experience. After a while it become normal to write a track a week. Q: Was your wife counting the days? A: No, she was generally asleep. While the whole house was asleep, I put my headphones on and I wrote a track a week for 14 weeks. After a while I could feel the adrenaline. I also realized that the more one writes and the more one feels the need to write. At the end of the

day it is like a job, the more you work at it and the more it becomes natural and instinctive. I am not surprised to see how prolific someone like Ólafur Arnalds can be. The more one is into the process the more one wants to get something out. True one can have a creative block. The risk though, is stopping for a few months. Q: Technique is of help then, I take it? A: Yes. It really helps me. I am not a virtuoso, though, but it is fundamental to know inside out the instrument that one plays. When I was in Hassel and I had a Stainway model D in front of me that was great. One either knows how to use the first or the third pedal, or one might as well use a keyboard. One needs to know how to use the dynamic range. This gives the tracks that little bit extra. Going from a forte to a piano or using the right chord is fundamental. Musical theory is something else, but one needs to know the instruments to do piano music. Q: You also write for strings though… A: I trust the players in that case. I know what I want; I write the music and let

them play it. They are incredible, faultless, like machines. It also has to be said that the string parts I write are not too complex. I am not Vivaldi; they are quite simple, minimal parts, some chromatics and very rarely bi-chromatic parts. It must be like drinking a glass of water for them, but they have to give the right colour to a piece. While recording Now, for instance, I didn’t have to ask them to play vibrato, it just came natural to them, they immediately got the hang of the tracks. The important thing is to write one’s one parts, which can be banal, simple or complex but they are still one’s own musical parts, this is the important thing. Q: Are there any Italian musicians you would recommend? A: I tend to spend a lot of time on Soundcloud. There are many artists I have discovered who might not even have officially released an album, young musicians, people like Giovanni Sarani or Halo. ………… In order to get further insight into Fabrizio Paterlini’s new album, Now, I got in touch with Davide Costa, aka London DC, and asked him a couple of questions on the working process… Q: You provided the electronic parts to Fabrizio’s album. How did you tackle this particular task and how did you go about intervening on the specific tracks you worked on? A: I’d like to say Fabrizio is a great artist and his music can easily inspire anybody. Having myself some piano background and being close to classical pi-

ano it was relatively easy accomplishing Fabrizio’s project. Subtle electronics to create new environments, soundscape to enhance the piano flow without disturbing but rather enhancing a vibrant atmosphere. Artistic freedom and continuous ideas exchange is how I would describe the success of this project. Using my long time passion for electronics, I have applied all my knowledge to contribute to Fabrizio sensibility. Technically I have layered several synths (analog and digital) to create lushes pads; the drums are samples of noises I have recorded of ordinary objects, which I have post produced sometimes to catch an already strong atmosphere sometimes to create a new one. Q: Your contribution is very understated and works beautifully in achieving the overall sense of balance for the album. Did it take a lot of self-discipline to be so restrained, especially considering the tracks are very short? A: Definitely yes. Me and Fabrizio, due to the distance London-Mantua, could not work from scratch together so it was unconventional making an album where the dialogue is made through Internet, over the phone and platform like Soundcloud. Nowadays I guess this represent very much the future and I can confirm it has worked brilliantly. The discipline is very much the correct word in explaining this collaboration. Me and Fabrizio have known each other just through music and our personalities, in a interesting way, have only expressed that side of us during the exchange. The great respect I have for Fabrizio’s music personality has naturally led me in the right direction and, as you have correctly said, I have self contained myself so as not to overdue the electronics presence. Being an architect myself, the famous “Less is more” quote from Mies van der Rohe accompanied me during the entire collaboration. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio



Posted On: November 12, 2012

Alberto Boccardi is an electronic musician based in Milano. He is also a music composer for dance, theatre and short films. His first solo album was released in February 2012 on Fratto9 under the sky… Q: Let’s start with your background, like many, you started playing music as a teenager in punk and hardcore bands. Could you tell me something about this? A: Briefly, I started with the guitar as a teenager when I was about 15-16 and played in a crossover band. I then picked up the drums when I joined a punk band. Between the age of 18 and 22 I played bass in a band called Brainsick. We toured several festivals and recorded a couple of albums. We even got invited onto the Italian program Help hosted by Red Ronnie when I was 20, but you might want to omit this… I eventually gave it all up when I was 22 to pursue my studies. I went abroad and I quit music altogether. Q: Whereabouts did you go? A: I went to Lisbon for a year with an Erasmus scholarship, which meant I couldn’t carry on playing. Also, I was tired of playing that kind of music, it didn’t interest me any longer. I’d reached saturation point. The band carried on without me, but once I got back they had also disbanded. Q: When did you go back to making music?


Photography by Alberto Boccardi, Nicola Frau and Marco Galeazzi


A: It took a while as I got a degree in aerospace engineering and the last few years at collage were really tough. On my final year I was in Rome writing my thesis. Anyhow, when I turned 26-27 I did what a lot of people do and bought myself a Roland Groovebox MC909, and decided to experiment with electronic music on my own. Things gradually evolved from there and also thanks to a very close friend of mine, Roberto Lalli. Roberto is currently doing a PhD in History of Physics in the States at the MIT but he is also an actor and theatre director. Quite a few years back, having heard some of my stuff, he asked me to work on the sound design for a theatre production in which I was also performing called Eterefolli, a show about physics that combined theatre with dance and electronic music, which even got an award at the Ticino Festival. This is really what kickstarted everything. Aside from theatre, I thought, why not explore audio visuals as well? And together with Enrico Venturini I founded a project called anyBetterPlace with interactive sound and images, much in the vein of the Milanese group otolab. We actually both studied at the Casa otolab, where Enrico did video, and I did music. Q: You also work with a dance company… A: Yes, with Cinzia Delorenzi, a great artist. She came to see me playing live once and asked me to collaborate.

When I was younger I used to dance as well, but you might want to omit this as well… I did contact improvisation. It’s a free form of dance I found great release in. Anyhow, composing music for Cinzia has been a very formative experience, and it helped me a lot in my musical development. She explores emotional landscapes that she transmits through body language on stage and she would ask me to interpret her visions and images through sound. This was not easy because she tends to create a piece from a concept or idea, from something intangible, feelings and emotions, which aren’t concrete. For instance we did a piece on earthquakes and we explored the idea of vibrations through the human body. She wanted to translate nature’s force into dance so I explored ultra low frequencies, between 10hz and 15hz, which might not be audible but are felt through the body. This is an example of

how I was then able to import this concept into my own work, since I then acquired a subwoofer, which is dedicated to the reproduction of low-pitched audio frequencies. Q: Let’s just stay with the earthquake piece you did with Cinzia, how was the creative process organised? A: They already had a lot of material they were working on. The tricky thing of working with dance companies, and film-makers as well, is that choreographers and film directors always have a provisional sound track they work and edit on. To insert oneself onto something that already has a certain structure is really difficult. In the case of Cinzia they had structured the piece around tracks by Nicolas De Zorzi. What I did was to try and construct something that recalled stratifications of earthquakes. I took some field recordings from the Bovisa district in Milan, where I studied engineering, with the sound of trains and trams and added samples from my groovebox to recreate the sound of tremors and such like. Even though I have now reduced my involvement with dance, trying to imagine a landscape and translating that into music is something I still carry with me. I am now concentrating more and more just on sound and on the music itself. I’ve moved away from visuals, the project anyBetterPlace is now over, and I no longer use projections in my live sets. I try to play in scarcely lit environments, with the lights turned really low, but the idea is still to represent on a sonic level an inner landscape or a particular mood or frame of mind. I like my audience to concentrate just on the sound. If one wants to listen to a live show, I feel it is best to do so without images.

first place is the relationship with the audience. My live sets are sort of rituals… There’s no greater joy for me than to play live and to feel connected to the audience. After that high, the come down can hit me hard and I do feel drained. I can feel very depressed after a live performance. Like most, I have played in a variety of venues, from really terrible ones to great ones where the public responded very well. I have done terrible live sets I will always remember just as I have done really good ones I will also always remember. Q: At what stage do you realise you might be facing a terrible live set? A: It becomes immediately apparent. The first warning sign can come when you get to meet the promoter. The second warning sign when you get to see the venue. The third when you see their

sound equipment. It’s not the number of people that determine a good or a bad live set. I did great sets with 6-7 people. Whereas I did terrible sets with 50 or 60 people who never stopped chatting. Q: The other reason why I quoted Ben Frost is because you have played with him on his project Music For Six Guitars. Can you tell me something about that? A: It’s been one of the defining moments in my musical development, like meeting Roberto Lalli and Cinzia Delorenzi. It’s been great and I love his music especially for his physical and direct approach. He works a lot with field recordings but he mixes them with violins, cellos, guitar etc. I try to do the same by mixing everything that I need for any particular project. I don’t just concentrate on a specific instrument or on a specific musical path. One of the great things of

Q: I watched a clip recently on YouTube where Ben Frost and Lawrence English discussed live performances. Lawrence was stating that he likes his audiences to lie down in the dark when possible, whereas Ben Frost was saying that he wants the public to be aware of his presence on stage. Which of these two very different approaches do you feel closer to? A: Ben Frost’s. When I say I like playing in the dark, I do not mean that the venue is plunged in complete darkness. I am still very much present and the people do see me. Playing live is crucial to me and the reason why I make music in the


Photography by Alberto Boccardi, Nicola Frau and Marco Galeazzi

live, so to speak. I don’t understand artists who don’t play live their own tracks, that’s like child murder to me. To labor over something for any extended amount of time and then not to promote it, not to air it and make people listen to it, is something I cannot phantom. Also, I like to relive the same feelings that I went through while creating a specific work and to transmit that to an audience. Q: The album is also mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi… A: Yes, Giuseppe is the guru, the master and he’s really nice man. Q: Did you choose Giuseppe for the mastering or was it your label who suggested him? A: It was my choice. I have heard a lot of the stuff he’s mastered and it sounds great.

working abroad, – I work as engineer in Kazakhstan half the time – is that I can collect several different instruments from that region of the world. As you can see I do have a variety of “exotic” instruments here at home alongside more traditional ones such as a piano, three synths etc. Anyhow, going back to Ben Frost, I happen to know his Italian promoter and since he was looking for a number of guitar players he asked me to take part in his Music for 6 Guitars project in Milan. One of the things I noticed is how focused and driven he is. Q: We still haven’t talked about your debut album in detail. What was its genesis? A: The album started from a need I had to do a solo project after the experience of anyBetterPlace. I wanted to give form to something that I’d been mulling over inside me for a while. The way I tend to work is by collecting different fragments and creating something cohesive from there. In this case there were several triggers. I had worked with Cinzia and I wanted to carry on working with her and therefore with her voice. The same applied to Luca Rampinini… Q: Let’s talk about the voice; vocals are not often used within electro-acoustic music. Why did you feel the need to include vocals? A: I needed Cinzia, not just a voice. Her presence has a special significance for me in this album. She is always in it. Even when she doesn’t sing she listens


and sometimes says a few words. Aside from Cinzia, there’s also a distorted sax in the album courtesy of Luca Rampanini whom I worked with on anyBetterPlace. It is great when you meet a musician who may play a completely different style of music from you but is still curious and ready to venture into new musical territories. The album grew organically from all the fragments I had gathered. I put everything in the mix and then went to a studio in Morbegno and worked with a sound technician, Lorenzo Monti, who is not just a studio guy but gets also very close to the creative process. I do need feedback in the studio and for someone to criticize me. I need to talk things through. This is reason why I play, in the first place, it’s the human interaction element. With me, there are three types of relationship I draw on, the one with other musicians, the one with the studio technician, and the one with the audience. Q: So you don’t really see yourself as a bedroom artist? A: No, the whole concept is alien to me. Also, what I wanted to add is that I do like to perform my tracks live. I don’t really improvise a lot in a live setting, I only do that when I first start working on new material. When I perform live I already know what I will be playing. Sure, there is still an element of chance, but I like to perform tracks from my albums and to let my creatures

Q: What are the geographical coordinates of the album? A: Good question. I am not really sure what to answer… Well, this work is very earthy. The cover depicts a rapeseed field on the outskirts of Milan, and it has me with my face buried into the flowers, the whole sound is very earthy. The album might not be precisely located but it was completed in Valtellina where I spent two weeks holed up busy at work. It also contains field recordings, which I took on the mountains, above Morbegno. There is a lot of guitar in it, with effects and distortions, synths, the birimbau and other instruments… Q: You work half the time in Kazhakstan as an engineer, have you ever been tempted to take field recordings over there? A: The wolf and stray dogs would be very interesting. Where I’m based I can hear dogs and wolves barking and howling all night… Q: That’s very Ben Frost… A: Yes! There is a problem with wolves in that part of Kazakhstan and they

have traps around town as in winter the temperature plummets to -30 and the wolves get very close to the urban centre. Still, I would need to take a good microphone to record them. I have a zoom h2n, but no micro and I would need to get closer to them, which means finding a local who could take me to the wolves. The other problem is that I work 12 hours a day and I would need to take field recordings in the evenings when I’m really knackered. In my musical research there’s always something that sets me off, it can be anything, a particular sound, something I heard on telly, or at a friend’s house. I am really fascinated by by the Sardinian Tenores de Orosei, for instance. At present, though, I am working with sounds and people from Valtellina, the region in the North of Lombardy where I am from. I have asked a French Horn player who plays a classical repertoire and who also happens to be the barman from the bar next door to my parent’s place to contribute to two tracks of mine. He doesn’t improvise so I wrote down a few notes for him, not that I have extensive knowledge in composition, but I jotted down some basic arpeggios and we took it from there. I then reworked the material at home. Q: Did he enjoy the end result? A: Yes. It has also to be said that many people who are not familiar with electroacoustic music are frequently reminded of Pink Floyd when they listen to this kind of music or the Beatles’ Song n.9 for its psychedelic sound. Different people have different reference points and make different connections. The French Horn will feature in a new 7” split I am working on for my label fRaTto9 uNdeR tHE sky together with the autoharp, the cello, and the double bass. I

love collaborating with other musicians.

ones who coordinate the Archive.

Q: Another musician you have collaborated with is Federico Visi…

Q: What are you currently working on?

He is a great musician and a good friend of mine. We had a project together but it never took off because of logistics time constraints. He is now based in Ravenna, and is more and more into classical music. Q: Do you listen to classical music yourself? A: I like to listen to classical music live, not so much on my headphones. When I do it tends to be Mahler, Mozart, or Beethoven. In terms of contemporary music I would say that we are all indebted to minimalism, to John Cage and Terry Riley. I also like Maessian a lot and Satie. Q: What else do you listen to? A: As far as the Italian electro-acoustic scene goes, I listen to Giuseppe Ielasi, who is a real master. Also, Nicola Ratti and Stefano Pilia – I really like Stefano’s project In Zaire. I also like Enrico Malatesta, Luca Sigurtà, Attila Faravelli, Andrea Belfi, Attilio Novellino, Fabio Orsi, Heroin in Thaiti, … there’s such a great scene in Italy. Amongst the labels I would say, Boring Machine, Die Schachtel, Senufo, Fratto9 under the sky, Holiday Records…

A: I am currently hard at work on project with a choir from Valtellina the Coro Antonio La Motta directed by Davide Mainetti. We will be performing live on the 17th of November in Bergamo, Italy. For that particular performance I have also enlisted the help of Attilio Novellino, Nicola Ratti and Matteo Bennici who will also be playing… I’m really looking forward to it. I have also a 12” split release with Lawrence English coming out in 2013 on fRaTto9 uNdeR tHE sky, which I am really excited about. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio /

Q: You are also part of the Archive of Italian Soundscapes, AIPS, how did your involvement come about? A: Through Attilio Novellino. I heard the album Loud Listening they released on Crónica and got in touch with Attilio and one thing led to another. Francesco Giannico and Alessio Ballerini are the


MILAN – ATTILA FARAVELLI Posted On: September 2, 2011

Attila Faravelli is an Italian sound artist and electro-acoustic musician. He lives and works in Milano. His solo music is released by Die Schachtel. With Andrea Belfi he is half of the duo Tumble, he plays with Nicola Ratti (Corolis Sounds/ Boring Machines) and builds temporary sound installations in various urban and extra urban areas with the artist Nicola Martini (their sound work is released on the label Presto!?). He presented his work in USA, Europe and China. In 2010 he participated in the Architecture Biennale of Venice. In 2012 he’s been chosen as the curator for the Italian month for the Sounds of Europe project. In his live set and installations he projects sounds with a self made array of speakers and shapes their output in various ways to acoustically open up the stage and to relate sound and space. He is founder and curator for the Aural Tools project, a series of multiples that aims to document the work of selected musicians and sound artists. Attila Faravelli is also the man behind The Lift an atypical performance space with no official program, no website, and no phone number. One gets the address and all the relevant info by replying to an email. And yet, this idiosyncratic venue just off Via Padova (Milan’s very own micro Brixton-Bricklane meltingpot), has played host to some of the most interesting electro-acoustic musicians around, including Valerio Tricoli and Robert Piotrowicz, Giuseppe Ielasi, Alessandro Bosetti, Ignatz Schick, mAt Pogo, Claudio Rocchetti, Andrea Belfi, Jim Sangtae, Mark Templeton, Melissa Moore, Dominique Vaccaro, Luciano Maggiore, Nicola Ratti, Kassel Jaeger, A Spirale, John Chantler, and Aspec(t). Q: How did The Lift come about? A: I took the lead from a number of House-shows I attended during the years and decided to open up my tiny recording space for public performances. It used to be part of a much bigger studio where some big names in Italian pop have recorded, such as Tiziano Ferro. The original 130 square metres


have now been converted into three flats. What is left is just a tiny portion, the annex, where tracks were usually mixed. I named it the Lift as you get the same embarrassed intimacy between strangers you get in an elevator with an even heightened sense of silence. I was amazed myself when I realized I could fit two rows of 10 seats. Some performances do suffer from the space constraints, but the level of concentration is unique. What I find intriguing is the way different performers have of inhabiting the space. For instance, when Christian Wolfharth and Enrico Malatesta played together, you were confronted with two opposite approaches to a drum-kit. Christian was far more controlled, he was almost still when playing, while Enrico’s movements were enveloping giving the impression he was embracing the drums. Q: How is the program scheduled? A: There is no program as such. There can be four weekly performances in a row followed by a couple of months break. When I first started, I invited people I wanted to hear perform live and Fabio Carboni’s (from the record label Die Schachtel) helped with a mail out. Nowadays, it works more on a word of mouth basis, and I sometimes get contacted directly by musicians. It is all done informally. There’s no money involved, I only ask for a symbolic donation of 5 Euros to cover the artist’s expenses. The response so far has been very good, and when a performance is heavily subscribed, I usually ask the musician to do more than one set per night to accommodate everybody. It is also a chance to meet people, make friends, and interact directly with the musicians. Q: The acoustics are indeed optimal, where does your interest in sound stem

from? A: Aside form being a musician myself, I’ve worked as a sound technician and producer. I came from a musical family and have been exposed to music from a very early age. My uncle is a musicologist and my father was a choral music conductor specializing in XVI and XVII century music. What has always fascinated me, though, was the way acoustic sound propagates and I was generally suspicious of amplified sounds. I then started playing a number of instruments including the electric guitar and the flute. Still, at the end of the 90s, I found myself studying philosophy at collage. Alas, in Italy there are no real work prospects for anyone with a degree in philosophy. I realised then I had to push my own boundaries and try to pursue my own interests. I got myself a studio and for three or four years I investigated what I could do with sound manipulation. Technical costs were becoming more affordable and microphones became cheaper, which allowed me to experiment with techniques employed to record and fix sounds in order to compose and construct my own musical language. In a way, I was doing what composers like Pierre Schaeffer did in the 50s. My aim, though, has always been to concentrate on the humanistic aspect of the mechanics of sound in order to build a direct relationship with the listener. Q: What is your approach to a live performance?

A: I always try and work with the space I play in, and tend to avoid the sound system of the venue. I work with a set of seven or eight small prepared speakers, which I distribute throughout the space or, conversely, I group them together to create a localized sound source. During the past year, I’ve been working a lot with acoustic reflections. I work with objects that have specific shapes, which allow me to reflect the sound from the speakers I utilize. I always try to have an active approach to sound. Whether I am successful or not, I don’t know, but I aim to give a physical dimension to the bloke behind a laptop cliché of electronic music. Although I still work with a laptop, I physically manipulate the sounds I send to my speakers through differently shaped objects. This makes sounds almost visible. If I were to use an analogy, I would say my performances are akin to the magic lantern, as opposed to the Dolby stereo sound-surround experience your get in a cinema, which effectively neutralizes the physical space of the venue. They are more intimate. Q: Collaborations are an integral part of your work. A: Yes, when one plays with a laptop, it is often very difficult to interact with a live musician. For instance, a drum-kit inhabits the space in a totally different way from a laptop. My solution or rather, the one that works for me, is to create a dialogue between my speakers and a physical instrument through the resonance of their amplification system. I have been experimenting with a number of people under different guises, from Nicola Ratti as FaravelliRatti, to Andrea Belfi as Tumble and Nicola Martini, as well as on my own. Q: The electronic music scene in Milan seems to me quite lively. Any interesting names you’d like to mention? A: Lorenzo Senni from Presto!? records springs to mind. He recently moved to Milano from Cesena. Aside from creating a very interesting label devoted to both Italian and International artists, he is also a musician in his own right. Giuseppe Ielasi has also been highly influential to a number of people within the scene. Generally speaking it is a tight-knit community and we all know each other. You have to be highly motivated, though, as there’s no money for this kind of music in Italy and no public financing. Italy is famous for Bel Canto

Photography: Gianmarco Del Re, Jacopo Menzani, and Attila Faravelli

and the human voice has always been centre stage. Alas, there is little room or appetite for electroacoustic experimentation. Q: If you had to send a postcard from Milan what place would you choose? A: The Silos Innse, an industrial relic towering in no man’s land under a flyover, tucked away in the Lambrate district. It is an extraordinary place, almost out of this world, where Nicola Martini and I played live. We didn’t just use it as a backdrop, though. By attaching small microphones to its structure, we also incorporated its sound into our performance. Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio update Posted On: December 20, 2012 Q: Your latest album recorded with Nicola Martini for Presto!? has been a long time coming. What was the concept behind it? A: The album cover is a list of the materials we used to compose and record the tracks. We both use raw materials as a basis for our practice, as we are both interested in the physical process of transformation of matter. Nicola is not strictly speaking a musician as such but a visual artist and sculptor. Within his work, he displays a great sensibility for materials, which he considers as repository of concrete reality in perpetual transformation. Sound is also a relational and fluid phenomenon and we both consider matter as the place of a transformation rather than something in its ultimate shape and form. All the tracks we created for the album explore this idea and result from a process of sonic stimuli of the different materials taken into consideration.


Photography Gianmarco Del Re

Milan – O’ + Die Schachtel Posted On: October 2, 2011

Garibaldi-Isola, a rapidly mutating district in the heart of Milan, is home to Die Schachtel, a record label/publishing house specialising in electronic/concrete/avant-garde music, sound poetry and artist’s records, established in 2003 by Fabio Carboni and Bruno Stucchi. Since 2007 it has been collaborating with O’, an interdisciplinary art space founded by Sara Serighelli and Angelo Colombo in 2001 to promote residency programs, art exhibitions, lectures, performances and concerts. Projects are mainly site specific and originated by connections, visits, living and lasting relations… Q: What is the current state of electroacoustic music in Italy? Fabio Carboni: In the last couple of years, the electro-acoustic scene has become increasingly vibrant, thanks to a new generation of musicians who have taken up and developed electronic music in a totally spontaneous and original way. This has not meant a fracture with the past, but neither has it signaled a nostalgic walk down the experimental music lane. What has happened has been an intensification of the activity and the interest in all things electro-acoustic, and this has been true not only in Milan. Nowadays, musicians are not just looking for venues to play, but are happy to try different approaches and try on new hats. Many of them, for instance also act as producers and not just on their own albums. Some even open project spaces and invite their peers to play, thus creating a network of musicians who don’t


always all know each other, but frequently end up collaborating. Sara Serighelli: It has to be said as well, that with far fewer venues and dedicated spaces for live performances, the scene has became more dynamic out of necessity. Festivals, events, and gigs have become nomadic with musicians always trying to find new and alternative ways of presenting their work. FC: As far as the experimental music scene goes, traditional music venues have become obsolete in Italy, whereas they still seem to function in the UK. To program a series of electro-acoustic gigs is not seen as financially viable in Italy, therefore new initiatives have sprung up with people playing sets in private flats and apartments that are seldom if ever advertised and function by word of mouth. What normally happens is that one gets onto a mailing list and is then notified of the date, time, and location of forthcoming events. There is currently no website connecting all such initiatives, but this is something we are working on. Another reason why Milan is a hub of activity is that the city has always been a centre of production, with recording studios and printing facilities etc, which makes it easier to release albums here. This explains the recent proliferation of new record labels such as Senufo, Hundebiss, Presto!?, Urashima, etc. Having said that, the experimental music scene is highly developed with new things

happening in the Veneto region as well, and specifically in Vittorio Veneto, home of the music label Von, and to a lesser degree in Venice and Padova. There’s also been a kind of renaissance in cities like Florence, Modena, Rome, Naples and Palermo. Q: What are the main challenges in running a small label like Die Schachtel? FC: Even though we have been operating for eight years now with a good line of distribution we operate at a loss. We started off by releasing obscure archival material from the 50s up to the 80s by neglected composers who have only been too happy to see their work finally been distributed. We wanted to re-activate the sounds of pioneers of computer music, such as Pietro Grossi, founder of the Studio of Phonology of Florence, and to give voice to seminal, yet little known female artists such as Teresa Rampazzi and Franca Sacchi. However, alongside historical analogical electronic music recordings, we have also been promoting new works mainly by young Italian musicians, with the odd exception, such as Stephan Mathieu, which is by no means an easy task. What we lack in Italy is the ability to create a co-

hesive scene, which can be promoted, discussed and narrated as one. Q: You both have a very strong connection to the visual arts… SS: When O’ first opened, it was centered specifically on the visual arts, but since I met Fabio in 2007 we have introduced music into the equation. The first artist’s edition we produced was with the Italian sound artist Alessandro Bosetti, and it was the result of a residency. Many others have followed, such as Phill Niblock with whom we released a DVD. Nowadays, people who visit the gallery space expect a show that has some relation to music. FC: In terms of the label, Bruno Stucchi has given a strong graphic imprint to Die Schachtel. He tends to work on his own, leaving me to deal directly with

the musicians. He never delves into a personal archive of images but always draws inspiration directly from the music. We recently won the 2011 D&AD Design award for Musica Improvvisa a 10 CD box set in a series of painstakingly designed individual CD/LP sleeves by ten Italian bands that spans from the South to the North of Italy. Q: Do you ever trigger collaborations between different musicians? FC: Not directly, even though we tend to forward any information we might get about gigs and events where musicians can meet. For instance, when Attila Faravelli came to us with his first album, he did not really know any of the people he has since been collaborating with. SS: Here at O’ we stage two or three different gigs a month often with several musicians playing on the same night. In the case of Tony Conrad, for example, we had Å playing before him after which they did a piece together. The same happened with Attila Faravelli and Oren Ambarchi. In same cases musicians end up becoming friends or collaborating, but nothing is ever forced. We have a rich program of live gigs in autumn but we are always on the lookout for people to come and play at O’. Q: Finally, if you were to send a postcard from Milan which place would you pick?

FC: Milan’s central station because it is such a melting pot of different people from all walks of lives. SS: The Navigli. They have been neglected for so long that, when they recently re-opend them for navigation during the summer, even though it was for such a short distance, I felt a wave of optimism especially since the election in recent months of the mayor of Milan after years of right wing administration. Interview and photography: Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio …………………………………… Milano Centrale is the main railway station in Milan officially inaugurated in 1931. Its original plans acquired a monumental dimension when Benito Mussolini became prime minister. Platform 21 became infamous when trains left for Auschwitz-Birkenau towards the end of the Second World War. The station also features in the epilogue of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s masterpiece Teorema (1968). The Navigli was a system of navigable and linked canals that connected Milan with Switzerland, through Lake Maggiore, and with the Adriatic Sea via the Po river. The North Eastern canals and the entire inner rings of Milan were covered over in the 1930s leaving only the Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese, which went rapidly into decline. ……………………………………


MILAN – Nicola Ratti Posted On: September 3, 2011

Nicola Ratti began his musical career as guitar player. Currently, his approach is more focused on beat-analog experimentation and sound installation. He collaborates with: Giuseppe Ielasi, with whom he formed the project Bellows; Attila Faravelli as Faravelliratti; the desertic soundtrack-band Ronin and with Fatima Bianchi for audio/video works. He has performed live in Europe and North America, and his albums had been released by Anticipate, Preservation, Die Schachtel, Entr’acte, Senufo Editions, Megaplomb, Musica Moderna, Boring Machines, Coriolis Sounds, Zymogen. Q: How did you get onto electro-acoustic music? A: The first instrument I played was the piano. Alas, I “unlearnt” the grammar of music when I discovered rock music and I found a classical guitar at home, which I used to play, as if it was an electric guitar. In the 90s I was in a band called Pin Pin Sugar a “mathematical rock group”. At the same time, through musicians such as Giuseppe Ielasi, whom I first met at the local library, I became enamored with experimental music. I found it mesmerising seeing people use unconventional instruments to produce interesting stuff, and I was captivated by the concentration of their sets and the way they used silence. It inspired me to create my own musical language and to venture out on my own. The first things I did were still very much guitar based. My latest album, though, 220 tonnes, released through Die Schachtel is the first work of mine where the guitar doesn’t feature. Q: In what way collaborations are important to you? A: Collaborations have a formative value for me. I started collaborating with Giuseppe as Bellows releasing s/t in 2007 for the Swedish label Kning Disc. That album was a sum of its parts in the sense that it brought together what we did individually, whereas our latest album Handcut, (CD, Alga Marghen, 2010) is the result of “sonic research”. At the time, Giuseppe was based in Tübingen, Germany, and we used to experiment by placing a contact microphone


directly onto vinyl as if it was a needle on a record. The mic picked up the tracks on the album in a distorted, but always interesting, way. All we needed to do was to record the sound onto magnetic tape. I then started to use the same technique in my solo work. Giuseppe and I feed off each other. The same happens with Attila Faravelli, with whom I recorded the album Lieu, (LP, Boring Machines/Coriolis Sounds, 2010) as FaravelliRatti. With Attila, I am able to pursue my experimentation with the electric guitar, while he uses both a laptop and prepared speakers. In a sense, it is a three-way dialogue between him and I and this virtual third member of the group, which consists of my amp and his speakers. We converse as if we were a bass, drums and guitar trio. The focus, with FaravelliRatti, is more on the way sound propagates and inhabits the space. On the other hand, Ronin is a more traditional group, with whom I’ve been playing for the past six years. It consists of two guitars, bass and drums. It is a purely instrumental band with no vocals and it is lead by Bruno Dorella who also plays in the bands Ovo and Bachi da pietra. We play music for imaginary films, a kind of desert rock, even though we ended up writing the score for the documentary Vogliamo anche le rose by the Italian film-maker Alina Marazzi. Ronin are as far removed from the experimental music I play on my own as they possibly can. Q: What is your approach to playing live? A: I feel the need to play an instrument. I normally play a small synth with some oscillators placed on a little guitar that I have constructed myself. It functions just like an electric guitar with pick ups and strings even though these are attached to a simple plank of wood which fits into a suitcase and is easily transportable. I do not play it, but I use it to harmonize the oscillations from the synth. It reduces the purely electronic sound creating a richer texture. Also, on a live set, I tend to have a record player with me.

I like the performance side of playing live. When I used to use a laptop I felt I couldn’t bridge the gap from the live instrument to the laptop in a satisfactorily way. There was something jarring, which didn’t quite work. Also, there is something quite cold about a musician on stage behind a laptop. It depends on how it is done. When I play with Giuseppe and Attila, for instance, they both uses laptops, but Giuseppe does so in an enveloping way, whereas Attila uses it as a means to play his prepared speakers. Generally speaking I would say that 80% of any of my live sets is improvised. I might know what my point of departure and the point of arrival may be, and I might have a play-list in my head, but most of music I play live is improvised. It is the way the venue’s sound system works that dictates the kind of performance I do. Q: Your album ésope on the Italian net label Zymogen makes extensive use of field recordings, which is something you seem to have abandoned. A: I used to rely heavily on field recordings, as I was often asked to curate the sound design of shows devoted to the city as an architect and musician. Nowadays, though, I am more cautious, as I often find that field recordings are used primarily to embellish a particular track with no particular thought behind it. I am currently working with Mark Templeton on a project about urban spaces that would connect Edmonton in Canada, where he is based, to Milan where I live. We are not just making recordings of the two cities, though. We are more interested in seeing how Milan and Edmonton react to sound. The idea is to record the music in the studio and then play it live in specific spaces in both cities, which we still need to identify. It is very complicated, though, to get public funding for this kind of venture in Italy, where-

as the situation in Canada is far more promising. Q: What is your relationship to the visual arts? A: Together with the visual artist Fatima Bianchi, we’ve set up FeN Bureau an art entity for the production of video and sound installations and we’ve done work for the O’ Gallery in the Isola district in Milan. It is something we would like to pursue further. One of the works we have produced is a video installation called Sedimentaria, which was filmed in the marble quarries of Carrara. While the film was projected, I was feeding three separate magnetic tape recorders, which had loops hanging from the ceiling. The image was then sent to a small monitor and the audio functioned as progressive layers of echoes. We always try not to use an image as backdrop to the music or viceversa, but to make them interact. Q: What is the electro-acoustic scene in Milan like? A: There’s a concentration of really interesting labels such as Fabio Carboni and Bruno Stucchi’s Die Schachtel, Lorenzo Senni’s Presto!?, Emanuele Carcano’s Alga Marghen, with an impressive catalogue of historical recordings by the likes of Charlemagne Palestine, Henri Chopin, Philp Corner and new recordings by Ghédalia Tazartès and Walter Marchetti. On a more radical and noise based level, there’s also Hundebiss Records. Then there are Holidays Records and other labels. It terms of playing live, though, there aren’t any venues specifically devoted to experimental music. Giuseppe Ielasi used to curate a really interesting program for a small art bookshop called A+M, which has since closed. Nowadays there’s only Attila Faravelli’s The Lift. The only thing that seems to work are “special events”. It might be a cliché but there’s some truth in the idea that image and attitude are paramount in Milan. Trendy events draw crowds Photographs by Gianmarco Del Re – Buildings: Ca’ Brutta, Via Moscova, Giovanni Muzio, 1922, Casa Bonaiuti Malugani, Piazza della Repubblica, Giovanni Muzio, 1935-1936

such as Mi Ami, organised by Rockit and Audiovisiva at the Palazzo del Ghiaccio, but there is nothing specific for electroacoustic music. It is dispiriting, as I frequently get enquiries from musicians who would like to play in Milan. I would love to be artistic director of a venue, but alas, there is no chance of that happening for the time being. Q: Is there a particular place/space in Milan that you find inspiring or that you’d take visitors to the city. A: I am fascinated by early XX century metaphysical architecture. Buildings such as those by Giovanni Muzio, like the Triennale, are quintessentially Milanese. I don’t find them inspiring on an artistic level, but to me they epitomize Milan. In particular there’s a residential building just off Piazza Repubblica in front of the US consulate called Ca’ Brutta [the ugly house] which I find remarkable. These are places that tend to be overlooked by tourists and occasional visitors. Photography: Gianmarco Del Re – Buildings: Ca’ Brutta, Via Moscova, Giovanni Muzio, 1922, Casa Bonaiuti Malugani, Piazza della Repubblica, Giovanni Muzio, 1935-1936

pleton, you described the way you work lately as been focused on a live improvisation approach. Streengs is your first solo work where you practiced that way of playing. It is a work made by a single concept and with the same set of instruments done over the same period of time. “This is very important to me”, you state. “It’s like keeping focused on the same painting for days and trying not to disperse the intensity of the work. I’m no longer into producing an album made by songs, but much more into creating an album as a result of a single approach. It doesn’t matter which instrument it is. At the same time, however, it doesn’t mean that I won’t consider what I record as a song.” In other words 2012 has seen a shift in the way you produce an album based on the “live approach” which also included the ambient sounds of the room where you recorded your material. However, the work was then shaped and constructed as a single album in close collaboration with Giuseppe Ielasi. What do you feel you have gained between the pre and post-production steps of Streengs and will you be pursuing this new direction even further in your future work?

A: To be honest, I didn’t carry out extensive editing or post-production work on the album. In fact, I tried to obtain complete tracks while recording the material. I would only press rec when I’d come Update Posted On: December 20, 2012 to a point I judged satisfactory and then took it from there following a live impro Streengs is Nicola Ratti’s fifth solo cd, approach. Once I listed the material and and it showcases a completely new made the appropriate selection, I took direction in his work. Using a minimal it to Giuseppe and together we made a setup composed of a small analog synfew EQ adjustments, corrected a few in thesizer and a delay/looping device, am- cues and out cues and overlaid a few plified with two audio transducers placed field recordings which I took in the same on the strings of a grand piano, Ratti space where I found the piano I used managed to create a very complex and for the recordings. Then it was down dense soundworld. Every piece was reto mastering. This new path I took has corded in realtime, during a residency at informed the way I work nowadays and Hotel Pupik, Schrattenberg, in July 2011, even though I am dogmatic about it, I allowing the sounds from the surroundconsider this to be the starting point for ings to interfere with the electricallymy future releases. induced resonances of the piano. Mixed and mastered with Giuseppe Ielasi, a longtime collaborator (the two operate wordpress/?page_id=571 the Bellows project). Q: In a recent interview with Mark Tem-



Photography Lorenzo Senni

Posted On: June 15, 2012

Lorenzo Senni is a multidisciplinary artist, composer & laser expert based in Milan, Italy. He studied Musicology at University in Bologna and he is author of electronic audio works. His research interests include algorithmic methods in the arts. He has toured throughout Europe, Scandinavia and Japan and has opened for Peter Rehberg & Stephen O’ Malley (KTL), John Wiese, EVOL, Dave Phillips, Lasse Marhaug, Giuseppe Ielasi, and Valerio Tricoli amongst others. As the founder of Presto!?, a record label focused on “New-Sounds” within the contemporary music scene, he has released albums by a number of artists including Carl Michael Von Hausswolff, Marcus Schmickler, Florian Hecker, John Wiese, Lasse Marhaug, Alberto De Campo, Werner Dafeldecker, Lawrence English, and John Hudak. This fall he is going to release an LP on Editions Mego, a tape on Alku and an LP+DVD5.1 on Blae… Q: Hi Lorenzo, to begin with, you have studied musicology at college, does your interest in music stem from a theoretical basis? A: I never did get my degree. I only had four exams left but I found myself increasingly studying stuff that had no or little relation to the exams I was supposed to take and slowly but surely I quit altogether. My family was not best pleased, but there you go. Q: Does that mean that theory had little relevance when you started making music? A: No, I discovered a lot of things, which I would never have normally been exposed to, but that is not how I really came to music. I was already playing drums by the time I had enrolled. Actually, I started playing the guitar when I was around 13-14 years of age in punk and hardcore bands. I used to sing in Italian and get up to all sorts of things. I then moved on to drums, and took it very seriously for about six years. For the first two-three months, I only had the drumsticks and would practice at home on a pillow. I took jazz classes and studied for about 4-5 hours a day. I wasn’t interested in becoming a drummer in a


rock’n’roll kind of way, though, I was more interested in rhythms. More than anything, I would say I learnt discipline through the drums. Q: Interested in rhythms in a Steve Reich kind of way? A: I was beginning to discover that world, but I was also into free jazz and noise music. I enjoyed the freedom of it. I started playing with Enrico Malatesta, who was a neighbour of mine. I’ve know him since we were 5 of 6 years old. Over the years he’s become an incredible musician and I have now released two albums by him on Presto!? Anyhow, from drums I moved onto computers.I was getting “older” and I didn’t fancy sweating as much. Also, I was keen to meet girls, and noise drummers haven’t really got a strong pulling power. I soon started discovering laptop music, and music softwares. At first I was more into the “easier” spectrum of things, people like Fennesz, 12k, Room40 and all those things that were flavour of the month in the early naughties. Q: So you just dropped the drums…? A: Yes, I haven’t touched the drums for seven years now, with the exception of a few occasions when I played reunion gigs with my former band mates. So, instead of spending hours on end on the drums I found myself pouring over softwares such as Max/MSP until I switched to Super Collider. The Computer Music Tutorial by Curtis Roads was my bible. Q: In a word, you’ve gone from acoustic sounds to synthetic sounds? A: Yes, I was studying sound synthesis and all sorts of things. I was a dedicated student. Q: You started recording your first album in 2007. A: Yes, even though Early Works came out in 2008. Nobody really got the fact that the title was meat to be ironic. They were my “early works” for sure but, generally speaking, Early Works and great-

est hits albums come out at a later stage of one’s musical career. Listening back to it, it becomes apparent how influenced I was at the time by Pita and the Mego sound. There is a definite glitch / digital aesthetic to it, with some melodic counterpoints and a bit of a noise thrown in. At the same time I was beginning to discover the work of David Tudor, David Behrman and early computer pioneers so I tried to incorporate traces of their influence into my music, but I think that only really happened with my follow up album, Dunno, as I still hadn’t fully digested their work. Q: You have also opened a few gigs for Peter Rehberg. What have you learnt from him? A: I opened for him on two different occasions. Every time I happened to be in Vienna, though, I would go and visit him. He is an exceptional person and I have always loved the majority of his output. I also believe he has been under-appreciated, which is a real shame. Still he has released amazing stuff through his label. I once asked him, “Pita, when are you going to do an album for Presto!?” As he had a Zoom recorder with him at the time he just said, “It might just go out and do a few field recordings for you to release…” It didn’t immediately occur to me that he was only kidding! I don’t think I learnt as much from him seeing him perform live, even if his sets are really intense, as from reading all the literature I could find on him on the net. Also, more than from a musical point of view, I learnt a lot from him in terms of label management. He is a real businessman and he is fully conscious of that. He has managed to combine quality with business acumen. There is no reason why this type of music shouldn’t sell, in fact. He did a very good job with Fennesz and, even though the label went through a rough patch in the past, he has set a very high standard. Q: Do you see your second album Dunno as a development of sorts then? A: I consider Dunno to be more interesting from a musical point of view. Also,

I am someone who likes to come out with a specific record at a specific point in time. There is a tendency within the electronic and the electro acoustic world to release large quantities of material, which I do not share. In a way, for me, recording an album is like closing a chapter or producing a synthesis of a period of research and exploration; it feels like summing up, if you will. I like to finalise the musical discourse I have been developing at that particular moment. Also, I have a very pop art approach to music and any release is directly linked to a specific visual style. Everything needs to come together and gel into one product.

thesis and Super Collider seem to come directly from the world of animation. The Evol tape I released, for instance, makes a lot of people laugh. What interests me, though, is the musical structure and the timbre. Different people then have different interpretations of a particular track or album.

As for the sound, it is pure computer music based on digital synthesis a wealth of frequency modulation, pulsar synthesis, and granular synthesis. And yet, I like to add that little touch of… (hesitates) Some people interpret the font of the title, and the photograph on the back of the album with me brandishing a kalashnikoff guitar as ironic, but more than anything I like to liberate computer music from the usual parameters of glitch, of digital music 0 1 and to move it towards a pop aesthetic even though the tracks have little or nothing to do with pop.

A: You could say that, even though it is not strictly the case. I have a vast collection of field recordings albums, much to my girlfriend’s concern… I used to carry a dat recorder with me with an expensive microphone I had bought. I have hours and hours of recordings, but I have never done anything with them. Who knows, maybe one day I will. The only use I made of them so far is to incorporate a few processed ones into Early Works but that is about it.

Q: Could you tell me something about the titles? For instance, what does “101 103″ refer to? A: Nothing, really. I just chose it because I liked the way the title looked. I chose the titles instinctively. Take Pumping Geometries, for instance, there are no references to geometry in the track, or BurgerKings BurgerDreams… There is only one exception, “ntitled five”, that was a typo. It should’ve been “Untitled” obviously. Still, I believe I may have been the first to use a YouTube link as the title of a track. Q: Well, yes, the YouTube link may point towards a pop aesthetic… A: I wanted to move away from the geekyness and the seriousness of computer music. At the same time, often, the sounds produced through pulsar syn-

To sum up, I would say that Dunno is all made along the lines of digital synthesis whereas in Early Works there are several samples because at the time I was heavily into field recordings. Q: What happened, did you loose interest in field recordings?

Q: What interested you at the time about field recordings? A: I think I was interested in the process more than anything. At the time I used to hang out with the photographer Guido Guidi, who was a family friend. It was quite funny, actually, as I came across his work when studying for a photography exam at college. Throughout my childhood I had always assumed that my parent’s friend was a wedding photographer and never suspected he was in fact one of Italy’s most celebrated photographers. I then started following him on photo shoots and I was struck by how pre-digital photography is so similar to the practice of field recordings. One needs a long time to set up a shot when working with specific cameras. Also processing negs is a bit like processing field recordings or at least that was the case in the pre usb download or memory card era. When one imported material in real time, one was more aware of the whole process and one would take more care while recording. It took longer to accomplish things, but that

also meant that one was more focused. Lately I have begun using more and more softwares that do not operate in real time. When one knows that it might take half an hour rather than five minutes to import some data, one is indeed more focused. Nowadays we don’t even have time to wait for an Internet page to upload! Q: What will your next album sound like? A: The LP/DVD5.1 on Blae will be a hybrid. I recently had a residency in Rotterdam where I have been using

software relating to digital synthesis. At the same time I have only used analog synthesizers, which I have controlled via Midi Osc. The resulting album will be a digital-analog hybrid made through no real time and digital control of analog synths. It will be a crazy affair. To have two hands on an Arp 2500 is one thing, whereas having 16 hands on it, is definitely another and with the precision and speed of a computer at that! Q: Since the pop tag has been cropping up quite frequently, and considering you are a child of the ’80, would you consider yourself closer to Jeff Koons or Andy Warhol? A: Save for the first few releases, which were quite minimal in design, I have tried to infuse a pop sensibility into the artwork, I am thinking of the inflatable dolphin on Early Works or Claudio Rocchetti’s album cover, for instance. There is a sort of unresolved conflict. From a musical point of view the sound is very much digital and synthetic, similar to the albums on the Raster-Noton label, whereas the artwork suggests something that draws on the world of pop via YouTube and therefore poptrance, and


all those things I listen to and which I try to incorporate.

Q: Do you manage to balance your books?

Q: What is poptrance?

A: As of lately yes, even though I will never recoup the first few thousand euros I have invested to begin with. Also, this will be the first year ever since I started Presto!? that I won’t be spending the summer working in a warehouse in Cesena loading and unloading 25kg sacs of seeds just to keep the label afloat. I do put in a lot of time and effort into everything I do and any money I make out of Presto!? goes directly back into the label. I am now hoping to get someone to take care of the press kits and stuff like that, which takes an awful amount of time. I believe Presto!? has a lower profile than labels such as Pan, for instance, just by virtue of the fact that there is only me taking care of the promo side of things. Having said that, there are advantages from being an “underground” label. Just to give you an example, a big distribution company such as Boomkat takes also charge of printing albums, which means that the label has no say anymore on the kind of paper or material it would like to use.

