Summer was over but before going back to Oslo I went to Koster, an tiny island in the Swedish side of Kattegat, in company of Harriett Ohlsson, a Swedish singer and multi-instrumentalist, an improvisor with a pop background with whom I have had a long and deep connection and a honest friendship for years.
We don’t really met too often but it’s always beautiful and very insightful to meet her, she really manages to let a lot of hidden thoughts outside of me and to make me realize where am I at. I can be totally open and never hide who I am, or pretend to be something more than myself. I can be a child and it will be fine. People like this are very rare and I am very grateful that I’ve met her on my path.
Together with us there was her husband, Jesper Torsson, a director and video maker with a passion for costumes. An adult child with a very special wisdom.
The three of us worked on a project related to a pop album she is making. In the past, me and Harriet have worked to some special form of improvisation, in which we worked with open songs, scrambled lyrics and rags of chords to generate what we would call a form of liquid or extemporary songwriting.
We would meet about once a year or or more either in Napoli or Gothenburg and work for some days on our instruments and new ideas to put up a show. We often also included other musicians: in Gothenburg we had Lisen Rylander-Löve playing with us, in Napoli Jonathan Maurano and Michele De Finis. People who always managed to push the balance of our performances in unexpected direction and got us out of our comfort zone.
This time in Koster it was very different though, we had a fixed media song to arrange and a splendid landscape to work with. We explored it, looked for places to do ambient and voice recordings, swam in the ocean, met the locals, and I had all the time and the tranquillity to design the electronic parts of the song. It was a true pop song in the end, a bit diverse from regular pop but stil pop. I had never worked on such a thing before and I found it quite interesting. It tickled some other modes of listening and thinking which I am sure will prove to be useful at some point.
As soon as I came back to Oslo I started working to a new piece. A longer form ambisonics piece made with field recordings done along the summer, it’s very demanding due to a progressive but radical shift in my workflow, but the results seem very promising so far.
I decided to let the materials breath more, stay, linger. Working with stasis has never been an option but it’s a path I’d like to try for once and see where it takes me. Basically, I decided that I would embrace a phenomenological approach in my composition, selecting more carefully the interesting bits of my recordings and then enhancing their qualities rather than building these moments.
I think the small field recording workshop with had with Prof. Barrett and some of the conversations I had with our new Erasmus exchange student from USA, Will Bertrand, were really inspiring in that sense. I am becoming much more acquainted with field work and learning to wait.
Before I used my recorder as an instant camera, capturing short snaps of things I liked, quickly, always ready with good reflex. I still like this approach which I find very useful to keep. But this cannot be the only method I use. I need to learn how to be more patient and wait for the right occasions with some planning ahead and clear intentions.
Even though school was over, this summer provided a lot of insights and projects to care about.
The duo I have with Davide Palmentiero, DASPO, has finally a home. It was in facts welcomed very well by a small but seminal Italian label from Turin called Setola di Maiale which decided to publish it.
It’s a very small edition, limited to 300 copies, but that we are designing with extreme care. The graphic project was commissioned by an amazing photographer from southern Italy called Giovanni Linguiti and for the master we chose to work with a young but talented engineer called Riccardo Martinelli. This choice, to collaborate with a young freelancer instead of sending our record to a big studio, was mostly aimed to establish a good personal relationship with someone that could work seriously and exclusively on our work providing more than just a couple of mastering versions, but really nail the sound we wanted to achieve. Riccardo has been extremely successful in this, giving us a product that completely satisfied our requests, being big and fat enough for casual, home listening but not hyper-squashed into a flat dynamic-less wave.
Samenreis is done and almost ready to be printed.
On the wave of excitement for this project, me and Davide have been invited to play in the prestigious Academia Chigiana of Siena for an event called Current Shape, on the 31th of August, where we shared the stage with Kassel Jaeger, a musician that I consider a key figure in nowadays electroacoustic music especially for how he manages to be very relevant in terms of aesthetic research but also musically accessible to outsiders. Kassel Jaeger - AKA François Bonnet - is also the director of GRM, one of the institutions I was considering for my internship, and I was extremely lucky to get to meet him and talk about my proposal.
When he perceived my personal position towards electroacoustic music, the chances for me to get a spot there seemed to become more concrete and he told me to write him soon to define that a bit better.
The concert was very successful - sold out - and I was extremely satisfied of how me and Davide played, keeping very high levels of tension and exploring dynamics in a very unusual way, with great control, employing both pianissimo and fortissimo and playing a lot with speed to keep everything various and constantly in motion. We got a lot of compliments and positive comments, I’ve rarely been that happy for a concert I played. I must say that the synergy me and Davide achieve on stage, despite the personal differences - both have very strong positions about a lot of things - and musical tastes, is almost total and always gives convincing results which are becoming more and more mature with time. I really hope we will get to play more when our album is out, because I have the feeling that we can hit very high level in terms of performing ability.
As an instrument I asked Bàlint Làczko to have a look at my previous Max MSP patch that I used for the live-set I played in Bergen. I was afraid that my patch was a bit too CPU consuming and also I wanted to find a solution to dynamically choose in between sound libraries to adapt my set to different situations.
I reflected on the fact that solo improvisation is more liked to the idea of extemporary composition and is therefore often liked to a - mental - score, a track to follow and therefore much more controlled. When I improvise in groups, might they be duos, trios or big ensembles, my set requires a higher versatility in terms of behaviors and materials. Expanding it, not in the functioning but in the capabilities was a necessity. So I looked again into it, designing some additional modules and reworking it with mc. objects.
When Bàlint looked at my patch he was horrified: my patching skills are equivalent to those of a caveman. The ideas are there but they are really poorly implemented, and he was very very kind to help me out polishing and finding viable solutions to do what I wanted to do without blowing up my machine.
I will never thank him enough.
Of course, my patch still hits 85% as soon as I start it, but it’s much better than before and works glamorously. An issue I have is - I believe - with my audio interface. I never fully trusted Motu ultralite interfaces, I find them very dodgy, but they are now the only solution to carry an 8-out in a half rack. Still I guess that much of the glitching happened when I connected the software to the Audio interface and it works much more smoothly with the internal core audio.
After the concert - at night - I went to a totally empty piazza duomo and witnessed to the incredible comb filtering effect happening in that place.