A: Melodic rave music. Q: Each release has a specific and different format, how do you go about it? A: There are so many different formats nowadays and people who buy music accepts them all. It is therefore good to find the right format for each release. I already have in mind a specific format when I approach a musician. Q: Do you always ask for original material? A: Yes, generally speaking. Q: Do artists then tend to give you material they think you will like and in line with other Presto!? releases? A: Good question. I often approach artists with a view of taking the style of Presto!? in a new direction, hoping for a shift of some kind. What I sometimes get instead, is something that fits in perfectly with other previous Presto!? releases, even too perfectly, I would say. I don’t necessarily always want more of the same. I am now working on a triple box set of tapes by young American musicians all working with analog synthesisers. It will be a departure from the Florian Hecker album I have put out recently, which, by the way, has been my biggest selling release so far. Q: Carsten Höller also appears on that double vinyl release. How did the collaboration between Hecker and Höller come about? A: It was Florian’s idea. It was also one of the cases where I didn’t have to suggest a specific idea for a project. I am such a huge Florian Hecker fan that I would’ve been happy with anything he would’ve come up. The outcome was a double 10″ vinyl. It has been financially onerous, but it has been totally worth it. Q: Do you also do digital downloads? A: I have done so once a physical release was sold out. Also the tapes come with a digital release code. I still haven’t done the same for vinyl. I need to think about it, though, as it is a very time consuming process to set up.


Q: Where do you print your vinyl? A: I print all my vinyl in Germany. The one time I used an Italian printer, it was the one and only time I experienced some kind of problems. I may be forking out more money by doing so, but I believe that those who buy vinyl deserve a good quality product, which is what I get from Germany. Q: Many also print their albums in the Czech Republic or in Poland. A: Yes, but sometimes, when one tries to cut corners, one ends up with vinyl so flimsy that it feels like a piadina [traditional Italian flat unleavened bread from Emilia Romagna] and since I come from the land of piadine, I aspire to something better. Q: What about the mastering, who do you go to? A: It depends. Lawrence English, for instance, did his own mastering. Many of the albums, though, have been mastered by Rashad Becker. It is often the artists who ask for a specific person and many, like Florian Hecker, have specifically asked for Rashad. My own album Dunno was mastered instead by Marcus Schmickler, who has also released on Presto!?. I also often go to Giuseppe

Ielasi. It all depends on the specific release and the type of sound we are dealing with. Q: Have you ever gone to Taylor Dupree? A: I have many of 12k’s releases and if I were to release a very delicate droney album I would certainly go to him. So far, the occasion hasn’t arisen. Q: What about the design of CDs and vinyl, I know you also design all the album covers yourself, how flexible are you in meeting the demands of the different artists you work with? A: There always has to be a compromise. That is the beauty of working with musicians. Ultimately, both the artist and I have to love 100 % any given cover. The only exception so far, has been with Florian Hecker, who is very determined. It was his choice to have Tina Frank do the layout, and I immediately went along with it as I thoroughly respect Tina’s work. Once she sent me the design, we agreed on just a few changes. Having said that I never really give in as any release has to fit in with the label’s aesthetic. Presto!? is not like Vitamin where they only change the catalogue’s number. I want to be coherent with my editorial line, but I wouldn’t like to limit myself to one single type of design. It’s interesting, ’cause the biggest email exchanges with artists relate to album covers. Also, I have to admit that before I set up Presto!? I had no previous experience in terms of graphic design, I had to learn from scratch all the different programmes, like Photoshop and Illustrator, just as I’d done previously with the computer music programmes. It has been a steep learning curve. Every mistake costs money, so when I send something to the printers, I have to make sure I got it right. Florian Hecker’s release, for instance, hasn’t been cheap as it is on double 10″ vinyl. At the end of the day, one has to come to some compromise on some level, mainly in the choice of colours and printed matter. Q: What is the deal with the artists? A: Up until Florian Hecker’s release, artists got 15% of the physical copies of the album, but I am hoping with my next releases to be able to pay a small advance to the artists. Q: It just occurred to me I forgot to ask you why is the label called Presto!?

A: Just because I liked the way the graphic design of Presto!? looked. It doesn’t have any particular meaning, even if it certainly comes from notations on classical music scores, like “adagio”, “fortissimo” and “presto”. Q: What is your relationship to classical music? A: I have studied it for a while, even though I subsequently put it to one side until recently when I was asked by the National Symphony Orchestra to revisit Brahms’ Tragic Overture at the Auditorium Rai in Turin.

because it brings out the texture of a piece. Sure, one can listen to music at home on headphones, but the optimal situation is during a live performance when the sound equipment corresponds to the artist’s specs. Also, there is always about 15% of improvisation on any given set, I do. I may be just applying algorithms, but I also respond to the environment and the specific venue I am playing. Q: What are Presto!?’s next releases going to be?

Q: Did you get stage fright?

A: The Detroit techno legend DJ Stingray just confirmed an Ep on Presto!?, A: I was shitting myself. It has been an I’m very proud of this, he is great. Then incredible but challenging experience, as a triple box tape with Outer Space (John I didn’t want to use samples. One of the Elliott, Emeralds), Elon Katz, Jeremiah reasons being that if one uses samples Fisher, Alex Barnett, Positive Shadow to reinterpret Brahms, one only gives a and Sam Goldberg and the “Wall Noise” rendition of one specific interpretation godfather The Rita on a 7″. of Brahms. Instead I studied 10 different interpretations of it and read as much I will soon be releasing an album by Atabout it as I could in order to create an tila Faravelli and Nicola Martini. It is an electronic version that would reflect the incredible piece of work, which has been spirit of the original work. In the end it mastered to perfection by Giuseppe went well. It is only a 15 minute piece, Ielasi. It’s been ready for a while, and I but I would like to release it one day. I am sure Attila will be cursing me by now. like the idea of releasing my own albums I perfectly understand his point of view on different labels, the only problem is as a musician myself I know how keen that, even though I leave other artists artists are to see their work released very little room for manoeuvre when it promptly. At the same time, though, I comes to releasing stuff on Presto!?, in have also to deal with everything that terms of the artwork, I still like to retain having a label entails. It is always prefercontrol when it comes to my own alable, for example to send two or three bums. I have already tested the waters different releases to distributors, with with Blae, though, and that shouldn’t be the strongest one helping to shift copies a problem. of the lower profile ones. Attila Faravelli and Nicola Martini’s album will be a vinyl Q: How do you approach a live set? release with a booklet containing photographs of objects and materials they A: I have my laptop and when possible have used during the making of the LP. lasers, but no visuals. I don’t like the idea of projections. I could project my Q: What is your take on loops? own photographs and influences, but I would have to combine all the different A: One could probably tell by listening to elements in the way I did with the cover my albums that I am not a “loop-ist” so for Dunno. Generally speaking, while to speak. Also, there aren’t many loops there are exciting exceptions, I must say to be heard on any of the other albums I do not find sets with visuals particularly released on Presto!? either. Even Flointeresting. I can even experience a gig rian Hecker’s album, which may be with my back to the musician! perceived as a loop based work, in reality, it isn’t as there is always some shift Q: A man and his laptop… why would within the sound, albeit minimal; there is one have to go and see you live, rather always a slight panning as Hecker works than just play your albums at home? a lot on psychoacoustics. A: Because in a live situation one experiences optimal sound quality and conditions. The sound level is also important

tronic music, which is all based on loops. Q: You have moved to Milan from Cesena, do you feel any particular connection to either city? A: Presto!? was born in my bedroom at my parents place in Cesena. The only person I knew there was Enrico Malatesta, whom I grew up with. In Milan I met Simone Trabucchi from Hundebiss, with whom I shared a flat, Fabio Carboni from Die Schachtel, whom I always go to to discuss music, and others like Attila Faravelli and Giuseppe Ielasi. They are my physical points of reference, but I don’t consider my territory to be either Cesena or Milan but the Internet. Q: Which place inspires you the most in Milan? A: The place that has influenced me the most on an emotional level is an ex paint factory in Lambrate where I lived between 2009 and 2011 together with Simone Trabucchi and a bunch of other guys. Before it was demolished, its owner allowed us to live there rent free. We did an amazing job converting all the offices into rooms to the point where architecture magazines would come and photograph the space. Also, all the artists from Hundebiss’ roster would play there. It was a glorious place and that is where I met Giuseppe Ielasi, amongst others. Alas, it has now been demolished. Q: If you had to pick a name within the Italian electro acoustic scene, who would you pick? A: I’ll go 100% acoustic. Enrico Malatesta, he is an amazing musician. - Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio

Having said that, I am not against loops as such, and, as a matter of fact, I am currently listening to a lot of clubby elec-


NAPLES – BARBARA DE DOMINICIS Posted On: March 9, 2012

Faraway Close… Over the past months, Julia Kent, Barbara De Dominicis and Davide Lonardi have been making a musical/visual/improvisatory record as Parallel 41, the imaginary parallel that ties Naples and New York on the same latitude line…. Q: Hi Barbara, as a way of introduction, could you tell me what your musical background is? A: Music was always very present in my household. My father wanted to be a jazz pianist and listened to a lot of classic jazz, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans in particular. My mother on the other hand favoured American folk/rock music from the 60s and 70s. I also had an older sister who was into British punk and new wave and an aunt who lived with us who only listened to regional Italian popular music and fado. As a teenager, I studied classical piano for about 3-4 years. I then abandoned music for a number of years and studied Philosophy, which I was also later moved away from, as I had a tendency to do at the time with several things in my life. In my early twenties I was playing in a number of cover bands. I then spent some time in Berlin where I experimented performing something in between literature and music. In 2007 I was back in Naples collaborating with Mirko Signorile, Marco Messina and Davide Lonardi in Poe_Si. However, the first album I released on a proper label was Cabaret Noir (2004) where I played with Pasquale Bardaro, an amazing vibraphonist. Over the years, I also got more and more into experimenting with my voice and took a few workshops with Meredith Monk and Shelly Hirsch and even studied (for about a year or so) the Bel-Canto Technique. Then, when technology became more affordable, I got myself a laptop and started collecting field recordings, many of which were incorporated into Anti-Gone, the first and only album I recorded under my own name. Most sounds were heavily processed in that album, and everything was


linked to Greek mythology. Water, for instance, represented Calypso whereas volcanic sounds recalled Medea. Q: Let’s talk about Parallel 41, a project that connects Naples to New York. How did it come about? A: The whole project developed though different stages and started around 2004-2005 in New York with a series of field recordings. At the time I recorded hours and hours of sounds, a bit like someone just starting out as a photographer tends to snap away. At first, I even went around holding my laptop open on the palm of one hand and holding a microphone with the other… Q: That must have been very practical… A: Absolutely and also very discreet… it was ideal, really… Anyhow, at the same time I was collecting sounds from Naples, which is my hometown and I was drawn by the similarities. The next phase of Parallel 41 involved my meeting with Julia. We didn’t meet specifically for this project, which we only devised at a much later stage. We met online. I’d heard her still unreleased music, which was to become her fist solo album Delay, and fell in love with the unconventional imagination, her round sound and gorgeous compositions. We initiated a rather casual email correspondence and we started thinking about the possibility of playing together. We finally met up back in 2008 at the

Photography courtesy of Davide Lonardi

airport in Venice. We drove straight down all the way from Venice to Catania for a gig organised by Andrea Pennisi. We’d agreed to play together at the Nando Greco Theatre in the historical centre of the city, which at the time faced closure and had been occupied by a group of actors and performers just like the Teatro Valle in Rome is today. They were holding events to raise finances and I am happy to say that they eventually succeeded in keeping the theatre open. We got there a day late though and had to postpone the gig, as the weather was crazy. It was March but we got caught up in a snowstorm in Campania and had to spend the night there. Q: Considering you didn’t know each other and you were playing together for the first time, did you give yourselves any sort of guidelines? A: Not really, no. We hadn’t even rehearsed or anything, and in a way it was a crazy idea. We studied each other, and we listened to each other, tiptoeing around one another with timidity. We basically got to know each other by performing together. Two days later, we were back on the other side of the peninsula for a concert in Padova. Travelling

the whole length of the country and back certainly was a bonding experience, it created a sort of complicity between us. Q: At what point did you decide that these live sets were going to become an album? A: After we had a week-long residency at the Lanificio 25 in Naples; a converted wool factory where, during the Second World War they produced uniforms for the soldiers and the military personnel. We had been playing together for a year by then so the impro sessions were more thought-through as we both knew the directions the other one would take. Julia had already been to Naples. She knew the city quite well, beyond the tourist clichés. It is almost as if Naples was built on different levels because of its morphological conformation and its surrounding hills. The historical centre and the area around the main train station where the Lanificio 25 is located, the Porta Capuana/ Duchesca District is actually on the lowest level of the city and you feel a certain sense of gravity weighing down on you, at least that is how I have always experienced it. The lower one goes in exploring the city, the more one feels the weight of the sky and a certain heaviness. My father was born there in Porta Capuana/ Duchesca District, which is a lively neighborhood, with an infamous reputation and a rich mix of people. It was very stimulating but also

hard work to be playing there, as the Lanificio is next to a big street market, the Mercato di Porta Capuana, where one can find anything from fishmongers to haute couture and counterfeit goods, and smuggled cigarettes. Also, it is here that the Jewish community used to hide during the war. So, if on one side we had to battle with the noise from the street traders, on the other side of the building we had to contend with a big church. That meant that we had a really generous sonic environment we could draw from, alas it was a bit too much at times, and there were several recorded sessions, which we just couldn’t use. The weird thing is that the material we gathered in Naples was maybe more sinister, both in terms of feelings and sounds. It was very visceral, melancholic. The most painful in a way, even though I don’t like using this term. It lacked a certain lightness maybe because of that sense of heaviness I was telling you about earlier. Also, the Mediterranean atmosphere produced an unexpected shift in Julia’s way of playing and in her approach to the cello that I had never heard before. Whereas she tends to have a more rounded and organic sound, what she produced in Naples was more fragmented and disconnected. It moved me deeply and I insisted on using excerpts from that session. The track we selected is the most melancholic and still the most Mediterranean of all, albeit the most rough around the edges. Q: You have also recorded in different

parts of Italy, from the Piedmont region, to Bolzano and Venice. How did you fit these within the same latitude of Parallel 41? A: The theme of the album, is a bit forced, but we wanted to create a link between Naples and New York where we did our first and last recorded sessions. However there were also economical constraints to contend with. As the album was self produced we needed to keep costs down, so we would take the opportunity to meet up wherever Julia was touring in Italy or we would do gigs ourselves in different parts of the country and therefore we would combine those with our own recordings. Fundamentally, though, there are sonic similarities between Naples and New York in that they are both cities that live on many different aural levels. For instance, I find it hard to distinguish a recording from New York’s Chinatown from that of the market of Gianturco in Naples. We were scouting for places with a very strong sonic appeal and were always guided by friends and fellow musicians, such as the incredible cello player and sound guy Andrea Serrapiglio who plays with Carla Buzolich and Andrea Ics Ferraris amongst others. Andrea directed us to a farmhouse in Valdapozzo, Piedmont, where we found a thriving community of artisans and people making cheese, honey and other produce. One of them, Nacche, hails from Calabria and has a band called Bandarotta Fraudolenta (Fraudulent Bandrupty) together with Andrea’s brother Luca Serrapiglio.


There was even a recording studio with topnotch acoustics. It was the most perfect session in terms of sound and one of the rare times where we played indoors. We also went to Venice to record in Forte Marghera, and I’d like to thank Tom, Adeline, Matteo and the Marco Polo System, for this. Forte Marghera is an old fortress built by the Austrians to defend the city, which was used to store arms and ammunitions during the First World War. The only access from Venice is by sea. It is also known as Parco di San Giuliano and the most direct way to reach it is from Marghera, an industrial suburb of Venice. They have been trying to convert the fortress into artist studios for a number of years, even though I was recently told there are now plans to make it into a parking lot! It’s surreal, but that’s just the kind of thing that happens in Italy time and time again. In Trentino Alto Adige, Vanja Zappetti a stoic historian of the region took us to an old abandoned fort. Once we got there we found out they had recently started restoring it so we ended up recording in an abandoned tunnel on the outskirts of Bolzano where they held illegal raves. It was a beautiful location next to the mountains with a creek running nearby and we made ample use of the natural sounds, recording and processing them live. It also has to be said that it was quite a trek to get there, same as with most of these locations, and much to Julia’s and Davide’s delight, who were the ones who had to log around a rather heavy load of equipment. Also, both in Venice and in Bolzano we ended up recording in the middle of Winter. In Forte Marghera, especially, we had to endure very cold temperatures, it got to below 5-6 degrees and Julia’s hand would’ve literally frozen on the cello had it not been for the generosity of a man who lived there and who gave us his own stove. Q: Were you still playing improvised sets? A: Yes, even though things got more structured along the way, everything was still improvised except for most of the texts. We’d be constantly trying to write stuff based on the impression of the place we were in and would re-read these texts an hour before playing even though we didn’t use them as a narrative theme. The writing may recall at times mourning blues music. Naples is


obviously very much present with texts that delve into the belly of the city, and highlight the beauty and decay of the place, the contrasts that animate it, with a sense of belonging but also one of alienation. There is one exception. We were asked to write a text for Drome magazine, which we pieced together from our early email exchange when we still didn’t know each other. We then incorporated this text in English, Italian and French into the music. Q: From what you say, I get the impression you hadn’t necessarily planned on releasing the material. A: Albums are seldom necessary and, personally, I always find it hard to justify releasing records. There’s a surplus of albums being released and even this one could be seen as yet another unnecessary record. In the case of Parallel 41 it all came about by chance. I was in touch with Eric from Baskuru because I had bought a few albums from him and once he asked me what I was working on. We sent him a few files and he showed an interest in releasing the material. Since we already had all these recordings and Davide had been filming and documenting all the sessions, Julia and I talked about it and selected what is about 20% of the recorded material for the album. Also, Eric has done a sterling job in terms of production and I am really pleased with Lawrence English’s mastering. In addition I would like to thank Marco Stangherlin of wakeupandream booking for his patience and expertise. Q: So, you’re happy with the outcome? Personally, I generally find it hard to listen back to any material that is improvised as I feel it should be experienced live. It is an unresolved issue for me. What I am most happy with is the way we all interacted with each other. It was such a privilege for me to play with Julia and get to know her better over time. At first we called the project Intermittenze (Intermittence) as we saw each other sporadically, but I feel that Julia and I got to know

each other in the space of these four years. We have travelled together and spent time in each other’s hometowns. I must’ve been seemed quite different to her in Naples just as she seemed different to me in New York. It has been really special on a human level. Generally speaking, people have been very generous and supportive throughout. Also, there was the silent and gentle presence of the camera (Davide) always being very discreet, which became a part of us. I was surprised in a way, as I don’t believe that everything has to be necessarily filmed and recorded, but the images created a thematic link especially as Davide included some old archival material from the early XX century. And of course we felt lucky to have been to all these wonderful locations and to have met such special individuals. Q: Have you planned a follow-up? A: It’d be a dream come true to stretch Parallel 41 to Istanbul, Tblisi, Viseu, Madrid, Baku, Peking, and Honshu – all these locations are almost at the same latitude, on the 41° parallel line. Q: Regarding Naples, is there anything you feel you haven’t been able to capture or render? A: Hmm… being the multilayered, complex and porous place that Naples is – paraphrasing Benjamin’s definition of the ‹Porous City›, as a place where ‹space and opportunity› always come hand in hand – it is so very hard to say… Though possibly my only regret is the absence of the sea. Naples comes across as more dark than luminous. We actually thought of recording our first session at the Villa della Gaiola, a haunted villa on a small island off the coast of Posillipo, only reachable by boat. It is a place with a complicated history chronicled by the Neapolitan writer

Live @ Teatro Lenz_Parma@SELF MADE WORLDS_with Aude Francois

Maurizio Braucci. (Two of its owners committed suicide in the 20s. In 1968 it was acquired by Paul Getty and shortly after his nephew was kidnapped. Ten years later the new owner was arrested for financial wrongdoings, etc.) Alas, nothing came of it. Q: Finally, is there anyone you would recommend within the Italian electroacoustic scene?

label Ripples; Gianmaria Aprile who runs the unique Fratto9 Under the Sky. Federica Maglioni with her work Butterfly’s Flight and Salvatore Borelli who records under the moniker (etre) – I was just listening to his album Inferno From My Occult Diary out on Porter Records, and was really impressed. - Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio

Besides using her voice, Barbara De A: There are so many that I am bound Dominicis likes to record natural or urto forget a few. Andrea Serrapiglio and ban sounds and merge them in her muhis several projects basculating between sic. Projects include Cabaret Noir [with acoustic and electronics; Andrea Ics Fer- Pasquale Bardaro], The Body_exposed; raris who plays with Andrea Serrapiglio Poe-Si [with Mirko Signorile and Marco Messina]; Kuul-Ma, an audio-visual within Airchamber 3 and has also produced an album with Matteo Uggeri for project in collaboration with the media Hibernate and one with Maurizio Bianchi artist Davide Lonardi. In 2008 she wrote for Farmacia 901 (such an interesting and produced the songs of her album Anti-Gone based on a narrative theme young Italian label run by sound artist Fabio Perletta); Ennio Mazzon with his of Greek mythology. Her growing inter-

est in Sound Portraiture led her to work on A Tale of Two Cities, an audio collage documenting Naples and New York that became a radiowork produced for Radio Papesse vs Radia Network: Crossings. At the end of 2010, with a dozen of other sound and visual/photo artists, she gave life to Exquisite What [founder/curator] a collective web project based on the surrealist’s Exquisite Corpse practice. She is currently working on a new solo album under the moniker Apres Soon: an assemblage of drones and field recordings, electronics, voices and string instruments.

Live @ JARDINS EFEMEROS_VISEU_ Portugal_CRÓNICAS AURAIS DE VISEU Photo by Comunicattive@ Giardini Lorusso_Bo_ANTI-GONE live Photo by Lucio Carbonelli @ Riot Studio _Live Parallel 41 DAVIDE LONARDI’S PHOTOGRAPHS



Photography courtesy of Davide Lonardi

Posted On: March 27, 2012

Having interviewed Barbara De Dominicis about the release of Parallel 41 out on Baskaru, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass by to hear what Julia Kent and Davide Lonardi had to say about the city of Naples and their experience whilst recording and filming the album… Q: Hi Julia, and thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Over the years you have played with a number of different people in different situations. How did you approach the sessions with Barbara considering you’d only met online before you started playing together? A: Having heard and loved Barbara’s music, I was excited to work with her. As you know, having met her, she has a very special energy and a very personal and at the same time wide-ranging aesthetic. It has been a joy to play with her and enter her world. In general, I am always interested to work in a situation where the music is completely improvised; I have been lucky to have had the chance to participate in a few groups where that is the case. But to create improvised music in a duo is much more intimate, much more of a tête-à-tête conversation! My musical career often seems to consist of getting on a plane and launching myself into an unknown situation. In the case of working with Barbara, it turned into a beautiful adventure. Q: Parallel 41 developed over the course of a few years. How do you feel your collaboration evolved throughout the different sessions? What did you discover about Barbara in musical terms and how would you say your playing changed, if at all, from the start of the project to its completion? A: I think, over the course of the time we have worked together, we have become more familiar with each other’s musical styles and choices and it has become easier to predict where the other person will go. For me, that’s both good and bad, because of course you lose the element of discovery and surprise that comes with playing together for the first time, but you also gain an ease in communicating and responding to each


other. Barbara always astounds me with the power and beauty of her voice and with the atmospheres she creates with electronics and field recordings. She is a really amazing musician. Q: Barbara told me you already knew Naples quite well beyond the picture postcard image of the city. What are your impressions of the place? What are the things that characterize Naples best for you? Is there a particular place / sound / location / person that has shaped your image of the city? Considering you have toured Italy quite extensively, how do you think Naples fits in with the sonic and human landscape of the country? A: I would hesitate to say that I know Naples well! I do feel at home there, because it is very much like New York in being a gigantic, chaotic, and fertile urban conglomeration. It is such a complicated city, though, and really has such a distinct culture and language and mentality. First of all, I think, without understanding the language of Naples, it’s impossible to really come to grips with the city, and I am very far from comprehending! Definitely I could say that the sounds and the visual aspect of Naples are unique in terms of my experience of Italian cities. I always think of Naples as being complex and many-layered in every way: aurally, culturally, and, especially, visually: you see there these swaths of ephemeral human detritus on top of the traces of the millenia of history that have created the city. The place that best symbolizes Naples, for me, is a space Barbara and I played a show in, not too long ago, called Riot Studio: it is in a beautiful and ancient palazzo, was a notorious and well-loved punk club in the ’70s, and now is a studio and art space, which hosts a variety of performances and events. One could sense all those layers: the ancient, the recent, and the totally present-day. The people who have revitalized it and are programming there have such respect and passion for its history, and having a consciousness of that history when you’re participating in an event there creates a really special ambience.

The track you selected from the Neapolitan session of Parallel 41 is probably the most rough around the edges in a way. What has your experience been of recording at the Lanificio 25 in the Porta Capuana Duchesca district? I think Barbara actually selected most of the tracks for the record, and probably especially that one, since she is so in tune with the city. I think the roughness, at least on my part, was more a function of technological issues than the influence of the city, but, who knows, maybe the city had an impact even on that! I feel as though in Naples you can’t necessarily impose your conception of how things should be; you have to work with how things actually are. The Lanificio is an amazing space: very beautiful (as everything seems to be in Naples), but still home to artisans as well as artists, so very real-feeling, with its own rhythms, and its own symphony of interesting sounds, created by the people living and working there, and by the immediate urban surroundings. It was inspiring to play there. So often, when you’re recording, it’s a sort of sterile environment, quite isolated. To be able to sense the atmosphere of the city during the recording, in terms of being in this very particular place, was a very special experience. Q: The sea is virtually absent from the album even though originally you were supposed to record a session at the Villa della Gaiola, off the coast of Posillipo and yet there’s a striking Mediterranean feel in the music you’ve produced in Naples. How influenced were you by the southern atmosphere of the place? A: Of course it’s impossible not to be influenced by the atmosphere of Naples, and part of the atmosphere of Naples is of course the sea. It is such

Photo by Fionn-Reilly

an important part of life there, and something that makes the city feel so open. I know Barbara talked about the heaviness she feels in certain parts of Naples, and I definitely have felt that too. I always think the light in Naples is so interesting, because you often have this sort of shadowy, dark aspect where the buildings are crammed together…but as soon as you reach the sea, the whole atmosphere changes and there is this enormous sense of luminosity and freedom. A city built on the sea is always looking outwards, I think. I was talking recently to someone in Italy about accents, and he was saying that the accent of the mountains is so different from the accent of a city that is close to the sea, like Naples. The mountain accent is heavy, weighted, almost closed, and the other is lighter and more open. (Not to denigrate the mountains, of course, which have their own atmosphere and strength!)

Q: The sessions in the North of Italy, the ones in Forte Marghera, Venice, Piedmont and Bolzano were recorded during the winter months. Considering field recordings were included and processed within the improv sessions, how do you feel the different latitude and the seasons influenced the music? A: Each session and environment really had an enormous influence on the music. I remember the temperature and the light and the sounds and sensations of each place we recorded. Each was magical in its own way, and left its own traces on the sounds we were making. And of course, sometimes it was hard: in terms of brutally cold temperature, in terms of reaching these far-flung places, and, especially, for me, in terms of trying to take a large and sensitive and fragile instrument into these sometimes difficult environments. But the effort

Photography courtesy of Davide Lonardi

also enriched and informed the music, I think. Also, I have to say that the whole process involved so many enormously kind and generous people. Barbara has already enumerated them, but I really have to thank them so much as well, from the wonderful engineers/musicians who jumped in to help us and created studios basically from scratch under not-so-easy conditions, and then were so patient throughout the recording process, like Andrea Serrapiglio and Marco Messina and Andrea Polato, and also the people who enabled us to record in all these amazing spaces, people who were excited about the concept of the record, and about introducing us to the special places of their particular region. Q: Where was the New York session recorded and is there anything you feel you haven’t been able to capture or to render about the city? A: Oh, New York is very much like Naples in that it’s really impossible to capture, I think! You can grasp a tiny facet of it, but to come to grips with this whole enormous, complex city is really a lifetime’s work. Especially sonically, because, for me, the sounds of New York are almost impossible to encapsu-

late. I do think that Davide’s visual documentary does capture the city in a really beautiful way, and his film finds some very interesting parallels between it and Naples. For me, his images of New York are very poetic, conveying both the vastness of the city and also some really fascinating details that, as an inhabitant of New York, you might miss. Q: There’s a strong visual element in Parallel 41. How did you work around the presence of the camera? A: Well, Davide is really part of the whole conversation that we, as Parallelo 41, are having. The visual element that he creates at the shows, and the visual documentation that he made of the recording process–that is, the DVD component of the release–is really integral to the project. It adds a whole dimension. He is an amazing artist: he has such a great eye and such a huge talent, and he makes everything seem effortless. Q: In terms of the finished product, what are you most happy with and what do you feel is missing, if anything? Is there going to be a follow up? A: Oh, you know, with a record, the process is often the most interesting thing, at least for me. I always am so absorbed when creating music, and then I can barely stand to look at or listen to the finished product. Perhaps because it is…a product? With this project, especially, because of the improvisatory nature of the music, it seems slightly strange to fix it in time. I often feel, when I’m playing with Barbara, that the show is a journey, both for us and the audience, one where I never know quite where we are all going to end up. And it’s difficult to convey that in a recording. But, in a way, this recording conveys that sense of traveling, of effort, of discovering, of inhabiting different spaces, so in a way it is the


Photo by Pedro Anguila

perfect document. Q: You are playing a few dates this Spring in Europe. What material will you be touring? Have you recorded a new album or any new solo tracks? Are there any new collaborations in the pipeline? A: I’m working right now on a new solo record that I hope to have out by the end of the year. So I’m incorporating some new material live and I feel as though I’m exploring some new musical paths. In terms of solo shows: in April I’m playing in New York at Issue Project Room as part of the Unsound festival, which I’m excited about…it’s such a great festival! And over the next few months I have quite a lot more European touring planned: in Italy, France, Scandinavia, and possibly Germany. At the end of March, I’m doing a small Spanish tour with Santiago Latorre. He’s from Spain, lives in London, and makes incredibly beautiful music with electronics and saxophone and voice and other instruments. His music is just amazingly atmospheric and organic and gorgeous. We’ll be doing our solo sets, and then playing a bit together, which will be a lot of fun, I think. In terms of other collaborations: I have started talking about a collaborative project–a sort of song cycle–with a British poet, John Siddique. His work is powerful and beautiful, and it’s been really inspiring to create music within the context of his words. I just played with him in Bristol as part of a BBC show. I have a few other collaborative projects I’m talking about that will probably bear fruit later on. And


of course we are doing some Parallelo 41 shows in the spring to celebrate the release of the record. Q: Finally, the Italian film-maker Paolo Sorrentino has selected one of your tracks from Delay for the soundtrack of This Must Be the Place. Were you familiar with his work beforehand and what did you make of the film? A: Yes, I am a huge fan of Paolo Sorrentino’s work. I was thrilled that he included a piece of mine in “This Must Be the Place.” That came about because Teho Teardo, a wonderful composer who has written scores for several of Sorrentino’s movies, and many other movies as well, in addition to making any number of astonishing and beautiful records, passed my cd on to Sorrentino out of the great kindness of his heart. I haven’t actually seen the movie yet, but it’s coming out soon in America and I can’t wait: It looks brilliant!

has been heard in film soundtracks and as accompaniment to theatre and dance performances, and she has toured throughout Europe and North America, including appearances at Primavera Sound in Barcelona, the Donau Festival in Austria, and the MIMI Festival in Marseille.

- Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio Canadian-born, New York Citybased Julia Kent uses multitracked cello, found sounds, and electronics to create solo music that has been described as “cinematic and impressionistic,” “organic yet powerful,” and “deeply personal and committed.” She has released two full-length solo records: Delay (2007) and Green and Grey (2011), as well as an EP, Last Day in July (2010). Her music

Photography courtesy of Davide Lonardi

Davide Lonardi on Naples…

Naples is an extraordinary city. It is impossible to love it or hate it, one loves and hates Naples, its vitality, its ancient and secret beauty, so apparent is the contrast with the carelessness and indifference to things that reigns supreme on the surface; it is like a rediscovery, a special exhibit for the sensitivity of those who can see beyond the appearances and can hear the deep breath of life that pulsates incessantly in the membrane of the stones. In Naples, time flows at different speeds and is witness to interactions and negotiations between people that is so different from those of other Italian cities. This often leads to a false understanding of the state of things and to a rejection of anything that is perceived as different because of the heightened sense of vitality and energy that one feels over there and to which one cannot but be shaken by.

aspect of Naples as if the city itself would shy away from revealing all its beauty. In the film I produced for Parallel 41, I have rendered only a few “tics” and habits linked to the food, and the daily rituals such as the coffee breaks, and the obligatory granita from the market. Also present are a few snapshots from everyday life, such as the football games in Piazza Plebiscito, and the scooters that slowly climb uphill through the narrow streets of the old neighbourhoods (which is a daily occurrence in a city like Naples overrun by mopeds), because I feel that they represent the ticking of time, the breath of life that when one stops to look at the city makes one fall in love with Naples.

My relationship with Naples as a filmmaker does not end with Barbara and Julia’s project. In Naples I set my first film and from Naples I so often draw inspiration even when I am writing.

The Lanificio, on the other hand, located deep in the belly of the Naples, in the middle of a complex district with its alleyways that lead to the courts and tribunals of the city and with the hubbub of the nearby train station, feels like a place separated from this context, a wholly independent microcosm with a life of its own.

The perspective on the city, when one attempts to describe it, to film it or simply to view it, is always unique. Naples, even in its most panoramic districts like San Martino or Posillipo, only ever offers itself partially, it never completely reveals itself and only concedes viewpoints on the gulf that plunge the density of the city in the background. I have always found this to be an extraordinary

I didn’t even attempt to describe it in depth as a whole lifetime wouldn’t be enough to capture it, nor could 100 films unveil all its composite relationships with history, the territory, the different cultures from Europe, the people’s attitude, the ways of saying, and the quickness of language key to survival, and maybe it is best this way so that a certain indefinable halo of transparency and mystery

will always hang over its innermost nature that, to me, constitutes its most authentic charm. Filmmaker Davide Lonardi has worked on different sides of visuality: from graphic artwork/ design and videoclip to more abstract forms of video art and photography. As a filmmaker, he has produced four documentaries focused on Italian contemporary artists: Claudio Ambrosini (Big Bang Music, 2004), Fabrizio Plessi (the opera to video-2004), Rabarama (2005), Luigi Del Sal (The Route Fantastic, 2005). In 2009, he released the music video for the single Disremembering Echo (by Barbara De Dominicis/Anti-Gone). He recently made his first, self-produced medium-length film Moto Apparente and developed various projects related to abandoned spaces.


NAPLES – DARIO SANFILIPPO Posted On: February 18, 2013

Dario Sanfilippo is a freelance composer, performer and sound artist whose research is focused on the study and exploration of complex dynamical feedback systems for non-conventional sound synthesis, improvised humanmachine interaction performances, and autonomous sound installations… Q: Your work is articulated through different projects: your solo project LIES, and the collaborations |. with Andrea Valle, IVVN, with Gandolfo Pagano, Antonio Secchio and Andrea Valle and Enterico with Gandolfo Pagano and Tim Hodgkins. Could you briefly introduce all these projects for me starting with LIES which you describe as a “human-machine interaction improvised performance implementing complex dynamical systems based on analogue and digital audio feedback networks.” You state that, “No randomness or automated processes are implemented in the system, yet dynamical and unpredictable behaviours will be exhibited, where sound affects itself and autonomously evolves through time.” Could you elaborate for me on the way you interact with the system? A: LIES is the acronym for Live Interaction in Emergent Sound and the project (in its embryonal state) dates back to 2006, when I started experimenting with digital feedback. It was indeed surprising for me to see how there were few components in a feedback loop which could have very interesting and articulated sonic outcomes, possibly not related at all to what the digital processes used were designed for. These showed a capability of changing in an unpredictable way through time, even though no event scheduler or such like was involved. Somehow, these systems looked “alive”, and the digital processes turned from being about transformations into being about generators of radically new sonic events capable of shaping themselves. I thought that that was a domain to be investigated, so I focused my interest


heavily on feedback systems. Indeed, during the same period, I started experimenting with circuit-bending too, a practice which can be strictly feedbackrelated. One of the first times I had heard of Andrea Valle was at the Live!iXem Festival in Palermo in 2007, where he presented a nice live coding performance together with the visuals of Ursula Scherrer. Afterwards, we got to know each other through the internet, and we finally met in person at the Conservatory of Trapani, where I was doing my Bachelor in Electronic Music, as he taught a class in my course that year. We then got to know each other better by sharing our experiences, and thanks to a common interest in feedback, we had the idea of cross-coupling our machines, namely his Rumentarium and my digital feedback system, which resulted in the |. project. Andrea is now a good friend of mine, and our collaboration has extended beyond the performance/compositional side to writing papers for conferences and journals. IVVN comes from the AMP2 experience, in which Marco Pianges also took part, but, unfortunately, as he was living on

the other side of Sicily it wasn’t always possible for him to join us, which was a pity. Eventually, the AMP2 project came to an end, but we decided to keep going as a quartet as we were happy of the results from our live at AudioVisiva Festival in Milan, as well as from other recording sessions we had in Palermo. I met Gandolfo for the first time at the music meetings organised by Sciajno, which eventually led to AMP2, and he is probably the member of the group I’ve played with the most, both because of our friendship (I was often a guest at his house so we could easily play together) and because we enjoyed a lot our duo. Enterico Trio also comes from AMP2, namely from the recording session we did with Tim, which led to the album published on Bowindo. During the time of the recording sessions, both me and Tim were staying at Gandolfo’s house, so we had a chance to play as a trio. We were happy of that too, so me and Gandolfo decided to invite Tim (what a great person and musician!) in Palermo in 2011 for further recording sessions. We did a small tour in Italy towards the end of 2011, early 2012, and we’re almost finished with an album which is due to

tems can be capable of autonomously shifting from one behaviour to others, and when I try to drive them towards different states, behaviours which are new to me may also emerge. It is indeed about performing together with the machine.

be released soon.

tion. The general idea is that Andrea Valle’s system and yours are interconMy goal for the LIES performances nected, each one affecting the other. is that of creating a dialectics (talking Andrea’s computer will generate a through the other) between two interdecontrol signal for the computer-piloted pendent and autonomous entities, where electro-mechanical orchestra he opera non-hierarchical relationship is estabates, based on the analysis of your lished. Kind of playing as a duo. From a sound, and the sound of the orchestra technical point of view, the way I interact will in turn affect your system’s behavwith the machine is that of modifying its iour. Once again randomness is rejected internal variables through a MIDI surface in favour of unpredictability. How impormapped to the feedback coefficients and tant is it to you to find new directions in to the parameters of the DSP composound within a controlled environment? nents within the network. This way, I can dynamically change the topology of the A: It is rather important to me. Working feedback networks by closing/opening with non-controlled, unpredictable maloops, as well as change the relationship chines can be a fruitful source for findbetween the components by altering the ing new directions. I don’t mean that in processing they perform and how much the sense of having no choice at all. For a component influences the others and the implementation of my systems, for vice versa. example, I try to make them so that their behaviours are interesting, but I’m not Q: |. (Bar Dot) focuses on the explorainterested in controlling the inner activity tion of feedback systems in improvisaof such behaviours. Moreover, such sys-

The reason why I stress that I use no randomness in my systems is because it is possible to achieve unpredictability both through randomness and chaotic processes, and even if they might look similar, they’re quite different. Some systems, for example, implement processes which are unpredictable because they’re driven by random generators, although processes themselves are not inter-related and self-related, they have no memory of themselves: the previous output of one process does not affect the next one. Thus, randomness and processes operate over two different and separate levels. In chaotic systems, instead, what happens at any given moment depends on what happened before, and this inter-relation between processes is for me a feature with important sonic outcomes. Q: Enterico is Tim Hodgkinson on prepared table guitar, electronics, clarinets; Gandolfo Pagano on prepared guitar, electronics and yourself on laptop. “The idea for this project – you write – is to consider improvisation from a systemic point of view. Improvisation, a process where any action is mediated by listening, can also be understood as a mechanism to set up an implicit feedback loop between the performers. In such a configuration, every performer is influencing all other performers and is in turn influenced, recursively. Performers are thus strictly coupled and constantly interacting in a situation where effects are also causes, a circular causality that


like his work a lot. Q: How do you manage to work on so many different collaborations?

will lead to nonlinear developments and unpredictability. The result is a holistic whole, something which is different from the sum of its parts, a complex dynamical system with global emergent properties.” To demonstrate in practical terms your working method, could you maybe pick one particular moment in the live excerpt you have uploaded onto Soundcloud and talk me through it?

at the same time, it is hopeful as it can lead to a radical discontinuity in the otherwise continuous evolution of the species.” In a similar way, INNV works with no pre-planned structures, favouring improvisation. Indeed, as Andrea Valle explained to me, diversification in sound is very important to INNV. Will any of the hopeful monsters generate a new breed of sound?

A: Yes, I described the trio focusing on that idea, but I think it is actually something which applies to any improvisational approach. I wanted to underline the idea that a group of improvising musicians should be considered as a whole, and not just as a summation of the characteristics of each member. I like to think of improvisation as a functional mechanism to achieve the aforementioned interaction, and not as something which itself defines an aesthetics.

A: Each one of us has always been researching new sounds. Every time I’ve met the other members of the group, they had new devices or processes augmenting their sets with which they created sounds, either as instrument preparations, self-made instruments, or software implementations. Personally, I think I would hardly be able to work with found-sounds now, and my attempt is to implement systems which can potentially lead to new sonic and formal (two strictly inter-related aspects) results every time.

I think that any part or development in the Soundcloud track is representative of such an approach, as the track is a non-edited extract from one of our improvisation sessions. Q: Next one up is the INNV or the Institute for the Very Very Nervous, an electro-acoustic improvisation which had an earlier incarnation as AMP 2 and which also included Domenico Sciajno. AMP 2 released an album, Hopeful Monsters, part of the Musica Improvvisa boxset by Die Schachtel which took as the concept of the Hopeful Monster introduced by the biologist Richard Goldschmidt at its basis to indicate an individual of a species showing a relevant mutation in its genes. “This mutation makes the individual a ‘monster’ as it differs from all the other individuals of his species but,


Q: You’re also collaborating with SEC_ who’s from the Naples area. What can you tell me of this particular collaboration? A: The first time I met Mimmo was a few years ago in Avellino, when I played a duo with Gandolfo, but we didn’t really have a chance to talk. After I moved to Naples we started hanging out together and sharing ideas and music. Eventually we organized a concert where we played solo sets and as a duo. That’s how it all started. After that, we did some recording sessions and more recently we’ve been working on an album which is almost finished, and which could actually turn into two albums. Mimmo is now a good friend of mine and I’m very happy about this collaboration. I really

A: It is not that easy indeed. With Mimmo it is easier as we live in the same city, but most of the other people I’m working with are based in different cities, and some even abroad. We try and organize gigs in order to be able to physically meet up and eventually work on other recording sessions or projects. When I go back to Sicily I always try to stop by in Palermo to see Gandolfo, whereas with Andrea we can easily work online when it comes to writing and such like. Whenever the occasion arises, I can also travel to meet the other musicians I collaborate with, if we have something specific to work on. If, on the other hand, they happen to be in my area because of some other work they’re doing, that’s also a good occasion to meet up of course. Q: On a more general note, just to get an idea of your listening background, how influenced have you been by examples of feedback in both contemporary music, and I’m thinking specifically of Steve Reich, and pop and rock music with the likes of Robert Fripp and Sonic Youth? A: Not at all, to be honest. I have only recently started to listen to some Sonic Youth and Robert Fripp (I think Gandolfo played some for me), which I like, but I wasn’t listening to them when I started working with feedback. I’m quite sure I’ve listened to Pendulum Music a long time ago, but that wasn’t the trigger to get into feedback either. It all started while implementing patches: at some point I tried some processed feedback loops and, as I have already mentioned, I thought that that was something to be deeply investigated. I used to be heavily into the Breakcore scene, and when I was younger I listened to a lot of Sepultura, Pantera, Negazione, CCCP, Primus and Alice in Chains, and even some traditional or classical music. Although I’ve always been listening to non-conventional/experimental music from an early age. Q: I am particularly interested in finding out whether you have experimented on

feedback captured from specific natural environments both in and around Naples and Sicily. Anything you could tell me on that front? A: Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to do that yet, but I would be interested in doing so. I have some ideas but it’s still something in its very early stages. Q: You are originally from Agrigento, how did you end up in Naples? A: After I started working empirically with feedback, I eventually got interested in studying such systems from a theoretical point of view too. I then also looked for other artists involved in such a practice and I discovered the work by Agostino Di Scipio, which was extremely fascinating to me. During my Bachelor in Trapani I had already read several of his articles and was also in contact with him. I was about to finish my studies in Trapani and I knew he was going to teach in Naples, so I decided to do my Master’s Degree with him. I think he is an amazing theorist and I love his work, and I’m very happy about this choice. Q: As a non Neapolitan, what are the aspects of Naples you appreciate the most and what do you miss the most of Sicily? A: Naples and its people are nice, friendly and of a sunny disposition, and the food is good! Somehow I think that with Naples “what you see is what you get”, both for the good and the bad aspects of course, and that is a good

characteristic. The city itself is beautiful too, and going out for a walk is always a pleasure, and thanks to my friend Fabrizio Elvetico, another fine musician, I live in a lovely house in the center of Naples. Also, I have made good friends which are dear to me. As for Sicily, what I miss the most is surely my family and my old friends, but luckily I go back there a few times a year, certainly during the summer when I go to the seaside with them as well. Q: You will be performing at Perditempo Dante in Naples on the 3rd of March. What is the electro-acoustic / experimental / improv scene like in Naples as opposed to the one in Sicily? A: I will have a duo with Birgit Ulher, but the concert has been moved to Perditempo Majella, but it is still on the same date, though. I think that both in Naples and Sicily there are some great musicians. I’m not much up to date on what is going on in Sicily at present, but here in Naples, even given the financial constraints, there are still some very nice things going on, and also different musicians from abroad who play here, thanks mainly to the people involved in the Alter@ Festival, and venues such as Perditempo(s), Oblomova, Cellar Theory, Ferro3, and others.

A: Besides what I have already mentioned, at the moment I’m developing a few projects with Simone Pappalardo, another great guy and musician based in Rome. We’re going to play a duo in Rome on the 23rd of February, and we’re also working on a sound installation with a hybrid, feedback-based, digital and electro-magnetic system. As of my live projects, I’ve currently been working on my short-circuited devices, namely on how to have them interact, and I think it’s time for this project to come out of its embryonal state, so a LIES (bent) is soon supposed to see the light of day. Other than that, I’m trying to organize a small tour in May, I’m working on an article which should be published on the Interference Journal, and me and Andrea have practically finished revising a collaborative paper which is due to be published on Computer Music Journal next Summer. - Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio

Q: Finally, what are you currently working on?



Giuseppe Ielasi was born in 1974, and has lived near Milan since 1990. He started playing guitar in 1988, and has worked for many years within the field of ‘improvised music’. Between 1997 and 2006 he has performed live with Thomas Ankersmit, Jerome Noetinger, Michel Doneda, Dean Roberts, Mark Wastell, Martin Siewert, Nmperign, Brandon Labelle, Nikos Veliotis, Alessandro Bosetti, Gert-Jan Prins, Phill Niblock, Oren Ambarchi, and many others. From 2007 on, his main interest has been in site-specific solo performances, sometimes using guitars as primary sound sources but also integrating microphones and multi- channel speaker systems in order to create complex networks for sound diffusion in relationship to space. He collaborates regularly with Renato Rinaldi (in the duo Oreledigneur), Enrico Malatesta, Nicola Ratti (as Bellows) and Armin Linke (ZKM Karlsruhe, Villa Romana Florence, Kunsthalle Berlin, Festival della Scienza, Genoa). In 1998 he started the “Fringes recordings” label, closed in 2005, and cofounded “Schoolmap Records” in 2006. He now runs Senufo together with Jennifer Veillerobe. Q: You don’t have an academic music background, could you give me an idea of how you ended up making electroacoustic music? A: I haven’t followed a linear path. Over time I have become more and more interested in difficult sounds, difficult in the sense of stimulating. I gradually moved from playing the guitar in a traditional way to playing free jazz and improvised music. At the same time I discovered “classical electronic” music and those contemporary works that were produced at the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s. Around that time I was also running a label called Fringes Recordings and started recording and producing my own music. From improvised music the label slowly shifted its focus to sound art and people like Brandon Labelle, Toshiya Tsunoda. My education really came from organis-


ing gigs, that was what Fringes originally started out as being, a series of gigs. Over the years I did over a hundred of them. The label went on ‘til 2005, but Fringes was also a mailorder business… Q: Back when digital downloads weren’t the norm… A: Yes, we sold physical albums. Fringes releases were pressed in runs of 400 or 500 and they always used to sell out. Q: That’s impressive. A: Yes, nowadays with my current label, Senufo, even if it’s going relatively well, we only release 200-250 copies for each title, about half of what I used to do with Fringes. Running the mailorder was also a good way to establish contacts. We also used to sell our distributed catalog in a bookshop, A+MBookstore here in Milan. Q: I remember walking past it a few times and asking myself how such a place was commercially viable. A: Luckily we weren’t paying rent, and most of the business was via the mailorder. We could’ve easily just turned it into an office, but the social aspect was very important to us. Also that is were we used to host gigs and events. It got to the point though whereby I couldn’t follow the mailorder any longer and Fabio Carboni, from Soundohm and Die Schachtel took over. Not long after, though the bookshop closed down.

with I learnt just by seeing how other musicians worked. I was doing everything from collecting the artists at the train station to hosting them and being the sound technician. I used to live in close contact with them for a few days. It’s been a great school. Q: Is there a particular gig that you remember most vividly? A: One by the saxophonist Michel Doneda. It was also one of the first gigs I played myself. It wasn’t planned as he’d been invited for a solo, but he came a day earlier and we got chatting which led him to ask me to perform with him in the second half of the gig. It was great to see how a musician could be so open to collaborations. We also invited John Butcher for one of his first Italian gigs. At the time it was mainly improvised music, it was what I was mainly interested in. Q: Is it no longer important? A: No, it’s not that, it’s just that I have changed path. I increasingly found that improvised music had become a musical genre, rather than an artistic practice where one could experiment. I still have great admiration for these people, though, but I’ve moved away a bit. Going back to the gigs we did at A+M, I’d like to mention Akio Suzuki as well, whom we got to play in that really tiny space. Willian Basinski performed one of his first Italian gigs in the bookshop…

Q: What did you learn form organising gigs?

Q: Organising gigs also means having a certain technical know-how. How did you apply this knowledge in your own work?

A: As we were saying earlier, I don’t have an academic background, so I would say this is how I really learnt the trade, so to speak. Obviously playing and touring was important, but to begin

A: Good question, I can’t really say whether I’ve applied it in my work or simply used it when mixing and mastering other people’s work. With the live gigs, I was a one man band with

Photography: Armin Linke

no sound technician and had to learn the hard way. In terms of mastering, I’ve never thought of asking other engineers to master my own work, I wasn’t interested in that. I was really specific about the sound I wanted to achieve and gradually I got to the point I was happy with it. Friends then started asking me to master their own work and it just took off by word of mouth to the point that it has now become a parallel activity. Q: Has mastering become “just a job” for you or is it something you actually enjoy doing? A: It’s a job, and at times it is my most regular source of income. I do like doing it, though, as I have never had to master works of musical genres that I didn’t care for. It’s mostly electronic and experimental music, improvised albums, and even techno and hip hop at times, usually stuff I like or that I am interested in. So, yes, let’s say it’s a job that I like. Q: There are a few recurring names in the mastering world, such as yours, Rashad Baker, Taylor Deupree, Lawrence English… what would you say is you particular strength? A: There was a great dossier about mastering published in the french magazine Revue et Corrige which I would recommend on the subject. Whether one chooses to ask Taylor Deupree or Rashad Backer, for instance, depends on whose work one feels closer to. Rashad is very experienced in working with difficult material especially when it comes to vinyl. Taylor usually works on softer materials. I wouldn’t be able to say what is my own peculiarity, though, as I don’t have a set way of working, it all depends on the album and the specificity of a particular work. Sometimes I only do minor adjustments on colour and

timbre, but there are cases when there is a lot of work to do. The approach varies depending on whom I’m working with. Sometimes, I get guidelines from the musician but often there are no specific instructions. I generally come up with my own version based on my interpretation of what I hear. The artist can then ask for adjustments, they might want volume or dynamic changes, a brighter or darker sound, etc. I’m not precious in that sense. At the end of the day, it’s the musician who has to be happy with the final product, not me. What can also happen is that a musician might send the work back because what he really wants is an exact replica of what he sent me in the first place. It’s almost as if mastering was an obligatory step and that’s just not the case. Q: Speaking of Taylor Deupree, how did you end up working with him? A: Initially we got in touch because I used to distribute 12k releases through my mailorder. After hearing my albums on Häpna, he expressed an interest in releasing something on his label. August was in fact an album intended for Häpna. Some of the tracks were even recorded in a studio in Stockholm together with the Häpna guys but when it came to it, they declined to release the album. In retrospect it made sense. Häpna had slowed down considerably in terms of releases and was moving into a “poppier” territory. So I sent it to Taylor. After that came Aix and Tools. Q: It’s funny because I don’t really see your work as being 12k material. A: Not my more recent stuff, no. I think Taylor still likes what I do, but maybe it doesn’t fit in with the label, which is really specific. Myself, I do love 12k even though some of the newer titles are a bit too gentle for my taste. It is important,

though, to work with good labels like 12k. Q: Define a good label. A: A label that takes good care of an album, that gives you advise on how to master it and put the final touches to it and that has good distribution and promotion. It can be a really interesting process. 12k is possibly the most professional label I’ve worked with, one of the few “real” labels. Distribution and promotion can be crucial especially for a young musician. On the other hand, I am also very specific about the album cover. That’s part of the album, and sometimes the label can distort the original meaning of your work. I know it’s a subjective thing, but it’s quite important to me. In the case of Aix, I selected the cover image from a large number of photographs from Taylor. The cover of August on the other hand is by Amedeo Martegani, the guy from A +MBookstore. He’s an artist and together we worked on most of my album covers. Q: Tools is a bit of an odd one. I would say that the cover is not really in line with 12k’s design… A: True. I didn’t want any images for that album, but I was more interested about the quality of the paper and the packaging. It has to be said as well that Tools is one of a handful of albums that falls outside the label’s main catalogue, in a way, so it was ok for it not to “conform”, so to speak. For Senufo Editions, we try to offer nice, strong artwork (all of the cd releases have letterpress artwork, thanks to our regular collaborator Ben Owen in New York) and good mastering. The promotional side of things, on the other hand, is not one of our strengths. Q: Is that for time constraints? A: Both time constraints and economics, but it is also partly a choice. What is important to me is for the label and the albums to grow organically, to build a relationship with our listeners. I’m not at all into imposing our presence with advertising or dozen of promo copies. I’d prefer to see Senu-


fo growing slowly but gradually. In a way, that is what happened with Fringes too.

Q: What do you like specifically about African music?

Q: No advertising then?

A: To me, it’s about discovering new and alien aural territories. When one listens closely to this kind of music, there are so many great things going on and amazing technical aspects that go with it. Still, even if it is something I do read up about, I mostly have an instinctive approach to it.

A: An ad on a music magazine in most cases would be the equivalent of half the cost of a cd release and I prefer to release albums. Q: It all seems like hard work to me, why have a label in the first place? A: Because I love records. My approach to the kind of music I play mainly comes from the albums I bought, and the magazines I used to read, rather than live gigs, because there weren’t many at the time in Italy (especially in the south, where I lived until 1990). Q: Would you consider yourself an album fetishist then? A: No, I am just interested in the kind of listening experience that comes from having records or cds, from the fact of having to physically get up and put an album on your hi- fi system for time of its duration, rather than streaming music off the web. I never listen to music on my laptop, for instance. Whenever I buy digital downloads, which doesn’t happen very often, for example, I burn them onto a CD. The fact is that whenever you’re sitting in front of a laptop you’re always doing something else. Q: True, but in a similar way one can still put on an album and do the dishes at the same time… A: Yes, of course, but it’s still a different and special kind of listening experience. Plus doing the dishes is generally more meditative than being on Facebook… Still, generally speaking, when I listen to music, I do just that. Q: Why Senufo? A: You mean where does the name come from? It’s a great name, isn’t it ? Q: It’s the name of an African tribe… A: Yes, it’s a tribe that’s no longer precisely localised geographically (between Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast). I am also a big fan and a collector of ethnographic records, especially African ones, and that’s something I wanted to pay homage to. There are some recordings of Senufo music, which are really alien, bizarre and fabulous.


Q: How does Senufo work in terms of selecting the musicians on its roster? You seem to know most of them… A: I know some of them, others I get in touch with directly. To give you two recent examples, Nathan McLaughlin and Joe Colley I got in touch with myself as I loved their work. Joshua Bonnetta, on the other hand, wrote me out of the blue, and I immediately loved what he was doing. I met Kassel Jaeger when I played at the INA GRM in Paris. I know Nicola Ratti since a long time, but I was less interested in releasing his previous albums, which are good albums, but Streengs was… Q: A Senufo album? A: Yes. I also get many demos through the post, nowadays, even though it’s very rare for anything to come out of that. Some of the material might be good, but it might just fall outside of Senufo’s remit, or I might be already committed to other releases. Q: Do you have a set number of releases a year? A: We used to release quite a few titles a year, but we’ve since slowed down as Jennifer and I now have a small child, which means we have less time and money. Anyhow, we released three LPs just before the end of 2012, one by An-

drew Pekler, one from the trio of Takahiro Kawaguchi / Nick Hoffman / Aaron Zarzutzki and a new work by Kassel Jaeger. Q: You also take care of the artwork for all the albums… A: We discuss ideas with the musicians. Q: What about Nicola Ratti’s Streengs? A: Well, yes, I was about to say. In the case of Streengs, the artwork is by Sonnenzimmer, a design company based in Chicago, who also did the cover for Jennifer’s album Zweifarbige Gesten. I had done some mastering for them and in return they proposed the artwork for these two albums. Q: How do you go about choosing the format? A: It depends. Vinyl is something we like, but there are limitations in terms of duration and sound, etc. Other things work best on CD. Cassette is a format I like very much, even though we haven’t been doing as many as we’d like to. It really depends. Q: Is there a lot of work to do once you get the material? A: Again, it depends. In the case of Nicola Ratti, we selected the tracks and worked on the order and the edit together. Often though I get finished products with minimal work to do other than mastering. There are special cases as well, such as the album by Kawaguchi / Hoffman / Zarzutzki. I was in touch with Nick Hoffman and he sent me some material to listen to. I liked it very much but found the mix a bit problematic. Also, there was editing to be done as the tracks were from one hour long sessions. Nick agreed and asked me to do it myself.

At that point we still hadn’t talked about releasing the album on Senufo. Q: Do you do the mastering for all your releases? A: Yes, except for a few, that of Nathan McLaughlin who’s always worked with the same technician, and the two Kassel Jaeger cds. Otherwise, I prefer to do it myself. Q: Let’s talk about your albums now, what is your working method? A: I try to use different instruments and working methods and tend to change my approach for each different album. Aix and Tools were laptop based. The actual recording session for Tools took about a couple of hours. After switching the microphones off, I constructed the whole album on the computer. Aix is almost entirely built around samples from other albums, or from previous recordings of mine. It was done in a very small flat in France where I didn’t have access to any instruments, and again it’s entirely computer based. More recently, I have been changing my working method. With Untitled 2011, on Entr’acte, all the sounds were generated from tapes, effects, cd players, etc. but instead of digitally reworking micro fragments, the album is constructed through several overlays of different tracks that were recorded in the same period. In the end I always resort to the computer for mixing purposes. After working so much in front of a screen, I recently enjoyed trying out other processes that are new to me. This also means accepting limits. With Aix I could go for any colour and timbre I wanted, since it was all done digitally. Because of the way I work now, I may not be able to do this any longer. This also means setting up a process and pushing it to the limits to see where it can bring. Q: So you wouldn’t do another album like Aix? A: It’s not that I reject that process, indeed I might one day go back to the same working method. What I would like to do, though, would be to avoid using all those samples and instead use more of my own sounds as a basis. It’s not something that is currently in the works, but I have thought about it. Q: So what are the instruments you work with?

A: Hmm… mostly microphones. It’s maybe my musique concrete heritage, as I do like the idea of having a studio with mics. I almost never use digital synthesis, but always start from miked up instruments or objects, or from analogue systems, tapes, etc… (I don’t have digital synthesizers and I have never used software to produce sound). Q: So, basically you are more of an editor? A: Yes, in a sense. Well, I generate most of the sounds I use, it’s just that I don’t use digital means for that. There are great albums done that way, but it’s not my world. Q: You are more interested in… A: Improvising. I’ve interrupted you because that’s precisely what I do in the studio. I don’t program, I improvise, more often than not with instruments I am not familiar with. I am not a turntabelist, for instance, but I’ve experimented with those techniques when working on ‘Stunt’. Q: How about Christian Marclay and other turntabelists? A: I’m more interested in hip-hop turntabelists, like Mike Boo or Ricci Rucker. They were my inspiration for the ‘Stunt’ series, much more than the experimental music turntabelists. It wasn’t something I knew how to do properly though, and in that sense those records might even be a bad homage. Q: I get the sense that your albums are always linked to specific place and time in your life? A: Yes.

Q: If I were to ask you which is the album that resembles you the most, then, your answer would be … A: My latest one. I was recently asked to reissue Gesine on vinyl, but it’s not something I am interested in. I am not a big fan of retrospectives, I want to release new albums. The old ones are just old. There can be exceptions like the latest Bellows album, Reelin’, which is currently being reissued on vinyl, but that is still a very recent production and the cd edition sold out pretty quickly. Q: So if a newcomer wanted to delve into your catalogue, you would direct them to your latest offering? A: Yes, or to one of the recent albums, but I wouldn’t start from the first one. Having said that we all follow our own paths of discovery, and nowadays everything is digitally downloaded with very little attention to release dates. Q: Aside from Bellows, where you play with Nicola Ratti, you also collaborate with Enrico Malatesta and Renato Rinaldi. Is this a journey of discovery for you? A: Absolutely. With Nicola we always try to explore new techniques to produce an album, something that neither of us would do on our own. Q: How would you describe the different collaborations? A: Bellows is more of a tape loop based project, it’s about trying to find a way of interacting with tape loops in different ways. Handcut especially was linked to the idea of destruction or expansion of a vinyl record with contact microphones. Reelin’ was more about slowing down pre-recorded tracks and the degradation of sound through repeated plays.


sets because they change radically depending on the musician I play with, on the space, and on the approach we decide to go for. I can use a laptop, or not, I can use pre-recorded material or not, sometimes it’s all acoustic, and at other times it’s all electronic. Nothing is set in stone.

The duo with Renato Rinaldi is rather vague in the sense that nowadays we tend to collaborate on installations more than anything else. Our latest album is rather old now. The collaboration with Enrico is still in its early stages. Enrico plays percussion whereas I play small motors controlled by an analogue synth. The basic process for the cd (Rudimenti, on Entr’acte) was to overlay different rhythmic tracks in a non organized way in order to create random polyrhythmic sequences. There are two other collaborations in the pipeline. One with Andrew Pekler, with an Lp for Planam/Alga Marghen and one with Kassel Jaeger, out soon on Editions Mego. Q: Talking about Renato Rinaldi, you mentioned field recordings. What is your feeling about them? A: I am not that mad about them. There are approaches I like, with artists like Toshiya Tsunoda. I’m also a big fan of Transparent City by Michael Pisaro, which saw him working with very long takes of non treated recordings. This had all the potential to be boring, but what he did was to overlay on top of those recordings pure frequencies that interacted with the material altering the perception of it. I like works that introduce a certain ambiguity. Another album I’d like to mention is Environment and Gesture by Pierre Gerrard. In that case, Gerrard was interacting in real time with his surroundings while recording. So again, it’s the ambiguity and the human touch. I am less interested in soundscapes as such and in the aesthetic aspect of environment recording. Q: So you wouldn’t use field recordings in your own albums?


A: If they are functional to what I am doing yes, but I don’t think I’d work on a soundscape album. I don’t find it interesting and I would even say that it’s something I find historically problematic, especially the idea of preserving the aural authenticity of a place, not considering authentic all those sounds normally described as sound pollution, such as the music played in a restaurant, a car passing by etc. The so-called purity of an aural environment is a concept I don’t really care for. Q: Talking about ambiguity, is that why your work doesn’t seem to be driven by any narrative impulse and why you often omit track titles? A: I believe that some of my work has a strong narrative element to it. True, I’m not so interested in titles, in the sense that I don’t believe they add very much, or maybe it’s just that I don’t have enough imagination to come up with good ones. Still, it’s not that I don’t reveal things out of a sense of secrecy. If I had to talk in detail about the working process of any specific album, I would do it with no problem, but, for instance, to list the instruments I used for a record would be kind of meaningless because of the way I work, as I try and use them in a non-orthodox way. If with Stunt I had listed the turntable as main instrument, would that have told you anything about the album? Stunt is all about editing. Also, there are albums which I did without using any instruments whatsoever, such as Aix. With Tools, on the other hand, the instruments are precisely the ones listed as track titles. Q: How do you approach a live set? A: I don’t do many live sets, but it’s something that I like doing. I find it difficult to talk about my collaborative live

On the other hand, for the past few years at least, I have been doing solo sets just with a mixer in front of me and a laptop by my side, which I use as a playback instrument to continuously stream several out-of-sync audio tracks. That also means I don’t always know how the balance will work. I often use very long tracks and when I decide to open a specific channel I never know what the sequence of sound will be at that particular moment. The idea is always to improvise with what I get at any specific time. Obviously, I am working with material I know inside out, but the result of the different combinations is unpredictable. My sets are never preorganised in that sense. The most important thing is to have long sound-check sessions whenever possible in order to try out the exact material that works well in that specific space. I never play on stage and never behind audio monitors. Because of the way I work, it’s important to be in the same listening area of the audience. By the way, I cannot stand very loud sets where the musician stands behind monitors wearing earplugs. Sometimes I go for very loud frequencies myself, but I have to endure them the same way the audience has to. I never go for a loud volume just for the sake of it, I only do it if it works at that specific moment. When possible, I prefer to work with multiple speakers configurations, 4, 6 or 8. Sometimes, the venue is configured in such a way that one is forced to face the audience, but generally speaking that’s something I try to avoid. The traditional set up of stage and audience can work very well, but to be honest, live sets with someone with a laptop on a stage and some kind of video projection at the back, 99% of the time I find them very tedious. The problem is not the laptop itself, but the focus. This has to be on the sound and not on the stage. I think it’s important to share the same listening experience with the audience. Q: Do you turn up like Attila Faravelli with your own speakers?

A: No, I couldn’t do that as I need big and heavy speakers! Q: Going back to what you were saying about narrative… A: I find that the both August and Aix are narrative in some way, even though I wouldn’t be able to say whether this is a linear one or what logic it would have. It takes you from one point to another, it is not an easily readable narrative, but there is an arch nonetheless, whereas albums like Stunt are constructed as collections of different tracks. Q: It all depends on the album then? A: Yes, I suppose so. Q: You recently worked with the label Entr’acte, on a number of projects, if I’m not mistaken…? A: Yes, we’ve co-produced a couple of albums with Senufo, I’ve released two albums and a tape with them and we organised some gigs together. I like Allon’s approach very much. Q: What other labels do you rate at present?

Q: Do you ever do the sound design for films? A: I like to do it when there’s a good relationship with a film-maker, and not something I would do as a commission, as these jobs can be very time consuming. I am currently working on a midlenght feature with a young filmmaker called Sergio Canneto. At present I am editing the audio and adding some extra sounds. Q: One last thing, you are considered by some a sort of father figure within the Italian electro-acoustic scene. Would you care to comment on that?

Q: Are you currently working on anything at present?

A: Within my age group, I might have a bit more visibility than some, but that’s also because I’ve been organising gigs and releasing records on my labels for years, and I’m relatively prolific. I had the chance to release music on good labels, and that has helped too. Still I wouldn’t say there is a homogenous scene in Italy, but many different ones.

A: Yes, there will be a new cd on Senufo, out in February.

Q: How does one sell young Italian musicians?

Q: What is your approach to contemporary art and installations?

A: It’s really hard unfortunately. This is an Anglo-Saxon dominated world. A very good Italian album might get some attention, but it will always be less than the attention reserved to any mediocre album released in UK. Most of the information comes from there or the States, and the few magazines we have in Italy are simply clones of foreign magazines. Also, if one lives in London or in Berlin, possibilities for networking or performing are much higher compared to here, even if it’s not always under optimal circumstances.

A: I wouldn’t be able to pick any specific label, it would be more like single releases. One of the labels I have always bought every single release from is Edition RZ.

A: It’s not miles away from the one I have for an album or a concert in the sense that I am interested in creating a listening experience, which however does exist on a different timeframe. I would also like my next records not to have a set musical structure, no clear outline, to sort of exist as installations, just as I would like to do installations that hold some connection with my albums, while still holding the two things separate. In other words I wouldn’t want one to serve as the documentation for the other.

Q: Well, I don’t know, it’s not as if there were that many electro-acoustic gigs in London every night of the week…

A: Well, there might be a small scene in London or Berlin as well but it is still magnified. There’s also a larger audience and there’s more of an “infrastructure”. The venues might still be small and dingy, but at the same time there are a lot more galleries and other similar spaces. Plus, one might be able to get some public founding, difficult nowadays, but it’s certainly more likely to happen abroad than over here. My feeling is that one has to work harder to get a bit of visibility here, and we’re certainly more isolated. In a way that’s ok, though, as we are forced to try and come up with a more personal and less standardised sound. Q: So, in practical terms, when you released Luciano Maggiore’s album, you knew from the start… A: That I would be selling fewer copies had he been a British artist? Yes. Still, I personally would like to release more music from Italian musicians. At the end of the day we’re talking about such a small business that one might as well do something interesting. With Senufo we have never gone for higher profile artists just for the sake of selling more records. Most of the times we released records that could be considered “difficult” from many points of view. Still, everything considered I like living here… I know you are looking at me as if I was mad, but if I wanted to move, I could do so tomorrow. What would be the reason for doing this, though? Q: Because it would be easier? A: Yes, maybe, but having said that, if there’s one interesting gig every two weeks here in Milan or in the proximity, I know that if I go, I will be seeing all my friends. One also appreciates gigs and events more when they are few and far and in between. It’s not like living somewhere where there are so many things going on and you end up not doing very much at all. I am happy south of the Alps. Interview: Gianmarco Del Re



Photography by Hatori Yumi

Posted On: October 3, 2012

Hatori Yumi was born in Palermo where he lives and works. \\ He studied and graduated in Musicology and Music History. \\ He works in different fields: music, graphic-design, video. \\ He evolved as a bassist and guitarist in bands whose influences ranged from noiserock, to punk, before buying a midicontroller and moving on to electronic music… Q: Who is Hatori Yumi and where does the moniker come from? A: Hatori Yumi is a project born in 2009 for the “Congresso di musica elettronica” (Congress of Electronic Music) which, after the Brusio label was set up, mutated into the festival MainOFF. The moniker is only an aesthetic choice. It sounded nice and I decided to keep it! Q: I was intrigued to learn that you studied Music History and graduated with a thesis on the “Sound structure of Euripides’ The Bacchae”. Could you boil down the whole concept of your thesis in a few sentences? A: Of course! I have always been fascinated by the classical world and studying the history of music, I decided to combine these two different passions of mine. My thesis is based on musical reconstruction and looks at how music works inside the play. Obviously, no clear indications have survived, so I based my study on the theory and the harmonic rules of the time. I specifically chose The Bacchae for its expressivity and because music plays such an integral part in the play. There are so many scenes where offering songs are sung in honour of characters markedly different from the traditional Olympian ones. As a matter of fact, it seems that songs in honour of goats (or tragos in Greek), are what gave birth to classical Greek tragedy. In a way, it’s almost as if I’ve at-


tempted to uncover the roots of music. Q: Is knowing the history of music important in order to make electro-acoustic or electronic music? A: I believe so. It allows one to have an awareness of the language, especially when it comes to listening and producing music. The interesting thing, in my opinion, is to interpret the experiments carried out by different composers in order to try and push to envelope, to be bold and daring! Obviously it isn’t that easy and the risk is of falling into mannerism, but if one does find the right key of interpretation, it can be very satisfactory. Q: You are involved with Brusio, a netlabel which releases a broad spectrum of electronic music from IDM to Ambient. How is the label run on a practical basis and how do you go about selecting the appropriate material for a release? A: Brusio is a cross section receptacle of music, ideas and people! Over the years, we have managed to integrate projects hailing from very different backgrounds, something which we are very happy with. For instance, to juxtapose an academic set of electro acoustic music to a hardcore noise work, is certainly destabilising but also very stimulating as one is comparing two completely different methods of working and of treating sound. As for the material, when it comes to selecting the next release, this is always something done by committee, since there are four of us running the label. This can be quite a difficult process at times. Still often it only takes about a minute or two to realise a particular piece of music doesn’t fall within our remit. Q: Brusio seems to have strong ties with

other microlables such as Franz Rosati’s Nephogram. Indeed you have released two albums by Franz on Brusio, Fields and Fields II and he has released your album Rhegma on Nephogram. And yet you don’t seem to share just a penchant for granular synthesis, but also a similar ethos. Is that correct? A: True, my experience with Brusio is similar to Franz’s with Nephogram. The Internet has created infinite possibilities to start up new projects and initiatives, even if it is not easy to find your own niche. Nephogram and Brusio share similar concerns and have often col­ laborated, most notably on this year’s MainOFF festival. Having said that, we have taken different paths. On the one hand Nephogram is concentrating more on the label side of things with a number of physical releases, whereas Brusio is striving to promote the festival which next year will reach its 10th edition. Q: Melody is also important in your work. It’s not all just glitch, then? A: No, I wouldn’t say so. If on the one hand it is true that it is possible to create melodies with rhythmic glitches, as I did with some of my early stuff, on the other I tend to create sonic textures, or harmonic works that go beyond the rhythmic. It all depends on the mood I am in at any particular point in time and on where I find myself on an emotional level in that specific stage of my life. Q: One of Brusio’s aims is “the enhancement of that music often generated by non-conventional tools, obtained with any device and/or technological system able to produce or record sounds.” Your own music sounds quite “technological”. What non-conventional tools have you used so far, if any, in your work?

A: I wouldn’t say that I use “non conventional” tools. On the contrary, I utilize the standard editing software that most electronic musicians tend to use. What fascinates me the most is to create “non conventional” sounds from basic material. For instance, I have lately been integrating the electric bass into my work, as this was my first proper instrument. I enjoy filtering it and recording it only to deconstruct the resulting samples in order to get radically new sounds out of them. Therefore, I would say that more than actual tools, I like to use “non conventional” sounds. Q: Together with Pietro Bonanno, you won the Critics Award at the Percezioni Festival in September with the piece OS i/O’s conceived along the river Sosio in the Nature Reserve near the Albanian village of Palazzo Adriano and the Sosio Valley in the province of Palermo. OS i/O’s was then broadcast in September in the woods of Santo Stefano di Quisquinia, Agrigento. It’s a piece that reminds me of Øe’s Transfer as it seems to be touching on the dichotomy between Nature and Technology. How did you go about capturing and integrating the organic aspect of the aural environment into the sound design? A: OS i/O’s combines two aspects that have characterised both Pietro’s life as well as my own. With this piece we have tried to integrate the natural environment, which has been eroded and feels removed, (specifically that of the river Sosio), within the more chaotic and unforgiving urban landscape. OS i/O’s is split in two macro-sections that we managed to combine through contrasts. It’s been a sort of experiment whereby we wanted the audience to savour the real sounds of nature, which we recorded in situ, only to abruptly awaken them, as if dragging them out of bed and shutter-

ing a pleasant but increasingly distant dream. Q: Visuals are a really important aspect of your work and often come into play in your live performances. How do you go about preparing for a live show? A: Yes, visuals are as important as the audio in my sets. I believe this to be crucial in order to create the right synesthesia for the audience to feel involved. The visuals stem from the intrinsic concept behind the audio. When I create a piece of music I inevitably get images and colours into my head. Sometimes it can be the other way round as well. It’s an interchangeable relationship, even if the two aspects remain distinct. Q: Another one of Brusio’s goals is to provide an outlet for “bedroom artists”. Indeed promotion and distribution are two of the key factors in any artist’s work. Could you tell me something about the festival MainOFF, which you are involved in and which takes place in three different locations, Palermo, Rome and Bologna? A: As I was saying earlier, the festival MainOFF raised from the ashes of the Congresso di Musica Elettronica, which used to take place in an occupied space in Palermo. Slowly but surely, and with no support form the institutions, we managed to gain a certain following. It hasn’t been easy, though, still, this year we decided to venture outside of Sicily and further a field to include Rome and Bologna. By combining our forces with those of the Roman based label Nephogram and the Bolognese collective ConcreteElettoacustica, we have devised a number of projects for each city and managed to complete the line-up. The festival kicks off on the 11th of October in Palermo and closes on the 27th in Bologna. Aside from choices dictated by our network, we have also opened up the festival to local projects. Furthermore, a number of other artists joined in, which has meant building new bridges and creating new connections, and this will undoubtedly help MainOFF expand over time. At the latest count there will be a total of

35 acts taking part in this year’s festival! It’s pure madness, but we are driven by a strong sense of commitment and feel really passionate about it. Q: You are from Palermo, the beautiful but “troubled” capital of Sicily. What can you tell me of its cultural life and specifically about its music scene? A: Talking to friends, fellow musicians and music lovers in general, I have been pleasantly surprised by how Brusio’s echo has reached far beyond the Strait of Messina. I am very proud both of the work carried out by Brusio and of the fact that this scene clearly has a certain appeal. It may be because Palermo is weighed down by so many problems that those who live here feel compelled to strenuously counteract the sorry state of affairs by producing art of a certain standard. For better of for worse, this city really gets under your skin. I have never heard anyone leave without commenting its streets, its people and habits in strong terms, both positive and negative. Q: Is the Italian north / south divide applicable within the music scene as well, or are you all one big happy family? A: In my experience, I cannot see any differences or divisions between North and South. Let’s leave these silly divisions to politicians. We have more interesting things to do! - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio


Photography: Gianmaria Aprile, Pietro Bologna, Simone Fratti, Paolo Bisone


Gianmaria Aprile is the label-head at fRaTto9 uNdeR tHE sky. He also plays in the bands Luminance Ratio and Ultraviolet Makes Me Sick. He has attended several Soundpainting courses with the music lab and jazz orchestra “Il Resto Del Gruppo” and in 2010 he joined the “Pipeline Trio”: an impro-free-jazz trio with Giancarlo “Nino” Locatelli (bass clarinet) and Simone Fratti (doublebass). Q: You have studied at the International Music Academy in Milan and yet you seem to have a more instinctive, rather than academic, approach to music collaborating with webzines and remaining fiercely loyal to the independent music scene. Has this always been a conscious decision or something you fell back into?

a live sound engineer for a number of years, and even if this is something somewhat different from working in a studio, I was able to learn the ropes and to gain an understanding of the main issues involved.

volve any mastering duties to Giuseppe Ielasi, who’s mastered most of the releases on fRaTto9. What appeals to you specifically about Giuseppe’s mastering technique?

Q: The name of your label comes from a track by your late uncle Al Aprile, a musician and radio deejay for Radio Popolare, from whom you have inherited, amongst other things a huge record collection. Aside from rare examples such as Battiti on Rai Radio 3, what do you think could be done to promote experimental and electro-acoustic music on Italian radio?

A: Mastering is a necessary and quite distinct stage in the production of an album. I have always worked as a sound technician on live performances and in my own small studio I work on the mixing desk, but mastering is a different cattle of fish and something I am not specialised in. Also, I currently don’t have the time and concentration to dedicate to this task nor do I have all the required gear.

A: I would say it was a more or less conscious decision; after graduating in a completely different field, I chose to deepen any practical musical experience I had gained over the years by enrolling in Milan’s Music Academy, even though I didn’t have any real expectations. Still, I did so, because I believe it is very important to have an academic background in order to be able to build on tried and tested knowledge, which gives one freedom to experiment even to the point where one can put said knowledge aside… Unfortunately, at present I don’t have the time to pursue further my studies.

A: I have always been fascinated by radio, which has always been a source of information, musical or otherwise, for me, to the point that I now work for the Swiss radio station RSI, as a technician and post-production audio editor. Television has for quite some time now regularly been losing viewers (with the possible exception of pay TV stations such as Sky), whereas radio, thanks in no small part to podcasts, has been regaining a considerable number of listeners. Nonconventional music could be promoted more thanks to Internet and online radio stations. Alas, here in Italy we are still lagging behind in this respect. For instance, we don’t have any collage radio stations, which are traditionally more in tune with the “underground music” scene.

The best experience one can gain, though, is on the ground. I worked as

Q: You are a sound engineer by trade and yet, you seem to be happy to de-

The best a sound technician can hope for is to be able to produce a recognisable sound, which becomes apparent even to a casual listener. That is why a musician or a band might go to someone specific for a mastering job, in order to achieve a particular sound. That’s how I think of Giuseppe Ielasi and that is why I asked him to master a number of albums I was releasing. His technical skills, his attention to detail and his highly tuned ear, make working with him a real pleasure. He is like a surgeon specialized in microsurgery: he studies carefully each single track and sets about working on the different frequencies with extreme care and dedication. Q: You’ve recently started a limited split seven inch series on coloured vinyl, pairing artists on FRaTto9’s roster (form Luminance Ratio and Luca Sigurtà to the upcoming release by Alberto Boccardi) with international artists such as Steve Roden, Oren Ambarchi and Panicsville. How did you convince them to come on board? A: Funnily enough, I would say that it is easier to collaborate with international artists rather then Italian ones; after having listened the audio material I sent them, they accepted with no difficulty. It has been a real pleasure to discover that sometimes there are no walls between small label such as


fRaTto9 and big names on the international experimental and electro-acoustic scene. I am happy to say that the next artists to join the label’s ranks, so to speak, will be Lawrence English and Francisco Lopez. Q: The split vinyls are co-released together with the Italian micro label Kinky Gabber, while Luminance Ratio’s first album Like Little Garrisons Besieged was released in conjunction with Boring Machines. Is this a cutting cost exercise or it is about creating a network of likeminded labels in order to reach a wider audience? A: Both, I would say. Also, I have known Onga for a number of years now and we both value each other’s work and approach. It has also been a good excuse for us to try and uncover the strengths and weaknesses of such a niche market from a joint point of view. Kinky Gabber, on the other hand, is the label run by Luca Sigurtà, which has indeed meant sharing costs and taking advantage of wider options in terms of distribution. Q: What is the concept behind the micRo c9sM9s series, which has so far seen three releases by Alberto Boccardi, Luca Sigurtà and Giovanni Lami and Shaun McAlpine?

represented a new musical departure from what I had produced up until then, even though they could be seen as a natural evolution of the fRaTto9 sound. The label has developed in parallel to my musical development as a musician (or so called musician…). When I first set up fRaTto9 I was playing with Ultraviolet Makes Me Sick, who had been labelled as a “post-rock” band, and that was the scene I was moving in. That is why the first albums I released on the label could be seen as falling into that genre even if a free/impro component was already present. Over time I developed a new sound thanks in no small part to the collaborations with Andrea Ferraris (who also played in UVMMS) and Giancarlo Nino Locatelli, amongst others. Q: In a recent interview with Onga from Boring Machines, I asked him what he considered the strengths and weaknesses of the Italian experimental music scene and he mentioned Italy’s rich heritage in terms of innovation within music as a strength, and the erosion of the role of culture in Italy as a definite weakness. What would your answer be and why do you think there are no high profile labels in Italy on a par with Touch, Editions Mego, or 12k?

A: For sure, as Onga says, there’s a huge problem with the infrastructure, A: I started the micRo c9sM9s series which is not capable of catering to the when I found myself with the three afore- varied musical output of our country. At mentioned works in my hands, which the same time, there’s a chronic lack of

musical education. This means that any label operating on a relatively small territory and not supported in any way by the cultural institutions cannot develop in a comparable way to notable examples such as Touch or 12k. Furthermore, we are talking about a huge investment both in terms of time and money on the part of a label, that very seldom can yield any financial return, especially in its first few years of activity and given the current crisis of the record industry. Q: The current line up of Luminance Ratio is comprised of Andrea Ics Ferraris, Luca Mauri, Luca Sigurtà and yourself. Considering you don’t exactly live close by, how do you go about coordinating the band and developing ideas and concepts for new material? A: Generally speaking, we set up meetings that can last for a whole weekend were we discuss and work on any ideas we might have at the time and more often than not we end up recording some new material. It can also happen though that we begin by improvising or conversely we might take a few previously written down notes and try to translate them into music. Luckily, Luca Mauri and I live quite close to each other, which means we can easily take things a step further after having develop things with the band. In the case of Reverie, for instance, we worked together on the mixing of the album, which is coming out on Bocian Records. Q: Talking about Luminance Ratio, Andrea Ics Ferraris stated that: “The project has evolved naturally into something more psychedelic, more retro, than what we originally set out to do, but with a good amount of electronics, and electro-acoustic instruments. We are music freaks and we throw into the mix anything and everything we consider


Photography: Gianmaria Aprile, Pietro Bologna, Simone Fratti, Paolo Bisone

suitable for a specific project.” The new album Reverie is coming out in Spring on the Polish label Bocian. What would you say were the new elements that you have thrown into the mix of Reverie? A: Reverie has been in the works for about a year. We selected and processed hours and hours of recorded material, which we then assembled and integrated with acoustic parts on cello, sax, baritone clarinet, and double bass courtesy of a number of fellow musicians. We worked in a different way from our first album, which was built upon material composed by Eugenio Maggi (aka Cria Cuervos). In that case we arranged and added new material on an already present structure. Q: The sound of both albums, Like Little Garrisons Besieged and Reverie is stripped back and deceptively minimal, which is even more surprising considering the penchant you all seem to have for a noisier and heavier sound. How did you achieve this sparseness while maintaining a certain rougher edge? A: I am very proud of these albums: Like Little Garrisons Besieged because I can still listen to it three years later and find it fresh and Reverie because it was developed as if the music was especially composed for a small ensamble. I worked a lot on the sound’s “form”, making it, as you say, rough but well defined, and dislocating it in a very precise way within space.


At present, I would like to treat the new material we are currently working on in a different way taking a bigger and more magmatic sound similar to that of some of our live sets as a starting point. I like to approach the same sound source in different ways and to “mould” it at a later stage. The main problem, though, is that the time and concentration required to work on such projects is always far greater than the amount of free time I have at my disposal. Unfortunately I cannot get by simply through music and therefore I can only devote my spare time to it, even though my mind is always busy working on musical ideas. Q: You have considerable experience of organising live events, including Tagofest, the celebrated independent music labels festival in Italy. What have you learnt from this experience and what teachings have you been able to apply within fRaTto9? A: The Tagofest grew very rapidly to the point that the resources we had weren’t enough to keep the festival going. This made me understand the limits of this particular music scene and its social value. Many of the labels that took part in the festival over the years are no longer around, same thing with some of the bands, and this is highly significant. Nowadays, I believe there are too many labels and bands practicing this type of music considering the small audience here in Italy. Q: As a label-head you seem to take good care of your artists and know them all personally. What are the biggest challenges in promoting “young” Italian artists both on the Italian and the International scene? A: I love dealing with the artists I pro-

duce. Often, they even ask me to contribute in some way to their material. This is what happened with the split release by Luca Sigurtà / Panicsville where I played on Luca’s track and mixed the 12”. The same happened with Alberto Boccardi’s split vinyl with Lawrence English where we recorded together and remixed a section of Alberto’s track. Furthermore, I am also currently working on Alberto’s new album together with Luca Sigurtà. I believe this to be something very interesting for a label, to create connections between different musicians, in order to develop new outcomes. In terms of promoting “young” artists, the biggest challenge is to gain a certain visibility amongst the multitude of new releases that flood the Internet and the independent market on a daily basis. For sure, playing live is still crucial for the still unknown artists working within this genre. Also, the artists and the label must develop a synergy, which is what both Boccardi and Sigurtà were able to achieve. They both devoted a lot of time and energy touring their work abroad and this optimized all the press and promotional work I did. Q: What would you say is the secret of longevity for a label and what would your advise be to anyone wanting to set up their own label? A: One has to bite the bullet and persevere even in the face of the number of unsold copies of the first few releases that might pile up in the basement. Also, one needs to have enough funds set aside to avoid emptying the coffers with the second or third release. The secret is to aim carefully, hoping that the target would stand still, before shooting. As I was saying earlier, I believe that the

market has radically changed from what it used to be 10 years ago and therefore it is very difficult to figure out what is the right direction to take, especially considering the disproportionate number of releases and the increasing difficulty in achieving visibility, especially when it comes to up and coming artists. Having a long-term plan and releasing albums of a high standard is indeed crucial. Q: You were based in Pavia until quite recently. How supportive has the scene been like both in Pavia and more generally in Lombardy with regards to fRaTto9 and the artists on your label? A: I played in Pavia for a number of years and I know all the bands and musicians operating on the scene. I have worked with some of them as a sound technician in the past and I am still in touch with them even if their music is quite removed from my style and taste. None of the musicians based in Pavia has worked with my label to date, which is not the case for other musicians from Lombardy. Having said that, the geographical boundaries are not that well defined.

copies Artwork by SANAIR); Luminance Ratio/Oren Ambarchi (coloured split 7″-ltd 200); Alberto Boccardi/Lawrence English (split LP 12″); Luca Sigurtà/Francisco Lopez (split CD); Airchamber 3 (CD); Andrea Ferraris/John Russel (split LP 12″ one sided-handmade screenprinted); Machinefabriek and Sergio Sorrentino (CD). Plus, there’s the PIARS – International Sonic Arts Award, aimed at the production and promotion of sonic arts on an international level (”www.piars. org ) which will see me choose one of the works up for the prize to release with fRaTto9. As I know the standard of the submitted works is always very high, I am very pleased to have offered this as an extra award.

Q: What have you got in store for 2013 and are there any new signings in the pipeline?

Q: Finally, to quote the title of one of your tracks, “can you pass the acid test”?

A: 2013 could be the turning point both for the label and for my musical projects, or at least that is what I am hoping for. My band Pipeline both as a trio and as a quintet should release a double album before the end of the year, with a small Italian label, which will come out with a book of photography. This represents a considerable investment on the part of the label, but it is something we are very excited about.

A: Ultraviolet Makes Me Sick have slowed down considerably, both because I no longer live in Pavia, which makes meeting up more difficult, and because not everyone in the band has been able to sustain the same level of excitement and commitment on the long run. Also, unfortunately, the inevitable constraints of the working life often take precedence over any artistic venture one may embark on. Having said that, we are slowly working on new material. I

In terms of fRaTto9, I would like to target more carefully my investments and to devote more time and care to the promotional side of things including all aspects related to the albums’ artwork. In order to do so, I will probably take someone else on board to run the label on a day to day basis.

have many ideas, which I hope will come to fruition. It’s a shame we weren’t brave enough to ride post-rock wave when it reached Italy, because we could’ve gotten somewhere. Still, we did achieve a few results to be proud of. We released two albums with the Australian cult label Camera Obscura and we even came to the late John Peel’s attention. -Interview: Gianmarco Del Re

These are the next releases scheduled for 2013: Luca Sigurtà/Panicsville (split 12″ one sided – handmade screenprinted -ltd ed.100


RAVENNA – GIOVANNI LAMI Posted On: September 24, 2012

Giovanni Lami is a field recordist and musician from Ravenna in Italy, working within the soundscape and sound ecology boundaries. He is also involved with Zymogen label, working with artists such as Nicola Ratti, offthesky, Ten and Tracer, con_cetta, Letna and Marihiko Hara. He graduated in Food Science and Technologies and also in Photography. It was his photography qualification that first got him into the field of art. Presently working in the field of sound, Giovanni’s influence as a photographer lends itself perfectly to composing his sonic explorations… Q: You are from Ravenna, a historical town on the Adriatic coast famous for its Byzantine mosaics. You have also recently created a sound installation, In Sirenis, based on field recordings from Ravenna’s harbour with its heavily industrialized sites next to protected areas rich in wildlife. By placing such sounds into an urban location you also seem to play around with notions of context. How important is it for you to destabilize the listener? A: The port of Ravenna is atypical because of its distance from the city, its life and its streets. Although it occupies an extremely large area it remains virtually unknown to the majority of the local inhabitants. This is one of the reasons that prompted me not only to embark on this project, but also to take it to the heart of the historical city centre through a temporary installation. I have always tried to destabilize the fruition process in my projects both audio and visual. I believe this to be of fundamental importance, not only to promote deep listening, but also to facilitate a closer listening experience in the audience by touching different chords in their personal background. This concept applies also to the album where the two tracks end abruptly, both with a sudden cut. I know this might sound as a brutal choice, which it is, but I have


opted for such an edit to allow the listeners to become aware of the sounds of their environment as soon as the track ends. When listening to some really dense sound, if this ends abruptly, one’s attention is immediately drawn to their surroundings and every nuance of the soundscape is captured precisely because one’s listening threshold has been raised. This may just be my personal opinion, but I don’t believe this depends on the sound dynamics but rather on its density. Moreover, since I am constantly searching for new ways of investigating the soundscape, I believe that this could be one of them: to create something really dense and different from the surrounding aural environment to be listened to for several minutes only to end it suddenly to allow the ear to capture the more intimate, private and closer sonic world. What’s more, this idea translates perfectly to this particular project where the aim was to introduce the sounds of the harbour within the city, only to signal a sudden return of the (real) city itself. Q: You are also part of AIPS, the Ar-

chive of Italian Soundscapes which also includes Alessio Ballerini, and Francesco Giannico. In keeping with the ethos of AIPS you have recently mapped the soundscape of Cesena, another city within the Emilia Romagna region. How did you approach this particular project, coordinated by Enrico Malatesta? A: This project with Enrico has been very interesting. It is only the first step of a longer term project and therefore it was quite useful to lay the foundations and determine the kind of take we will be adopting. Even though it was expressly

called a “sound archive”, the type of relationship we initiated with the landscape was, and will be, far removed from that of a traditional archive consisting of a soundmap of the place. To begin with, together with Enrico, who knows his hometown inside out, we walked in and around the grey areas hidden within the city centre, or that exist just next to it unbeknownst to the locals and that lay forgotten and abandoned waiting to be rediscovered. To use the words of Francesco Bergamo, this was necessary “to develop an awareness of the characteristics of the sonic environment we have at our disposal without having any knowledge of it and of the ways we have of interacting and modifying it according to our needs and for its natural adjustment.” An almost political discourse, therefore: a “political soundscape”. Still, the last stage represented the concept and the crux of the project itself. Enrico played two drones in four of the spaces we had previously “listened to”, one of low and one of high frequency, using a single plate and a bow, while I was recording the environment from different angles finding resonances and making Enrico’s sound interact with the surrounding sounds. Subsequently, all the material was composed and partly deconstructed in a live set. Q: Both Ravenna and Cesena are in the Emilia Romagna region, which was recently struck by a series of earthquakes. How can sound art, in your opinion, articulate themes such as those of memory and identity linked to the territory and what would you say are recent examples where this has worked?

closest to, it really fits me like a glove, when it comes to tackle these themes. Looking at other artists working in the same field, amongst the most recent releases I would pick Chris Watson’s El Tren Fantasma and and Yasuhiro Morinaga’s Sceneries from the Castellated Wall out on Galaverna (which contains a track recorded in the Irpinia region which was struck by a devastating earthquake over thirty years ago). Q: You seem to have a purist approach to field recordings. I am thinking for instance of I Misteri, out on Impulsive

Habitat, where you recorded the Easter procession in Trapani, Sicily. In the linear notes to the album you explain that you spent about a week in the area, to get a feeling for the place only recording the marching bands on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. You also state that the recordings are “not processed, just subtly equalized and cropped.” How important is it for you not to resort to any digital trickery and to adopt an observational documentarist approach to the aural environment? A: As I have partly explained above, I

A: Working with field recordings and previously with photography, the themes of memory, the past, and death inevitably crop up. I use phonography like photography, to investigate aspects of the present reworked through personal attitudes and stylistic choices. Personally speaking, I would say that maybe this project, which I’ve been working on with Enrico Malatesta, is the one I feel the Photography by Silvia Galli & Giovanni Lami


don’t believe 100% in a purist approach to soundscaping. I tackle every single project on a case by case basis and most of the time I find the “purist approach” to be a modus operandi anachronistic and totally disjointed from reality. In the case of I Misteri, though, this was the only way to approach the subject matter and at the same time, the most sincere and ontologically correct, “that which is for how it reveals itself”. I didn’t want to intervene in any way, even in post-production. All the crescendos, for instance, come from me getting

closer to the sound source, and walking amongst the people holding my boom. The context was already rather complex as it was and really layered for me to add anything on top. Q: Together with Filippo Aldovini you have coordinated the netlabel Zymogen releasing critically acclaimed albums by the likes of Offthesky, Nicola Ratti and Con_Cetta. What have you learnt from running the label and what has become of Zymogen, which seems to have gone on an extended sabbatical? A:

Difficult subject to discuss… but also quite simple really. Both Filippo and I have lives to live, with different interests and often different priorities. To be honest, I find it sad myself to see how Zymogen has laid dormant for the past couple of years, but on a personal level, I have other priorities at present. My life is currently divided between sound research (both solo and on collaborative projects) and animal rights activism. I also promote veganism and antispecism and in a few months time will be starting a new activity about this together with my partner. Having said that, a new beta version of Zymogen’s website has been ready for months now, but we prefer to launch it when we know we will have the time it deserves to dedicate to it. Q: As a label, Zymogen was also striking for its artwork. You have a background in the visual arts yourself. You work as a photographer as well as making sound installations for galleries. Your most recent work in that field is Equiseto, a collaborative work with Giorgia Severi made with mini speakers concealed in essicated equiseto branches. Do you believe that the art world pays


Photography by Silvia Galli & Giovanni Lami

enough attention to sound? A: Luckily music, and all kinds of sound research, works well with other artistic practices both out of necessity, and because it is quite common to have a sound piece wherever mixed media are involved. This is a great advantage for those who are interested in specific themes because it facilitates meetings with like minded people working with different media. That’s what happened with Giorgia. Besides Equiseto, which was our first collaborative piece and also a kind of “test run” for future projects, we have already been exploring new ideas. It is stimulating to “intrude upon” other territories by trying to learn about them in order to incorporate them into your own work. Q: Collaborations are an important part of your artistic practice. Together with Enrico Coniglio, for instance, you have formed the duo Lĕmŭres. What is specific of this particular project and what distinguishes it from your other collaborative projects such as alineH and Terrapin? A: I believe that within our musical genre, working together with someone else is particularly interesting. When you find another person with the same aims and you that you respect both from a human and a musical point of view, than it is very easy for collaborations to take place. Lĕmŭres is a case in point. Even if we never have set dates to meet up, every time this happens (either for a gig or to record new material) we are always extremely happy with the outcome. We follow set rules that reflect a precise musical aesthetic and which prompt us to delve even deeper into our research. Right from the start, we decided to use only raw field recordings, processed live or left as is, but always completely

decontextualized. Improvisation acquires a fundamental role, just as it often does with me. We both have our own stock of sounds to play, but the selection always depends on the context, and is done there and then in real time, while we listen to the sounds unfold on a quadraphonic system. Q: Which do you consider the most interesting names within the Italian electro-acoustic scene in terms of musicians? A: Not long ago, a bunch of us got together for a couple of days just to play music and talk about things, without having to think about albums, specific projects or deadlines or anything of that kind. It was simply us in a sort of a studio. The situation was slightly more articulated than that, but that was the gist of it. The idea came from Enrico Malatesta, and I have to say that for many of us, and especially those of us who work 24/7 in music, it’s been a real breath of fresh air. It was fantastic to play, and especially listen to others play in their own time in a very relaxed atmosphere in the countryside of Forlì. Who was there? Giuseppe Ielasi, Nicola Ratti, Attila Faravelli, Enrico Malatesta, Renato Rinaldi, Francesco Brasini, Riccardo Baruzzi… Due to previous engagements Lorenzo Senni, Luciano Maggiore, Dominique Vaccaro and Renato Ciunfrini couldn’t make it. The best of youth… What else can I say? Did you ask me for some names…? Q: When it comes to mastering, Giuseppe Ielasi is one of the preferred names on the Italian scene. What would you say is specific about his approach to music? A: Giuseppe is boss. He has a vast musical knowledge and is a great human being one cannot but admire. His mastering touch is always first class and being an internationally renowned electroacoustic musician himself he knows how to best finalize an album which you might’ve have been working on for a

while and listened to a thousand times. How can you not entrust yourself to his perceptive vision? He is capable of emphasizing and bringing out sounds which are embedded while softening other elements; the reason why he is one of the preferred names is simple, he is a master. Q: What are you currently working on and which direction do you see your work taking for the future? A: Before the end of the year I will release a split C-40 tape together with Sublamp, on Felt a young and very active Greek label, who pays a lot of care and attention to the artwork and their releases. I also have a series of collaborative installation projects with Giorgia and I really hope to find together with Enrico Coniglio a label for our joint album as Lĕmŭres. Q: Finally, did looking for pleasure destroy your life? A: Not yet. Not in the past nor in the future (I hope). - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio www.Lĕmŭ


REGGIO EMILIA – CON_CETTA Posted On: December 18, 2012

Giuseppe Cordaro hides himself behind the pseudonym con_cetta. A guitarist in several ensembles, he has devoted himself to electronic music since 2005. Releases include Sclerosis on the netlabel Zymogen, and Micro on the UK label Moteer. He has collaborated with several artists, Corrado Nuccini and Jukka Reverberi from Giardini di Mirò, Emidio Clementi, Giorgio Sancristoforo, Grey in Sparkle, Luca Sciarratta (musicians), Giuseppe La Spada, Quayola, suicase (videoartists), and Francesco Fei (director), amongst others. Q: Hi Giuseppe, to begin with, where does your moniker come from? A: There’s a sentimental tinge to my moniker, which has a strictly “familiar” origin in my case, as it is a due homage to my grandmother Concetta. When I started releasing audio material I immediately thought of her. I owe my passion for a certain sound to her. When I was eight, she gave me two albums, which have shaped my musical education, and I played them to death on my parents old Telefunken stereo. Those albums were Trans-Europe Express and RadioActivity by Kraftwerk. Q: You were the first Italian artist to appear on the netlabel Zymogen with the album Sclerosis, your debut under your moniker. In the linear notes it states that Sclerosis could be seen as your “attempt at escaping the chaos of the industrial metropolis, generally seen as lacking the colour and poetry of everyday life”. Phlow magazine wrote that the opening track sounds like “Arvo Pärt underwater”. It is unusually focused and restrained for a first album, even though there is a sense of trying out different things. What was its gestation process like? A: That album was born out of a particular and specific context. During the same period I also recorded my other album Micro, released on Moteer::. Generally speaking, I retreat for a few months after having gathered enough audio material (field recordings, my own recordings and / or different loops), after which I start


assembling the lot. Mine is not really a “flight from reality”, as I try to find a musical aesthetic in the environment I inhabit, something that moves me. Even noise combined with something else could become poetry. Everything comes from there, I have the raw material and I start working on it just like a sculptor who chips away and chisels a piece of stone. Q: Following from Sclerosis, you’ve released Micro on the British label Moteer::, an album where you’ve been “exploring the properties of the looping and layering techniques available in the post-glitch era” to quote from the bookmat product review. To me, Micro feels like it inhabits a different sound space, more self-contained with solitary broken piano lines that seem to be talking to themselves. Also, it is an album that seems to have found its perfect home on the Moteer:: label. How did that come about? A: As I was saying, both Scleroris and Micro share the same gestation period and as a consequence they have a similar approach to the sound. The sound of Micro, in particular, is heavily processed, the finished product is like a sonic sculpture, the result of a long process of manipulation of sound. Once I completed the tracks I tried to give them an identity (I had 4CDrs of finished material). I knew Moteer:: as I’d been following them from their first release and I immediately thought of submitting some material. I prepared a demo with a few tracks and I sent it to Craig. A few days later I got an answer from him asking for more material, as he was interested in doing a release. Q: You have been collaborating as a sound designer with the artist Giuseppe La Spada, amongst others. One of the projects you’ve been involved in is A Fleur, which is a poetic reflection about love inspired by Jean Vigo’s seminal film L’Atalante. How important are visual within your work? A: My collaboration with Giuseppe La Spada started completely by accident.

We met in a pizza place in Rovereto after having attended a gig by Sakamoto. As that evening my girlfriend and I were the only people in the restaurant together with him, we ended up sitting at the same table. After that first accidental meeting, we exchanged a few emails attaching our respective work. As we shared the same geographical origin, our beloved Sicily, there was a certain chemistry between us, and my music suited perfectly his images. We share a similar and decidedly “romantic” aesthetic. I feel that any image can be very strong if attached to the right music and vice-versa, a sound visualised by an image can touch more easily the listener. Q: Your 30 seconds “audiosnapshots” on soundcloud read like an audio diary. I took an audio diary myself for a number of years, and one of the things that struck me was that as an activity it is very much viewed by some as “suspicious”. Whereas photography is acceptable, with the proliferation of all kinds of different format cameras, and social networks that very much encourage this kind of activity, sound recordings are still considered more intrusive by some. I kept being asked, “What are you going to do with that recording?” by apprehensive friends. Still, personally, I find that photographs often tend to hijack my memories while sounds seem to be more effective in conjuring up images of people and places. What is your take on that and what is behind your soundcloud field-recordings? A: Those 30 daily seconds were an experiment of a particular time of my life, a sort of summing up. There are several photographers who take a daily self-portrait of themselves to document change. I have recorded the sounds that have followed me in the course of a year, always in 30 seconds snapshots. As you have rightly pointed out, sound can conjure up a specific imagery, just like perfumes. It’s fascinating and in the future I’d like to develop further this sound/essence alliance. Q: Also, you are quite meticulous about your 30 seconds “audios-

Photography by Giuseppe Cordaro and Simona Silvestri

napshots” as each one of them comes with a title and a different image even if these sometimes appear as random and cryptic. On a general level, do you hide a narrative impulse behind your sound work? A: The titles of the audio snapshots are randomized and were created by a software that generates text, the cryptic intent was intentional. The narrative impulse behind it was to capture the key 30 seconds of a typical day in the life of Giuseppe Cordaro. I carried with me my digital recoder 24/7, I looked like a sonic hunter. The illustrations are all creative commons images, some of which were taken by me and they represent a sonic element of the audio sample. I have collected 365 samples that sooner or later I will blend together in order to create a piece on my 30th year of aural life.

commissioned by the Teatri di Reggi as part of the Rec Festival. The Rubiera management immediately agreed and we spent a couple of nights inside the steel mill filming and recording sounds. The chance of entering a labour environment, which has become so removed from that office and desks workplace many of us have now become accustomed to makes one appreciate the ennobling value of the industrial process; I believe it to be extremely important on a socio-political level to voice not only its sonic activity but also its visual side. Q: Talking about Reggio Emilia, you were born in Agrigento, Sicily. How did you end up living in the Emilia Romagna region?

A: The path that took me from my birthplace of Agrigento to Reggio Emilia has been a long and winding one made of Q: Together with Alessio Ballerini, Enrico coincidences and bizarre situations. Coniglio, and Attilio Novellino, you have Upon leaving high school, I moved to captured sounds in four ailing Italian Perugia where I did media studies. After industrial sites as a basis for the album graduation I spent some time in TanLoud Listening, out on Crónica. Your zania and then moved to Milan where I field recordings were then distributed to worked for a communication agency bea host of musicians and sound artists fore taking up a post working for a comthat, “looking from afar to Italian industry, pany that organised events such as the but perhaps feeling much of the effects Milano Film Festival and the electronic of the crisis that is affecting it, reintermusic festival Audiovisiva. During that preted the original sources and provided period I had the opportunity of meeting the ten reinterpretations that complete many musicians such as the Giardini di this release”. In particular, you visited Mirò, which I am a big fan of. Once I dethe Acciaieria di Rubiera, in Casalcided to quit Milan I followed my friends’ grande near Reggio Emilia and close to advice and here I am in Reggio Emilia, the Secchia river, an area surrounded by a less frantic city with a higher quality of fertile farmland. How did the Acciaieria life. respond to such a project and do you believe field recordings should strive to Q: You live quite close the epicentre of document the socio-political landscape the recent earthquake in Emilia. What in which we live in? has your experience about it been? Also, what role do you believe a sound artist A: In Italy there’s a great vitality around should play in preserving the memory of the notion of soundscape. This is impor- a specific soundscape? tant and needs to be supported. Loud Listening, which Alessio, Attilio, Enrico A: Alas, the 29th of May has left a scar and I created, has been a wonderful on the lives of many people. I live 60 km experience. I really hold in high esteem away from the epicentre of the earthAlessio, Enrico and Attilio’s work. It has quake and it hasn’t been a pleasant also been the opportunity for me of experience to say the least. Luckily the releasing on the Crónica label, which I situation in Reggio Emilia itself hasn’t knew from Victor Joaquim and Francisco been too bad. Our sonic landscape López’s work. needs to be preserved and documented. We might not realise it but our aural As for my specific piece on the Rubiera environment has dramatically changed steel mill, I need to specify that I was since the early XX century, our sound there thanks to a project I worked on in references have changed. Our hearing collaboration with Agon and the comhas grown accustomed to the sounds poser Giorgio Sancristoforo, which was of modernity even if we are no longer

aware of the “noise” since we are immersed in it from birth. Now that we have the possibility of storing the aural world in increasingly smaller digital archives, I believe we have a duty to leave a record of it for future generations. Q: The Italian electroacoustic scene is very diverse and also incredibly active with dozens of interesting projects and labels form North to South and yet there’s no 12k, Touch or Editions Mego. Why would you say that is and who would you recommend looking up? A: Luckily, the electroacoustic scene in Italy is quite vibrant. I really like the work of Giuseppe Ielasi, Nicola Ratti, Alberto Boccardi, Lorenzo Senni, Attila Faravelli, Enrico Malatesta, Stefano Pilia, Giovanni Lami, Barbara de Dominicis, Andrea Serrapiglio and many others. (The list is never ending!) Q: Finally, what are you currently working on and when can we expect a new Con_Cetta album? A: Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of sound design work for videos and installations. For instance, I’ve just finished working, together with Giuseppe La Spada, on a piece about the sounds of wine, which was shown in Milan. As for a new album I have so much material ready… I just need to find time to retreat and complete all the “sound drafts” that I have accumulated over the years. I will also start collaborating with another Italian artist Jukka Reverberi (the guitarist from the band Giardini di Mirò) and a new EP is planned for 2013. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re


ROME – ALESSIO BALLERINI Posted On: October 17, 2011

photo by Emanuele Coltellacci

Roman based sound artist Alessio Ballerini, explores real and imaginary landscapes by using field recordings, guitar, piano and digital composition, so that the sound finds its beauty in the harmonic ambient substrate… Q: Is the electro-acoustic scene in Italy alive and well? A: There are many people producing really interesting music in Italy. Most are dispersed in different parts of the country, from Abruzzo to Sicily. Not many come to prominence, though. Maybe that is because we don’t have well established and influential labels such as Touch or 12k. Or it might just be because we have a tendency to always look at what is happening outside the country, and do little to nurture and promote our own local talent. The dearth of venues certainly does not help.


Photos from Villa Doria Pamphili are by Maurizio Pantalone. Drawings by Alessio Ballerini taken from the Zymogen release ‘Blanc’.

It is virtually impossible to do a tour, for instance. Even abroad, an Italian artist might have an occasional single date, but proper tours are rare. In terms of a “scene” it is easier to identify one in cities like Milan, where there is a concentration of like-minded people such as Nicola Ratti and Giuseppe Ielasi. Rome is a different case. Q: Who or what is worth seeking out? A: Off the top of my head, I would mention Pietro Riparbelli, a Livorno based composer and philosopher who recently curated Silenzio: Zero Assoluto –273,15 °C | – 459,67 °F, a live event that took place in Milan with Nicola Ratti, Lorenzo Senni, Massimiliano Viel and artist Massimo Bartolini. He is the co-founder of Aedo a platform for the curatorial practice and the production of contemporary

music. He now aims to do doing something similar here in Rome. I would also mention Franz Rosati from Nephogram. Aside from being a musician he also creates architectural maps. Q: Speaking of sound maps, can you tell me something about AIPS, the Archive of Italian Sonic Landscapes you are involved in? A: A bunch of us, including Enrico Coniglio from Venice and Attilio Novellino from Catanzaro, were talking about the current situation of electro-acoustic music in Italy and Francesco Giannico, who is also a musicologist, launched the idea of creating an aural map of the country. The aim of AIPS is twofold, to promote sonic ecology and to give visibility to the artists The archive is not limited to musicians, though, but is open to anyone working with sound.

The first step was part 1 of the Roma Soundscape Project. Back in May, Francesco and I did a workshop at Forte Fanfulla, in Rome, and over the course of three weekends, between 6 and 9 pm we recorded the sounds of the Pigneto district. It was a great experience even though marred with problems. The open call didn’t quite work as planned and we only had 6 participants rather the ideal 15. Also, we didn’t manage to secure any funding. The director of the Discoteca di Stato (the national sound archive) even advised us to seek private rather than public sponsorship as institutions in Italy are like big elephants and move very slowly. They even declined to let use any facilities, as giving us a space for the workshop, for instance, would have meant paying personnel etc. Also, they told us that any help they would give us would “open the floodgates” meaning that they would then have to provide assistance to others. In spite of all this, we were thrilled with the results, which we will be uploading soon on our website. We are now also looking for a venue for a live performance, which ideally will take place in the Pigneto district with all the participants in the project playing and not just Francesco and I. One day, hopefully, we should be covering the whole of Rome. Another project we are working on, is the field recording of several different cathedrals throughout Italy. Luckily the director of the Museo Marino Marini in Florence has expressed interest in holding a site-specific installation with a

live performance. We are also hoping to take this project to Chile as, ironically, it seems that in “developing countries” they have more funds available to promote the arts. Q: Your music is always strongly connected to the visual arts. A: I studied art at college, so you could say that art came before music even though the two go hand in hand. When I was working on Blanc, for instance, I decided to release the album (available as a freedownload on the Italian netlabel Zymogen) with a set of drawings and two animations. Q: You frequently integrate photography, drawings and moving images in your installations. A: Yes, Music from the Puddle is a case in point. Colin Herrick asked me to compose the music for a series of polaroids he took spanning over 12 years, which picture landscapes reflected in the water. The album was released in a limited edition of 75, which included an original polaroid. I then showed the work as part of an installation comprising of three clips, and a map pinpointing all the loca-

tions where the album had been bought. For a while I was also involved in Il posto delle fragole, an art collective that brought together, musicians, filmmakers, artists and writers. The aim was to produce short films and documentaries. The collective disbanded a few years later, but we still collaborate. In fact it was Marco Molinelli who produced two of the clips for Music from the Puddle, Il Est Temps and Night in Day 2. The first was shot in Japan, while the second one came about one evening when he was stuck in a traffic jam. Q: Speaking of traffic jams, could you tell me how La radio a pedali/Radio on wheels came about? A: Last May, I was asked to record a special performance organised by Radio Papesse in collaboration with the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Theatre during the live broadcast on Radio Radio 3 of a Beethoven and Liszt concert given by Zubin Mehta. The performance involved between two and three hundred people on their bikes each with their own personal radio and all following a specific itinerary throughout the city of Florence. I got on a bike myself with two micro-


Photos from Villa Doria Pamphili are by Maurizio Pantalone. Drawings by Alessio Ballerini taken from the Zymogen release ‘Blanc’.

phones at the front and two at the back ad recorded the whole event. I then combined the itinerant and fragmented live broadcast complete with field recordings from the city, adding new material I composed especially for the occasion and the voice of Zubin Mehta himself introducing the concert. I then produce a 25-minute composition for the radio, a three minute sound postcard for the web, a quadrophonic installation and a six track album which I am hoping to release soon on blue-ray with the help of Luigi Agostini, who has developed a specific multichannel 3-D system with his Livorno based company A&G. Trying out different techniques and technologies is important to me. Q: A sense of place seems to be crucial to you. Indeed, field recordings are frequently an integral part of your music. Do you have an archive of sounds you delve into when recording an album or is everything created from scratch? A: I am into soundscape composition. Field recordings are important, but I also utilize traditional instrument such as electric and acoustic guitars and pianos. I can also sample composers such as Beethoven, Liszt and Mozart, but it always depends on the specific project I might be working on at the time. In the case of Music from the Puddle, the use of field recordings was instinctive and I created everything from scratch. Q: Finally, if you had to send a postcard


from Rome, which part of the city would you choose? A: I love Rome in autumn. It makes me feel rejuvenated and energized and I particularly love the parks. As a matter of fact, Blanc was created on the grounds of Villa Doria Pamphili, where I sat down with my sketchbook and did all the drawings. That is where I would choose to send my postcard from, rather than the city itself. - Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio Postcard update

Posted On: May 30, 2013

To Its Beginning To Its End

beginning to its end” held last year with Chiara Forti, at the gallery Adiacenze, in Bologna. The exhibition was divided into 4 environments, with the music split in 4, one track per room. It represented the cycle of life, from birth to death. Q: Also, the album has a mathematical construction, in a way, as the four tracks all have precise durations, 10 mins (part I) and 6 mins (part II, III, IV). There are a number of albums structured in a similar way, I’m thinking of Stephan Mathieu’s In a Static Place, for instance (10:00 10:00 - 10:00 - 20:00 - 10:00). Is that a way of setting yourself parameters in order to determine the unfolding of loops and patterns independently from any preplanned idea?

A: Exactly, the music is designed to coexist in time and space with the different “...My way is in the sand flowing tracks complementing each other. Since between the shingle and the dune the loops are of different durations, the summer rain rains on my life though, a continuously evolving melody on me my life harrying fleeing can be experienced throughout the galto its beginning to its end”. lery space. There was a single leitmotiv, ( My way is in the sand flowing – Samuel but mathematics dictated the changing Beckett) nature of the piece. Also, the installation is different from the download version Q: Hi Alessio, you’ve just released a since the sound for the installation was new album on the Italian netlabel Laver- quadraphonic for each room, whereas na. Judging by its title, I thought, this is the download is obviously stereo. Furgoing to be a circular loop based album. thermore, in the first room there was an It’s not as simple as that, though, is it? extra sound conceived to be inserted into the trunk of a tree. This sound, A: That’s correct. The work is a conthough, does not appear on the album. cept album, and circular loop based. The music in the downloadable files is Q: Once again, field recordings feature the soundtrack from an exhibition “to its heavily in this release, which has a very

seasonal feel. Where is To Its Beginning To Its End located? A: I composed the music thinking that there wasn’t a beginning and an end, but a continuous cycle, a continuous evolution, just as it happens in nature. The music was inspired by a series of photographs by Chiara Forti. The images were taken in the locations where the materials used in the exhibition were found. Q: The album also makes me think of your collaborative project with Francesco Giannico, Sleephonia, in terms of texture and mood, which to me feels quite nocturnal but also to Loud Listening with its hissy drones. Are there any points of convergence with these works or is this just coincidental? A: I think it’s pure coincidence. It’s the kind of atmosphere I probably search for and which I am most comfortable with. As you say, this atmosphere is nocturnal and melancholic in times of hope. Still, my next album will be different. I guess I am at a defining moment, at a kind of breaking point, I would say. In fact, even if this is my most recent release, the album was actually completed more than a year ago.

A: I think it depends on several factors. For instance, on whether the label is well established and on whether the musician is known. I think that labels that put out physical releases are still perceived to be of a higher quality. Q: Since the last time we last spoke, you have now left Rome and moved to Bologna. How do the two cities compare in terms of their arts and music scene? A: I’m still new to Bologna and I am not in a position to compare the two cities as yet. I would say that Bologna seems less dispersive, though, and there seems to be a more direct relationship with contemporary art. I have been working with the gallery Adiacenze here and after a solo show in January, I have now started collaborating with other artists from the gallery and producing several works of videoart.

Q: You are not new to the world of netlabels. Back in 2010 you released Blanc on Zymogen and last year there was the collaborative project Loud Listening, which came as a free download on Crónica. Is this still a preferable option to bandcamp?


ROMA – CRIS X Posted In: July 2013

Cristiano Luciani is an improviser, sound and visual artist; he works and lives in Rome (Italy) and Berlin (Germany). His visual and sound work has been exhibited in different contexts throughout Europe, United Kingdom, Japan, China and South America. In the 2010 he created the experimental label CX Records. Q: You are part of the band Lendormin but as a solo artist you seem to favour collaborations with Japanese artists, such as KK Null and Merzbow. What can you tell me about the Italian electroacoustic scene and do you have any collaboration with Italian musicians in the pipeline? A: I am very curious by nature, which has brought me to listen to the majority of albums by Italian artists who operate within this field. I have also played with a lot of musicians from Italy. I started a collaboration with Cristiano Deison, a musician from Udine who’s worked with Theo Teardo, amongst others, before embarking on his own solo project. He also released a split 7’’ with Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth in the past and more recently a great CD with KK Null, with whom I also collaborated. Furthermore, Deison bought one of my albums, and that is something I always appreciate, when a fellow musician buys a physical copy from you rather than ask for a freebie. I also find Pietro Riparbelli’s Cathedrals project very interesting and inspiring and I will be taking field recordings inside Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome; another work I rate highly is the one by Mario Gabola and Mimmo Napolitano, from Naples, who record under the monikers Aspec(t) and _SEC. In addition, I have been in touch with Gianluca Becuzzi. For the time being, though, there is nothing definite as yet. There are many Italian artists with whom I would like to collaborate, people like Stefano Pilia, for instance. He has an introspective approach and one can tell that what he does comes from somewhere deep inside. I have a lot of respect for many of the underground labels that put so much passion in their work in spite of our


country’s hostile and conformist environment. I am thinking for instance of the excellent archive work carried out by the Milan based label Die Schachtel: amongst my all time favourite albums are their boxset by Gruppo di improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza and Luciano Cilio’s Dell’ Universo Assente. Q: What made you choose Maurizio Bianchi specifically for your first split solo release on your label CX Records? A: I chose Maurizio for two reasons. First of all because although I discovered him quite late, I consider his early works, such as Symphony For Genocide and Regel - among others - to be seminal albums and I was listening to them quite a lot when I first started working on my solo stuff. Also, it was my attempt to try and revive the traditional culture of apprenticeship, which I feel has become lost. I consider Maurizio to be a master and I was keen to establish a link. Nowadays, I feel that with the speed with which data is accessed on the net, many cultural references tend to get lost within this information overload with context and timeframe specs falling by the wayside. On a subconscious level, with my all of my split releases I have also gone for father figures, in a way. Maurizio Bianchi and Merzbow are both regarded as real pillars within the scene. Their work not only means a lot to me on a personal level, but is also considered a milestone within the genre. Also, I have loved KK Null’s work for a long time, and to collaborate with him on an album as well as playing live with him has been a great honour and a truly great experience. I also have to say that having big names on the label has also meant that I have been able to keep afloat especially considering

I release vinyl. Q: How many copies of each album do you press? A: The first couple of split vinyl had a run of 300 copies, with the Merzbow split on white vinyl. The third album, the one with KK Null came out in a limited edition of 200 even though I pressed a further 150 copies on CD. There’s also a digital download available on my Bandcamp site. However, the format I prefer is without a doubt vinyl, which I consider as an artistic object in itself. I am very particular about this and I also pay great attention to detail when it comes to the artwork, with its deliberately minimalist design. Having said that, I also asked Kazuyuki Kishino (KK Null) to send me some images for the inner sleeve, as he’s a great photographer. I come from the visual arts, and artwork is something I pay attention to. Q: Why did you go for a split with Maurizio Bianchi and not for a collaboration? A: To be honest, the album was originally intended to be a collaboration, but when I got in touch with Maurizio, he told me he had already unofficially stopped making music. I sent him some of my stuff anyway which he liked very much, so we decided to do a split with material from unreleased tracks he already had and which he entrusted me with editing as I saw fit. Luckily he was happy with the result. It is a very stripped back album, with a dark feel to it, but it is also homogeneous and organic in its development. Maurizio is a very sincere person who radiates a strong energy. I might not share his religious beliefs, but I do have a lot of respect for him. Personally I come from a different background and if anything, I would say I feel closer to Eastern philosophy, as I have studied Buddhism. Many of Maurizio’s albums, on the other hand, have been influenced by the Bible, even though he has remained faithful to his “punk” and radical approach to sound. It is rare to come across someone who’s always remained true to himself without ever adopting any fashionable musical trend. Q: Aside from Maurizio Bianchi, one can

also hear to influence of a composer such as Giacinto Scelsi in your work. A: I came to Giacinto Scelsi rather late. When I was in my twenties, I used to listen to punk rock and impro stuff (especially Derek Bailey and AMM). I was also in love with French concrete music from the 50s and people like the great composer Pierre Shaffer. Thanks to my background in the visual arts I also discovered Luigi Nono, as he worked with the painter Emilio Vedova. I only got to know Giacinto Scelsi’s music about three years ago, through the composer and pianist Luca Miti. Luca has often worked with the singer Michiko Hirayama, who recorded Scelsi’s Canti del Capricorno and knew the composer well. I consider Scelsi to be closer to noise and drone musicians rather than classical contemporary composers with his microtonal approach. Eventually, last year, we ended up playing together at the Forte Fanfulla in Rome as a quartet with Michiko Hirayama, voice, Luca Miti on piano, Gene Coleman on bass clarinet and myself on percussions and electronics. It has been an incredible powerful and moving experience and at the end I was quite tearful. Michiko is now in her 90s, she lives in the Monteverde district of Rome and her flat is full of memorabilia from Giacinto Scelsi. She talks a lot about him and about his working method and the fact that he used to used to improvise on the piano with his assistants eventually transcribing the music.

create as if I was working on a painting or a film. At times what I do is very similar to one long take shots. I tend to think of shapes and colours in terms of sounds. For a number of years I was also doing paintings and engravings, which has given me an awareness for opacity and brightness, something I’ve since adopted in my music. It is important to me to ascertain whether a sound is sculpted onto smooth or rough surfaces. I try to create textures combining several different elements in order to achieve an internal tension that

Q: What is your own working method? A: I am not a musician in the traditional sense. I work with different synthesizers, organ and a slide guitar, with or without effects, cymbals and percussions with a bow or mallets, and contact microphones, samples, tapes, and turntable amongst other things. I then assemble all the sounds I


This direct approach has influenced my work ever since. My reference points in this respect were La Jetée by Chris Marker -with its striking idea of time- and Jonas Mekas’ video diaries as well as Derek Jarman’s Super8 films. I would also add Herzog, his movies and documentaries are really amazing! This is something I have applied both in my music and in my video work. Q: Another strong influence in your work is that of Gilles Deleuze.

is at the core of any musical structure I might eventually construct. I would say I am very influenced by filmmakers and visual artists such as Kurt Schwitters. It is not by accident that my second split release was with Merzbow who is very much into Schwitters. Q: Is there any room for digital sounds in your work? A: I do use digital synths, but I don’t create digital sounds from scratch. I always start from some kind of source. What I am interested in is timbre, which means I can use all sorts of different original sounds but I am also interested in effects and in transforming these sounds. I can use field recordings, both naked and processed. I consider my Zoom to be an instrument. To be honest, though, field recordings up until recently didn’t fulfil any conceptual or aesthetic function. I wanted my sound to be traversed by “reality”. Sometimes I also used cheap tape recorders, as I was interested in the hiss of tapes. I wanted that to be tangible. I have even dug out stuff I’d recorded 15 years ago… Q: You were already carrying a tape recorder with you 15 years ago? A: I can be quite obsessive… I had a Sony tape recorder with blank tapes and for two three years, I always recorded some sounds during the day, without any creative idea behind it. It was more out of a form of compulsion, a kind of obsession, in a way. I felt compelled to capture little snippets of reality. Listening back to that material always triggers strong feelings in me. Q: Daniel Barenboim has stated that hearing, rather than sight, is the memory


sense, would you agree? A: I work both with sight and sound, so I would say both. When I was 25 I used to film everything with a video camera. Once again, snippets of life. My travels, sex, conversations with friends, gigs, landscapes… The best thing about it was that when I digitised the material I was struck by how everything seemed natural. My friends (and unknown people) were so used to seeing me with a camera that they never appear to be self-conscious.

A: I found The Logic of Sensation, his text on Francis Bacon, absolutely fascinating. It’s an incredible text, which opens up one’s mind even if one is not a fan of Bacon. In the volume Noise & Capitalism, Deleuze is referred to as the first “Noise Philosopher” and I was keen to investigate this aspect of his work. Generally speaking, I do tend to read a variety of different things on philosophy and psychology. Q: If your album with KK Null were a film, which film would it be? A: That’s a tough question to answer, as it is a collaboration…maybe a dark and

strong sci-fi movie... Q: What about the split album with Maurizio Bianchi, then? A: God, that’s really hard…I could tell you what film my split album with Merzbow could be and that is Funeral Parade of Roses from 1969 by Toshio Matsumoto and probably even some of Shinja Tsukamoto’s films. I could easily tell you what the next album could be, though. I recently saw Enter the Void by Gaspar Noé, and found it mesmerising. I am amazed that he was given the funds to make it. Noé has an existentialist approach to reality, which is very raw and violent but at the same time he is a visionary and mixes psychedelic images with ideas on reincarnation culled from The Tibetan Book of the Dead. I would like to try and achieve his intensity both in content and form. Q: Will you be releasing only your own material on your label? A: My original intention is to release only my stuff and collaborative work. Having said that, as I am currently working on new video and audio material I have decided to release a DVD with Japanese artists in the meantime. When I went to Tokyo for the first

time, a friend of mine found a videotape from CCCC with Hiroshi Hasegawa and Mayuko Hino, which is a bondage film with Hasegawa playing that was so visceral and raw that is reset my musical parameters. It was only ever released on VHS in the 80s and I wanted to rerelease it. When we eventually became friends I asked them to send me more material for a DVD that will include a live performance and some of Hasegawa’s stuff as Astro and DFH-M3 (the noise project of Mayuko Hino with Junko from Hijo Kaidan band). Q: You have toured a lot in Japan, how did this come about? A: The first gigs I did in China and Japan were organised by Junky from Torturing Nurse, and Hiroshi Hasegawa (aka Astro). Subsequently, I met other musicians with whom I played who arranged a few dates for me over there. I then returned the favour and set up several concerts for Japanese musicians here in Rome, such as KK Null, Astro, Keiko Higuchi, and Yoko Higashi. I love playing in Asia, as the audience there is attentive and sensitive. Also, in the next few months, Sachiko Fukuoka’s label Musik Atlak should be releasing my new album together with Keiko Higuchi. -Interview: Gianmarco Del Re


ROME – LUCA LONGOBARDI Posted On: March 19, 2013

Photography: Michele Rutigliano

Luca Longobardi is a pianist and composer. He combines the performance practice of the classical repertoire with a remarkable openness to the contemporary musical language… Q: You are a classically trained pianist. At what age did you start playing the piano? A: When I was four, my parents gave me a Bontempi keyboard for Christmas. I spent hours on it and eventually I went up to them and told them I had composed my first track. My parents took me to see a nun at my local nursery who also taught music and they realised I was playing the same notes in the same order, which meant I had some kind of idea of what I was doing and that I had developed some kind of musical memory. Q: Your mother tongue is music then, in a sense? A: In a sense, yes. I learned to read music before I could read or write. I’ve studied the piano at the conservatory and subsequently composition in order to be a better performer. To understand the logic behind any piece of music, be that by Mozart or Ligeti, means being able to remember it and to perform it better. If you figure out that in his opus 110, Beethoven skips notes by fourths in the final movement of the sonata to introduce an ecclesiastical feel, and you recognise the structure of a fugue, albeit in a more modern style, then it becomes easier to play. When I studied composition with Roberto De Simone in Naples, I didn’t think I would actually be composing music but being involved with contemporary dance and then studying audio restoration opened the floodgates for me. Sooner or later, though, I will get back to basics and just do a straightforward piano recital just for the pure pleasure or play-


ing a classical repertoire from Bach to Mozart or from Albeniz to Rachmaninoff on a proper piano. Q: How did your involvement with contemporary dance come about? A: By working as a rehearsal pianist first at the Teatro Verdi in Salerno and then at the San Carlo in Naples, where I was exposed to a lot of new stuff. Choreographers tend to look for original music to work with and this is a great incentive. I was then asked to compose music for a new ballet, Prima il Piede Poi il Passo with the choreographer Laura Martorana which travelled to Chile and it just developed from there. For the past year and a half I’ve been working more as a composer than as a pianist. Q: You’ve mentioned the fact that you’ve studied audio restoration as well; in what way has that been instrumental in your composing process? A: I got a PhD in audio restoration here in Rome. My work consisted in digitally reconstructing the original audio atmosphere of a historical recording of the opening night (March the 3rd 1963) of Manon Lescaut at the Teatro dell’Opera

held in the archives of the theatre. When concert and opera performances are recorded live in a theatre, for documentation purposes, they use the panoramic microphones mounted above the conductor in the theatre hall as sound source. This is not the best listening point, so one needs to move the focus down to the third or fourth row of the theatre. Furthermore, a historical recording from the 60s is held on tapes and the first thing to do is to ensure there is no compression in the analog to digital transfer. One cannot reduce the dynamic range by 6 decibels just because that is how a piece by David Guetta needs to play. There are specific audio parameters for this sort of thing, which can be altered especially on telly. The Italian state television, for instance, has different parameters to those required by Sky and one needs to be aware of this. It’s one thing to restore the soundtrack of the film La Dolce Vita, for instance, because the music, in that case has already been mastered, but here we are talking about historical recordings that have not been compressed. To be faithful to the original sound, and to understand how this was recorded, I went to speak to the original sound technicians of the time, now in their 80s who were

real fountains of knowledge. One cannot play in 5.1 or 7.1 a 1960s tape. In a similar way, to play an old vinyl on a modern usb record player alters the original sound of the recording, which is fine as long as one is aware of this. Anyhow, when I was cleaning up the sound I was working on, I collected all the refuse, the noise and glitches from those recordings, which I then used in my own work to add texture and create rhythm. Q: Do you manage to get by with music alone? A: Well, I do work a lot with music but to be on the safe side, I was lucky enough to get a job that combines my passion for music programs and technology, which I use when composing and performing music, and the hardware itself in the sense that I also work for Apple in a service and training position. Being a freelancer I never know if and when I will get paid and having a steady job allows for that peace of mind, which helps me to compose my music with greater freedom. Also, I am trying to put some money aside in order to be able to play with real instruments and a sextet. Q: How do you go about composing music? A: It depends. Sometimes I get up in the morning and press the rec button. I play and then have to transcribe the musical notation in order to be able to play it again. If I am working on an album I try to give it a narrative structure, I map out a general outline and determine what I need and where. I composed the track Constance, for instance, for toy piano and underground sounds as that is what I felt I needed after what I’d just written. That is not to say that I compose everything for an album in sequential order. Track one might become track four and vice versa, but it is important to have a clear idea of structure. I am now currently working on a new EP. The first and last tracks will be purely electronic. In between there will be five tracks inspired by people I don’t know. For instance, there’s a girl called Judy who’s uploaded a track of mine, Botafumeiro, on the website soundtrack and in the space of seven days it got 11,000 hits. This has prompted me to write something especially for her. I am doing something similar with four other people. Q: Four other people you’ve met on Soundcloud?

A: No. On Soundcloud I talk about music, Facebook helps me to showcase my work, on Twitter I am cynical… but for inspiration it’s normally people or random events. Yesterday, when I was coming out after an edit, a saw a woman tripping over the cobblestones and falling flat on her face. I run to her rescue as she was covered in blood. When the ambulance came she called her husband who started shouting over the phone, “What an idiot, it’s the second time you fall over!” It was a surreal situation and this inspired me to write something.

Music doesn’t define situations or feelings, but it can be a tool to encapsulate them. Music is a different language. I can talk a lot, as you may have noticed. I do this with words and I do it with notes as well. The creative process is great. Sometimes I can get anxious and therefore I cling to technique because I’ve studied composition and I know how to resolve technically an impasse. At other times the process is much more instinctive. Q: In a way, we have started from the end and the EP you are currently working on. I’d like to go backtrack a bit and


ask you to introduce the three albums you have released so far. A: The first one was titled 29 | 33, as in from 29 years old to 33. That was the time when I moved to Rome and had to find my own place within the city. Q: Have you found it? A: I have now, yes. Maybe that is why I am now planning on moving to France… The second album is titled B612 as in the asteroid in St Exupery’s Little Prince. I wanted to suggest a journey on this small red boat. The first album is constructed around a specific timeframe while B612 conjures up imaginary places. With Espace 13, on the other hand, I’ve designed a perimeter. It is like a compendium of the first two albums with an electronic slant and myself moving inside this perimeter. So far everything is self-released, though. I don’t believe in the American dream, but that is not to say that maybe one day I might get a label… Q: Do you ever find it difficult to put a full stop to a track you are writing? A: No, it’s all part of the process. When I was studying composition I used to ask my teachers, “Why do I need to learn how to compose a fugue when, if I compose one people will inevitably say, ‘You are only trying to copy Bach’?” Be-


cause one needs exercise, if one wants the process to become second nature. After a while you don’t think about rules any longer, whether, for instance, you might need a certain theme at a certain point.It all becomes part of the process. I can write tracks that are nine minutes long and tracks that end after 30 seconds. For instance, the track Le Ore is 9mins 30seconds in length. To me it represents the coral reef, the sedimentation of water, a kind of build up. It is constructed with the sound of 11 pianos and for that reason it had to be have a certain duration, to allow for every piano line to establish itself. There’s always an internal logic. At least that is how I work at present, in the future it could very well be different. Q: How do you feel about musicians who use classical music in their work? A: It depends on how and why they do it. I love hearing Keith Jarrett playing Bach, for instance, but if the Italian pop singer Al Bano writes some lyrics over Tchaikovsky’s Concerto in B flat then I do object. At the end of the film Black Swan, on the other hand, the composer uses the theme of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in a stylised and respectful way, revisiting the material without betraying its original intention and I just love it. One needs to be clear about why and how one tampers with other people’s work. I was recently asked to rework a number of songs by the Italian singer songwriter Fabrizio De Andrè for a dance piece. I transformed his song Il Giudice in a klezmer piece, but I approached the

whole thing with extreme care. My father used to listen to either classical music or De André in the car, so I approached his work with the utmost care and respect. It’s a tough nut to crack. One can criticise people who use classical music in their own work, the same way one can criticize what I’ve done with Fabrizio De Andrè’s songs. Q: What do you think of the recent wave of piano music with Luigi Einuadi and Fabrizio Paterlini, just two mention two of the most prominent Italian artists, gaining so many accolades? A: I like Einaudi’s latest album In a Time Lapse because it reminds me of his early works. He went back to his slightly more experimental electronic roots, with a sound that now feels retro. I have more difficulty with albums such as I giorni and Le onde, which after a while they drive me to distraction. I do like Paterlini who investigates a calmer, more ambient dimension of the piano – and I don’t mean this in a derogatory way. One musician I love is Cacciapaglia. Q: I am not familiar with Cacciapaglia’s work… A: He wrote the majority of jingles we used to hear on Italian telly. I also like Ólafur Arnalds but on certain chords. At the end of the day, I like spending time exploring music on soundcloud. Q: Are there any Italian musicians you’d like to recommend, maybe even

Photography: Michele Rutigliano

based in Rome? A: There’s a young pianist I really admire, called Francesco Taskayali. He reminds me of Cacciapaglia. He is very linear, with no hang-ups. His sound is really pure and I really enjoy listening to his stuff. I have also invited him to play a few tracks when I was playing live. He is doing really well, and I am very happy for him. Q: What is the scene like in Rome? A: Rome is a difficult city. I tend to play in non-orthodox venues like Peak Book, this bookshop cum cafe where we are sitting now, or really small fringe theatres, like the ones in Pietralata, one of the neighbourhoods Pasolini used to write about. It can even happen that I’m asked to play at the contemporary art museum Macro, or sometimes I do house concerts. It’s really difficult for

venues, and many have since closed down like Tumbler. The cuts have hit us across the board and the costs of putting up a show by an Italian musician can be prohibitive taking into account taxes, performing rights and all that. Paradoxically it is actually cheaper to get a foreign musician to play. The tragic thing is that it is now becoming increasingly difficult for young musicians to get a break as small theatre and concert halls no longer have the resources to invest.

- Interview: Gianmarco Del Re ……… Luca Longobardi’s soundtrack to the installation Monet, Renoir… Chagall : Voyages en Méditerranée can be experienced at Carrières de Lumières, Route de Maillane, 13520 Les Baux de Provence.


Rome – Elisa Luu

Photography: Gianmarco Del Re

Posted On: October 7, 2011

Based in Rome, Elisabetta Luciani, aka Elisa Luu, is a musician and the cofounder of La Bèl, one of an increasing number of Italian netlabels offering free electroacoustic music… Q: Why is it that there are so few women within the electro-acoustic scene in Italy? A: I am not sure why that is. Even when I started playing jazz, I was one of the very few women musicians playing the sax. The situation has improved in recent years with many more women venturing into the jazz scene. I hope it will be the same with electronic music. Q: In the early 90s you studied under the legendary Italian folk singer Giovanna Marini, before moving onto jazz. How did you end doing electronic music? A: The saxophone was my passion. I studied it for five years at the conservatory in Frosinone. I then went on to the Berklee School in Perugia and from then on I was playing in jazz quartets and orchestras. It was not easy, though, to find venues to play in Italy, and Rome was no exception. I found it frustrating and I wanted to try something different. In

2007, I picked up a laptop to see what I could do on my own. I liked the freedom it gave me. I have not looked back since. Q: Your music is very much instrument based, it is steeped in digital production while retaining a tangible human quality. It could be said that what you do is electro-acoustic music by default. A: The most important thing to me is the melodic quality of a particular composition, rather than the technical and machine based side of things. I still like to play my own instruments, not only the sax, but also guitars and synthesizers. This remains the basis of my music. I then sample my own stuff, and create loops and process sounds. For a while I was just experimenting, then I started uploading the first tracks onto mySpace. Things took off quite rapidly. I released Floating Sounds on the British label Phantom Channel. From that came Hidden Shoal with Chromatic Sigh in 2007. Q: You mentioned your difficulties in finding venues to play in Italy as a jazz musician. What has your experience been with electro-acoustic music and

electronic festivals in particular? A: The dearth of venues is something that applies across the board. In terms of festivals, last year I was invited to Flussi a young electro-acoustic festival held in Avellino, a medium sized town in the Irpinia region, which was severely hit by an earthquake in 1980. Due to budgetary constraints, the 2011 edition had to be scaled down to just three days from the original weeklong celebration of all things experimental. Nonetheless it remains a very vibrant and exciting event that, in a sense, takes the electroacoustic scene to virgin territory, away from the usual hubs of Milan, Modena and Florence. Also, really interesting is the Half-Die festival, which takes place every July here in Rome. It is run by Gianni Rosace on the terrace of his house overlooking a Roman aqueduct in the Quadraro district. It is entirely Gianni’s creation with no sponsorship or anything of that kind. Unfortunately, this is sometimes the only way to make things happen here in Italy. Q: How did La Bèl come about? A: I met Adriano Bossola, co-founder of La Bèl, on mySpace. Adriano is based in Biella in the Piedmont region. He is also a musician, who sometimes records under the moniker Di Bois. We got talking, and we decided to start our own label to group together like-minded people, even though we have never physically met. We were thrilled to find a really active and exciting scene in Sardinia. Indeed, the first few releases, such as Menion, Nick Rivera and Ballpen, all came from that region and even the latest one, Adriano Orrù is a double bass player from Nuoro who now lives and works in Cagliari. Q: Not all your artists are Italian, though. A: No, the most important thing, at least to me, is the melodic quality of an album.


I like it when artists play an instrument and the music is not just about processed sounds. A great discovery was the German guitarist Frank Schültge Blumm, who’s recorded Quatro Covers with the Colombian but Barcelona based Lucrecia Dalt, a clever reworking of classic songs from the likes of Iggy Pop, Simon and Gerfunkel, Burt Bacharach and Nat King Cole. We also have a Japanese duo N-qia, Plusplus from Britain, and more things in the pipeline. Q: Do you have a calendar for releases? A: Adriano would like to release an album every two months, but I am more casual about it. If we find something we like, than that is great, if not we just need to carry on searching. Q: If you were to choose a place in Rome to send a postcard from, what would that be? A: The Garbatella district. It is full of sublime architecture from the 20s and 30s and is a great area to explore. Originally, it was going to be linked to Ostia by a navigable canal, hence most of the street names have same reference to waterways or waterworks, but the project was never realized. Q: Your clip A Slow Ride Along the River was filmed in Rome. It paints a gentle and idyllic picture of Rome… A: Indeed, traffic is a real problem in Rome and one that no mayor is neither willing nor capable of tackling. We only have two tube lines and everyone drives a car. Rome is not bike friendly; it is more of a moped city. Having said that, there are a few cycling paths which enabled me to film the clip on my iPhone while cycling along the river. The whole thing was done in just a few hours. Interview and photography: Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio ……………. Built in the 20s and 30s, Garbatella, is the roman equivalent to the garden city movement, with its intricate labyrinth of houses looking onto communal courtyards.



Photography: Giuseppe Verticchio, Daniela Gherardi and Enrico Verticchio

Posted On: March 22, 2013

Giuseppe Verticchio lives and works in Rome. He began playing electronic music in 1994 and adopted the moniker Nimh in 2001. Over the years, he has released many albums of different nature containing elements of experimental music, ambient, dark-ambient, industrial, electronic, isolationism, and ritual-ethnic music on labels such as Silentes, Malignant, Eibon, Rage in Eden, Amplexus, Synästhesie Schallplatten… Q: You are one of those rare musicians who takes an active interest in other people’s work, having started the website Oltre il Suono back in 2001 in order to review and give visibility to the Italian experimental music scene. You must’ve made many friends and a few enemies over the years? A: A lot of friends, I would say. Over time there have also been a few less successful encounters, but all in all, it’s been a great occasion to meet likeminded people. There were a bunch of us from Rome who all met through Gianluigi Gasparetti’s magazine Deep Listenings, while I was taking my first steps within electronic and experimental music by producing CD-Rs and we were looking for a way to promote our work. I remember that back then, just to be able to upload or to hear small excerpts in real audio on the net was a great achievement, as MP3s didn’t really exist. Being a computer programmer by trade, I started Oltre il Suono with no real ambition other than to promote not just my own work, but also my friends’ releases. I used to meet other musicians in a natural way, as friends of friends, or sometimes I would personally get in touch with artists whose work I admired. In a sense, Oltre il Suono functioned as a sort of proto-mySpace where every single artist had a page, with photographs and real audio excerpts. The only difference being that with mySpace artists maintain their own pages, whereas with Oltre il Suono that responsibility rested with me. In the space of a couple of years the project took off and several musicians started getting in touch with me directly, which forced me to redesign the website


as I no longer had time to update everybody’s pages. With the advent of mySpace this was no longer necessary and my website reverted to carefully selected reviews. Q: I get the impression that you were interested mainly in self produced music, is that so? A: We are talking about a very small scene, with only a handful of labels active back then, such as Stefano Gentile’s Amplexus and Stefano Musso’s Hic Sunt Leones amongst others. Oltre il Suono was a way to promote music with little visibility at a time when Internet was still in its infancy. Initially I was concentrating on CD-Rs and self produced albums, but since it became clear that the life span of CD-Rs, and especially new generation ones, was somehow limited I started focussing on CDs. I have always been interested in well produced music, though, with good artwork and good overall packaging. Unfortunately, there were many people who were actually doing things in a haphazard way releasing low quality products. Q: What is the future now that MySpace has virtually died? A: Personally, I still have my own mySpace page. I am not too keen on Soundcloud, I find it a bit sterile and spartan, and I am not too interested in Bandcamp either. I make music out of passion, I am not into it to make money and, even though I do have a limited number of copies of my albums for sale on my personal website, I am not looking at selling my work directly as with Bandcamp. My aim is still to release music and get some feedback from listeners. Q: In your interviews, talking about your working method, you frequently stress that you always strive to make some-

thing new. A: I have never been interested in making the same album over and over again. There are a number of artists who might’ve started as interesting only to end up repeating themselves, producing the same sounds, with the same musical approach, and the same method, and after a while I begin to find them a tad tedious. I don’t like clichés. I hope that different musical influences can be heard in my own music, both within a single album and from album to album. I try to develop something new each time I record an album, but nothing is ever pre-planned. I might bring back a particular instrument from one of my foreign travels and then start experimenting with it and for a while that might become my main focus. Another input to try something new could be a new software or even just a plug-in. Collaborations are also fertile ground to experiment. Q: Do you ever start working on an album only to realise halfway through that you are covering the same ground you have covered before and therefore chuck it all in and start again from scratch? A: No. I work in an instinctive way but I don’t feel compelled to make something new just for the sake of it. Also, when I say I instinctively search for new paths, that is not to say that everything I do is intrinsically original. What is important to me, is that every time I set about working on a new album, I don’t fall back into some repetitive pattern. If you put all the 20-25 albums I released so far, solo or in collaboration, next to each other, you will notice that aside from a few analogies in my working methods I have always strived for some kind of development. Some albums are more ethnic, others more dark-ambient, while others

more industrial. Q: I am quite intrigued by the ethnic side of your work. Could you mention some ethnic instruments you have discovered and utilised in your albums? A: The first ethnic instrument I picked up one was the didgeridoo, back in ’97 at a time when it was very difficult to find one in Rome or in Italy for that matter. I liked Steve Roach’s double album Dreamtime Return where he played the didgeridoo. Aside from that, I have played mostly Thai instruments as I have a brother who lives in Thailand, which has enabled me to travel extensively throughout the country. If I had to mention a few I would pick the Khaen, a Thai mouth organ, the Tzeebu a 3 string Thai banjo, the Soong, a 4 string Thai guitar and the Pin Pia a chest resonated stick zither with two to five strings, originating from the north of Thailand and which is actually very hard to find. I even wrote an article on Sandzine about it. It is quite complicated to play and produces a wah-wah effect Q: You are mostly self-taught, how do you get the hang of these instruments? A: Some are more difficult than others to play. For instance, I couldn’t work out the Tibetan trumpet, which I have at home and is very nice but I still haven’t been able to play it. Generally speaking, though, while not a virtuoso, I have been able to play most instruments well enoughh to be able to produce some loops or even more articulated melodies. Q: Do you have a classical training background? A: No. When I was a child, though, my mother used to get me toy instruments to play with. From then on, I picked

up the guitar, which most of my peers seemed to be strumming in some way or the other back then. Little by little, I have been able to work out a few chord and wind instruments. Q: How important is it for you that these instruments are recognisable as such in your music and for the sounds to be, generally speaking, of organic nature? A: Many consider experimental and electronic music to be something produced by synthesis with a computer. One can fiddle around with filters and stuff, but personally speaking, while I am happy to work with electronic instruments and keyboards, as well as traditional instruments, such as guitars, what I try to do is always to uncover new sounds which, to me, should have an organic origin. This, for instance, is what happens with field recordings, which I take with my Tascam DR-05 and I then process digitally. Q: Tell me something more about your field recordings. A: Many of the sounds that I incorporated in my first “Thai albums” were actually audio excerpts from video recordings I took with an old Sony Video 8 videocamera. The quality was quite low, but by digitally processing the sound I could eventually extract something I was happy to work with. Generally speaking, even if field recordings are an integral part of my music, they are never the primary subject. When minidiscs came out about 15 years ago, there was a proliferation of field recordings with people recording everything and anything. It became a trend. That is something that happens time and again, just as it happened when synthesisers first became affordable, with an explosion of electronic music made with synthesisers. It really depends on the technological developments of a specific time and place. As for myself, I never

focus on anything in particular, in the sense that when something new comes out, I may be interested in it and I might use in my music, but it never becomes the focus. I try to keep the overall structure of the music in mind. Q: Would you consider field recordings as simply adding texture to your music, or do they have a narrative function? A: It could be both. I can use the sound of rain, for instance, or that of an escalator in the underground, to add a certain percussive quality to a particular track, which might however be sustained by different and quite specific subject matter. In my more ethnic albums, field recordings are used to locate the sounds in a different geographical context. In the album Missing Tapes, for instance, field recordings can be kept in background or come to the fore depending on the specific track. Q: Do you ever use any Italian ethnic instruments? A: I don’t believe we have that many we could call ethnic. There’s the Sardinian reed instrument launeddas, which is difficult to find and to maintain. Other than that, we have the mandolin and similar instruments, but very often, people confuse ethnic with traditional and popular music, which is something I am not personally too keen on. Q: When it comes to ethnic instruments, how important is it to you that the original sound retains a certain element of recognisability while processing them? A: I don’t have set rules. Travel Diary for instance is entirely constructed from organic sounds. No synthesisers, not even an electric guitar. It consists purely of traditional Thai instruments, which are nonetheless digitally processed. It really depends on the circumstance. I can heavily process the sound of a Thai oboe, for instance, and treat it with all sorts of effects in order to achieve a particular drone, while at other times I can use the same sound by adding just a simple reverb to it and use it as melody and subject matter for the same track. In


The Missing Tapes, on the other hand, ethnic instruments are mixed with purely electronic sounds.

the sound while I play. Often, though, I like to record clear sounds and process them at a later stage with my PC.

Q: I read in a recent interview that you are more interested in sounds and timbre rather than melody and rhythm. Could you elaborate on that?

Q: You also do mastering work. Within this particular musical genre, in Italy, the only other name I can think of is that of Giuseppe Ielasi…

A: I like to create a sense of melody out of heavily processed and richly layered sounds. There is something more personal in someone finding a melodic quality in a carefully nuanced drone, rather than something specifically designed to elicit a specific response on an emotional level. There’s a different kind of empathy at play, which runs deeper.

A: I would add that of Andrea Marutti, who also does vinyl mastering, which is something quite different and specific.

Q: I am not an expert in computer programmes, could you give me an idea of the ones you use? A: I use a simple setup as I don’t like to have too many programs open. I need to have everything at hand, and if I have to wreck my brain trying to unravel the thousand functions of a software and the multitude of links to the instruments I loose the spontaneity of making music. The program I mostly use is WaveLab, which I started using when it was just a mere digital audio editor. Q: No Max Msp then? A: No, just WaveLab, and sometimes FruityLoops, a digital audio workstation. In the past I also used ReBirth, which emulates two Roland TB-303 synthesizers, a Roland TR-808 and a Roland TR-909 drum machine all at once, on albums such as Frozen, released on Afe, and Line of Fire, out on Silentes, but that was a long time ago. Q: Do you prefer low frequencies? A: Not really, I like a warm and well balanced sound. The most crucial aspect for me is the quality of sound with a good dynamic range. Q: In terms of effects, is it mostly delays and reverbs? A: At present I use a Boss multi-effects pedal with delays, reverbs, distortions, and chorus, which I use for specific purposes when I have a clear idea of the kind of sound I want to achieve. For my next album I have used an electric guitar by distorting


Q: What is your particular strength in terms of mastering? A: I wouldn’t be able to say. This is a niche market and we all know each other. Generally speaking, people who came to me have either heard my albums, or liked the work I’ve done for Stefano Gentile’s label Silentes. Q: What are the most important qualities one needs to have in order to deliver a good mastering job? A: First of all, one needs to have a certain knowledge of the specific musical genre one is working with and a certain sensibility in order to respect the sound of a particular album and to determine exactly where, when, and how, to intervene without prevaricating on the original intentions of the musician. The other fundamental requirement is to have a good stereo. Often, people master albums on small speakers and with a small woofer. I always rely on my tried and tested hi-fi stereo, which I’ve had for 25 years now. That is what I use to do music and listen to it. Q: Do you work with headphones on? A: No, I hate headphones… Well, they are handy in order not to disturb the neighbours and they are crucial when listening to a mastering job but in terms of making music, headphones always make music sound so much better and can give a false impression. The separation of sound on headphones between left and right channels makes for a totally different listening experience, and to judge the real sound propagation of an album I only ever trust my stereo system

because I know it and my ear is attuned to it. To give you an example, when I record an album with Andrea Marutti we tend to seclude ourselves in a small house I have in the Abruzzo region. We both take so much gear, that I couldn’t take my stereo with me as well. This means that once I get back to Rome, I normally end up having to spend more time mastering the album that it actually took to record it. This might be an exaggeration, but sometimes I do find missing frequencies, which means I have to add new layers of sounds. Q: What would you say to those who recommend listening to their music with headphones? A: If an album has been made specifically to be listened to with headphones on, that is what one should do. Also, it is true that it is more economical to invest in a good set of headphones rather than a first class stereo. Q: You don’t listen to music on your laptop then? A: My computer is connected to my stereo. Q: In your interviews you often stress that music should have an emotional impact for you. A: That is crucial to me and I say this in a critical way towards a lot of experimental music that very often is just a collection of field recording or technically proficient digital sounds, which leaves me rather cold. Experimentation for experimentation sake doesn’t go very far in my opinion. I would like my music to have the same emotional impact of pop music. Q: Do you believe that there needs to be an organic element in the music for it to have an emotional impact? A: Generally speaking, yes. I can’t think of a single album in the past five years, produced in a purely digital way that has moved me on an emotional level. I find works that combine acoustic and digital to be more interesting and to have more of an

Photography: Giuseppe Verticchio, Daniela Gherardi and Enrico Verticchio

In Eden label.

artists in your opinion?

There’s also been Pierpaolo Zoppo, aka Mauthausen Orchestra, who sadly passed away last June. Even though we never physically met, we spoke very often over the phone and I considered him a dear friend of mine. I regret not having been able to record a follow up album with him.

A: I am not saying this because they are friends of mine, but all of the people I have collaborated with, I have done so because I really rated their work in the first place. I would like to mention Andrea Marutti, Pierpaolo Zoppo, Maurizio Bianchi, Davide Del Col, amongst others, as well as Gabriele Panci, even though he has been repeating himself as of lately. More recently, I would say Pietro Riparbelli who contributed to Altered Nights, the album I did as Hall Of Mirrors with Andrea Marutti.

I also need to mention Maurizio Bianchi, the father of Italian power electronics and industrial music, with whom I released a four CD boxset. Aube did a rework version of my album Missing Tapes, and I also collaborated with Nefelheim, who is actually my cousin, and with Amir Baghiri on an old album rereleased by Silentes in 2005. impact. Also, I believe that music should be pleasing on the ear, that is not to say that it has to be easy, but if one is predisposed to certain atmospheres, one can appreciate difficult music as well. Q: Let’s talk about your collaborations now. You have already mentioned Andrea Marutti who seems to be one of your most regular contributors. A: Every two or three years we produce an album together either as Amon / Nimh or under the moniker Hall of Mirrors. He is a great musician and a great guy. The albums we have released together are quite different to each other as we always try to add new or different elements. The music itself could be seen as dark ambient. Another more recent collaboration I have initiated is with the French musician Philippe Blache who records under the moniker Day Before Us and plays piano and organ, amongst other things. He got in touch with me a few years ago, as he reviewed some of my albums. This lead to a personal meeting here in Rome and to our first joint work, Under Mournful Horizons, which came out last October on the Polish label Rage In Eden. I am very happy with it. I have also just finished mastering Philippe’s most recent solo album, which will also be released by Rage In Eden. Another recent collaboration is with Davide Del Col with whom I’ve made an album, which should come out at some point in March also on the Rage

Q: How did you collaboration with Maurizio Bianchi come about? A: We met through Andrea Marutti as we both had albums out on his label Afe Records. At the time I didn’t know Maurizio’s work that well, even though he was very well known. He gave me a tape of pre-recorded material to work with and complete freedom. The outcome was the album Secluded Truths which came out back in 2005 as Nimh + MB. It was the first time that Maurizio had collaborated with another Italian artist. Stefano Gentile then suggested a split album, which became Together Symphony, which is the title we also used for the box set. With the split album I put together his tracks and mine and did the mastering for it. Q: What would you say is Maurizio Bianchi’s strength? A: Maurizio works in a rather “rudimentary” way. He doesn’t even use a computer, or at least he didn’t use one back in 2005. He has a piano, but uses mostly tape loops with which he creates a layered sound which might not be technically very sophisticated but has a deep emotional impact. In Escape to Bela Zoar, for instance, there’s a very simple 10-15 minute long drone track which is made out of a sample of what seems like a cello, which gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it. His sound has an organic quality to it and is never aggressive.

Q: Speaking of Pietro Riparbelli, could you give me an idea of the working process on Altered Nights? A: Together with a number of other artists including Andrea Ferraris, Andrea Freschi, New Risen Throne, and Vestigial, Pietro gave us some material to work with, that could go from 10 seconds snippets to 10 minute improvisations. Andrea and I created the structure of the album and then added some of this material, adding some distortion or reverb or sometimes sampling some of it as with Vestigial’s contribution, which Andrea sampled with an Akai sampler and replayed with a Roland. We tend to work instinctively without thinking about it too much. Q: Any labels you’d like to recommend? A: I am obviously biased, but Stefano Gentile’s Silentes is a very good label, even if I haven’t liked every single release he has put out. Still, Stefano has been capable of reinventing himself moving from his previous label Amplexus to Silentes while retaining a very open-minded approach. He listens to everything without prejudice and has always supported me even in my more radical change of direction. Another label I rate is Boring Machines. Q: Is there anyone here in Rome you would like to mention? A: I can only think of Claudio Ricciardi who was in the ensemble Prima Materia together with Roberto Laneri. - Interview: Gianmarco Del Re

Q: Which are the most interesting Italian



- Photography: Chiara KurtovicNufactory, Simone Pappalardo, Giuseppe Silvi, Pasquale Citera

Posted On: May 13, 2013

Simone Pappalardo teaches computer music, electroacoustic, and holds a workshop on improvisation with electroacoustic instruments at the Conservatory Ottorino Respighi in Latina. He began his career creating electroacoustic machines in collaboration with experimental theatre artists. He also creates musical compositions, especially for instruments (electronics or acoustics) that he designs… Q: You have an academic background, could you tell me how you came to be involved with electronic music and what is your musical background in general? Have you for instance played in hardcore bands when you were a teenager as many of your peers seem to have done or are you classically trained? A: I don’t really have an academic background. I only enrolled at the Music Conservatory when I was 26 and even though this was to be a key stage in my musical development I already had a chance to dabble with other musical genres by then, which has been fundamental as well. I used to play in punk and post rock bands when I was in high school and subsequently had my first live experiences at the famous Folk Studio in Rome (one of Italy’s most important venues in terms of folk and avant-garde music) where I got to know Giancarlo Cesaroni when I was still quite young. I was exposed relatively early to different sounds to the prevailing and consolatory music produced for a young audience. Then came my experience with “underground theatre”, and especially with the Furio Camillo theatre and Butoh Dance company Lios. At the time I played in a duo with Claudio Moneta, who did great music for dance and who is currently a member of Roseluxx together with Cristiano Luciani, Tiziana Lo Conte and Federico Scalas. Working for the theatre, we had the opportunity to re-


hearse at night after the shows. We were frequently asked to compose music for performances. Electronic music not only allowed us to explore complex timbres but it also meant that we could produce music, which could convey the dramaturgical and “orchestral” intricacy which was key to these productions, at a low cost. It was definitely easier to multiply the layers of timbre digitally. Furthermore, this way, we could radically reinvent the performance space. Considering the lack of means we had to contend with, the music also often became the only element of set design (which sometimes was also a choice). It was down to the music timbres, together with the lighting and the stage action to modify the audience’s perception of the environment. I believe I was able to draw so much from that experience, and everything that I do today is in a way a continuation of that. The relationship between timbre and space has found a personal solution in the sound installations. The issue of the connection between musical and physical gesture has led me to investi-

gate further my relationship with improvisation. At the same time, I have found a natural outlet for it by building my own electronic instruments where the physical gesture is an integral component. The Furio Camillo theatre was an incredible lab where we could seek alternative ways of producing music. After that came the Music Conservatory where I got to know the composer Giorgio Nottoli, who was my teacher, and things radically changed in terms of the working method and the spaces and venues where we would play. Things became less empirical, more theoretical but also more complex. Q: There are a number of pioneers in terms of early electronic music in Italy. What do you think was the specific

these pioneers who have accomplished that process of transformation within the arts that had began at the end of the XIX century and which elevated different and external elements to the same level of importance of compositional parameters such as those of musical notes and intervals. This way, they expanded considerably the musical vocabulary enabling it to express very complex abstractions and feelings, mirroring the complexity of the contemporary.

strength of musicians such as Enore Zaffiri, Marino Zuccheri, Teresa Rampazzi, Ferruccio Ascari, Pietro Grossi, and Luigi Nono? A: It’s really difficult to give a comprehensive overview on artists who are as important and different as the ones you have mentioned. What I can say is that these musicians have radically transformed, each in their own way, the way we think about music and composition in Italy (as well as abroad) by underlining the strong relationship between timbre,

architectural and social space, and scientific research, thus showing how music doesn’t live a vacuum. In relation to the installations of Ascari, the computer art of Zaffiri, the experimentations of Zuccheri, but also the works of Nono – who is the “purest” composers amongst the ones you’ve quoted – one cannot just talk about the music, but should also take into consideration the wide and complex social and artistic context which transcends the boundaries of musical syntax. This is perhaps the real strength and the innovative element of

Q: Your work is mostly based on electromagnetic fields and their interaction with acoustic instruments such as violins and pianos, which you end up giving a Frankenstein makeover. How do you go about developing these “hybrid machines”? A: The idea of building instruments comes from the theatre. From that experience I derived a strong interest towards physical gestures. Even sound could be seen as the memory of an action. There is no sound which has not been produced by a gesture. I therefore find it interesting to rethink classical instruments – or to develop new ones – in order to investigate this relationship between physical gesture and sound in different ways, by minimising or maximising it and testing its limits. Also, an instrument can be modified, or enhanced, in order to make it interact in a significant way with space. A sound, just like a gesture, is always linked to that same context where it acquires coherence. This relationship between sound and context can also be investigated and put to the test. A composition thus conceived triggers a process of experimentation and research on gestures and space, which is to be conducted together with the performers in the same way it happens for a certain type of theatre. Q: You do a lot in installations, working with Alberto Timossi amongst others, and you frequently play live sets, but there isn’t much in terms of recorded music from you currently available. Is that a deliberate choice? Do you feel more comfortable working in an art environment?


A: Rather than being a choice, this has proved to be rather difficult for me. As I mentioned I am very interested in the relationship between sound and space, which is something virtually impossible to capture on a recording. Both in my compositions and installations, I try to make a particular space into a parameter of the musical syntax just as it happens with other elements such as rhythm, amplitude, and timbre. It is not that I find working within an art context particularly congenial, it is just that a gallery space can generally be modified in a way that a venue or a music hall can hardly ever be. The question of finding new ways of experiencing art is an old one, even though the answers have been few and far in between. To have a performer on stage in front of an audience is still our preferred choice for a live event. The configuration of a space does determine the way the sound is perceived. It would be impossible, for instance, to imagine a drums set from Eastern Africa in Saint Mark’s cathedral in Venice. All one would hear would be a cacophony of sound without ever being able to isolate a single beat. It was in that cathedral that, in the XVI century, they experimented with the spazialisation of sound giving way to a new immersive musical experience unique to that space with its specific configuration. Instruments, timbres, and musical structures have always had a strong relationship with the space that hosted composers and their audiences. Today we have the possibility of redesigning completely this relationship, but at the same time we seem to be bound to forms of fruition solidified over the centuries. Q: You have a number of collaborations on the go. Could you tell me something about your Olympian Gossip project with Tiziana Lo Conte? A: Olympian Gossip are the result of years of work with Tiziana. Every time I was creating a new piece or I was working on an installation I would think of introducing Tiziana’s voice. She has a unique way of using her voice, which I find congenial. It also has to be said that she has a similar background to mine, alternating between the academic and the underground. Her improvisations carry the echoes of the history of contemporary music, with the avant-garde, and the more hardcore undeground experiences all blended into the mix together with a more extended and freer timbre.


- Photography: Chiara KurtovicNufactory, Simone Pappalardo, Giuseppe Silvi, Pasquale Citera

She is a natural born performer and has always been honing her skills through different practices. It is difficult to “enclose” her voice and her performance in the constricting framework of a recorded track. We formed this duo for the sheer pleasure of playing together. Olympian Gossip is an elecotracoustic impro project where we nonetheless set ourselves different rules depending on the specific occasion. There are times when we predetermine the type of material we will be working on, and other times when we work on a specific theme following long periods of research. Having said that, we can also play freely with no restrictions. Q: You are also currently working with Dario Sanfilippo, Franz Rosati and Andrea Valle on a new collaborative

project, which is still in its early stages. What else are you currently working on? A: At present this is still a project in the making rather than a live collaboration. Separately we have frequently worked together in different guises. We all held each other in very high esteem, which led us to want to combine our very different experiences, which have nonetheless many points in common. The first stage of this collaboration will be the festival “Le forme del suono” (The Shapes of Sound) held at the Respighi Conservatory in Latina (23-31 May 2013), which I am involved in organising. It will have workshops and installations by Franz Rosati and Andrea Valle as well as a collaborative installation by Dario Sanfilippo and I. As Dario will be away touring, Franz, Andrea and I might do a trio performance.

exposed composer that springs to mind is Paquale Citera, a versatile musician with an academic background who has also used Tiziana’s voice in some of his work.

Q: The Italian electroacoustic scene is quite varied and vibrant. Are there any underexposed artists and musicians you think could benefit from more exposure? A: Many names spring to mind. For instance, the impro ensamble “E-cor”, which came into being thanks to Elio Martusciello’s encouragement as teacher at the Conservatory in Latina. Many young and very promising musicians are honing their impro skills here with electroacoustic instruments creating works for a variable number of performers (electronic or otherwise). Another under-

faceted truthfulness.

At times, it is almost as if everything seems so much closer at hand here, from film stars to avant-garde painters, but then everything slips out of reach Also interesting is the Moterlsalieri once again and feels so remote. It does feel more difficult to produce art here as a space created by Fabio Quarthis is a city which doesn’t bestow visanta, which combines fashion, ibility. Rome is certainly far from being a art and music, and which also Mittel-European city. However, incredibly stages very interesting live sets. They were the first to allow me the as it may seem, experimentation here is very much alive and well. Also, it has to freedom to completely transform be said, that as a musician, I am lucky a space. In spite of the dire curenough in that I often travel for work, rent socio-economical situation in Rome they are persevering in their which puts me in a strange position in relation to the city I call home. Comattempt to offer something new pared to other cities I often find myself and non institutionalised. betraying it in favour of more elegant and functional places, but then again, Q: You are originally from the I end up striving for it. I would give up Emilia Romagna region but you were brought up in Piombino. You on Rome any day, but I would never change it. now live in the Alessandrino district of Rome. Notwithstanding its many problems, Rome has a very - interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio active experimental music scene. Do you feel at home there? A: Unfortunately yes, I do feel at home here in Rome! Sometimes I’d like to escape, as nothing seems to work and function properly here, especially considering that Rome is forever marred in a state of cultural and social crisis, however I am also aware that it has a lot to offer in terms of alternative venues and thanks to the tangible legacy of the historical avant-garde movements within film and theatre. In spite of the fact that Rome is provincial to its core, almost in a vulgar way, it still benefits from a multi-


ROME – FRANZ ROSATI Posted On: February 21, 2012

“Franz Rosati is a sound and media artist, focusing his research on real-time A/V, Visual Music projects and installations following an aesthetic idea based on discontinuity of aural and visual patterns avoiding any kind of repetition through the use of chaos mathematics, generative and stochastic processes. He uses his own custom made software for real-time micro-montage and sound elaboration in the microscopic time scale to realise compositions and performances based on aural and visual matter’s constant metamorphosis.” Q: Your musical practice takes different forms, you play on your own, you do installations, and then there is your collaborative work. What would you say is the common link? A: In my approach to music the interaction with other instruments is paramount. I used to play the bass when I was younger and became heavily influenced by prog rock, especially bands like Area, King Crimson and This Heat. I have also dabbled with the guitar and even had a go at the violin, but I dropped all that in my late adolescence. At the same time, I was always something of a computer geek so I just combined these two different passions of mine, not in the sense of recording music at home, but by writing software that would enable me to develop my own musical voice. I always had a DIY approach to music. I even tried making my own musical instruments, but I am not very talented in that respect. In terms of the sound I work with, I al-

ways try to utilize real sounds and what I do is mostly based on field recordings. For instance, two of the most beautiful sounds I am currently working with at present are that of a cicada I’ve recorded in Canada last summer and which is reminiscent of an electric drill, and the sound from a sugar factory in Toronto. I have only ever used synthetic sounds very early on in two releases, but it something I am not too keen on. From a visual side of things, though, I do the exact opposite. I never use concrete images but only what I develop with computer graphics. Q: Let’s stay on field recordings, considering the way you transform sounds, and the way in which you mix natural and man made or industrial sounds, what is it that you find in them that you cannot get from synthetic sounds? A: I always strive to reflect the organic quality of sound in my own music, which is something that synthetic sounds cannot really reproduce. Working within a framework of dynamic stochastic synthesis, as I did with Fields (out on the Brusio netlabel), I am able to reproduce a greater variety of sounds, which would be lost in favour of repetition, and recurring patterns, if I opted for synthetic sounds. There is greater dynamism within concrete sounds. To make an analogy if you consider a tree, you can categorize it by analysing its characteristics, but within the same treetops, for example, there is an infinite variety of ways in which leaves grow and this is what interests me. Having said that when I utilize concrete sounds and field recordings I am not concerned whether their original sources are still recognisable as such within the


Images courtesy of Franz Rosati: Taken in the 80s in the Casal Bruciato and Pietralata districts of Rome.

end product. On the contrary I like the idea of blurring the lines. However, the organic quality of these sounds is never lost in the mind of the listener. Q: Most of the reviews of your latest album Theory Of Vortex Sound point out that all the field recordings are virtually unrecognisable, was that your original intention? A: At times it all plays out as a kind of game. If I state that I have used a number of field recordings and samples, the listener tends to try and uncover hidden melodies. Things are not easily recognisable but I don’t just do it for the sake of it. I am interested in things which feel incomplete and unfinished, not because that is how they were made but as a result of a process or erosion, which is parallel to the time I take to process the music I make. I like to think of sound as something “in ruins”. The music from 600 years ago that we listen to nowadays, for instance, is not the same music that was composed all those centuries ago. This doesn’t mean that it is inferior, just that it has been subject to “erosion”, because instruments are different, tuning is different etc. The title of the album is taken from a scientific text on the mechanics of fluids. Sound travels like fluids through pressure. There are an infinite number of different sounds which coexist and, in a similar way, fluids carry an infinite number of different elements. One can discover all sorts of things by magnifying a snapshot of a waterflow. I’ve ap-

plied the same mathematical principles to Pathline n1 in my approach to sound with masses of sounds in ruins that are subject to extreme frequencies, going from very low levels to very high and back again. Science can describe nature in a poetic way that is both metaphorical and allegorical. Q: Did you have the work of Francisco López in mind? A: Francisco López is indeed one of the greatest composers of the last couple of decades, but I am also thinking of Mahler’s and Webern’s symphonic music in the way they developed and built on short musical phrases. Generally speaking, though, three composers have been fundamental in my musical development in this respect: Gustav Mahler, Yannis Xenaxis and Ornette Coleman. All three of them explored the concept of dynamics in a way that wasn’t just about playing with low and loud sounds but that took a narrative form. Q: There is a similar dynamic at play in the music of Górecki and Kancheli, with one decisive difference though, there is a very strong spiritual element in their case.

A: That is something that is totally absent from my work. Having said that, I am interested in Terry Riley and Steve Reich’s reprising of transesthatic’s principles, and devotional music from the Middle East, more on a sound level than a from a cultural point of view. For instance I seldom use rhythmic sequences and yet I find their use of polyrhythmic phasing really intersecting. I am fascinated by the internal poetry of Sufi music and by the way they make time expand and shrink. Two hours of music can feel like 20 minutes and this is something amazing. Going back to Mahler, Xenaxis and Coleman, though, what I love about them is that they were not concerned with creating beautiful sounds and I find that nowadays within electro-acoustic music there is a tendency to focus mainly on sound as such, on timbre, rather than the narrative aspect of music, whereas I am interested in the exact opposite. I would even say that to me finalising and mastering a product isn’t always as important as playing it live and giving it a narrative dimension. To give you an example, I was lucky enough to see Novi_sad playing live and I must say that he is a master in playing with very low dynamics, which especially in an outdoor space forces on the listener a level of deep listening which pertains to the narrative dimension. This is something, which is evident in Novi_sad and in Francisco López’s work. There is art in creating disturbing sounds, music doesn’t have be always beautiful. Finding oneself imprisoned in a musical cage where sounds can be jarring as well isn’t necessarily a bad thing if upon reflection one starts to question and reconsider what has been played. The listener doesn’t always want to be pleased. Q: I take it that traditional loops are dead as far as you are concerned? A: Personally, I don’t like using loops and when I do so, I either go for something very brief or something extremely long. I don’t really like delays either, which is something quite common within electroacoustic impro, nor do I like reverberation much. On a structural

level, reverberation is indeed necessary in the mastering phase, but as a creative tool they leave me rather cold. There are always exceptions and at the end of the day it all comes down to how one uses certain techniques. Toshimaro Nakamura, for instance is a master of the no input machine technique and what he does is absolutely amazing. It is not something I would attempt, but he is great in what he does. Q: Can you tell me more about the software you have developed? A: I am not sure it is really that interesting to go into the technical aspect of it. It is something I have fun with and that, in a way, resembles the process of composing since I place different parameters together in order to create different sounds. I like being able to control the music I produce with my own software, but I wouldn’t say that this is similar to playing an instrument, they are two different things. Q: Improvisation is another important aspect in your work. A: Yes, absolutely. For instance, I am currently putting the finishing touches on an album I am recording with Francesco Saguto who plays guitar. I met Francesco through the Franco Ferguson collective of impro jazz where I played electronics for a number of years and improvisation is at the basis of our collaborative project Gridshape. Francesco and I have opted not to use any other external sonic sources other than the guitar in order to produce a more coherent sound. We begun by playing together in May of last year. Initially we just improvised with no particular strategy. Francesco would play and I would process live samples of his music. The interplay between us has been very


important. At times I would play something in order to bring a particular piece to a close, or he would lead me down an unexpected path but neither of us has ever tried to dominate the proceedings, we have always interacted on an equal basis. Also, I have always been careful not to use too many effects, as I wanted the sound of the guitar to retain its own integrity. In this respect, even though we may be influenced by 70s prog rock and early 90s grunge music, we specifically chose a classical rather than an electric guitar because we wanted a more rounded and fuller sound. I like raw sounds and grunge was all about making music rather than playing notes, if you see what I mean. I am not too keen on anything which is too chiselled and sleek. I still listen to a lot of free jazz, and people like Archie Sheep, which has completely changed my approach to music. In this respect, I prefer recording something live rather than spending hours and hours on a sequencer even if this is something I do, but only on minimal level. From a strictly technical point of view, I like to adapt old tape looping techniques to the new technology. For instance, I can achieve the same layering of sound that Brian Eno and Robert Fripp achieved with Frippertronics in the 70s with their two reel to reel tape recorders situated side by side, in a matter of a few minutes. The virtual tape recorder I have devised enables me to create layerings that would otherwise produce distortion and to switch direction abruptly. Furthermore, I can work produce soundclouds with small fragments of sound and to concentrate on details within granular synthesis, which is what is important to me. The second phase of our project was to develop macrostructures where both Francesco and I knew how a certain track would begin and how it would end, leaving ample space for manoeuvre in the middle sections. Now, though, we have established a detailed plan of how each different track should unfold and Francesco currently plays a fixed set. In the album there will also be entire sections with just the guitar, which is something I would never have fore planned.


Q: How and where are you going to release the material? A: The album will be released by Nephogram. I am always in two minds whether to release my own work on my label, but at the end of the day what Francesco and I have produced so far is very much in line with Nephogram’s editorial line and it seems only natural to self release it. The label is very much focused on acoustic and concrete music which relies heavily on a technological input. Q: About your label, how do you go about selecting material for your label? A: I receive quite a few emails. There is a lot of good stuff out there, but the main problem is that it is seldom in line with what Nephogram is all about. I consider a label to be a work of art in itself and I would like to retain a certain integrity within its remit. I am not interested in becoming an impresario, what I would like to do is to produce a coherent musical discourse. The next release is going to be another album by Andrea Valle, a very interesting musician based in Turin, who basically operates in the opposite way I do. He uses digital inputs connected to different sized metal boxes to produce sounds. He does things that no percussionist would ever be able to do and yet he is profoundly human in his approach to music. I was blown over when I first saw him live. There are two futher releases in the pipeline but it is still too early to talk about it.

Q: Are we talking about physical or digital releases? A: Physical with limited editions of 300, – just because economics, it is cheaper to print 300 copies than 50 for example. But there will also be download options. Q: Let’s talk about the visual aspect of your work. A: I have always been interested in combining sound and visuals even though the first project where this has become of paramount importance is

Pathline n1, which I only developed last year. It all came about because I had seen some drawings by Leila Bahlouri, which I liked very much and I tried to copy them with my laptop. When she saw them she said, “Why don’t you add colours?”, or “Why don’t you make them move this way or that?”, so I devised a system whereby she could retain total control and I basically created my own software once again. In a way, it something that recalls early film experiments by Viking Eggeling from the early 1900s as we work with simple geometric shapes that move organically in an empty field. With Theory Of Vortex Sound, I am more constricted in what I can do as I work on my own and I have to control sound and image at the same time which gives me less freedom to improvise.

sible for any visitor not get confused. I still occasionally get lost in Trastevere! All this isn’t necessarily reflected in the sounds I work with but rather in the way I organize the sounds with which I create my music. This has shaped my notion of “beauty”, which I personally don’t find in beautiful sounds, but, rather, in organized chaos. It all goes back to that notion of “ruins” that we were talking about earlier. Q: To sum things up, how would you label your music?

Gridshape is currently the only project with no visuals. I might be integrating some video footage, but I am still unsure about what direction to take.

A: I wouldn’t. People have called it experimental, which it is in a way, even though I work within a rigorously codified musical language and I know exactly what I’m doing; they have called it electro acoustic, which again it is up to a point, and they have called it noise, which it is because I create very noisy soundscapes, something akin to aggressive ambient music. Still, I wouldn’t know how to define it.

Q: You were born and brought up in Rome, how has living in such a complex city influenced your music?

Q: And finally, which are the most interesting names that spring to your mind within the Italian scene?

A: I have made a huge number of field recordings in Rome but I have never made an album referencing a particular sound from a specific area, building or neighbourhood. I was brought up in Casal Bruciato next to Pietralata district with its Ina-Casa social housing of the 50s, that Pasolini has described so well in his books. At the time, those were the outskirts, but the city has grown and morphed in such a way, that it makes it difficult to say where its margins are anymore. Rome is a difficult place to navigate. There are only two underground lines, for instance. Technology has been used with laughable results if one juxtaposes modern developments to the ancient ruins dotted around Rome. It is impos-

A: There are many: Lorenzo Senni with

his own label Presto Records, the netlabel Brusio form Palermo, the electro acoustic festival Flussi in Avellino, the Quit Festival in Cagliari, and XXXY Sound and Visual Art. - Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio Pietralata was one of the 12 official districts created by the Municipality of Rome to relocate the original inhabitants of the old neihgbourhoods nestled around the Campidoglio in the heart of the city. Between 1935 and 1940 Mussolini had implemented a new urban plan, which cut right through the ancient Roman ruins of the Fori Imperiali sending hundreds of families to live on the margins of the city in poorly built areas.

Images courtesy of Franz Rosati: Taken in the 80s in the Casal Bruciato and Pietralata districts of Rome.


Photography: Moritz Draheim

ROME – FRANCESCO TASKAYALI Posted On: March 27, 2013

Francesco Taskayali is a pianist and composer based in Rome. He started writing music for piano at the age of 13 and is currently working on a third album. He has performed in London, Berlin, Rome, and Jakarta amongst other places as well as with the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar de Venezuela. Q: Could you talk me through the track E’ Sera which you were kind enough to play live for Fluid Radio ? A: It is a track I wrote when I was 13. It is part of my first album, Emre (2010), which is my Turkish middle name. I was born in Rome from a Turkish father and an Italian mother. Emre is a collection of tracks I wrote for piano solo in my adolescence. I sealed off the album only after I returned to Rome from Istanbul where I completed my high school studies. Before returning to Italy, music was a very private affair for me, I wasn’t letting anyone hear what I wrote. I remember a funny episode once, when I was playing and my mother knocked on my door. She asked me who was the music I was playing by and when I answered, “It’s mine”, she just went, “Yeah, right” and closed the door. I returned to Rome when I was about 18, and at that point I eventually decided to record my tracks. I uploaded them onto YouTube and I started getting hits, which lead to an important gig in Sicily organized by Confcommercio [the Italian body that represents the service sector]. Q: There’s a track on Emre, which is titled Esquilino, the name of the district in Rome where we are now having coffee. A: Yes, it refers to the neighborhood. I don’t know, I just found it inspiring. Q: What is your relationship with Rome? A: Not great at present as I have actually recently moved to Latina [south of Rome] because of the prohibitive rent rates for a student. In Rome I used to live near the Policlinico Hospital and around Piazza Bologna. Now I have to get up at 5.30 in the morning, drive to the station and commute by train from


Latina in order to be at college here in Rome by 8 where I am in my second year of a Political Science degree at the Luiss Guido Carli. Q: How do you manage to combine your studies with your music? A: This is something I get asked all the time. I have to. My social relationships do suffer for it though. Q: Have you studied piano or composition at a music conservatory? A: No. I took private piano lesson over the years. I did actually go to a music conservatory where I studied Electronic Music but I never completed the course, opting for a straightforward university degree instead. A university degree can always come in handy, it offers so much more than a conservatory degree. It is best not to be too optimistic sometimes… and I wanted to keep my options open. I do enjoy college, though, particularly International Law. I should’ve probably taken a law degree… Q: Let’s talk about LeVent. Where does the title come from? A: It’s a play on words as it stands for the French word for wind, “vent”, but it is also the name of a district in Istanbul: Levent. It’s a high raise district and quite beautiful at night with the skyscrapers and the silence. Istanbul is a great city with many hills. There is nothing more beautiful than to watch the sunset over the Bosphorus. I can be moved by Istanbul and experience feelings there in a way that, for some reason, doesn’t happen to me in Rome. Q: It is generally said that the second album is the most difficult one… A: And luckily I have gone past that hurdle… It is true, though.

On first listen the tracks on Emre are less technically accomplished but have a greater impact and have a greater emotional content compared to the music on LeVent. I must say that when I finished LeVent, at first I was unsure whether to release it or not. With the second album one tries to surpass oneself and I still think I haven’t been able to surpass myself in terms of emotional impact. I have done so in terms of compositional approach. One of the tracks in particular, Iris, was selected for a commercial and some viral clips with the Italian model Bianca Balti, which means that someone must have liked it. Q: What would you say you have achieved with this album? A: With LeVent, I wanted to venture into different territories. I tried to bridge European music with Middle Eastern rhythms. The music is written in odd meters, in 7/8, which are traditional in Turkish music. The curious thing is that when I played these songs in Italy, yes, they did sound strange, but nobody really made the connection with Turkish ballads. However, when I was doing a sound-check in Istanbul recently, the attendant started dancing as he recognized the sounds, which are typical of Middle Eastern music in general. Q: Are you also influenced by Balkan music? A: A bit, but not too much. Mostly because of the rhythms. I got this from my Turkish father who apart from being an engineer is also a musician and plays the saz, a traditional plucked string instrument. I grew up listening to these odd musical meters. There are also two tracks for orchestra, on this album, which were used as soundtrack for a documentary that was broadcasted on the Italian state channel, Rai. When I was 14 I started experimenting with electronic music but never really got anywhere. I then took it up again in order to create the orchestral parts on LeVent. Q: How do you go about writing music? A: I compose music without actually writing it or putting notes down on paper, just by following my instinct and the harmonies I have in mind. I have been working with the same method since I was 11. To me certain notes are linked to specific chords, there’s an

internal logic. Q: Do you find it difficult to put a full stop when working on a track? A: The difficult thing is to get to the point. When you’ve written four minutes of material and you realize you still haven’t come to the point, then it becomes tricky. When, for instance one is writing a piece starting from A which naturally tends towards B one cannot end on D, but if one has no ideas on B then one cannot put a full stop. This is my problem at present. I have finished seven tracks for a new album, but I still need to close a further three, which I have already sketched but I have been unable to close. The seven tracks I have already recorded are all very different, but I want these last three to signal a change of direction. Q: What is the new album going to be like? A: The problem that most musicians have is to find their own voice, which is something I have been working on. With this third album I feel I have identified my own style without running the risk of being compared to other artists. I try to break with classical romantic harmonics. It is more akin to something which, while not exactly discordant, might appear at first odd or different. I’m trying to go down a new path. I’ve been listening to a lot of Rachmaninoff and Keith Jarrett lately. Jarrett’s encores are spectacular. Q: Talking about piano music in Italy, one has to mention Ludovico Einuadi… A: I have actually played two tracks by Ludovico Einuadi in Caracas with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra where I was invited as representative of the Italian delegation. They had asked me to play something by a well know artist but when I suggest Einuadi’s name the orchestra members had never heard about him. In the end I managed to convince them. I actually played with the Teresa Carreño Orchestra, and they were really happy to be able to perform new material. It was a rare occurrence as new composers are generally frowned upon.

Q: What has been the one concert you have actually enjoyed the most? A: A concert in Kenya. I felt really at ease and the audience participation has been incredible. I was so highly charged that at the end I improvised two encores, one completely out of the blue and the other on the notes of Happy Birthday. Q: Do your albums have a narrative thread? A: The first album yes, not the second one or the one I am currently working on. They are beyond narrative, I don’t really know how to explain this… Q: Is there a connecting point between the new album and the previous ones? A: It is certainly connected to tracks like Istanbul and Iris from the LeVent but also, partly to Mare di Dicembre and Piove from Emre. I took the best bits from my previous albums to develop the new one. That is not to say that it will be like the previous albums, but it evolves from there. Q: What do you do in your spare time? A: Like most in my spare time, I like to travel. Living in Latina, I am very close to the seaside and I like to go to the beach in the winter, especially in winter. I am so white and pale that I tend not to go in summer. I try not to have any spare time, I’m either in the library or at the piano. Or else, I am looking for new contacts with Fabiana, my girlfriend who currently acts as my agent. - Interview: Gianmarco Del Re

I have never actually met Einuadi, in person, but I have been told he was complimentary about my performance in Caracas, which I’ve uploaded on YouTube.



Alessandro Tedeschi aka Netherworld is the man behind Glacial Movements, an ambient isolationist label based in Rome and dedicated to Arctic landscapes and atmospheres… “Into the deepness of my essence there is a weird, dark, silent, glacial and eternal place. This imaginary place contains a sort of parallel reality that I’ve named Netherworld.” Q: Let’s start off with your label Glacial Movements, how did it come about and what is the philosophy behind it? A: I have always loved the cold, and the feelings conjured up by snowy landscapes, gusts of winds, and ice as they give me a sense of freedom. The way snow softens sounds, enables me to regain a sense of peace and calm that, for someone who lives in a city like Rome is impossible to experience otherwise. Furthermore, I am fascinated by opposites: the North and the South Pole, the Artic and the Antarctic… Over time, I have also explored the mythological aspects of Hyperborea a region in the northern lands that lays beyond the north wind and is inhabited by the Hyperboreans, a mythical people. When I started my label, I tried to combine my interest in all things glacial with my love of ambient and isolationist music. Q: What was the spark that made you want to release music yourself? A: There were two events that spurred me into this direction. Back in 2004 I met Gianluigi Gasparetti, aka Oophoi who, at the time was running both a magazine called Deep Listening, for which I contributed reviews, and a small label, Umbra, which alas is no longer. It was a small but very stimulating venture. At the same time I released an album on an American label. I found communicating with them very frustrating. It took ages for them to send me 10 copies of my CD, which we had agreed on, and the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth. So I looked at what Oophoi was doing, and after releasing a couple of albums on Umbra, in 2006 I set up Glacial Movements. I like a challenge and this sounded like


a good one to undertake. I started off with a compilation, Cryosphere with tracks by Aiden Baker, Tuu and Oophoi amongst others. It was released in an edition of 300, which sold out pretty quickly. This encouraged me to put out my own first release Mørketid, which is my first official CD, and not a cd-r, in an edition of 500 copies. From then on I managed to get on board many of the artists I had always admired like Lull and Francisco López, who gave further impetus to the label. Q: How do you select an album for Glacial Movements? A: It is vital to me that every release fits within the label’s ethos, not just musically but also visually. I ask all musicians I work with to create an original piece of work to reflect the Northern atmosphere and imagery that feeds Glacial Movements. Most of the artists I work with are very different from each other in their musical approach, but so far, they have all produced unique works inspired by the Artic for my label. Loscil, for instance, who works primarily with Kranky and Ghostly International, is based in Vancouver and came up with coast/range/arc, an album which was inspired by the landscapes of the Northwest coast of Canada and which constitutes a real departure for him but fits in perfectly within the label. Also, amongst the new releases is the latest album by the Norwegian duo Psjuk (Rune Sagevik and Dahl Gjelsvik) which is titled Tele, the Norwegian word describing frozen underground water. There is always some glacial thread. I wanted the label to have a very clear imprint, something that I hadn’t been able to find elsewhere. For better or for worse, Glacial Movements has a very strong identity.

As for the album covers and visuals, I work with Bjarne Riesto, a Norwegian photographer who lives above the Arctic Circle and has an amazing library of images. Together with the musicians, we choose the most appropriate photographs, which I then send to a graphic studio in LA (Keep Adding), where they design and create the digipacks. Q: How many copies of any single title do you release? A: The maximum number of copies of digipak CDs I produce of any single title is 1,000. That is the most I can shift, even though I can rely on a very good network of distributors that covers Europe, America and Japan. Aside from the physical releases, I also do digital downloads, which work well and are a good source of revenue. I do most things myself as a one man band, as it is such a personal project to me that I would find it difficult to delegate. Furthermore, I consider the promotional aspect of things of the outmost importance, and this is something that a number of labels tend to neglect. Q: In terms of dealing with artists, how long does it take to finalise a product? A: It depends on the artist. Some of them work very fast, others take longer. For instance, it took a relatively long time for an album such as Like a Slow River by Mick J Harris aka Lull. Mick had not released anything under the Lull

moniker for several years. When I got in touch with him, he was enthusiastic, but was not sure whether he could come up with something that would have fit in within the label’s remit. After about seven months, though, he sent me Like a Slow River, which I consider amongst the best things he has ever done. With other artists, though, things happen a lot quicker. Francisco López moves really fast. In the space of about three months he sent me Amarok, which is inspired by a gigantic wolf in Inuit mythology. It can also happen that I get approached by an artist who’s already produced an album, which is just perfect for Glacial Movements. This was the case with Stormloop and Snowbound, a collection of tracks recorded in 2009 and inspired by a heavy snowfall. Having said that, once I get sent an album, there is usually a bit of tweaking around to do before we finalise the product. It has been good so far, even though it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. In the case of Thomas Köner for instance, everything was already in place, we had met here in Rome and discussed things, and the music was done. At the last minute, however, he decided otherwise. It was a big blow for me as I’d been working on this for a couple of years and I still don’t really understand what happened, but such is life.

Q: Still, there are new names on the roster such as Marsen Jules, and, Yuya Ota and Celer amongst others. A: Generally speaking, I get quite a few emails and it is hard to keep up as I hold a day job and have little time to answer all requests and listen to everything I get sent. I get very little done over the week, but tend to dedicate my weekends to music. Whenever a project is worth it, I spend time on it. Q: Will you ever be releasing albums as digital downloads only? A: No. The physical album is essential to me. I like digipacks and wouldn’t bother releasing music otherwise. Also, to be honest, there is always a certain element of risk attached to a physical release and having no production expenses is a whole different ball game. I like a challenge. Even though there are fewer people buying albums, there will always be a market for a good and carefully produced CD. It might take longer to shift copies, but in the end one gets there. It is difficult with new and not yet established artists, but having big names on the label does certainly help raise the label’s profile. Q: And how about doing vinyl releases or limited editions? A: I consider 500-1,000 copies to be already a limited release. To go even lower would be a shame as there are

many who still ask me for albums that have sold out. Just to give you an example, The Art of Dying Alone by bvdub sold out pretty quickly, but I still get people asking me whether, by any chance, I have a few copies lying around. Once an album is sold out though, that’s it. I don’t re-issue any titles. On the other hand there are digital downloads available on a number of platforms. I much prefer physical releases myself, as I don’t even have an iPod. I have never downloaded anything on iTunes either, and wouldn’t really know how to go about it, to be honest. I do have an mp3 player, which I take with me when I go running, but I mostly listen to the radio. I feel that music needs to be listened to on a good hi-fi. Quality of sound is paramount. Unfortunately, at present I don’t really have enough time to listen to music. Also, my studio is at my parent’s place, which makes it difficult for me just to listen to music. Q: You’ve also created a sub-label of sorts, Würm, can you tell me something about it? A: With this series I wanted to release albums made of one single extended track and all directly inspired by Würm, which is the name of the world’s most recent glaciation, which ended about 10.000 years ago. There has only been one single release so far by Oophoi, which is an album I love, but somehow I haven’t pursued the matter further and the project is now on hold for the time being.


Q: What is your take on the Italian ambient scene? A: There’s not much going in Italy other than a few festivals such as Flussi in Avellino, Node Festival in Modena, and Dissonanze here in Rome where I met Francisco López and Thomas Köner. Having said that there are plenty of people doing rather interesting stuff. Q: Anyone in particular you can think of? A: Lino Monaco and Nicola Buono, aka A few months ago, they invited me to play at Ferro3 in Scafati near Pompei where they hold electronic gigs. We discovered we have a lot in common and they have now recorded an album for me, which I will be releasing in May and which should be entitled Descending Into Crevasse. Q: Are there any other Italian artists on your label? A: Aside from, I have already released albums by Oophoi and Aqua Dorsa a project by Enrico Coniglio and Oophoi. Enrico and Gianluigi have two very different musical approaches and together they managed to produce something utterly original. When I heard their album, Cloudlands, I fell in love with it and offered to put out on Glacial Movements. Q: Could you describe to me Netherworld, which is your own musical project? A: From the age of 14 till I was about 17 years old, I was involved in hardcore and techno music and used to attend raves with friends. The turning point for me was when I bought an ambient music compilation on Virgin Records in ’94. I loved the introspective atmosphere of it and I began to familiarise myself with some of the artists I was later to have the honour of releasing on my own label. Netherworld was born in 2004. It is my third eye, in a way, or rather, my third ear, since we are talking about music! I have always thought that what we per-


ceive to be reality is in fact an illusion and that one has to look beyond appearances. As I find it difficult to articulate these thoughts into words, I do it through music by processing sounds and transforming them into something new, that holds a certain melody. Netherworld is a means for me to tap into this other reality, which needs to express itself somehow. I use field recordings as source material (often from glaciers and icy landscapes) and even short fragments of classical music, which I process to the point of making them unrecognisable. Q: What kind of classical music? A: I like the idea of perfection within music, anything from Bach to Debussy, and from Mozart to Maria Callas. Q: What is your take on loops? A: I often use them, especially when processing classical music. I like working with the dilation of sound and following a circular movement. All the sounds I use are acoustic and organic and I process them in an analogical way before uploading them onto my laptop because by doing this they retain a certain warmth. I only use the laptop as a sequencer not to create sounds. Q: What was the inspiration behind Mørketid? A: Mørketid is a Norwegian term that indicates a certain period in the year when the Arctic winter cold encases everything and the sun doesn’t rise over the horizon. It’s a cold and dark period that distinguishes regions and people living in the Artic. A few years back I visited Norway. I started off in Trondheim, then headed to the North Cape, and back down to Bergen along the fjords. I was stunned by the landscape and the pervading sense of silence. Paradoxically, a friend from Trondheim once complained about the traffic, and I just told him, “You, should try Rome, mate”. It was amazing, I kept thinking, “I should be living here…” It took me a long time to

recover from the “trauma” of being back home. Q: Did you visit Norway with the intention of making an album? A: No, even though I had taken a digital recorder with me, which I used a lot. Even without one, though, I would’ve still made an album, as I was so inspired by the place. Once I started working on Mørketid, I integrated the sounds I recorded while over there and added a few things. It worked and the album was well received, especially in Italy, which is something I hadn’t anticipated. Q: Was it the first time you’d travelled to nothern countries? A: I had been to Scotland, to the Highlands, where, once again, I encountered really beautiful landscapes, but I did not have my digital recorder with me on that occasion. Q: Can you tell me something about bvdub’s reworking of Mørketid? A: After I released bdvud’s The Art Of Dying Alone on Glacial Movements, Brock and I became good friends. We haven’t physically met, as he lives in China, but we regularly correspond online. When I sent him Mørketid he was so inspired that he decide to do his own version of it. The album, I Remember, is not a remix album as such, but rather a translation of it, as bvdub wanted to translate the emotions he felt while listening to it into music. He uses my work as a base into which he has interwoven his translations. Whereas The Art of Dying Alone might be, on some level, not as close to the spirit of the label as other releases, even though it has a definite isolationist feel, I Remember certainly fits the bill. The sound has a colder feel to it and, generally speaking, the album represents a sort of departure for him, even though we are talking about a prolific and diverse musician. Q: About your album Mørketid he wrote, “I am constantly reminded of broken dreams”.

A: Mørketid, to me, is strictly linked to my experience of Norway to the landscapes and to an isolationist feel. He saw something different in it. We all see different things in music. Q: Why is isolationism so important to you? A: It is a way for me to detach myself from everyday life, to access mental space, a place where I can reflect on concentrate on myself and my surroundings and where I can look at things from a different perspective. I do not interpret isolationism as something negative, or as a rejection of all things. Yes, I do isolate myself, but I do it because I love silence. I often wander by myself into woods and go for long walks in the snow. I love taking my mountain bike and exploring mountain paths, just to be on my own. I believe that to truly understand what lies before and beyond us, one needs to begin from within. Isolationism is the only way for me to be able to do so. Q: When you say “beyond”, what do you refer to? A: I believe there are other dimensions that we cannot perceive with our five senses. There is a different reality, which one cannot access whilst living in this material world of ours. It is difficult to tap into one’s spiritual side amidst the chaos and confusion of everyday life. There is a spark inside each one of us that is

covered with soot, by removing the soot one gets in touch with a light, which I identify as God in a Gnostic sense.

which is not mine.

Q: Is silence then a way for you to delve into your spiritual side?

A: I was born and brought in Rome and have always lived along the Casilina. I am now based in Torpignattara a district to the east of Rome. It is a beautiful city, but it is tough.

A: Silence is necessary to me. I place silence at the centre of my music. I would say that this is even more apparent in my second album Over the Summit. I love climbing and every time I reach the top of a mountain, it is as if I am able to see things from an entirely different perspective. Every time one reaches a summit, one is rewarded with clarity of vision. Also, the silence one encounters is deafening. The same applies within an internal journey and this is what I tried to capture with Over the Summit. Q: Do you believe then that being in touch with nature puts one in touch with what lies beyond? A: Yes. By being in touch with nature, one gets in touch with one’s inner self. One has to lift several veils to capture nature’s secrets. It is an internal and spiritual journey. Q: This is not something that is talked about a lot within music… A: I rarely talk about it myself. It is such a personal thing that it is difficult to find the right person to talk about it with. I am fascinated by alchemy, by ancient civilizations and all things esoteric. Alas the world moves in a different direction,

Q: Let’s talk about Rome now.

Q: Within Rome, have you ever found particular locations inspiring in musical terms? A: Not within the urban area, but just an hour’s drive from Rome there are some great locations within the Lazio region, near Viterbo or Rieti, for instance, with plenty of history. Lazio is a beautiful region. There are nice stretches of seaside to the south by Sperlonga, and beautiful mountains that I found very inspiring for Over the Summit. Also Lazio is next to Tuscany, Abruzzo and Umbria three equally beautiful regions. If I had to pick one place within Rome, though, I would say the Appia Antica Park. It is a very green corner of Rome full of archaeological ruins and very peaceful. I went there in February after the snowfall, which is a rare occasion for Rome. It was magical. - Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio

Photography: Alessandro Tedeschi



Fabio Perletta is a sound designer, engineer, electronic composer and live performer…

Photography courtesy of Fabio Perletta, Paolo Cignini and Gianclaudio Hashem Moniri

Under the moniker Nō (Fabio Perletta and Matteo Meloni), he released the albums Vuoto (Farmacia901) and M-Type Alpha (Ripples Recordings), in collaboration with Andrea Ics Ferraris. In 2010 he launched the project Øe, releasing the ambient works Im (Nephogram) and Like a Comet That Drifts in With the Tide (Isolationism Records). Perletta is also the founder and artistic director of Farmacia 901, a media-network based in Italy and founded around principles of beauty as minimalism, music as design and sound as malleable material, fusing elements ranging from experimental electronics to ambient and microsounds. The label mostly focuses on releasing conceptual sound works via limited CDs, art-objects or digital, combining a deeply emotional aim with a clear theoric purpose and aesthetic vision. Q: Hi Fabio, as a way of introduction, could you tell me something about your background? A: My father has always been passionate both about music and technology. My mother, on the other hand, is a seamstress, so I have always been fascinated by the idea of shaping something into life. In my teens I studied music and piano for a while, but I quit once I got exposed to American art of the 60s and people like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. I took up painting, but I have only one canvas hanging in my bedroom from that period. I was also into bands such as Television and Suicide. Brian Eno with his compilation No New York was indeed instrumental in this. My love of technology pushed me towards electronic music as the best means for me to express what I was hoping to convey. I have been questioning the role of technology ever since and I have been investigating the process behind the transmission of data and the way errors develop.


Q: How did the label came about? A: I started Farmacia901 in 2008 whilst still living in Rome, where I was studying electronic sound between cinema and contemporary forms of audiovisual, and the work of people such as Bill Viola, Ryoji Ikeda, Chris Cunningham and David Lynch. Anyhow, I decided to set up my own label for a very simple and practical reason. I was struggling to break through and find a label interested in releasing my material. At the same time I was aware of the multitude of interesting names and projects within the Italian electro acoustic scene and I wanted to give a voice to a number of these. Q: Where does the name Famarcia901 come from and how is the label structured? A: The label didn’t have a clear direction to begin with. In principle, I was mainly interested in microsounds, and in the kind of music released by Taylor Dupree on 12k. I don’t want to limit the remit of my label to any specific type of music, though. I want to keep an open mind. Having said that it is important to have a clear style and identity but I want to be able to release anything from drone music to electro-acoustic, from Maurizio Bianchi to Tiziano Milani. The name of the label comes from my love of minimalist design. I have always been fascinated by packaging of pills and medicines. I also find chemists similar to record shops, in the way eve-

rything is ordered and catalogued. Plus I find chemistry in general really inspiring in the way one can combine simple elements to produce something with a life of its own. The world of electro acoustic music works in a similar way, by combining sounds and frequencies one is able to give life to sonic life forms. Q: Were you inspired in any way by Damien Hirst’s restaurant Pharmacy and his many works dedicated to the same subject? A: No, I wasn’t really aware he ever had a restaurant. Q: You’ve released under different monikers, namely Nō and Øe. How and why did you pick them? A: I have a graphic approach to monikers. Øe comes from my love of Norway as the letter “Ø” is found in the Norwegian alphabet. What I particular love about that country is the silence you experience over there, which is the basic ingredient I need to produce sounds. When I was in Rome, for instance, I found it very difficult to produce anything amongst all that noise and chaos. I need a clean slate, so to speak. The Nō moniker, I picked for other reasons as well, not just for graphic considerations. It is one of the oldest forms of theatre, but also one of the most avant-guardist. I like the fact that it deals with universal themes, such as love, war, friendship. Vuoto, the first

very original artist from Teramo. Back in 1999, Giustino released an incredible album, Sprut, on John Zorn’s label Tzadik. Q: What are you next releases planned for Farmacia901? A: Next one up is a physical release by Marco Bonini, aka Ubik, a very talented musician hailing from the world of jazz music. Q: Do you select the artists or do artists come to you?

Nō album I released on my label, was a work inspired by cosmic vacuum. I have always been fascinated by astronomy and, as a matter of fact, I will soon start a new series on Farmacia901, which is called “Quark: How does the invisible sound?”. The aim is to release four track compilations by different artists with a view of giving life to the invisible through sounds, or rather to micro particles and that which cannot be perceived by the human eye. I would like to have one release a month. Q: Sounds like an ambitious plan… A: They will be digital only tracks. I would like to create an archive of sounds conceptually linked to the invisible. Ennio Mazzon, or Ripples Recordings, is building a software that will enable musicians to uncover microsounds and such

like. I will then send the software to each artist who will be free to interpret this concept in the way it suits him / her best. Q: The invisible can refer also to the spiritual sphere? Is that something you have considered? A: Not really. The main reference point is strictly limited to science. Also, together with Davide Luciani, aka Orgon, I am also working on another series, called Diaspore, which aims to document soundscapes created especially for performances and art installations. Davide will help my out coordinating the project as he works within that field. The first releases will be Icaro by Orgon and Trapped Light, an installation by Giustino Di Gregorio and myself with a soundscape composed using sinewave tones, glitches and simple drones. Giustino is a

A: So far, I’ve always contacted all the musicians myself. In the case of Vir-Uz, by MB + ICS (Farmacia901′s latest release), I had worked with Andrea Ferraris, aka ICS in the past having released a collaborative album on Ennio Mazzon’s label. At the time, he’d sent an album with his field recordings and included this one by him and Maurizio Bianchi. Quite some time later, he told he had trouble finding a label willing to release Vir-Uz, so I thought about it and jumped at the occasion. Q: Do you happen to know Emanuela de Angelis? I am only asking because she is based in Pescara, which is not far from Roseto degli Abruzzi, and because she has also released an album with Maurizio Bianchi. A: Yes, MB + EDA, out on Baskaru. I haven’t met Emanuela but I know of her, mainly because I know Andrea Gabriele, with whom she gave life to Mou, Lips! Also, Andrea contributed to Rossano Polidoro and Emiliano Romanelli’s project Tu M’, which I loved. Tu M’ were from Città Sant’Angelo, a small town not too far from Roseto and Pescara. Q: Well, there seems to be quite a lot happening in the Abruzzo region! And now, onto Transfer, your latest album, out soon on the Japanese label Murmur Records. The field recordings from that album were taken at the Gole del Salinello, which are about a 40 minute drive from Roseto. Was it the first time you rooted one of your works within your own territory? A: Now that I came to think about it yes. I produced Transfer between July 2010 and March 2011. All the recording sessions were made in the summer of 2010


at the Salinello Gorges, a natural canyon and nature reserve located between two mountains, also known as the Monti Gemelli (Twin Mountains). It is a magical place with beautiful waterfalls, unusual rock patterns, caves, and wild flowers. I was particularly drawn to the small life forms, which can be found there. I spent a whole day there with my digital recorder and subsequently processed all organic sounds using computers, audio morphing and re-synthesis techniques. Conceptually, Transfer is a sonic reflection about all affective phenomena,

which come out through the use of digital interfaces. The idea being that the numerical representation of life and the sensorial stimulation, achieved by combining data into binary format, replaces human primordial needs; In other words, by interacting with machines, one experiences his/her emotions through numerical combinations of 0 and 1, of which digital images and music are composed. Nowadays, the bits stream invades the whole human experience, influencing all cognitive aspects: perception, learning and communication. The most evolved cultural-technologic mani-

festation of this new human condition is depicted by the Affective Computing, which is the study and development of devices able to recognize, process and simulate human emotions. The emotions are thus converted twice (realitydigital, digital-reality), creating a transfer between the artist’s original purpose and the recipient. My aim was to put a magnifying glass on the process to identify errors and glitches. I believe, we are now going towards a completely new way of experiencing emotions. By a happy coincide, when I was mastering Paolo Buatti’s clip for the first track of the album to send to the label, I came across some dropped frames which reveal errors within the data transfer, which fits in perfectly with the general discourse of the album. I am now working on an installation based on Transfer, entitled Transfer 2.0. Q: Why isn’t the album coming out on Farmacia901? A: Because I already had other releases planned for the label and also because I like to diversify my output, even if it can be hard work. It took me about a year to produce Transfer and the following seven to eight months to find a label. You have no idea of how many emails I sent… I was just about to give up when I came across Surface Tension, an album by France Jobin, aka i8u, on Yann Novak’s facebook wall. I clicked on it and was immediately mesmerised. i8u’s album is out on Murmur, which was a label I wasn’t familiar with. I took a look at their catalogue and decided to get in touch with them. It was the last email I was going to send. Luckily, in the space of about three hours, I got a positive reply from them! Q: Finally, how do you see the Italian electro acoustic scene and are there any names you would like to recommend? A: There are just too many to mention. Tiziano Milani, whom I met at the Tago Fest


Photography courtesy of Fabio Perletta, Paolo Cignini and Gianclaudio Hashem Moniri

in Marina di Massa, Andrea Gabriele, Luminance Ratio, Andrea Ferraris, Ennio Mazzon, Giustino di Gregorio, Ubik, Orgon. Also, Franz Rosati, Alessio Ballerini and xxxy in Rome. Barbara De Dominicis, Enrico Coniglio‌ I also love the work of Giuseppe Ielasi and Nicola Ratti, whom I saw perform last

summer in Avellino at the Flussi Festival. As a matter of fact I was just listening to Nicola Ratti’s 220 Tones on the car stereo on my way here.

- Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio


SIENA – GIULIO ALDINUCCI Posted On: July 16, 2012

Giulio Aldinucci is a composer based in Siena (Tuscany). In addition to his musical research that focuses on different synthesis methods and the use of field recordings, he also writes music for acoustic instruments. He’s released three albums under the moniker Obsil. His latest album, Tarsia, will be released by Nomadic Kids Republic on the 2nd of August under his own name.


especially when it comes to improvisation. The main problem has been that I have never been able to adapt to the mental-frame of a performer. To play over and over the same track and the same track list bores me to tears.

Q: Let’s begin with a quick look at your background. You were born in 1981 and you started studying music from an early age. Granted that the piano seems to be your instrument of choice, did you also happen to play in hardcore bands in your late teens – early twenties like most of your peers?

Q: A lot of your work seems to be rooted in the Val di Merse area around Siena, a beautiful part of the Tuscan countryside. Indeed, one of the tracks on your Boule à neige ep released by the Italian netlabel Laverna gives the geographical coordinates of the valley 43°16’54.22″N 11°10’16.99″E as a title track. How important is it for you to draw a mental map for the listener in your compositions?

A: I used to listen to a lot of experimental and indy rock, but I have never played in a band on a regular basis even though I would’ve liked to on some level,

A: I find that sometimes, within music, poetry resides in what remains vague and indefinite; I always try and create a connection between the listener and the

Photos by Giulio Aldinucci and Costanza Maremmi

sound materials I employ (fragments of melody, field recordings…). However, these sounds appear almost as if they were suspended in the air: they approach only to disappear once again, they tease the listener but can never be captured. Sometimes even a reference in the title or in the credits can contribute to suggest similar feelings. Therefore it is of paramount experience for me to create a mental map for the listener. For instance, the title of this piece gives the exact geographical coordinates of the location where I recorded the sound of the loose tiles that can be heard throughout

the whole track. The place is called Pelli, which is a small cluster of houses in ruins deep in the woods not too far from my own home. The mathematical precision of these coordinates 43°16’54.22″N 11°10’16.99″E only gives an illusory sense of proximity, as not that many people will have a chance of visiting this location. Also, how many would be able to find these houses anyway without knowing which paths to follow down the woods? And how long will these ruins remain in place before they are completely taken over by nature or become only the latest casualty of the nearby marble quarry? Q: What have you discovered about your region when you first started taking field recordings? A: When I bought my first digital recorder I chose to record only the sounds of the places that I knew as the back of my hand; the place where I was born and where I grew up. To really understand what a sonic landscape is, I wanted to build one by creating overlays, and only subsequently I juxtaposed my own. The landscape, with its natural lines and architectural proportions that changes with the seasons has a strong influence on my work. I often find that many of my own compositions are organised, in terms of their musical and tonal elements, in a similar way to certain examples of gothic architecture from Siena, such as the façade of the Duomo: an “open” and multifaceted architectural example where one could imagine adding new elements to its structure even though, by doing so, the whole thing would become unbalanced. This type of constructions

represents the opposite of the clear and harmonic “closed” lines of the Renaissance façade of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Q: In your second album as Obsil, Distances, out on Disasters by Choice, you have also included field recordings from Bagno Vignoni, an old village in the heart of the Val d’Orcia natural park, famous for its Square of Sources with its 16th-century tank of hot spring. Did you specifically choose it because it was also the location for a famous sequence in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia? A: I chose this location for two reasons: Nostalghia is one of my favourite films, and also, I hold very fond memories of Bagno Vignoni from many years ago. In both cases, the sounds of the thermal baths are associated with tender and intangible images: on the one hand there’s the film, therefore fiction, on the other, there are my memories that become further and further removed from the present with the passing of time and are destined to repeat themselves “statically” as if they were scenes from a movie. When I decided to do these recordings,

it was as if I wanted to photograph these fascinating and recurring sounds that appeared time and again and in different guises throughout my life. Often, the use of field recordings is for me what photography is for Roland Barthes, a way of reproducing indefinitely what happened once only, “to repeat mechanically what could never be repeated”. Q: In the same album there is a track, Ancora vento fra le campane di Davide (The wind, once again, through Davide’s bells), which includes field recordings from the Monte Labro area. Aside from being a natural park of outstanding beauty the Monte Labro is also known for its religious significance, as this is where Davide Lazzaretti, the leader of the Giusdavic Church was born, (namely in Arcidosso). This is also where he built three churches and a famous tower. Did you specifically aim to construct a narrative theme within this particular track and within the album in general? A: I have always been fascinated by Davide Lazzeretti’s “social mysticism”, the heresy, and the utopia… Ancora vento fra le campane di Davide is a somehow different track from the rest of the album and is probably my favourite because it was composed in a very direct way. It’s like a page from a diary, it describes moments spent in an extraordinary place that I could describe as a celestial city


Obsil live at SDSM festival / Interferenze (Guardia Sanframondi, BN), with Michel Rigati (piano) - summer 2007

reduced to ruins by the wind. I took all the recordings inside Lazzaretti’s grotto/ chapel. There is still an altar there and one can still read his prayers on the walls (the voice that can be heard reciting them in the track is mine). Q: “Straddling a field to encompass the contemporary glitch of 12k and the postclassical romanticism of Type and Miasmah” is how Furthernoise has described Distances. Would you agree with this and which are the labels, which, in your opinion, are currently releasing the most interesting albums? A: Yes, I think it is an appropriate definition. Not withstanding the current economic crisis, the music label scene is very vibrant both from a purely musical point of view touching on distribution, and from an artwork point of view in terms of packaging and experimentation. 95% of the albums I buy come from very small and very different labels. I couldn’t make a coherent list though, as in my mail orders there is a bit of everything. Q: You have also taken part in Italian Plays a radio show initiated by Matteo Uggeri based around field recordings of people playing different games in Italy. The project came about after Gaia, Mat-

teo’s partner, asked him: “What is one of the best field recording you have ever heard?” What would your answer be to that question? A: I have asked myself this very question so many times before without finding an answer… This might be because I was afraid that, once I’d found it I would’ve stopped looking for it… and even trying to record it. Q: You have also contributed to Pietro Riparbelli’s project Cathedrals with field recordings from Sant’Antimo Abbey, which is a Benedictine monastery near Montalcino in the proximity of Siena. Did you have any specific connection with that place that made you choose it instead of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Siena, for instance? A: Sant’Antimo Abbey has unique and wonderful acoustics, but I didn’t choose it simply for this reason. The whole monastery complex is rather isolated within a beautiful natural spot and with my recording I wanted to capture from inside the abbey the sounds of the countryside while giving the same prominence to all the different acoustic elements, (the prayers, the visitors and tourists, the sounds of nature…) as if I was dealing with a chorus without concentrating on any single sound. In other words, I wanted to reproduce one of its infinite and possible point/moments of listening. However, I do hope to be able to find the time to make a recording of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta at some point.


Q: Reviewing your first album, Points, The Wire referenced the work of Luigi Russolo considered by many the first noise music experimental composer of all time. “As with Russolo, whose early cumbersome contraptions filtered the sounds of ‘nature’ into unearthly, contrived, mechanical sound, Obsil is preoccupied with the relationship between artifice and the sounds of Heart”. And yet, your music seems to be structured around notions of harmony and melody. How would you define your own music? A: For Russolo, the metropolis represented the space of observation and analysis of daily aural life: an infinite source of noise that had to analyzed in order to isolate and, in a way, tame each single noise/sound for it to be “playable” through the “Intonarumori”, a noise generating device, within a futurist orchestra. This orchestra, in turn, was destined to a proportional increase process depending on the invention/introduction of new machines into daily life. In order to use a particular noise, the composer had to “transform” it into a mechanical object that allowed for the harmonic paring with other “noises”. I have always been fascinated by this link between noise and harmony in Russolo’s work. As for my own music, I believe harmony to be essential in every composition of mine even when I work with material that has a frequency which is not exactly “in tune”… Obviously the harmonic component has always a different weight in relation to the type of composition I am working on and the material I am drawing from, but to me it is always an element I need to take into consideration. Q: Vicino is the third album you have released under the moniker Obsil on the Psychonavigation label. How would you define the evolution of the “Obsil sound” and why have you reverted to your own name for your EP Boule à neige out on Laverna as a free download? A: Under the moniker Obsil my music was centred round synthetic sounds, especially digital ones with a process of

Obsil live at Festival della Creatività 2007 / Switch Out (Firenze) with Michel Rigati (piano) - fall 2007

Museo dell’Antica Grancia (Serre di Rapolano, SI) - fall 2012 photo by Marco Masti

composing based on variations within a track, both fluid and rapid. In my earlier works, for instance, even acoustic instruments had a digital consistency, expressly detached from reality, which is something I applied across the board on all musical and timbric elements. The sound of my digital objects gone crazy was reminiscent of the work of Kim Cascone and Nicholas Negroponte. The way I was writing music at the time was to try and capture those sounds. I worked that way from the age of 20 till 26, after which I took a new direction with the EP and especially with my new album, Tarsia, which is coming out on Nomadic Kids Republic in August. With Tarsia, the overall approach is radically different, the sound is decidedly less hard and more rounded, warmer and more tender than on previous occasions. Vicino is an album that stands between these two different musical directions. At this stage, I have now closed the Obsil chapter. Q: The striking album cover from Vicino is by Costanza Maremmi. What is your relationship to the visual arts? A: The visual arts are a constant source

of inspiration for me. I am thinking both of the grace and elegance of certain contemporary photography, and the tormented anticlassicism of Pontormo dating back to the first half of the XVI century for instance. These lines and colours are now part of my “landscape”. Q: You have composed the soundtrack to a number of experimental and narrative short films. How do you approach the world of the moving image? A: Generally speaking, I don’t have a technical approach, I trust my own impressions to find a way to support and/or add to the images. I begin jotting done a few musical ideas straight after the second viewing; only after this phase I start studying the film material in a more technical way. I love working on very different projects, cinema allows me to explore different styles which may take me far from my own but in a natural and enriching way. I’ll give you an example. For Paesaggi di famiglia (Family Landscapes), Nicola Contini edited over 100 home movies, to give a snapshot of the community of Sulcis Iglesiente in Sardina. To create the sound design of that film, I chose to

make use only of my own sound archive. In other words, to give voice to those anonymous people, I chose to use only audio files I already had in my pc, bringing about a collusion of archives, my own and that of a whole community. I drew from everything I had, from recordings of improvisations to sequences taken from my latest album, Tarsia. Q: I would now like to ask you two questions I have recently put to Attilio Novellino in a previous Postcard, if I may. You have also taken part in EArtQuake, a collective exhibition that aimed to connect digital arts and new technologies, with themes relating to memory, trauma and loss of identity in the aftermath of traumatic events such as the Irpinia earthquake of 1980. In the aftermath of another recent earthquake, which has struck the Emilia region on the 20th of May 2012, what is, or what should be, the role of electro-acoustic and experimental music in uncovering memory? Also, what are in your opinion the best works that reflect human suffering within electro-acoustic music? A: The endless reproduction of images by the media empties them of any content reducing them to icons of superfi-


cial if not abstract meaning with little or no relation to reality. In a similar way, “memory” is often transmitted in a passive way through institutional celebrations that bear no relation to the event or the values they claim to commemorate. Art, on the other hand, allows one to process an experience, to deconstruct it and rebuild it in order to uncover new facets. This is applicable both to the artist and to the user or to whoever attends an artistic workshop. Thanks to its versatility, electro-acoustic music can integrate different sound sources in a natural way, and I’m thinking for instance of the infinite ways one can use sounds from archives. When I think of human suffering within music I immediately think of Luigi Nono and the way he uses silence as a scratching mark of the infinite within his compositions. Amongst his works, the one that, in my opinion, best reflects human suffering is Como una ola de fuerza y luz, for soprano, piano, orchestra and tape, which he wrote in 1972 in memory of Luciano Cruz, one of the leaders of Chile’s Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR). There are many other composers of Nono’s generation, though, who tackle human suffering, alienation and cosmic loneliness in a very effective way. Q: Considering the large-scale pollution and the aggressive urbanisation of the countryside, why is it that, at least to my knowledge and with the exception of AIPS, electro-acoustic musicians working with field recordings don’t seem interested in tackling the destruction of the Italian landscape? A: Many of the Italian musicians I know personally are very sensitive to these same problems. Personally, I’m active in some environmental organizations. But I think the time is ripe for a work on field recordings, perhaps collectively, distinctly “political”: I’ve been thinking about doing a project of this kind for quite some time now. In my works I always try to use field recordings in order to represent an “other world” to the over populated and polluted one of many Italian regions. Human presence doesn’t always has to hold the scene even though it may be aggressively imposed. Q: What is the experimental / ambient / electroacoustic scene like in Tuscany and on a more general level how do you rate the Italian scene? Any names you


would like to recommend in terms of musicians / labels / venues / festivals? A: There’s a vibrant and diverse scene in Tuscany with many gifted musicians. I am thinking for instance of Tempo Reale, the research centre founded by Luciano Berio, or Meet the Knobbers a grassroots affair centred round electronic music meetings and workshops. However I wouldn’t say there is a specific “Tuscan scene” within electro-acoustic music. We just fit in with the rest of the Italian scene, which I find eclectic and vital. Musicians, in Italy, come from different backgrounds and operate in a variety of different styles with many different approaches. The good thing, and one of our strengths, is that we often collaborate. I am always happy when I see an Italian musician been released on an important international label. I believe this reflects the general high standard of the Italian scene. Alas, the flip side of the coin is that there aren’t enough venues and festivals. Flussi and Interferenze are all too rare exceptions to the rule. As for artists, I think that your series Postcards from Italy gives a very comprehensive selection of the most interesting names within the Italian scene. However, I would still like to recommend a few very different titles that have come out in the last couple of months or are soon to be released: Attilio Novellino – Through Glass (Valeot); Elisa Luu – Un Giorno Sospeso (Hidden Shoal); Parallel 41 (Barbara De Dominics and Julia Kent) – st (Baskaru); Pietro Riparbelli – Three Days of Silence. The Mountain of Stigmata (Gruenrekorder); Z-Been (Ennio Mazzon and Gianluca Favaron) – K-frame (Ripples); I also love the album preview of Transfer by Øe (Fabio Perletta), which is coming out on Murmur in August. Q: Are there any Italian and / or international musicians you would specifically like to collaborate with? A: This is a very difficult question for me to answer. As a matter of fact, I believe that there are plenty of things one can learn from all musicians; I really wouldn’t know who to pick. Perhaps, if I was to make a list, I could use a snapshot from my record collection. At present I am involved in four very

different collaborations and I hope to be even more active in the future on this particular front. Q: Your new album Tarsia, will be released by Nomadic Kids Republic on the 2nd of August 2012. How did this came about and what was the inspiration behind it? A: The term Tarsia (or Intarsia) denotes an ancient technique of wood inlaying. The first examples of this practice date back to the XIV century and come from the Siena region. I have chosen this title because I consider this technique similar to the that of a lot of contemporary electro-acoustic music. To make these wood inlays they used rare and carefully selected natural elements, which were then treated, and sometimes individually coloured, and subsequently placed next to each other in order to create complex patterns, which is what many musicians within this field tend to do. Amongst my work, this is probably the album I feel closer to my heart and I am very happy to see it coming out on a great label such as Nomadic Kids Republic. It is the perfect home for it. Q: Picking up on you’ve just said, Tarsia, is indeed a heavily textured work with many interwoven field recordings. What’s their origin and how did you go about creating such an organic work? A: One of the aspects that I love most about working with field recordings is the way I can make them interact. That

taking field recordings in the woods of Molli (Sovicille, Siena), February 2009

crew of a second boat. For almost the entirety of the recording the microphone is directed towards the shore capturing the sound of the waves. The voices of the fourth track, Terra, were recorded here in Sovicille during the procession of the Madonna delle Grazie which just happens to pass by my house. I hid two small microphones between some pots on my garden wall in order to capture the voices at the height of the mouths of the participants.

is why I take a lot of care in archiving and organising all the files on my computer. Tarsia opens with a recording I took from the window of my studio of people picking cherries while I played the instrumental parts of the track on my monitors. The third track, Castiglione della Pescaia, winter 2011, is a composition entirely based on the recording of a fishing boat that slowly enters and docks in the small harbour of the village of Castiglione (Grosseto). The field recording lasts for eight minutes and carries the wintry silence of the place. In the second half of the piece, one can hear the sound of the boat’s engine merging with the voices of the fisherman talking to the

I capitalized on the acoustics of the place, which benefits from a natural echo. The field recording is not treated in any way, rather I made the most of the mixing process where I rendered the voices of the devotees and the pastor who was holding a megaphone, audible but somehow “vague” almost “mysterious”. The closing track, Pianura (con gli occhi di F.), consists instead of a field recording of excavators working in one of the many marble quarries of my area. Following this depressing sonic image of machinery digging a mountain enveloped by the type of silence that only underlines the natural reverberation of the valley, the track closes on a note of “optimism” with a drone I obtained by layering a synthetic and a recording of some crickets from a nearby wood. Q: The album is also quite rich in terms of instrumentation. Did you already have a general structure in mind before you set out to work on the single tracks?

A: Yes, this is really important to me. I believe that a strong distinctive trait of electro-acoustic music is that composition and material coincide. For this album I have always kept in mind the general structure and the material of each track, which is different for every track. For instance, Castiglione della Pescaia, winter 2011 is a composition written and practically tailored around a non-edited field recording that lasts for the duration of the track. I adopt an almost opposite approach in Risacca, an almost minimalist track that revolves around a loop obtained through the use of a software, then sampled through a synth hardware, treated with physical outboards and then modified once again through a software. This is a track where I constantly add and subtract different elements. Conversely, in a piece like Terra, the particular treatment of the strings and the rhythmic chanting pattern strongly characterize the composition. Q: What are you currently working on? A: I am working on new material. I’ve already completed a few tracks for a new album and I’m hoping to record some female vocals and some viola parts to complete it soon. - Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio / Photos by Giulio Aldinucci and Costanza Maremmi

taking field recordings in Monte Labro, August 2008


Taranto – Francesco Giannico Posted On: November 30, 2011

Photos Francesco Giannicoi

Francesco Giannico is an Italian electroacoustic musician, videoartist and webdesigner. He lives in Rome but is originally from Taranto. His musical approach is better described as a cinematic journey, which pushes the boundaries of digital media even further by incorporating smooth melodies and gentle textures. At the end of 2010 he formed together with Alessio Ballerini the network “Archivio Italiano dei Paesaggio Sonori” to promote the ecology of sound and soundscape culture. Talking to Alessio Ballerini spurred my interest in the work of the Italian Archive of Sonic Landscapes, AIPS, which, while still in its infancy has ambitious plans to map the whole of the Italian peninsula collecting found sounds and producing sound postcards. The first chapter of the Italian soundbook, SonorApuliae is set in Taranto, the industrial hub of Puglia (Apulia), where Francesco Giannico conducted a workshop in the old town… Q: Could you tell me how this came about and why you chose an area, which has been in constant decline for a number of years now? A: The aim of the sound workshop in Taranto was twofold. I wanted to conjugate the sound research work done by AIPS with the valorization of a deprived territory, that of the old town of Taranto. Notwithstanding its social and housing problems it remains a truly fascinating area, thanks in no small part to its particular geographical configuration. Old Taranto is in fact an island connected to the “new” part of town by a revolving bridge. Q: Judging by Alessio’s account of your joint experience with a similar workshop in Rome, your experience in Taranto has been markedly different in terms of sponsorship. What were the main factors for such a different outcome? A: It is true that Alessio and I had a rather dispiriting experience when we mapped the Pigneto district in Rome last Spring. We knocked on quite a few doors, amongst them that of the Discoteca di Stato – the official Italian sound archive -, and of various museums


and institutions, only to be met with little interest and a degree of superficiality, even though everybody was praising the concept of our work. Luckily we found a Circolo Arci, which offered us logistical support in terms of a venue. The situation as regards to TARANTO SONORA | SONORAPULIAE 2010, was radically different. There is very little happening in terms of cultural activities in Taranto, which, ironically, played in my favor as I had very few people to compete with for the little resources that were available. Also, I was playing at home, so to speak, as I am originally from the Puglia region and I knew the territory fairly well and knew how to go about things. In terms of the workshop itself, Taranto Sonora was structured as a weeklong series of talks on “soundscaping” and “improvisational methods” inspired by the works of Murray Schafer and John Cage. These were followed by a number of sound-walks whereby all the participants followed pre-designated itineraries within the old town with a digital recorder in hand to collect sounds. Step by step we covered the whole area.

any specific “endangered” sounds that old people talked about that you tried to capture? And what was the reaction you got from people?

Q: Did anyone amongst your group come from the area? Also, were there

Q: It is impossible to talk about Taranto and not mention the Ilva plant. The

A: The general reaction was good even though we may have come across as aliens to most! None of the participants came from Old Taranto itself, but some of the locals invited us into their homes to “better record” and capture sounds from unusual angles. We didn’t seek any specific sound indications from the people we met, though. We stuck to our itineraries trying to cover as much ground as possible, with a documentarian intent. Alas, what we have uploaded onto the online map is just a sample of all the sounds we collected. The majority of samples are urban sounds that resonate within confined spaces, with the echo of people shouting bouncing off the labyrinth of narrow allies that make up the old town of Taranto. In the background is the sometimes faint but ever present humming of the Ilva plant, which can get drowned out by the sounds of the bustling city by day, but is still very much noticeable.

ligence-gathering operation Echelon. One of the islands is apparently now up for sale. I presume the Cheradis are visible from the old town, if so, are they present on the acoustic horizon as well? Unfortunately we couldn’t detect them with our sound recordings. Q: Going back to the workshop itself, how did you round off the experience?

whole territory has become one of the most polluted in Europe thanks to the concentration of shipyards, steel and iron foundries, oil refineries, chemical works, and other factories, with people suffering from respiratory problems, to name just one of the most commonly reported ailments. Journalist Carlo Vulpio has published a book on the subject entitled La città delle nuvole (The City of Clouds, journey through the most polluted territory in Europe). Even in your clip one can see the far from crystal waters of Taranto. A: Indeed, even if the Ilva plant has no direct bearing on the area we examined, we could still hear its humming in F sharp minor by night! In the heart of the old town, while the city slept, this industrial echo is all engulfing. This was also the subject of a previous work of mine Urban Sounds from the Factory City, an installation I did with Amy Denio where we referred to this post-human entity as “the plague” quoting Camus’ famous novel by the same title. Q: What about the military base on the Cheradi Islands off the coast of Taranto? I’ve read on that the site was linked to the infamous worldwide intel-

A: We did an audio/video performance where we processed all sound and images to create a big live soundscape composition. The reaction has been mostly favorable. Some people loved it, others didn’t quite know what to make of it all. We also produced a videoartclip and, finally, we sent all our sound samples to Kim Cascone who created a highly evocative audio track, which can be read as a sound postcard from Taranto. Q: You have also worked on a similar project at the Pollino national park between Basilicata and Calabria, one of the most beautiful and underrated nature parks in Italy. Could you tell me something about this particular experience? A: Back in August 2010, I was invited to contribute to the PollinoSkyFestival. I collected some field recordings in the areas of San Severino Lucano, Cresta Madonna del Pollino and Piano di Ruggio, which formed the basis of an art-video I produced. This piece was partly commissioned by the San Saverino Pro Loco to promote the area. Here, the human presence was of negligible importance. What I concentrated on was the Bosnian Pine, which is the symbol of the park. I climbed to 1.800 mt to capture the sonic environment of the tree. One of my guides, a good friend of mine, measured the brightness of the night sky with an SQM, a “Sky Quality Meter”, in order to identify the best acoustic locations to record all in order to do so. The Pollino National Park was also the setting for Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times), by Michelangelo Frammartino, one of the best Italian films of recent years. If in the 60s and 70s we had great

film directors such as Ermanno Olmi and the late Vittorio De Seta, with a keen interest in the representation of the Italian social and rural landscape, nowadays there are only a few young filmmakers operating in the field, such as Frammartino, Pietro Marcello and Marco Santarelli. Sadly, they have to struggle to get founded and often self produce their own work. Funnily enough I am currently working with director Danilo Caputo on a new film, which deals directly with the theme of sonic landscapes, but I am not allowed to give away any details. Q: Sounds good to me, I am really looking forward to this. Do you have anything else in the pipeline? I have a couple of albums coming out in the immediate future and a few live dates coming up in December. Also, Alessio Ballerini and I aim to push forward the work of the Archive of Italian Sonic Landscapes AIPS. Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio

Postcard update

Posted On: May 30, 2013

Q: Your new album, Luminance, was released last April by Somewhere recordings. The title seems to reference a verse from Leonard Cohen’s song, Anthem, “There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in”. The interplay between light and shade, between what is apparent and what lies hidden, is at the core of the album. Could you tell me something about the genesis of this album and its underlying concept?


Photos Francesco Giannicoi

A: To be honest, the concept came later. I had 4 or 5 tracks, which are now part of this album, on my Soundcloud account when Tim, the label head at Somehow Recordings, contacted me to tell me, “Remove them from the web, I want to do a full release”.

Q: Memory is a recurring theme of yours. “A type of memory that feeds on field recordings, sometimes piano parts, sometimes gentle pads and cinematic atmospheres.” Does weaving in a strong sense of melody help you to creating this distinct and almost nostalgic feel?

feel that with Luminance the link has become even stronger, to the point that I’m left wondering whether the images might sometimes come before the sounds. Was that ever the case and how did you go about creating the artwork and the visuals for the new album?

Therefore, I gathered my ideas and organized the material I had, creating further new tracks and, above all, trying to find a common style and a common concept for the tracks.

A: I think “the sound of memory” is a like tool that allows you to have some kind of mental projection over the past.

A: As I said mentioned earlier, I didn’t begin this project with a concept in mind. I just created music and shot videos. Only later, I realized that some of the material had a common thread. The concept emerged naturally. From that point on, I moved in a more conscious

While I was working, I noticed that most of the tracks had some vaguely cryptic early parts. There were many field recordings, some atonal parts and a loose time structure. It was like a kind of prelude to something “important” that should have come later. Indeed, after a while, something did happen, and an overriding theme emerged, a musical theme, mostly psychedelic, cinematic, and ethereal, but with a solid internal structure. In a word, I identified at a conceptual level, the “Theme” with the “Light” and the “Preludes” with the “Cracks” mentioned by Leonard Cohen.


This type of sound is often muffled, softened, and in my case, interwoven with field recordings. I prefer to disorient or to try and surprise the listener with something that already belongs to them, with sounds and objects that are already part of them, something familiar like a distant, muffled piano or samples, voices and samples that somehow can give a feeling of a shared past or experience. In this sense, the melody reveals itself as an important tool in the context of musical experimentation for the whole track. Q: Video has always been an integral part of your work, but I

way, following the style and concept that was developing organically. I work a lot with video editing to make sense of the sound, and vice versa, especially when I produce site-specific installations. At the end of the process, when I was scrolling through the photos I had on my camera, I found the perfect image for the cover: a little girl playing on her own in a room (she is the daughter of a friend of mine). The girl is positioned at the centre of the frame with a strong interplay of light and shadow. Q: Indeed, there are close similarities between your visual and you aural work, in the way you create and investigate intricate textures and explore different surfaces. Water, for instance, is a strong element, which finds its sonic counterpart in the use of loops. There’s also often some kind of journey involved. What has your own journey been like with this album? A: The journey was beautiful and intense, but also difficult. Music is the only area in which I am extremely meticulous so many songs have been reworked several times. I must admit that initially, I wasn’t even 100% convinced of some of the songs selected by Tim. I thought that

they were good songs for “Soundcloud” but maybe not for an album, and that I could do better. Therefore, I reworked the music concentrating above all on the mastering. After that, another problem was born: to produce something in line with that same mood, and with the kind of concept that had emerged. Of course, the music was more difficult and required more time. The videos evolved almost naturally. For “Lacks Soul”, I already had some nice shots I’d taken at the “Eur Park” in Rome. For “Further”, instead, I worked mostly on the editing with pre-existing material and I focused on the post-production side of things. Q: Since we last spoke you have conducted a number of further soundwalks and workshops in different cities such as Bisceglie and Bologna amongst others. How did these new experiences compare to your first forays into sound mapping when you worked in Taranto and in the Pigneto district in Rome together with Alessio Ballerini? Is it still difficult to find financing, for instance, or were you able to build on past experiences? A: Sure enough, many things have changed. When I realized the sound map of Taranto, back then AIPS (Italian

Soundscapes Archive) did not exist and I still hadn’t met Alessio. Only one year later, when I moved to Rome, I eventually met Alessio and together we decided to create AIPS. We then found a formula, and a shared method that could be applied to every workshop within different contexts in various cities. There is a lot of work to be done during these workshops, both before, and after. Alongside the promotion of the event, and the event itself we now also produce a collective performance on completion of the workshop, which is something we started doing only a few months ago as a way of engaging even further the participants to the workshop. At that point, all the post-production work begins and one has to upload all the audio samples online and embed them onto an interactive map of the city. AIPS proposes this kind of project to public institutions and associations. Unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints and the cuts to arts funding, there is generally a lot of interest but little money available, which makes it very difficult to get a project off the ground. Ideally, we would love for these workshops to be open and free to all, but this could only happen if someone covered the running costs for the whole event. We are indeed currently working on trying to find more opportunities to get public funding in order to allow more people to attend our workshops.



Photography by Eashychord and Sara Bracco

Posted On: November 2, 2012

Easychord makes a texturally minimal, lush and overflowing sort of ambient music, droney, with use of tape loops. Music defined with marine mood whereof the favourite format is mid-lenght suites and large wavy soundscapes composed of drone textures… Q: Hi Roberto, to begin with, how did you choose your moniker Easychord? A: To be honest, I cannot recall the exact moment when I decided to use this specific moniker. I have always been in the habit of jotting down notes, words and phrases that inspired me on anything that came handy, be it my moleskine, my mobile or any scrap of paper I could find. I would later use these notes in my creative projects. I had scribbled down the word Easychord some time ago in a similar way. I have always liked the way it sounded and how it looked on paper. It was only with hindsight that I remembered a song by Stereolab entitled Captain Easychord, but there is no direct reference to it. Q: I first came across your work through the Italian netlabel Laverna, which released your album Not In My Family Tree. How did that come about and what


was the inspiration behind it? Also what’s behind the title? A: Yes, Laverna got in touch with me through Enrico Coniglio who was positively impressed by my music and who, slowly but surely, encouraged me to work on an album for Laverna. This proved to be a very good thing as it opened up a few doors enabling me to release Not In My Family Tree on tape on the British label DarkEraTapes and subsequently on CD on Leonardo Rosado’s label Heart and Soul. I would say that Not In My Family Tree is an album centered round the notion of how difficult it is in our day and age to feel “at home”, so to speak, or to feel comfortable in one’s own shoes. While I was working on the material, I used to ponder on how the people around me, myself included, have relationships issues. Or I used to ask myself why I sometimes find it difficult dealing with my own family or where this certain sense of oppression linked to ideas of belonging

and to strict social conventions we have to comply with on a daily basis, comes from. It’s kind of a vicious circle. Having said that, I don’t really find it such a dark album as it might first seem. I believe it is infused with a high degree of humanity and a sort of melancholic resignation, but in a good way. It suggests a sense of liberation, and functions as a “pacifying” stream of consciousness. Q: The piano seems to be your instrument of choice, with tentative fragments of melody echoing in the distance lost in the enveloping soundscape. Are these anchoring moments or, rather, deliberately out of focus lines from possible narratives? A: The fact that the piano became the central focus around which the other soundscapes rotate was the result of a

set of circumstances that saw me living in a small house during the time I was working on Not In My Family Tree that had a small 1950s piano where I spent many Autumn afternoons. This naturally led me to integrate the piano into the album without me even really noticing at first. On the other hand I liked the idea of an album that functioned as a single homogeneous stream, with a constant tension or perpetual movement, a bit like a sea current. Therefore, I tried to collect all those parts with a shared common denominator in terms of sound and dynamics while in keeping within a certain continuity concerning audio frequency. Q: Speaking of narrative, the title of one of your early works, I Wasn’t There For Goodbye, has a narrative quality to it. How important is this aspect to you? A: I have to say that over the course of 10 years, since I began making music, I have dabbled with different genres but every process and development I have gone through in terms of sound has followed a “textual” narrative line. In a certain sense, as a film buff, I consider making an album as akin to making a film or a documentary. Behind the evolution of a piece of work, implicitly there’s always a concept, it doesn’t matter whether this is made evident or not. I find it more interesting to leave any possible interpretation open ended just as with abstract art or Hermeticism in poetry unless one is dealing with instal-

lations or commissioned sound works that often adhere to a precise theme. With Easychord I work a lot on the concepts of “circularity” and “slowness” and I have to say that I found it very satisfying to read the following quote by John Berger on abstract art in a recent review of Not In My Family Tree: “As if the painting—absolutely still, soundless— becomes a corridor, connecting the moment it represents with the moment at which you are looking at it”. This means that I have been able to translate into sound the concept I had in mind. Q: Loops figure very prominently in your work, with the sound aiming for some distant vanishing point. How important is the circular motif in your own soundworld? A: Yes, loops are definitely important in my work. I am fascinated by them. I have always pursued a circular and impressionistic approach to music, the same spiral movement that is noticeable on old tapes where melodies unfold slowly and in a slightly cloudy way as if they were rings of smoke. Q: Are endings difficult for you? A: Within the creative process I have learnt over time to “go with the flow”, to leave everything to pour out as if it was hemorrhaging in order to have the music sound credible and heartfelt. Very often I find it difficult to end a track. Come to think of it, there’s so much stuff that will remain trapped forever on my laptop or

binned without finding a resolution. Still, more often than not, I am surprised by how things develop slowly but surely from an initial state of natural chaos into something concrete. I like it when this happens because these tracks acquire traits similar to meditation. Sure it is not easy to let oneself go, because often one is obsessed, in an unhealthy way, with the idea of making music, however if one manages to acquire that method, things begin to unfold in a slow but fascinating way. Q: If your music was a photograph, I would say it was a back-lit image with the shapes clearly outlined and the details immersed in darkness and barley visible. And yet the sound is very luminous. Do you like working with light and shade effects? A: Thanks for this accurate description, which I agree with. Aside from films, I have also a strong interest in the visual arts, and in particular in photography and architecture and even though I do not consider myself an expert on the subject I feel that these two disciplines are akin to the musical path I have undertaken. This is reflected by the choice of photographs for my albums and the propensity for geometrical illustrations on the covers. Concerning the use of lights and visuals instead, some time ago, I worked on the sound design for photographer Sara Bracco’s installation A Spine of Photograph, which included a video inspired by Paul Auster and his novel The Invention of Solitude. As part of the installation I performed within a net structure and behind a fabric with loosely weaved strings onto which lights and images were projected. I have always been fascinated by the idea of working with images and I hope to have the opportunity of doing it more often in the future. It would be very gratifying for me, without a doubt. Q: With “You, The Ocean” you seem to have gone back to basics in a way, focusing very strongly on analogue and organic sounds only to construct what is probably your most complex work to date. Is this the direction you


Photography by Eashychord and Sara Bracco

will be following for the foreseeable future? A: Yes, with “You, The Ocean” I have undoubtedly employed a different practical approach from my previous works. I wanted to create first and foremost something more physical and which had a live origin. The recording originated from field recordings captured live, without the aid of laptops and was developed from many different sources and instruments with the intent of creating a single and organic stream in which to lose oneself. Amongst the works I have produced under the Easychord moniker, this is the track that comes closer to the concept of the “sounds of memory”, which is something I would like to develop further in the future. Q: The work of 12k and people like Stephan Mathieu seems to have had quite an influence on you. If your dream label asked you to do a split release with an artist of your own choice, who would you choose and why? A: I truly appreciate Mathieu’s path and I consider him to be a master in his own genre. All his albums combine elegance with beauty and the same applies to 12k’s output. Thanks for thinking of my work in relation to theirs. Still, I am not sure they have a direct influence on my music. To be honest I have never thought about it. In the end I don’t think it is important. There are several labels I follow and that I consider akin to my idea of music. A part from Taylor Deupree’s label I would like to cite two


other lesser know labels, Cotton Goods and Slaapwel Records, as well as the legendary Kranky, but there are many other good ones. If I had to choose an artist with whom I’d like to collaborate, I’d be ambitious and would love to do an ambient split release with Mark Nelson from Pan American and Labradford. His output has always been very coherent and elegant and I have always admired the way he developed his output over the years without losing in credibility and style. The same could be said about Philip Jack another artist I greatly admire. Q: You are from Turin, an industrial town in the Piedmont region. What kind of influence would you say this city has had on your own music if any at all? Also have you got any favorite areas, places, streets, buildings, anything that holds a special meaning to you? A: In the course of the last few years, I have started to love more and more the city I live in, with its shy and reserved character and its char-

acteristic Nordic coldness that makes it so beautiful. I love experiencing Turin by night or on those rare occasions when it feels depopulated and one can discover unexpected corners and vistas. The city is infused in its sparkling grey colour, which never feels oppressive, even when melancholic and sumptuous. There is so much beauty and architectural appeal from a past era that I find it a constant source of inspiration. Amongst the different sites within Turin, my favorites are the Palatine Gate and the archeological park with its Roman

ruins, Piazza Carignano, the Valentino Park, the Precollina, and the post-industrial and vaguely distressing atmosphere of the Lingotto track. I would also like to cite Villa Capriglio, which was used as a location in a number of films by Dario Argento; San Salvario, because of its colours and the fact that it is multicultural; the Principi D’Acaja district, where I would like to live, and, finally, the central area of Via Montebello, a real magnet for film buffs where one has a vantage and breathtaking view of the Mole Antonelliana.

Q: The cultural scene in Turin seems to be quite lively and diverse. Anything you would recommend in particular? A: Turin is undoubtedly quite a vibrant city in terms of musicians and artists.It stands at a crossroads for different cultures and genres, and, for this reason, it is hard to work out what is being portrayed in terms of cultural scene. It has always been a great magnet for contemporary/classical music and, in the past few years, Turin has become one of the leading design capitals of the world, as well as being renowned for its electronic music festivals. In terms of music experimentation I would like to cite Enore Zaffiri, a composer and musician who founded the Sudio di Musica Elettronica di Torino (Turin’s Electronic Music Studio or SMET). He spread the new electronic music language in Italy in the 60s and the 70s through the use of synthesizers as a concert hall instrument and with the aid of visuals. In a nutshell, he is one of the greatest Italian musicians

to specialize in Computer Art. Q: What are you currently working on and when are we to expect the next fully formed Easychord album? A: I am working on new material, but I prefer to let each album unfold slowly, I need to become intimate with the music I play and with that sensation of surprise that takes hold of me when I suddenly realize I have something concrete in my hands. We live in “fast times”, too fast, and I believe slowness to be the only way to reconcile oneself with the truly essential things in our lives. I admit to being hypercritical towards the wealth of music and art, which is currently being produced. I do not believe we need such an overload of content, as a result of which we find ourselves out of step with the real weight of things. In the past decade we have become greedy, sadly arrogant and competitive and I believe that times are ripe for a new beginning. There is no lack of ideas, it’s just the urgency with which albums, films or art of any kind is produced that is no longer there. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio


Photography by Ilaria Accomazzo, Andrea Serrapiglio, Dominic Cramp

TURIN – ANDREA SERRAPIGLIO Posted On: November 15, 2012

Andrea Serrapiglio is a cellist and composer currently based in Turin. He has collaborated with a number of musicians including Carla Bozulich (Gerardine Fibbers,Evangelista), Scott McCloud (Girls Against Boys,Paramount Styles), David Tibet (C93), Barbara de Dominicis, Claudio Cinelli, Luca&Alberto Serrapiglio, Marco Messina (99posse), Shahzad Ismaily (Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog), Julia Kent, Nels Cline, Massimo Pupillo & Luca Mai (ZU), Stefano Pilia, Leonardo Diana, Angela Torriani Evangelisti, Nicola Guazzaloca, Luca Bernard, John Russell, Francesco Cusa, Angelo Contini, Gianni Mimmo, Cristiano Calcagnile, Mirko Sabatini, Andrea “ICS Ferraris, Luminance Ratio, Tim TrevorBriscoe, Dominic Cramp, Tara Barnes, Ava Mendoza, Lisa Gamble, Jason Van Gulick, Jean Michel Van Schouwburg, Michael Tracy, Adam Baz, Adama N’Diaye Rose… Q: After years of collaborating with a number of different musicians, you have recently released your first solo cello album, The Ship as a free download. What prompted such a move? A: I spent so many years looking at free tutorials and following free resources from the internet, learning a lot from ordinary guys like me. People who do things at home and take time to experiment. I’m learning how to play instruments like the sitar, the phin, the ukulele, and I learnt how to solder, and how to do many other things. I got a lot from the web, and I’d like to offer something in return, but I’d also want it to be unique, free and 100% mine. I really enjoyed making the design for the first cover of the album, which was a printable and a foldable cd cover case. After a year or so of free download from my website, I decided to put it on iTunes and other stores because I wanted it to be more “official”, and also, if someone wants to look for a cello album, it’s easier to find it. Furthermore, the artwork has changed, because now there’s a really beautiful picture made by my girlfriend, who helps and inspires me a lot in my work. It’s still available on my website for free, if one looks for it, and it can also be streamed on youtube or soundcloud, too.


Q: Delays and loops seem to be the rule of the game for a solo project based on a classical instrument. The most obvious example that springs to mind is that of Julia Kent, whom you’ve also played with. Are you comfortable working along these parameters? A: I met Julia when Barbara de Dominicis asked me to record the Valdapozzo’s and the Forte Marghera’s sessions of their project Parallel41. I had the chance to improvise with Julia during a break (luckily, I’d left the mics on… and it ended up great!). I really loved playing with her, and I hope we’ll have a chance to do a live set together one day. The landscape of sounds that we created realtime was only possible through the use of our delays and looping machines. I love the idea of arranging tracks for more than one cello and perform them live with my looper. I use the classic boss rc-20 and ableton live for looping. Being repetitive with delay and loops is also a good form of meditation that really works for me, and it also helps me to compose classical-ish tracks, without worrying about writing down harmonies. I love hitting that overdub button and let my ears do the rest! It’s a pity that teachers don’t use loopers at the conservatory in Italy. They could be useful for a lot of exercises and performances. Q: Let’s stay with the cello for a moment, which is your instrument of choice. You come from a musical family and both your father and your brother are musicians. What attracted you to this particular instrument in the first place? A: When I was a child my mother took my brother and I to our father’s concerts. When you have a symphonic orchestra in front of you, it’s impossible to remain indifferent to the various sounds, shapes and colours of all of those instruments! The moment of the concert I always liked the most was backstage, when musicians were rehearsing their most difficult parts or were just relaxing with their instruments, and then I suddenly saw him… the cello player, seated on a chair

in his corner trying to find the perfect tune of his instrument and doing long notes with the bow to help him concentrate on the colour of the notes. When I was 6 years old, I asked my dad to bring me a cello home, and everything started the very next day! Q: The cello also seems to lend itself very nicely to “electronic contaminations”. I am thinking of recent examples such as Cello+Laptop and Mem1. Do you find these works inspiring or do you go back to classics such as Bach’s Cello Suites for guidance or even draw from contemporary composers such as Alexander Knaifel, Sofia Gubaidulina or Alfred Schnittke in your work? A: The cello fits very well with electronic, it’s such an open instrument, able to produce almost every kind of sound and to recreate different situations from rock to dance and classic. As for myself, I could say I am mostly inspired by soundtracks, even though I prefer to be inspired by feelings rather than by other musicians, who attempt just like me to do create something original. Obviously I’ve always listened to a lot of music, from classical to hardcore, but in the past few years I’m less open to external influences in music. I prefer to take a walk, or to look at someone in the eyes, living a beautiful or a bad experience and be inspired by that, rather than listening to someone else’s music. It’s distracting. Now I listen to music when I read something or when I need to reach a certain feel-

ing and I don’t have the right instrument to play. An album I can’t stop listening is “Giorni Rubati”, by Erik Friedlander and Teho Teardo, it’s a perfect combination between cello and electronic. They’re both great musicians and composers, like all the names that you mentioned. Q: You have also invented the Matilda, a “circuit bent instrument”. It’s made out of different recycled objects, and as you explain yourself, it is “totally easy & fun to play”, sort of a “keyboard for dummies”. As you also explain, by plugging it into a bass amp, it will go from very low frequencies all the way up to very high

whistles. Also, the Matilda features in Barbara De Dominicis and Julia Kent’s album Parallel 41. What was the inspiration behind it and what future use do you envisage for it? A: Doing circuit bending for me is part of my daily researches in music and sounds. Today, we use a smartphone to do everything, but I remember when one had to have something to play with, a calculator to do your maths, a walkman to listen to music, and so on. Now all these things are “trash”, useless. Fortunately there’s a pretty huge community of circuit bending, and I think they are doing a great job in recycling plastic and making new instruments that look like Art. After watching few tutorials about circuit bending on youtube, I was playing with an old walkie-talkie, trying to make some sounds out of it. I was impressed by the lyricism of that object, from bass to whistle, from melodic to brutal, it was just perfect for my needs. In those days my lovely niece was born, and the choice of the name for the new instrument, made from one of my favorite childhood toy, was obvious to me: Matilda, like the name of my brother’s baby. Matilda’s future? Uncertain, like all the things I do, but it will always be around, even if it might end as the tomorrow’s trash? Keep recycling! Q: One of the albums you have collaborated on is Andrea Ferraris and Matteo Uggeri’s Autumn Is Coming We Are All In Slow Motion, which you also mastered. Is the technical side of music, from recording to mixing and mastering, something you are keen to do

yourself and that you take pleasure in or is it simply something you have learnt to do out of necessity? A: To begin with, I was just curious about how one can record a voice or an instrument and make it sound beautiful, then it became a necessity, because I never had the money to go to a studio. I like it best this way because I have full control on what I do, and I can manage my own time. It took many years before I did something professional, and I will never stop learning. Recording, mixing and mastering are 3 totally different worlds, and I’m trying to put a step into all of them. With Matteo Uggeri and Andrea Ferraris we already worked a lot in studio together, I’ve recorded and mixed two Airchamber3′s albums and I recently recorded the last album for Sparkle in Grey. With internet, things have really changed, thanks to that I’ve recorded myself for Carla Bozulich and Scott McCloud. It’s amazing that the cello tracks were ready to be mixed in California and New York in the space of a click. Now a studio is more than ever a network of studios, so I need to be always ready and know how to record myself. Q: To follow the Andrea Ferraris link, could you illustrate to me the Airchamber3 project you share with Andrea and your own brother Luca Serrapiglio with its piercing and dramatic style? A: Airchamber3 is a project where I can really be myself with no worries. Now we’re living in three different cities, so it’s difficult to rehearse, but every time we manage to do so, it’s like when you meet an old good friend. Nothing has changed, things just evolved. I think it’s even better because when you don’t see each other for a long time, then you have a lot to say.


The result is always a soundtrack for a movie that still doesn’t exist, but it’s already in our projects. We like a lot to collaborate with talented friends, with the formula “Airchamber3 + n”. We had guests like Barbara de Dominicis, Dominic Cramp, Gianni Mimmo, Alessandro Buzzi, Luminance Ratio, Leonardo Diana and a super guest for the upcoming album, Vincenzo Vasi with a track that will blow your minds! Q: You have also worked with Carla Bozulich on her Evangelista project. What have you learnt from this particular experience? A: Carla is a gift of nature, without her I wouldn’t have done so many things. She made me more comfortable and secure with the music I play, as if she took it from the deepest corners of my stomach, and made me throw up the real music, the music that I feel. Fortunately, it worked perfectly for her show too. I think we have great musical chemistry. She taught me how to be on stage with my acoustic cello connected to loopers, distortions, reverbs, delays and a huge bass amp. She shaped the sound on me, helping me find the right pedals, with the right pick-up and the right amp, she knows a lot about it. It was hard work and it took me a couple of tours with her to be able to crank my amp without it feeding back like a screaming pig. I remember the first tour with her, it was a three months tour, one month and a half in the US and the rest in Europe. It was my first tour ever, and it started the week after my cello degree. That was probably the strongest and most beautiful experience of my life, I was so stressed out and the tour was like reading Henry Rollins’ “Get in the Van”, it was fucked. I can almost say that I slept on at least a floor in every country of the US, and then back in the van for a ten hour drive and a soundcheck… I’ve learnt how to be a nomad. Q: You also play with the Orchestra Multietnica Furastè, which is made of over 20 different musicians from a number of different countries, from Senegal to Ruanda. This seems to be one of many similar Italian based bands, like the Orchestra Multietnica di Arezzo, L’Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio and the Orchestra di Via Padova, designed to unite local talent with international musicians from immigrant communities. A: I’ve always played with musicians from all around the world, and one of my best experiences is with the great


Photography by Ilaria Accomazzo, Andrea Serrapiglio, Dominic Cramp

percussionist Adama Ndjaye Rose, who comes from the most important family in Senegal for the Sabar. They played with Miles Davis, The Rolling Stones and other big musicians. He recommended I went and played with that multiethnic orchestra and I spent a great year with them, so many talented musicians, so many different influences. I was also recording the album in my studio, everything was ready but we had a big argument with the organization, which resulted in 15 of us walking out. We are now planning new concerts but without the name Furastè, that name is still alive but with conditions that me and other musicians don’t like. Q: Last year you wrote a piece in memory of Vittorio Arrigoni, the Italian peace activist killed in Gaza. I am intrigued by the title of the track, Song of the Birds as often birdsong is used as a lazy shortcut to conjure up ideas of pastoral beauty and serene landscapes. Here it introduces an element of disquiet. Could you elaborate on the ideas behind this particular track? A: Vittorio was a citizen of the world, who didn’t believe in borders and flags but in dreams, and so do I. He was a good shepherd in hell, and I wanted to recreate the same situation using an arrangement made by Pablo Casals from an old Catalan Christmas song “El Cant des Ocells”. That song was just perfect, I only needed to recreate hell, and for me the war is the closest thing to it, so I decided to fill the song with bombs and strike fighters. That was my small tribute

to his life, dedicated to the people. Q: Like Andrea Ferraris, you are from Alessandria, Piedmont, but have recently left that city for Turin, whereas Andrea chose Genova. Could you briefly tell me the reasons behind such a move? Also, Turin seems to have quite an active music scene as well, with people like Eniac, Andrea Valle and Easychord, to name but a few. Was that one of the factors that prompted your move? A: I love Torino, there’s a great musical scene, one can go to a concert every night and listen to music on the streets. It’s like a smaller version of Paris, another city that I love. Being able to discover new sounds so often was one of the main reasons for sure. Alessandria is like a dead end track, all one can do is to go for a pint in a pub, listen to commercial music and later have to return home without being able to see a thing because of the ever present wall of fog, typical of my hometown. With the new mayor Rita Rossa I now see some new hope for music and art, but everything needs to be reinvented, because for the first time an Italian city went bankrupt, and it was Alessandria.

A: Valdapozzo is not just a place to rehearse, it has more than 20 years of activity. All kinds of shows have taken place there, every year. Several albums happened in Valdapozzo, a couple of them recorded by me. The acoustics of the main room, our theatre, are very good. No external sounds, can be heard even if it’s not acoustically treated. I recently joined the group of people that runs it, and I finally feel at home, with technicians, musicians, photographers, sculpture makers, light designers, etc. There’s always something to talk about with these guys, it’s amazing. I just lived there for 2 weeks, making the music for the new show by the choreographer Leonardo Diana, with my brother and 3 dancers. The atmosphere in the choreographies is already mystical, but the surreal landscapes that surround Valdapozzo helped a lot for sure. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio

Q: Finally, Barbara De Dominicis has been singing the praises of Valdapozzo to me, a beautiful farmhouse in the Piedmont valleys, where you play and rehearse. How much does this particular location inform your music and more generally speaking how does the Italian soundscape influence your compositional approach if at all?


TREVISO – BORING MACHINES / ONGA Posted On: January 9, 2013

Photography: Onga and Fabio Orsi

Boring Machines is a record label established in 2006 by Onga. There isn’t a particular genre Boring Machines is interested in, but a feeling: a general taste for discomfort and anger, long meditations and psychedelic state is what Boring Machines cares for. Boring Machines loves paper and ink and takes great care of the artwork and packaging of its records. Every release is housed in recycled/recyclable thick paper and is lovingly hand assembled at Boring Machines HQ. Q: Boring Machines has been going since 2006. How can one running a label single-handedly and as a part-time activity avoid the risk of running out of steam? Do you ever ask yourself “why am I doing this?” Are you not afraid of feeling the 7-year itch? A: I guess it’s a bad joke to quote Mr Fornaciari, but “I got the devil in me!” I just recently answered a similar question in an interview at a festival where they asked me why I do what I do. My answer was “because I hate so much what I do the rest of the time”, which is my day job. I’m lucky enough to have a pretty well paid job, which gives me the freedom to decide to waste my time and money on some non-remunerating activities, like releasing records. The energy you get every time you meet new people, when you see interesting shows or when you travel to meet distant likeminded friends still wins over any possible downside of being an aged pauper. Q: One of the things that people tend to remark about your label is how “versatile” it is. Would you agree, or would you say that discomfort and anger are two solid enough traits around which Boring Machines was able to construct its own sound identity? A: If versatility was to be applied in the same way to Constellation Records, for instance, I have to agree with that. I never wanted to stick to one particular sound but rather to a range of sounds that I love, in the constant attempt to


find, one day, the perfect synthesis. Discomfort and anger are present pretty much in every Boring Machines release, and even when these feelings are not on the surface, I would’ve still have felt them when listening to the albums in question for the first time. Another theme for Boring Machines is “escape from reality”, be that through the deep space (Be Maledetto Now!, Andrea Marutti & Fausto Balbo) or through ancestral rites (Mamuthones, Squadra Omega, La Piramide di Sangue). I always followed the desire to get-away from daily reality. Q: You have stated that you are not interested in releasing b-side material from established artists just to raise the profile of your label. Wouldn’t that be an acceptable compromise if it meant that some of the lesser known musicians on your roster would benefit from greater exposure?

A: Oh well, on the one side I don’t think it would work anyway: one would just remain in the shade of someone else, unless there was a real collaboration between the two units. It always makes me grin when I read on a press release (including some of mine, for that matter) that such and such (low profile) artist played “with” such and such (high profile) artist. They didn’t play “with” them, they were only on the same bill, which doesn’t mean much. On the other side, I tend to prefer people who make their way through the perils of the music world by standing on their own two feet. I had the pleasure in the past seven years of collaborating with Father Murphy, a unique band who took some tough decisions, like quitting their day jobs in order to dedicate themselves to their music. They’re special people, really committed to what they do. It took them almost ten years from the time

they first put together their band to gain some kind of recognition, but they deserve every single nice word people say about them. Even in the so-called “underground” there’s too much careerism, the same practice of the major world, just with less money. Apart from this, collaborations are welcome if they are honest, if they bring new anger, new discomfort. Q: What is the aspect of running a label that you could most definitely do without? A: Having to deal with bureaucracy. I try to stay away from all of that and concentrate only on the music; sometimes you have to deal with that anyway just to get into some circuits only to discover it just wasn’t worth it. Q: Has the smoke ban single-handedly killed off the music industry? A: Haha, maybe. Q: You have co-released albums like Claudio Rocchetti’s The Carpenter with other labels such as Presto!? Is it just a question of splitting the costs or is it about creating a network? A: The Carpenter was released on CD and LP with Presto!?, Holidays Records, Wallace Records and Boring Machines. Lollo, Blits and Mirko are good friends and there’s mutual respect for what we do. Claudio is friends with all of us so it just seemed natural to do things together. Co-producing is for sure a method of sharing costs, but it also means sharing knowledge, energy, and contacts. So it makes the network grow, which is what we need, after all. I tend to work mostly on my own just because it’s easier in every aspect, from decision making to planning, but every now and then I co-release an album with other labels run by friends. My latest releases are both co-productions with likeminded people, Eternal Zio is co-produced with Black Sweat Records, run by Dome of the great band Al Doum & The Faryds, while How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck if a Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood? is co-released with Avant! Records, which again, has a solid discography I recommend checking out. Q: You are based in Treviso, an area that benefits from a rather active scene taking into account Ennio Mazzon’s Ripples Recordings, as well as Si-

lentes, Codalunga and Von from nearby Vittorio Veneto and Enrico Coniglio with Galaverna in Venice. Are you like an extended family, or geographical proximity is not relevant nowadays? In other words, does Berlin, for instance, feel closer to home than Padova? A: Geography is kind of a weird concept to me, as I am used to driving a lot throughout Italy. Just in the past fifteen days I’ve been to a festival in Macerata, then home for Christmas, then off to Itri (which is not too far from Naples) for the eight edition of the incredible festival Mu.Vi.Ment.S. Next stop was Torino, on the opposite side of Italy to where I live. I don’t think one can talk of a community in the northeast, but for sure there are some nice things going on and great people that I like and support. Ennio Mazzon, for instance, is one of the most promising artists within the digital field and ever since his first outputs on Ripples he showed good taste. Codalunga has been the main port of call if one wanted to listen to non-aligned music for the past few years, God bless them! That said, as I decided years ago to concentrate only on Italian artists, no matter where they lived, I didn’t restrict myself to the area where I live. We have internet and low cost flights, so I encourage everyone to travel, meet people, join forces away from home, while still never forgetting where one is from. Q: What would you say were the particular strengths and weaknesses of the Italian electro-acoustic and experimental music scene? And why is it, in your opinion, that in spite of the number or great homegrown labels there still aren’t any internationally recognized ones such as Touch, Editions Mego, 12k, etc?

Italy really left remarkable traces. Again, I won’t name names, there are so many good artists who are worth checking out, both active in the past and/or still making music today. Our weaknesses come from way back, I believe. For the past thirty years, culture (in all its different meanings) has been slowly destroyed and that has left a heavy mark on the image Italy now has abroad. It happened to me as well, I was asked about being Italian, as if Italy was an exotic place

A: About the strengths of the experimental music scene in Italy, I would only say that we had a glorious tradition (sadly forgotten by most), that artist from all over the world came to experience, study and share. I won’t name names, people should know or get on the frigging internet and do a bit of research. We have it in our DNA and those who practised seriously the art of experimental music in


Photography: Onga and Fabio Orsi

where people don’t make things worth taking seriously.

A: Close relationships are the main thing of what I do. As it should be quite The labels you mentioned are clear to all concerned, nobody is in it for really well established and have the money, which means that the human been around for a long time now. factor becomes more important. I want Also, some of them are run by art- to share thoughts with the musicians ists of considerable underground I work with, I want to see them in perfame, which makes everything son every now and then, have a drink easier. I don’t think that anything with them and spend some quality time comparable to what some of those together whenever possible, because big labels have achieved will be there’s no meaning to me in anonymous possible in the future, not on that relationships, there has to be some scale at last. Selling a 300 copface to face interaction. Other than that, ies run of a record now is almost there’s no input from me on the artistic a miracle for some artists. Things activity of the artists I release. We dishave indeed changed, still that cuss what’s best and share thoughts doesn’t necessarily mean they about the music, the artwork and all that, have changed for the worse. but I always want the artists to have their What I try to do, and I think every- final say on everything that is related to one committed to the music they particular release. I want them to feel release, should do, is to maintain completely represented. the quality of their products at the highest possible level they can. Q: About the artwork, how do you go And like seven years ago, never about creating the cover and the debank on any financial return. sign of any specific release and how important is that in establishing both the Q: You seem to establish a close identity of a specific album and in conrelationship with some of your tributing to the overall identity of Boring artists, such as Be Invisible Now, Machines? Rella the Woodcutter, Father Murphy, Satan is My Brother, and A: As I have just mentioned, the artwork Luciano Maggiore and Francesco is part of the artistic product of the musiFuzz Brasini. What is your input cians I work with, and I always leave on any new album you might respace for their own choices when it lease with them? comes to deciding how a record should


look like. For sure I have suggestions, mostly technical, as I am a huge fan of paper since the first time I organized an event twenty years ago, and I have my own taste too, but there’s no overall identity in terms of the label when it comes to the design apart from my logo appearing on the sleeve. If someone recognises a common thread, it’s something that just happened.

The biggest lesson I learned has been from Constellation: you never make a good enough packaging until you make the next one. I wish one day I will be able to afford to make beautiful records like they do. Even if I were a Bieber fan, I would want those objects anyway.

Q: You have talked about Kranky and Constellation as being huge inspirations for you. How would you say both labels have stood the test of time and what would you say was the biggest lesson that Boring Machines has learned from them?

A: Haha, right. That happened a couple of times. Having the website domain with the same name of the label puts me on top of a Google search, and some companies wrote to me to get a quote for a Boring Machine, one of those giant worms which make tunnels. Once I replied with the link to my shop, but they haven’t wrote back yet. They are probably still undecided between Heroin in Tahiti or Eternal Zio.

A: Both labels are still a source of inspiration to me, together with a thousand more. Constellation probably stood better the test of time. While everyone is screaming “halleluiah” for the latest GY!BE record (which is indeed good) one of my favourite records of 2012 is Pacha, contained in their box “Musique Fragile vol.2”, which demonstrates once again that they don’t just rely on their big names but keep on releasing unique records. Kranky has been less consistent but the quality is always above the average.

Q: Do Saudi engineers ever buy your products?

Q: What have you got in store for 2013? A: 2013 will be pretty intense. I have planned so many releases I don’t think I will be able to be on time with everything, at least if they don’t go sold out very quickly so that I get mo’ money to reinvest.

First three releases for 2013 are: My Dear Killer, this is a great comeback. He was the first artist I released and after six years spent in three different countries researching relations between light and plants behaviour he’s back with a brand new album where discomfort really rules. BeMyDelay is back with a new set of songs, this time definitely more minimal than the previous album. It’s another take on psychedelia, more folky and relaxed, more Texan if this means something to anyone. Du Champ it’s a new entry, another lady becoming part of the Boring Machines family and her debut album is amazing. You’ll hear it soon. - Interview: Gianmarco Del Re / Photography: Onga and Fabio Orsi


Photography: Gianluca Favaron (apart from header image unknown)

TREVISO – GIANLUCA FAVARON Posted On: January 25, 2013

Gianluca Favaron is an everyman, passionate about music, art and literature and with a certain predisposition to make artisanal sounds… Q: 2012 has been a busy year for you with the release of two solo albums and others in collaboration with Ennio Mazzon and Stefano Gentile. As a matter of fact you have been quite prolific for the past couple of years, considering you only just started releasing albums in 2010. What is your background and how did you develop such an accomplished sound in such a short space of time? A: Music wise, I started out as a singer in the early 80s within punk music and new wave. I then took a 30 year long sabbatical, until I was asked back for a reunion gig by my friend Pietro Zanetti with whom I used to play at the time. This got me back into the groove, so to speak and spurred me on to try out new avenues. Using a laptop as principal instrumentation, felt like the natural thing to do, since the majority of music I listened to was electronic and digital. I found it relatively easy to compose on a laptop and I believe the speed with which I started producing music came from so many years of listening to this type of music, which meant I had a clear enough idea of what I would’ve liked to achieve right from the word go. Q: Back to 2012 and your solo albums, Inner Sky and Outer Sky… The field recordings for both albums were taken in Paris at the end of 2011 and the albums were completed in Treviso between January and February of 2012. They are quite complex works completed in a remarkable short space of time and they seem to point to some kind of urgency behind them. Inner Sky, in particular, inaugurated Enrico Coniglio and Leandro Pisano’s netlabel Galaverna devoted to field recordings based works and yet, this is far from a “purist” approach to field recordings. Could you describe your working method starting from your use of microphones, which I get the impression


are quite an integral part of your equipment? And could you explain how you go about mixing tracks to obtain that narrative quality which seems to run through them?

the album covers reflect the subject matter.

Q: Music can be a lonely business, but you seem to favour collaborations as Zbeen, a project with Ennio Mazzon, A: As a basis for both works you refer to and Under The Snow, your duo with I actually used the same field recordings Stefano Gentile. Do you see this as a material that I took in Paris with a simple way for you to come out of your comdigital recorder: I don’t use any kind of fort zone and try things you wouldn’t specific microphones and I am not even normally be inclined to, or is just a matthat knowledgeable when it comes to the ter of survival when overcome by cabin technical side of things. Furthermore, I fever? don’t really have such a strong interest in pure field recordings as such. To me, A: Collaborations are my preferred they only represent a starting point from working method. I feel a lot more at ease which I try and develop a more complex working with someone else rather than discourse. on my own. On my own, I find it difficult to achieve something I may be satisfied Generally speaking, to gather material, with, and it is due more to Enrico and I set off for a walk allowing my digital Ennio’s determination that I’ve agreed to recorder to capture anything that any release the two albums we were talkgiven place might have to say, which is ing about under my own name rather normally a lot more that one might realthan my own conviction. As a matter of ise at first because all of our senses are fact I’ve just finished a new album, but I inevitably distracted by different stimuli. am still reluctant to send it out. If there’s Once in the studio, I try to replicate in anyone out there who may be interestmusical terms any itinerary I might’ve ed, please get in touch! followed. This is where the narrative element you were talking about might come Q: How would you characterise the muinto place. With Inner Sky, I was lucky sic of both collaborative projects? enough that both Enrico and Leandro expressed their interest to release it on A: They cover to a large extent many Galaverna. of the musical topics that interest me. Under the Snow is a more ambient proQ: Did you conceive the work from the ject and one which, to a certain extent, start in two parts as Inner and Outer harks back to the 80s in terms of mood Sky or did Outer Sky come as a reaction and tone. This is only natural since both against Inner Sky or rather as a reflecStefano and I were already grownups at tion on the journey undertaken with the the time, and it also means that we have same album and centred around the good chemistry since we used to listen 15th arrondissement in Paris? Also the to a lot of the same music. cover of the albums are polar opposites going from a tele-lens shot to macro Zbeen, on the other hand, is more detail. experimental, musically speaking, and at the same time highly stimulating A: Outer Sky was composed after Inner because it allows me to work with EnSky was released. When Ennio Maznio, who is much younger than myself zon asked me to release something on but very competent in terms of digital his label Ripples, it felt natural to use programming. His age the same field recordings from Paris to also means that his try and tell the same story from a differlistening history is not ent point of view while only concentratas extensive. ing on a small part of the territory (rue Lecourbe in the XV arrondissement), Q: Together with Stewhereas with Inner Sky I included refano Gentile you have cordings from all over Paris, including been able to indulge in the airport. From this point of view, your love for field re-

cordings, which culminated in Under the Snow’s open homage to Alan Lomax. This reminds me of Muddy Speaking Ghosts Through My Machines by Fabio Orsi and Gianluca Becuzzi. Indeed Lomax carried out several filed trips in Italy. What is, or should be, the role of sound archives and did the work of Ernesto De Martino, Diego Carpitella, and Giovanna Marini have any influence on you? Is it still relevant today? A: Granted that I consider Becuzzi and Orsi’s album to be a landmark, Stefano and I used Alan Lomax’s field recordings to embellish what was an already completed work, which was loosely centred around some field recordings taken on the Po delta. Since traditional music from Polesine wasn’t suited to our work, I tried with Lomax’s recordings from the Mississipi delta and found that the voices suited so perfectly the music that we decided to leave them. Our relationship to sound archives is limited to this experience. Q: You also worked with Enrico Coniglio and Under the Snow on the album Dialogue One, which has been described by Richard Allen in A Closer Listen as a Winter album about Winter, concluding that “location authenticity will guarantee its durability”. How important is to you to be “coherent” in terms of locations when using field recordings in a particular album? A: I don’t really feel any obligation or any need to be coherent. It’s more a question of mood: if I work on field recordings that all come from one place, I find that the work acquires a sense of unity. Q: Still in its infancy, Zbeen, your collaborative project with Ennio Mazzon, has been going from strength to strength. So far you have released two well-received works, the ep K-Frame and an album Stasis coproduced by Entr’acte and Ripples. You have also just finished a new album, which is currently being mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi. I suppose the fact that you both live in the Treviso area does help as it gives you the opportunity to play live together rather than just send files to each other. Is this an important aspect of the work for you? A: It is not so important to live in the same city. I don’t think I am revealing any secret when I say that Ennio and I never do get together to record material for our albums or albums or to rehearse live sets. What we are

mostly interested in when playing live is the impro factor, nothing is ever planned in advance apart from the possibility of actually playing on a stage. Q: You seem to favour Scandinavian titles with Zbeen’s albums. Is there any particular reason for this? A reference to Touch artists such as Biosphere and BJ Nilsen? A: Ennio is the one passionate about the Norwegian language. The title tracks of the next album, though, won’t be Scandinavian! Q: Ennio Mazzon wrote that “the backbone of Stasis is rigorously digital, but contrary to the EP K-frame (Ripples, January 2012) its sound is rather more organic, thanks in no small part to the use of a vast array of different sound sources: field recordings, contact microphones, guitar and clearly synthetic sounds.” Is there anything you would like to add in particular on the digital aspect of the album and what direction did the sound take on the as yet to be released new album? A: In order to answer this question, I should specify that Stasis was recorded before K-Frame and that album, to a certain extent, was rooted in tried and tested working methods for both of us and to a sound we were both comfortable with when we started collaborating. With K-Frame we took a first step in a new direction away from the original sound source in order to interact on a higher level with the laptop thanks to a max patch Ennio had created especially for this album. From there on, we progressed naturally to a type of sound, which falls clearly in the digital synthesis bracket whereby all digital processing renders unrecognisable the original sound source. The creation of new patches allows us to achieve sounds that are different each time. That is why I consider the new album, which you were referring to, Eigen, as a first point of arrival for Zbeen.

where in between? A: What Treviso is like is quite evident. The situation has become even more tragically ridiculous since the times of Germi’s film. Having said that, there are indeed a number of people from Ennio and Onga, to Nico Vascellari & co with Codalunga in Vittorio Veneto and the Dirtmor Collective in Treviso, who do really interesting things with no support whatsoever from the institutions and the city. Q: Giuseppe Verticchio and Giuseppe Ielasi seem to be your preferred choices when it comes to mastering. What have they revealed to you about your own work? A: Both of them made me understand how important are precision and clarity, even within music. Q: Are there any underexposed artists on the Italian scene, which you feel deserve a closer listen, and how do you see the evolution of electronic music in Italy? A: I always try and listen carefully to the artists I am interested in and always try and dig extensively into their catalogue, so I wouldn’t be able to give you any specific names. In terms of the evolution of electronic music in Italy I don’t think I have anything particular new to say. What is striking is how vibrant the scene is with so many great works being produced in spite of the considerable drop in sales of the past few years. Interview: Gianmarco Del Re

Q: This is the third postcard from Treviso in the series, after the ones from Ennio Mazzon and Onga. It seems like a vibrant place far removed from the backward image conveyed by racist and homophobic remarks by the likes of its former mayor Gentilini or the satirical picture given by Pietro Germi in the1966 film Signore e Signori (The Birds, the Bees and the Italians), which ridiculed the hypocrisy of small town mentality and the middle class. Is the truth some-




Posted On: May 28, 2012

Ennio Mazzon is a field recordist and sound artist. In his work, environmental recordings and concrete sounds are processed, manipulated, decontextualized and absorbed into electronic textures and complex sonic habitats. Haunted by water, ripples and reflections he aims to “transform natural silence” into sound. Apart from his activity as a sound artist, he also runs Ripples recordings, a label focused on electroacoustic music. Q: Considering you only started releasing albums back in 2008, you have been quite prolific. Not only that, you have also set up your own label Ripples Recordings and you have been developing your own musical software. What prompted you to do so and what is the trigger that makes you want to release a particular album on Ripples? A: I do realise that in the last four years I have been busy on several different fronts, and that I have worked on several projects, but if we are to talk just about albums, I don’t think I have been especially prolific considering that since Skritha came out [Q-tone, 2010], – which I consider to all intents and purposes my first proper album, – I have only released little over two hours of material. Having said that, I am not dismissing my earlier works, which have been fundamental from both a personal and formative point of view, I would only like to point out that I consider them my coming of age in terms of electronic sounds and not proper albums as such. I remember spending several months in complete isolation, without being able to share the process with anyone. I was on my last year of college, of college, and I was living in a rented flat in Padova with no internet connection but more importantly I had never listened to an album of experimental and electronic music up to that point. Then, completely by accident, one day I heard :suoni:oggetti:risonanti: by Tiziano Milani and a whole new world opened up to me. From then on, I started listening to carefully selected material and at the same time to experiment with filters, delays and reverb. After about a year I changed drastically my way of working. The fact


that I had studied engineering probably helped in this respect, and thanks to my passion for numbers and mathematics I begun to create my own softwares and applications for the manipulation of sound. As I gained knowledge in the field of digital audio data, I went from being self-taught in the main techniques for sound synthesis and processing, to working with Pure Data to begin with and subsequently with Supercollider ‘til eventually I landed on Max/ MSP. Nowadays, developing and programming my own digital instruments is, without a doubt, the principal aspect of my work. Ripples Recordings came about almost by accident, as I only really wanted to do a compilation album with the artists I most admired and with whom I was in touch at the time. I didn’t think that initial project would have a longer life span, but the idea of a label acquired a life of its own and to date I have released 11 albums on Ripple Recordings with a further two already in the pipeline and scheduled for release in the next couple of months. I don’t follow any specific plan on what or who to release and I don’t have a preconceived idea for a specific sound. Generally speaking I try to collaborate with musicians I know and I rate, which means that releasing an album becomes a spontaneous process. Q: What do musicians such as Franz Rosati, Gianluca Favaron, Nils Quak, Nigel Samways, N0 + ICS, James McDougall and David Vélez, Philip Sulidae and Ennio Mazzon all have in common other than the fact that they partake in this “shape which

Photography by Ennio Mazzon & Gianluca Favaron

is constantly changing”, to paraphrase Ripples programmatic statement? A: The shape which is constantly changing, is the trait that the musicians who have collaborated to Ripples Recordings all share. I like to think of Ripples as an ensemble of sounds/musicians balancing themselves on some kind of borderland, as “sounds that fill the space between the phase boundaries”. In other words, I like to think of it as sound compared to a thermodynamic system depending on a series of external parameters that condition the shape of the perceivable physical state. So, for instance, to better explain the thermodynamic analogy with the sound of Ripples Recordings, one only needs to think that by altering the temperature and the pressure of a natural material or a substance such as water, this acquires a different physical state (from solid to

liquid and gaseous), which determines a shift in the way we perceive it even if, in fact, it remains unaltered. It is a journey through different states of equilibrium only determined by external conditions. In a similar way, Ripples aims to explore sound by adopting musical works that allow themselves to be subjected to this process of transformation and that can be constantly redefined and requalified within numerous interpretations. Q: Your 2010 album Celadon, released on Impulsive Habitat, started as an audio documentary of the Piave river, which is located in the north-east of Italy. The Piave originates in the Alps and flows south-east for 220 km into the Adriatic Sea near the city of Venice. The purpose was to represent with sounds (field recordings and electronic interludes) the contrasts and the complex interactions between the “natural side” and the “urban side” of a place. In this respect it follows in a well established tradition of juxtaposing Green and Grey to borrow the title of a recent album by Julia Kent which plays out this very dichotomy. And yet, I feel it is not just advocating an ecological discourse but also acts as a metalinguistic device in the way it breaks down any possible narrative reading by fragmenting and distorting the soundscape as the piece develops. Were you actually striving for a radical “decontextualisation” of sounds and mental images with Celadon? A: Yes, in the end, I developed the structure of Celadon with the aim of decontextualising all field recordings and concrete sounds. Of fundamental importance to the outcome of the album was the introduction of sudden contrasts, which enabled me to recreate the same sense of disorientation that one could experience by watching a nature documentary where the natural sounsdcape had been substituted by digital sounds pertaining to a technological landscape.

land in Italy (Fiume Sacro della Patria). How did you deal with its highly charged historical importance? A: The historical importance of the Piave river is not something I took into account during the recording of the album. For some reason I have always been attracted by rivers, by the colours and the different forms that water can take and, obviously, by the different sounds generated by water. Along the Piave river I have found some amazingly rich and complex aural environments. It has been really fascinating to explore those locations trying to isolate certain sonic details in order to use them to orchestrate the natural sounds of the Piave area. I remember, when I was at the herons nature reserve Città degli Aironi, which really is a city built on trees where herons and little egrets come and nest as if they were building a block of flats, I had temporarily placed my digital recorder on some stones and I noticed that the sound of the river which was only 400 feet away, became amplified filtered through the characteristics of the landscape itself. The transformation of sound in relation to space and a particular environment is an aspect that deeply fascinates me, and it represents the principle reason why I love field recordings. Celadon is not the only project I have developed on the subject of a river. I have recently completed Hisilmark, an album made from the sounds I have recorded along the Sile river, with its

resurgent springs located near Vedelago in the Treviso province, which will be released in early 2013. Again, the aim of the field recordings was to emphasize certain specific aural contrasts of that particular soundscape, which I then developed though digital sound processing. Q: Do you consider Celadon a political work and is there room for overtly political works in the electro-acoustic field? A: Celadon is not a political album. My interest is limited to sound and its characteristics. Within the field of electroacoustic music, but even on a general level within music tout court, I don’t believe it is necessary to add any political meaning to sound. Q: Is Skriða the B-side or the flipside of Muffled? A: Aside from being the name under which I create my own softwares, Skriða is also the track that represents a new stage in my musical development and the beginning of a new phase. Muffled, on the other hand, dates back to my earliest experiments with softwares and techniques that I have since left behind changing drastically the way I approach sound. Q: Together with Gianluca Favaron, your record under the moniker Zbeen which you describe as “an electroacoustic project that considers the sound as a vector space, like a geometric entity that at the same time generates and fills

Q: Also, the Piave is a well known river in Italy for historical reasons as it was the scene of nearly 200,000 casualties during World War I, making the Battle of the Piave the decisive battle on the Italian front. The Piave is thus called the Sacred River of the Home-


and rather sterile “objects” when considered individually, but that acquire meanings and “size” when combined.

spaces and structures.” Still, your debut release K-frame seems to be subverting these rules and algorithms for generating sound by introducing field recordings into a predetermined digital context. How strictly did you try and control the texture of the resulting tracks, which unravel discreetly without ever losing their composure? A: Zbeen could be seen as an algorithmic project since we can control both the macro and the microstructures of sound by programming our digital instruments, even if our objective goes paradoxically in the opposite direction. Our intention is in fact to free ourselves from any compositional straightjacket in order to follow a more improvisational approach within the man-machine paradigm, which, in our case, is represented by our interaction with the digital instruments we have created. So, yes, being able to control the sound is important to us in order to create our tracks, but at the same time, we try and free up the outcome of the music. Q: Stillheten is a software for electroacoustic live improvisation you have developed using Max/MSP. What does it allow you to achieve which you couldn’t have achieved otherwise? A: Stillheten is a software that I developed specifically for the project Zbeen. The idea behind the software takes form from a rather simple concept: the possibility of managing different independent audio streams, obtained with several techniques of synthesis and audio processing, and using their combinations to get new “sound spaces”. The result vaguely resembles the mathematical concept of vector space, a geometric entity generated by a linear combination of linearly independent vectors, which can be thought of as simple


Generally speaking, I have been often asked why I waste my time programming and creating my own softwares when there are so many softwares readily available with which one can already achieve great results. To be honest, the final result is just one side of the story. I’ll try and elaborate on this. Developing digital instruments, which enable me to create my music and to play a live set, allows me to be creative on two different fronts. Firstly, to programme a software means to implement a set of algorithms and rules, which introduces a series of constraints and limitations. This is something I find stimulating and creative since it implies having to create spaces where the sound is made to acquire specific characteristics. The second level of creativity comes into play when I utilise my instruments to compose a track or to achieve a particular sound as the presence of limitations and constraints, which I set during the programming phase, represents an incentive to explore in finer detail the different sound capabilities of the instrument I have created. So, to sum up, what I find interesting about working this way, is not just what I can achieve with my own software, but also, and more importantly the process that allows me to select and define a particular type of sound. Q: K-frame was mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi, which to me seems like a natural choice for an album like this. How important is it to have the the choice of the right person to do the mastering? A: Giuseppe has done a wonderful job an we are really happy with the end product. I consider the choice of the person doing the mastering as fundamental. This is an album very much built around overlapping and finer details and Giuseppe has been excellent in bringing out the

different layers of sound and the complex alternation of sonic structures. There will be a follow up to K-frame, which will be once again mastered by Giuseppe. The album, a coproduction between Entr’acte and Ripples, will be entitled Stasis and will be coming out in a few month’s time. Q: The are mainly two strands in your work, field recordings and electronic audio. You seem to have combined the two with striking results up until Azure Allochiria, which is your first solely electronic audio work. Did you abandon organic sounds in favour of strictly digital for this album, simply to explore new avenues, or in order to prove something to yourself? A: I didn’t really conceive the project in order to make an album. At the time I was using Pure Data as a software, making short and simple patches. At first, I was mainly interested in exploring the higher end of the sound spectrum, very high frequencies, which I alternated creating beats and interesting rhythmic structures. I then started to incorporate low sounds and to fill the remaining frequencies. I was modifying and modulating parameters recording brief fragments of audio. After a few months, I realised that the material I had recorded did have a certain coherence, so I attempted to compose a few tracks that eventually became Azure Allochira. Q: The sound on Azure Allochiria appears to be extremely layered and it reminds me at times of Tiziano Milani’s work. I also get the impression you have taken a more “compositional approach” with this album, is that the case? A: Thanks for drawing a parallel with Tiziano Milani’s work. I am really pleased by this. I have probably learnt more from

lence and is joy indeed possible? A: “Transform the natural silence” is a sentence that’s been with me for a few years now. I like to think of my work as a momentary turbulence rocking the natural quietness, as a vibration that interrupts the silence, and as momentary condition of unstable equilibrium that ends when the initial state of things is restored.

Tiziano than from any other musician. It is funny, though, as we have never physically met, but thanks to Internet we have been in touch for several years now. Listening to his work has been instrumental to me, especially when I was first starting out. I have definitely taken a compositional approach with this album and I pleased you have noticed this musical shift in my work. Q: The album was recorded and mixed between October 2009 and March 2010, only to be revised in November 2010. What happened in the intervening months? A: Once I completed the album, I gave it a few months before submitting it to Triple Bath, a Greek label with a fantastic back catalogue. We hadn’t scheduled a release date, I only knew there were many albums due to come out before mine was, so, in the intervening months I decided to completely forget Azure Allochira and to concentrate on some other new projects. When, in November 2010, Triple Bath gave me a release date, I listened back to the material and made a few small changes before sending it to Themistoklis Pantelopoulos for the mastering. It was very interesting to do that a few months after I had originally completed the album and it made me realise how ephemeral and undefined are the sounds I record. I would’ve liked to intervene more drastically on the structure of the tracks, but then I decided to hold back and only to just adjust slightly the equaliser at times, as I wanted to preserve the initial set up of the album. It would now be interesting to use those same tracks as a basis for a new piece of work, just to understand how sound evolves over time. Q: How does one transform “natural” siPhotography by Ennio Mazzon & Gianluca Favaron

Is joy possible? Of course it is! Still, to be honest, this sentence, which I used as the title of one of my first works was inspired by Michel Houellebecq’s novels… so I suppose that a few years back, that same sentence didn’t have the same positive ring to it. Q: With For Warmth, 2011, you seem to be exploring notions linked to resonance and space more than with previous works. Did the album actually begin with you uttering the words “I am sitting in a (hotel) room”? A: Unlike my other works, For Warmth was born in an urban context, the source material consisting of recordings I took at night in a hotel room in Istanbul. To be honest, it doesn’t even make much sense to place the recordings since, when I listened to the material, I decided to take out any voice, including that of the muezzin, and any other sound that might locate it within a city like Istanbul. Unlike Alvin Lucier’s case, my room didn’t have an active role in the album. It was just the place where I was able to capture the urban sounds I could hear.

of its electro-acoustic scene, with several interesting labels and musicians all based between Treviso, Vittorio Veneto and Venezia. Would you consider yourself part of one big happy family, or like any other family do you feel it is dysfunctional on some level? A: It is true, I realize that within a few miles there are several great labels and musicians that have spurred me on to pursue my own work and have been of fundamental importance to me, people like Enrico Coniglio, without whom I would never have probably started performing live and Gianluca Favaron, who’s become a sort of Beta Tester for my softwares. On a more local level, though, I wouldn’t talk about a family, as there are so many different strands of music and musicians operating in the area making a possible dialogue between us somehow compromised. I am, however, really pleased of the long distance musical relationships I have developed with other artists, which points to a common intent on a national scale between us. I am thinking, for instance, of sound artist and Farmacia901 label head Fabio Perletta, from Roseto degli Abruzzi, who shares with me a similar approach to sound. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re / Photography by Ennio Mazzon & Gianluca Favaron

Q: Generally speaking, would you say you are somehow loop averse? A: I have always tried to avoid loops and repetitive and cyclical structures, right from my early works, not because I am intrinsically against them, it’s just that I prefer to use different techniques, at least for the time being. Q: Finally, you are based in Veneto, which is currently a very vibrant region in terms



december 2009 - Stalker, Padova. Photo by Giorgio Ricci

Posted On: January 23, 2012

Guitarist, environmental sound recordist and sound artist, Enrico Coniglio (1975) is an eclectic musician with an interest in the landscape aesthetics. Starting from his curiosity in experimenting within tonal variations of ambient and atmospheric music, with a particular reference to the soundscape of the Venetian lagoon, his music aims at investigating the loss of identity of places and the uncertainty about the evolution of the territory. Q: There is a page on your website where you’ve collected a number of thoughts over the years, many of which are about Venice. In one of these notes, you write that “there are two different cities of Venice: “one ‘above’ and one below the surface.” The one above pertains to the picturesque and caters to the tourist industry, the one below is the “realm of sewers that overlook the exposed gums of the canals”. Where do you place yourself in relation to these two different cities? Also, you talk about grey areas, is there a grey area within Venice itself or is the grey area the one outside the urban centre, the one within the margins, on the outskirts? A: Being born and bred in Venice, I move between the two. The city above cannot be defined as a proper city anymore, not as such. It is like a theatre set, where the grotesque comedy of tourist exploitation is played out on a daily basis with colorful masks, clowns, doves and pigeons, while the residents try to get on with their lives. This whole jamboree, though, is what enables many to make a living. The same happens in all main tourist destinations the world over. The hidden Venice is the one relegated on the outskirts, one of very limited interest to tourists. Still, it is here, in the suburbs, that the few residents left have taken refuge from what once was a real city. The suburbs are also, in a way, the bastion of true romance. So, yes, the “grey area” I am talking about in my writings, is the one located on the margins, beautiful or ugly as it may be, but of undoubted charm, as opposed to the


photos : Donato Gagliano : Veniceland

cliché version of Venice. However, this “grey area” is also a state of mind, which holds no geographical boundaries. It is the place where one takes solace from the banality of the daily “Death in Venice” experience. Q: You also write: “Venice is sinking, it is a city where you have to pay an entrance fee. It is an old flooded shopping mall open 24 / 7. Venice gives the best and the worst of itself, every day, every month, and every season.” What is the best and the worst that Venice has given you? A: There is no doubt that Venice is a failed city in terms of its inhabitants, because it is not somewhere where one can live anymore. It has become like a courtesan you visit and you pay homage to. There are virtually no job prospects, the house prices are prohibitive and most of the groceries shops and convenience stores have turned into souvenir stalls selling useless trinkets. Unfortunately, this is the dominant Venice, a city that gives the worst of itself in its deceitful display of its falsity. It is a non-place, a prime example of how a real city can turn into a theme park. Having said that, Venice is a truly unique place so different from any other city, it is my birthplace, and that is something that will always stay with me. Also, it has Also, it has set me apart, in a way. Being born in Venice makes me feel like an alien having to endure this hanging feeling of frustration, almost as if I was sentenced to oblivion and yet, as Giacomo Leopardi put it “being shipwrecked is sweet to me in this sea”. Q: Considering you have been integrating locally sourced field recordings into your own music, I was wondering if your personal topography of Venice has changed over the years. In other words,

has sound-mapping your own city given you different emotional and psychological points of reference? A: A few years ago, when I first started to focus on the concept of “topophonia”, (the wealth of indigenous sounds that pertain to a specific time and place), what I had in mind was a more imaginary city, more musical and naive, if you like. Nowadays, however, I am more interested in faithfully recording and documenting the transformation of the landscape. If any of my current musical works, which centre around my love and hate relationship with Venice, suggests imaginary sound itineraries, these have become closer to the real soundscapes of the city, even if this sonic world has been manipulated and rendered as something else. The theme of boundaries and borders, of the sound of the areas on the margins, is certainly prevalent in my approach to the territory, interpreted as a complex set of different areas characterized by special aural traits, which clash with each other, generating apparent “discrepancies”. The size of the areas and the size of the margins is variable. Central to this is the idea that the concept of “margin” may be used as a new model for interpreting the contemporary soundscape and this is something I am developing with the curator and music reviewer Leandro Pisano []. Venice is an ideal case study as it features different geographical areas that coexists with each other in the same terraqueous context.

august 2010 - Ghiacciaio della Fradusta, Pale di San Martino. Photo by Francesca Coniglio

Q: When you write that, “There is no longer a catalog of ‘sounds of the city’, ‘sounds of the countryside’, ‘nature sounds’, or ‘human sounds’, because all sounds have gradually blurred and became ingrained in one another”, I thought of Julia Kent’s album Green and Gray, amongst others, which articulates the now outdated dichotomy between natural and urban environments. Taking into account the fact that Venice is an atypical city in itself, because it is built on water and therefore it escapes the “standardised score” of the traditional city, what are the specific sounds that characterise Venice for you? The answer may be found in your track Fondamenta Nove incl. 130 cm s.l.m., but I would like you to elaborate a bit on this. A: I am very fond of that track, thank you for mentioning it. It mixes field recordings and musical musings in a narrative way. For quite some time now, I have been a firm believer that we need to venture beyond the traditional juxtaposition between “land-scape” and “manscape”. The way I see it, the borders between the natural and the human habitat have become so blurred as to be almost untraceable. One only needs to think of the Venice lagoon. It is a unique

ecosystem, with plenty of wildlife, and yet, it is not, and I would like to stress this, a “natural environment”. For centuries, Venetians have controlled the flow of rivers, diverting their estuaries to counter the relentless silting of the lagoon. This has saved Venice for posterity.

The concept of margin as a term of interpretation allows to overcome the seemingly naive idea that a soundscape can be classified by different themes. In the 20th century, with the transformation of the landscape in Italy, and in the Veneto region in particular, and especially after the Second World War, the distinction between city and countryside has become obsolete. The richness of the soundscape of Venice is given on two different levels, the first one pertaining to the peculiarities that characterize the different areas that make up the system as a whole, and the second one relating to the complexity of the relationship between said areas. The specificity of the Venetian soundscape exists on the margins, where the different sounds come together creating dyscrasias, or even “schizophoniae “, and therefore contamination. But contamination creates a more complex and ultimately richer environment. Q: Continuing on from this idea of music from the outskirts, could you tell me something about your experience of Porto Marghera? A: Porto Marghera is one of the largest industrial areas situated on a coastal line in Europe and it is now in irreversible decline. Of all the different landscapes that make up the Venetian environment, it embodies this grey area we were talking about more than any other. I started

to explore Porto Marghera from an early age in search of “urban adventures”, but also to confront and stare directly at the “face of evil”. Even though Porto Marghera has given work to many, Venetians have had to pay a very high price for the privilege in terms of work related diseases. Furthermore, the pollution of the environment is something we, and the future generations, have to contend with on a daily basis. Returning to the same area as an adult and as a sound-seeker is just another way for me to perpetuate my childhood fascination with Porto Marghera. In addition to scouting the docks of large industrial canals, I was also lucky enough to visit some of the most important large industrial plants still operating. I have made recordings within factories, construction sites and warehouses. The history of Porto Marghera is very much the history of Venice in the Twentieth Century with its modern suburbs of Mestre and Marghera. Through music I try to render an alternative Venice, by creating an unusual guide to the sound of a city that is magical and mysterious, not only by virtue of its churches, museums and historical buildings, but also of its factory chimneys, cranes and large industrial plants where the picturesque takes on new forms. Alas, what prevails is still a taste for decadence, both in the old and the modern city. Q: The region of Veneto is characterized by its urban sprawl that extends all the way from Milano, in Lombardy, right up to Venice. You also write that there is no distinction between the industrial landscape and that of the Venice lagoon and yet Porto Marghera hardly registers in the mind of the casual tourist. A: As we have mentioned before, Venice is atypical and quite different from any other city. The different areas are all linked by the sea. When I say that one photo : Roberto Moro : mar-ghe-g’era


cannot differentiate between the industrial landscape and the lagoon, I refer to the fact that any terraqueous environment is extremely “promiscuous” by nature. The characteristic soundscape of shoals and sandbanks meets that of the industrial area along the waterfront. There is literally an overlapping of the different elements where the different sounds collide and merge. Even though, over the years, industrial archeology has become a niche market within the tourism industry, most of the tourists “delete” the existence of Porto Marghera, because clearly inconsistent with the stereotype of the old city, in all its grandeur. This is perfectly consistent with the transformation of Venice as a theme park. In order to function, all theme parks have to “erase” their surroundings, as the anthropologist Marc Augè wrote. Therefore, Porto Marghera does not appear on tourist maps, one pretends it does not exist, even if it is only just under two miles away. Q: This is one of the standard questions that I put to all electro-acoustic musicians: do field recordings trigger the idea of an album or of a particular track, or does the idea come first and then you go looking for the right sound that might evoke what you had in mind? A: A field trip is a trip, first of all! That is my motto. The so-called “sound-seekers” always travel with their own equipment. They probably have a plan of the kind of recordings they intend to capture, but it is the sound that eventually leads them. One must be able to listen, to adapt, to improvise and sometimes to take risks. The discovery of a sound often encourages one to build a concept around it. Or it could be that one already has a clear idea of what to look for, but it is not always as clear-cut as that. I feel lucky as I have the lagoon to draw from,


which is an endless source of fascination for me. Of course when I travel I always carry with me the bare essentials in terms of recording equipment, but more often than not I return home empty handed. Last summer, for instance, I was on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. However the wind swept with such a relentless force that it made it impossible to hear anything else. So, getting field recordings can be a frustrating experience as well, at times. Q: And now onto your collaborative projects. You are part of the collective Archive of Italian Soudscapes (AIPS). What has your experience been and what do you see as a way forward for AIPS? Also, you collaborate with Giovanni Lami under the moniker Lĕmŭres, what is the specific of this experience? With regards to the project with Emanuele Errante and Elisa Marzorati, Herion, I understand this is a closed chapter, will it continue in other forms? Also, could you tell me how your recent collaboration with Katie English, aka Isnaj Dui came about for My Home, Sinking… A: AIPS is an important initiative and a good opportunity for me to network with like minded musicians who operate within the same field. It was through AIPS, for instance, that I got to know Giovanni Lami. As Lĕmŭres we aim to work to process raw field recordings through a multi-speaker system in a live context. We have already taken this project to a couple of festivals including Flussi in Avellino, over the summer. We’ve just finished recording our first album and we’re now looking for a label. Anyone interested, just drop us a line! In terms of AIPS, I am organising with Alessio Ballerini a group field trip to northern Europe. And, finally, my friend Alessandro Doni and I have prepared a photos : Roberto Moro : mar-ghe-g’era

manifesto on “live electronics” open to anyone who may be interested, which will soon be uploaded to the AIPS’ website. With regards to HERION, Elisa Marzorati, Pier Gabriel Mancuso and I are currently deciding whether to continue with this project and, if so, how. I will continue to make ambient and electro-acoustic music under my own name, whereas, with My Home, Sinking, I would like to address the idea of a song in all its different “forms”. I am currently working on the album, but I hope to be able to finish the mix in a couple of months. Katie English I met through Exquisite What, which we are both part of, and I was immediately captured by her sound, raw and harmonious at the same, and by her music so lovely and communicative. The project – ambient and folkoriented – also includes the collaboration of Orla Wren from Britain, and Sean Quinn and Laura Sheeran from Ireland. Q: You also collaborate with your sister who is an artist. How important is the visual element in your work? A: For the past few years, my sister Francesca has contributed with live visuals to my performances with short films and geometric shapes, and by digitally processing photographs, and manipulating live images through a digital microscope, to create slowly evolving abstract scenes. However, it has increasingly become a cliché

to use film projections with live electronic music. Personally, I tend to listen to music lying down in the dark as I find it easier to concentrate on the sound, so I am not averse to the idea of dispensing altogether with the visual side of things. Having said that, I enjoy working with my sister and I try to leave her complete autonomy in what she does. I love combining the two approaches which is what I did with the live project “Quiet Area”, devised with the Italian net label Laverna, where the public was invited to lie down and let themselves be carried to the threshold of sleep by the music and visuals that were projected onto the ceiling of the venue. Moreover, Francesca is compiling a DVD with music by Ennio Mazzon, Under The Snow (the duo Stefano Gentile and Gianluca Favaron) and I, which should come out on Silentes. Q: You’ve stated that your music is intended for the “mind traveler”. What paths do you take when you tackle a new composition or a new project? Do you generally have in mind the final destination you aim to reach or do you prefer to let yourself be led by the sound itself? A: Music is a powerful means of suggestion, with the listener being led on a journey through memory and imagination. But music can also be a means to better focus on one’s own reality through “escapism”. This could be summarized with the aphorism: to take flight in order to return. As far as I’m concerned, I do not con-

sider a new composition like a blank slate. In a new track there is always something inherited from a previous work, an idea which was not fully developed, a sound discovered by accident. It could even be that material previously discarded becomes the seed for something new. Certainly, there is the desire to create something new, and to escape the traps of routine. The options are endless, you just need a good compass and good navigation skills. It is up to the listener, though, to decide the final destination. I enjoy drawing maps, and indicating different paths but with the risk of sounding trite, to each their own journey. - Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio

from the top: Schiume Festival 2011, Forte Marghera, Mestre Photo by Stefano Gentile Laverna net label presents: QUIET AREA 2011, Teatro ai Frari, Venezia. Photo by Laura Caldana Galleria A+A 2012, Venezia. Photo by Stefano Gentile Suoni dal Confine 2011 @ Spazio Thetis, Venezia


VERCURAGO – TIZIANO MILANI Posted On: May 10, 2012

Tiziano Milani, is an acoustic architect, based in Vercurago on Lake Garlate, south of Lake Como. He started making experimental music in the second half of the ’90. His passion for “collected” sounds led him to devote his work to this particular kind of music. “Nothing in the sounds I pick up is affirmed with will and enterprise, but rather whispered or murmured almost by chance, just like a conversation unintentionally heard on a subway train, or accidentally eavesdropped through the wall of an hotel room. The approach to the sounds must not be simplified because every single sound is nothing but a small part of a whole, which should be considered in its own theoretic – and then mechanic – execution. Several different stages of work are stratified in every single piece (contemporary or not). In some cases, sounds are generated by touching, beating and breaking contact-mic’d objects. In other cases, they are the results of manipulated fluxes.” Q: To begin with, how did you get started as a musician? A: I wouldn’t really describe myself as a musician. I did take a number of classes and seminars at the conservatory over the years, but I have no formal training as such. My attraction to sound comes from my job. I studied architecture at college and after getting my degree I specialized in acoustics. This has spurred my interest in the relationship between sound and the environment. Like many, in terms of making music, I begun by playing in punk and hardcore bands in the early 90s. I then moved to more experimental sounds as a manifest shift within the scene led to post-hardcore and a sort of crossover with more innovative stuff. Also, I was also already familiar with some of the most influential composers of the XX century, people like John Cage, Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, Bruno Maderna, all the usual suspects really, the same names that everybody seems to be trotting out… I didn’t tackle composition, though, rather I set up a sort of research lab, in a way, and for the past ten years I have been trying to develop a language combining electro-acoustic and digital music thanks


to several collaborations with people who developed specific softwares. My starting point, I would say has been the work of Alvin Lucier and his study of resonance. Q: Speaking of which, some of your material has been used by Claudio Parodi as a basis for his album Horizontal Mover on Extreme Records, which is a homage to Alvin Lucier. How did this collaboration come about? A: I met Claudio Parodi years ago, when I sent him a promo CD with a few track that were later to become my first release on Setola di Maiale, Chamber Music for Screeching and Artificial Insects. He used some of that material for his homage to Lucier. Q: How did you find the end product? A: It is a good album and it was released at a time when I was going down that road myself. There is still a lot of work to be done in Italy in terms of investigating the relationship between sound and the environment. I believe that this kind of research pertains to musicians that do not have any academic background and who are more open to experimentation. I feel that, especially here in Italy, the electro-acoustic musicians working with pre-prepared instruments along the lines of John Cage, are far behind what can be achieved digitally. They should now take stock and reflect on the way forward in order to bring about a new Luigi Nono era in terms of experimentation. Times are ripe. Q: Who do you see moving in a new direction within the Italian scene? A: I am thinking of Stefano Giust and his label Setola di Maiale, for instance. Giust comes from the impro jazz scene and is very open to experimentation. Indeed, his label is on a par with John Zorn’s Tzadik even though, the musicians on Setola di Maiale’s roster do not enjoy a similarly high profile mainly because of reasons that have to do with promotion. From a technical point of view they are highly skilled. Also, Attila Faravelli is another incredible musician…

Q: La macchina della percezione della realtà (The Machine to Perceive Reality) and Nomadic Body have been released by a Virus4 a label I’d never heard of. How did this come about? A: Virus4 is a very small label run by Dario Polvara who advocates self-production and even self-piracy. He’s from Lecco and for over a decade, we have been hosting together, a radio programme dedicated to metal on a local station. We have been going for such a long time that we still have the early demos from bands such as Sentenced and Amorphis. In terms of Dario, he has always been true to his principles and has even turned down a number of distribution deals in the past. He is currently very much into speedcore. Anyhow, there is not much I can do about it, whenever I meet someone who displays such vitality and energy I always agree to release my albums through their labels even though they might not enjoy the same visibility as more established ones. The same happened with Fabio Perletta who was later to release Riflessione Compositiva di Assemblaggi Possibili (Compositional Reflection of Possible Assemblages) on Farmacia901. I met him at the TagoFest in Marina di Massa when he was just starting out and I was immediately struck by his enthusiasm. I saw a younger version of myself in him. It reminded me of when I used to send my tapes to music labels hoping to get my stuff out there. Q: Field recordings figure heavily in your albums and, in a way, they feel like the foundations upon which you build suc-

cessive layers of sound together with concrete music. Would you consider them as a sort of starting block? A: Well, let’s just say that after years of being overworked and underpaid at an architecture practice while studying for my degree at college, I was determined to combine work and music making by specialising in environmental acoustics. So if, for example, they sent me to a mountain hut on the Resegone to do an environmental impact assessment, I would take my recording equipment with me. I needed to find some positive aspects in my line of work so that, every time I got fed up with it all, I had something to fall back on, which has meant that, over the years, I have been able to collect sounds from places I wouldn’t normally have gone to, but I knew I could use in my music at some point. To be honest, I would’ve already quit my day job if I I hadn’t been able to experiment with sound. So, yes, field recordings are important, even though my albums always start from a concept. I see my music making as a sort of research process. I like going over stuff and rewriting it. In a way, when I put a fullstop to an album, I do so with regards to the music and not necessarily to the concept behind it, which I might go back to at a later stage. Q: Do you ever cannibalise your own albums? A: No. When I talk about rewriting an album, I refer to its concept not to the music. I am not into remixing my own material, so to speak. When an album is released, I have already moved on. Having said that, I like to keep any discourse initiated with an album open and to develop it at a later stage. In terms of my approach, I would say that the first few albums are predominantly digital with concrete music at their core. More recently, however, my collaborations with other musicians have taken centre stage. Q: I’d like to go back to an earlier album of yours, for a moment, Music as a Second Language, which seems to point to a departure from a strictly digital approach. A: I did it almost off the cuff immediately after the first one on Setole di Maiale. In a way, it is a sort of b-side album to Chamber Music… and it also represents a kind of protoexperimentation

of a more electro-acoustic shift in my music. I have come to the realisation that, whereas one can create almost any sound by digital means, there is a limit in what one can achieve without it coming across as cold and distant, even though this might read as a cliché. Up until my collaboration with Luca Sciarratta on the album SIRR (Spatial Impulse Response Rendering), which revolved around digital errors and glitches, I used to favour algorithms, which is a legitimate approach, but ultimately a very mechanical and mathematical one, which only goes so far. I am now more into randomness and closer to John Cage’s aleatoric (or chance) compositions. Ultimately, there is more fun in dealing with the indeterminate. I like working with different variables, which is why I started experimenting with different spaces on Riflessione Compositiva di Assemblaggi Possibili, which is in fact a sort of first draft of Im Innersten, the album where I pursued this concept even further by placing microphones in different points of a room or close to specific objects in order to capture their vibration. Again, I was investigating resonance. By playing a clarinet line in a reverberating room, for instance, I could get drones. Also, it has to be said that if one was to base an album just on the sounds of a pre-prepared instrument, one would face fierce competition as a lot of people, like Stefano Bollani, seem to be taking this approach in Italy, and with excellent results.

future of a city is no longer inscribed in its past. It is impossible to listen to your album, though, without thinking of its precursors, mainly, Walter Ruttmann’s Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis (1927) and Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna’s Portrait of a City (1954).

There is a lot of scope for experimentation within different environments. Let’s say, I want to introduce a new rhythm, I can place a microphone by a window so as to introduce street noise. With Im Innersten, in particular, I was able to re-record the sounds I’d produced for the album in a semi-reverberating room that was used to test mufflers for cars and bikes. Q: Let’s talk about City of Simulation, which is a collaboration between you and poet Luca Rota. If I am not mistaken, the concept stems from a book by Giandomenico Amendola who teaches Urban Sociology at the University in Florence. Amendola, has charted the development of the city underlining the fact that the Visual poems by Luca Rota


A: The title of the album does indeed come from a chapter in Amendola’s book La città postmoderna (The Postmodern City) and is based on visual poetry. It consists of 14 Mp3 files for a total of three and a half hours of music all linked to 14 jpg files with words and images by Luca Rota. To begin with, I created a database of field recordings, taken in Milan, Bergamo, Lecco and Como and from other locations in the vicinity, together with others from a number of European cities, which I gathered from the Internet. Depending on the type of visual poem I would then construct a specific track to go with it. Often I would ask other musicians to contribute some electroacoustic sounds. Still, I wouldn’t layer the different tracks on a sequencer. Instead, I opted for an analog approach. I would play every single layer of sound, from concrete music, to field recordings and digital processed sounds on different sound sources dotted around my studio. By moving around, or placing myself in the middle, I would recreate the same dislocation of sound found in an urban context. Finally, I would input the different channels into my computer and proceed that way. Q: Do you believe the listener is aware of this? A: Not really, no. I am happy when someone does realize, but the main

thing was that, even if I did not use analog machines in the recording process, by applying the same approach when layering the sound, hopefully, it doesn’t come across as cold as it might’ve had, had I opted for a strictly digital approach. Q: Was it the first time you applied this particular recording method in your compositions? A: I wouldn’t refer to these tracks as compositions, since they are mainly an assemblage of sounds. Still, while many musicians seem to go from electroacoustic sounds to purely digital ones, I have started doing the exact opposite, going back to the original source of sound. Also, I have to say that, I wouldn’t now be able to construct an album just on my own. I treasure the interaction I have with other musicians, and the way they interpret the concepts I put forward. There is also the specific variable relating to someone physically playing an instrument, which I am becoming more and more interested in. In a word, I am rediscovering the human touch, and that is why my latest album is called Touch. I’ll give you an example. If I were to make an album based on a study of the technology of air-cooling systems, I would record the sound of a fan trying to isolate its components. I could then concentrate on the trembling of a metal

plate for instance and measure its intensity. The next step would be to ask a percussionist to try and reproduce the same sound, which I would then process once more. Had I not started going down this road, after two or three albums I would have exhausted everything I had to say through music. Q: As you write in the linear notes, Touch is the outcome of the union of thousands of very little musical fragments, performed by musicians and subsequently processed. You also appear as a conductor. A: The most important thing on this album was the interaction with other musicians and that is way the album cover by Stefano Giust depicts a transistor. I also credit Koji Nishio, on piano, Hiromi Makaino on objects, electronic percussion, and rhythms, Lars Musikki on double bass and acoustic guitar, Cristian Corsi on tenor sax and Lynn Westerberg on violin. Q: What are you currently working on? A: Amongst my recent projects I’m involved in a collaboration with a young guy from Pistoia who records under the moniker AdernX. We have produced a number of tracks based on short snippets from art house films, dialogue and all, which we have heavily reworked, but don’t ask me for the titles of the films, as I am terrible remembering this sort of thing. The album is about 45 minutes long and I’ve already done the mastering for it. Q: Does that mean you generally master your own albums? A: Yes and I love it when they tell me that the music is either too low, or too loud, or just plain distorted and that it doesn’t fall within fixed parameters. My aim is to involve the listener as best as I can, I don’t believe in background music. I’m more into deep listening. For the past five years, safe for weekends, I have selected a number of different albums to listen to very attentively at night. If an album is interesting I can spend weeks listening to it. The whole experience of listening to music has been radi-


cally transformed by the Internet. People download so much stuff that they have no time to listen to, or otherwise they just play a track and then skip forward. There is little time to process this wealth of information. Q: Are you advocating a return to “slow music” much as in the lines of “slow food”? A: Yes, it is way too easy to lose so much information when listening to an album. Q: What is the latest CD you have been listening to? A: Actually, last night I was listening to Julia Holter’s Ekstasis, which has been labelled as “esoteric pop”. It is a really well produced album, really sophisticated and it recalls at times Meredith Monk and American minimalism. Other than that, I frequently go back to the classics, like Stockhausen’s Mantra or something by John Cage. There is always something new to discover in those albums. As an aside, I’ve just mentioned Meredith Monk. Her latest album on ECM is really good even if some people can be quite sniffy about the label. Q: How did your soundtrack to the experimental short film Terre al margine – Wasted – by Alessandra Ondeggia come about? A: Alessandra Ondeggia, the director, was making a film on the concept of “lands on the margins”, shot in Taranto, in the shadow of the Ilva plant, and she got in touch with me after having heard City of Simulation. She told there was no money involved so I said yes as whenever there is a whiff of money I tend to smell a rat… I’m on the creative commons side. One when there is no financial reward, there can be good visibility.

Also, I am sceptical about the whole question of the SIAE, the Italian Authors and Publishers’ Society, which covers royalties on music and recordings, as it mainly works for big and established names. Anyhow, I sent Alessandra my complete discography and the music was assembled from my archival material. Wasted was shown at number of film festivals and it has been very well received. On the strength of that I got quite a few requests for soundtrack work. In terms of Alessandra, I might be working again with her on a new film she shot in Palestine. Q: Where do you get your inspiration from? A: From all those musicians who may have a low profile, but make up for it in spades thanks to their energy and vitality. I love working with younger musicians, for instance, because they see things form a different perspective and therefore they help me to take my music in new directions. I love embarking on collaborations whenever there is a strong will to do things. Ennio Mazzon, for instance, got in touch with me a few years back after having heard an album of mine, which he liked very much. He was just starting out at the time and he would send me tracks for me to listen to and asked for my advice. Now he’s set up his own label, Ripples Recordings and he is even developing a custom made musical software for a project with Fabio Perletta of Farmacia901. I am sure he will go a long way, even though the current cultural climate in Italy does

little to encourage talent. As for myself, I consider music as a hobby. When I had the opportunity of doing a two month long tour in Japan, I had to turn it down because of work commitments. Had I been any younger, I would’ve jumped at the idea, but now, it is just not that easy. Q: Let’s talk about your hometown of Vercurago now. A: I was born and bread in Vercurago and my parents are both from the area, so everybody knows me, even though nobody is aware of my musical work. I have attempted to incorporate traditional music from Lake Come into my experimental music, studying the metric of these folk songs by the Cantori di Premana but this particular project is currently on hold. I believe it is a worthwhile project, which could be promoted by the cultural institutions of the province of Lecco, but alas, I see it as an uphill struggle. Dissonant music is still frowned upon in Italy in many quarters. Still, what others may perceive as dissonant to me is harmonic and vice versa. - Interview by Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio



Photography by Stefano Gentile

Posted On: June 20, 2012

Stefano Gentile is well known for running the Amplexus and Silentes labels. As a musician he has collaborated with Aube in a couple of reworks and he is part of Maribor (an open project with Giuseppe Verticchio / Nimh, Maurizio Bianchi, Pierpaolo Zoppo / Mauthausen Orchestra, Andrea Marutti / Amon and Gianluca Favaron). Together with Favaron, he also releases field recording based albums under the moniker Under the Snow. Q: Hi Stefano, let us begin with your label Silentes, which was born in 2004 from the ashes of Amplexus. You have stated that it was created to face the radical change that the Ambient / Electronic / Experimental scene has been going through in recent years. How would you say it has risen to that challenge? A: I have never taken into account the evolution of the ambient/electronic/ experimental scene. I have always followed my own instinct. I believe that any dream has a beginning and an end. Amplexus has been a great and fundamental experience for me, but it wasn’t doing anything anymore for me. I probably reached a dead end street. I wanted something that gave me more freedom, I needed a breath of fresh air. The first cds released by Silentes were influenced by Basic Channel’s techno based music, but it didn’t mean anything. I always go for what stimulates me the most. Q: Silentes is based in Vittorio Veneto, which is also home to the label Von. Indeed, the Veneto region seems to be quite active on the electro-acoustic front and I’m thinking of Ennio Mazzon with Ripples Recordings, and Enrico Coniglio with Laverna and Galaverna, amongst others. Are you one big happy family, or is it sometimes dysfunctional like most families? A: Well, no… I wouldn’t say we’re one big happy family… We are all good friends, but we all pursue our own projects on an individual basis. Each one of us has his own aim, his own program, his own way of presenting his work… Sure, at times we collaborate, which is


a nice and stimulating thing, but always by bringing our own personality to the table. Q: Maurizio Bianchi features heavily on your roster. In the linear notes to The Testamentary Corridor he refers to you as “diligent and industrious”. Would you say that is an apt description of yourself as a label head? A: Silentes is not a traditional label, it is my own project… It is a very personal dream that I try to pursue in the best possibile way. It is more of a passion than a job which means that my relationship with the artists I put out on my label is usually really special and friendly. Q: The Testamentary Corridor, is an “insubordinate discord in five tempos for monolothic keybords and multicellular dissonance, perpetrated during the autumn of 2005″. The album is also dedicated to lamented martyrs. Would you say that The Testamentary Corridor rests under the very long shadow cast by his seminal Symphony for a Genocide of 1981? A: Actually, The Testamentary Corriod is part of a project which also includes Colori and Dead Colours… still, conceptually, it is definitely linked to Symphony for a Genocide. The concept is the same… the negation of freedom pushed to the extreme. Q: One last question on Maurizio Bianchi. Some people consider his later output, and especially his numerous collaborations with a variety of different musicians as inferior to his first albums up until 1984. Aside from releasing an impressive number of his most recent titles, you have also re-released some of his earlier material, which he recorded under the moniker Sacher-Pelz. How would you chart his evolution and which

would you consider his most accomplished albums? A: Maurizio Bianchi’s albums from the 80s have been real landmarks within industrial music, but those were different times when conditions and situations were radically different from those of today. When MB returned to the scenes in the 90s, his albums caught many of his hardcore fans off guard. However, I believe that his best work is to be found within his most recent output. His musical experimentation peaked in the second phase of his career. But not everybody can understand this evolution. This could also be because there have been so many albums by MB that it is difficult to compile a complete discography. Q: The Collezione del Silenzio is a series of 26 cassette tapes on the subject of silence. SO SILENT… Each tape is associated with a letter of the alphabet | Each letter is associated with an artist | Each letter gives birth to an unwanted word | The music is the artist’s personal vision of silence | 26 tapes by 26 Italian acts | Each tape is hand numbered and limited to 100 copies. After John Cage, is there anything new that can still be said about silence? A: The Collezione del Silenzio is a project that I initiated as a way of collabo­ rating with many artists/friends with whom I’d been in touch for a while without having been able to find the right occasion to work together. This prompted me to produced together with Gianluca Favaron this series inspired by silence.

We simply asked several artists for their own interpretation of silence. We gave them complete freedom to express themselves as they saw fit and, in fact, in many case, silence turned out to be extremely noisy. We are very proud of this project. Q: Maribor is a collective project between Andrea Marutti, Gianluca Favaron, Giuseppe Verticchio, Maurizio Bianchi, Pierpaolo Zoppo and yourself. You have released two albums so far: Atrocity Exhibition, inspired by Girolamo Savonarola and De Immenso, by Giordano Bruno. Both Savonarola and Bruno were burnt at the stake for heresy. How did you structure the collaboration on a practical level and will there be further chapters in the series? A: Maribor was initiated by myself, the idea being of basing an album on the life of thinkers and philosophers, whose work has influenced me. Musically speaking I have always loved collaborating with different musicians and with the help of Giuseppe Verticchio / NIMH I have gathered contributions from friends and other artists from the Silentes roster in order to assemble original works. The new Maribor album is scheduled for the end of 2012. This particular release, however, will be based more on a specific work by Lucrezio, which is the De Rerum Natura, rather than on his life. It is still very early days, though. Q: Contrary to expectations, the second Maribor album, De Immenso is not all “doom and gloom”. Indeed, there are guitar loops that feel almost pastoral, if I am allowed to use that term, emerging from a highly textured base of glitches and digital creaks only to vanish once again in a sea of white noise and concrete music. Even The Atrocity Exhibition had its moments of melodic warmth. Far from being reassuring, though, these incursion into a lighter territory have an unsettling quality. Were you deliberately striving for a collusion of opposites? A: I am decidedly attracted by opposites in music… from the rawest noise to the most gentle sound. I adore these contrasts when they coexist within a single work. In the new Maribor album the juxtaposition of different sounds will be even more marked. There will be short “chamber pieces” which will turn into total chaos… The guitar might be more prominent and I might even include traditional instruments… In a word, I will try

and push the envelope further. This is my aim. Anyhow, we shall see. Q: Field recordings are an integral part of many releases on Silentes and indeed of you collaborative project with Gianluca Favaron, Under the Snow, which culminates with an open homage to Alan Lomax. Does the inclusion of specific field recordings in your own work also hold a conceptual intention? A: Both Gianluca and I love field recordings… Gianluca has even produced two albums based exclusively on them. All our music is made mainly by field recordings. We start from those and add different layers of sounds and music. Field recordings are indeed fundamental. Q: I am not going to ask which is your favourite album on Silentes, but is there any album you are particularly happy to have released maybe because it represented a complete surprise for you, or because it pointed towards a new and unexpected direction? A: This is a very difficult question indeed. There are so many albums I feel particularly close to, from those by Michael Mantra to Aude’s works. Obviously my own albums as well, the ones I did in collaboration with Aube, or with Gianluca Favaron as Under the Snow, the collaborative project Maribor, but also the lighter works I did with Amir Baghiri, Seele and Seamus, and many others as well.

Q: You also take care of the visual side of things for Silentes. How important is photography and graphic design in contextualizing any specific album? A: The artwork is really important to me. I love capturing images connected to the music I put out. With Silentes’ latest release I have even invented a new fold up format measuring 15×15 cm, which gives more prominence to the images and which I am very happy with. Yes, I would say that sometimes the artwork is just as important as the music. Q: Finally, running a label is not an easy business, do you ever ask yourself, “Why do I do this and why do I keep doing it”? Also, do you consider what you do to have political connotations? A: Running a label such as Silents means having a really great desire to explain my own ideas. It is not a political issue… but Silentes is my idea of silence, which I consider of fundamental importance in my own life… Actually, maybe it is a political stance… the endless search for silence. - Gianmarco Del Re for Fluid Radio


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