These days I’ve been composing very little, my main focus has been writing and I guess I’ll end up with different texts that I might spend in different ways quite soon.
My interests has shifted and I’ve started growing fond again of what was my primary field of studies, politics and sociology. I think the position I’m in is very privileged to observe and imagine different application of what I’ve learnt so far.
First, I’m part of a field, the arts, that represent an exception to how the normal capitalistic society works which is very interesting, because despite it’s subversive look and the refusal of many kinds of hierarchies which are common in our world, this field endorses structures of hierarchy which are even more constrictive and intrinsically exclusive. Moreover, one that is involved in the art system is never immune by the first structure, the one of the capitalist society, resulting in a concentric matryoshka-like structure of power which confirms a system by questioning it. Exactly like Carnival, a momentary subversion of a system that shows the true nature of that system itself, only to reconfirm it. By observing and reporting the contradiction of this functioning I expect to be able to increase an awareness about the toxic influence of the market on our work as artists.
Especially, I belong to a field of arts - electroacoustic music - which is mostly linked to the academic work and strongly dependent on technology. The pyramidal structure of the ivory tower is something that the artist has to either fully accept or refuse completely, there is very few artists who are respected in the academic environment and also know outside of it. Being able to observe its mechanisms from within is a very interesting thing to do.
Third, I’ve had the chance to study in depth how Ambisonics work and I believe it is a very interesting technology which is being used in a way that I don’t find especially interesting. The use of ambisonics in the field of cinema and videogame is surely an option, but a very capitalistic one. The use of it in the field of acousmatic music composition is modifying some modality without really influencing the aesthetic of what it is nowadays a pretty codified and fixed music genre. I believe ambisonics can be used as a very good documentation tool, as few others have done before me. Artists and researchers doing field recordings with ambisonics sound, have mostly been investigating nature, as the best example of immersive sound environment which is disappearing. This has been done with a strong moral attitude, usually linked to the environmental crisis. But I believe that this tool can be used also to document musical practices of human groups that make of the space one if their key feature. For instance thinking of the women zirk of the Kist community in the Pankisi Valley of Georgia, the space for the performance/ritual is carefully, but subconsciously, selected and it is not at all casual. Certain space acoustics, buildings, musician placement, respond to performative necessities which are just very hard to grasp without a spatial-conservative recording technique. A study of this kind would be especially fruitful as an analysis of how space acoustics contribute to the successful performance of mystic practices and how the environment contribute to the catharsis. It could be linked to the study of the atmospheres in architecture and perception studies, with specific links to the work of Gernot Böhme and Tim Ingold and might open up for a different method in ethnography.
On the first of March I flew to Italy. I had only a few days to rehearse before the concerts I had planned with my duo DASPO. Sure we knew that Italy was having problems with Covid-19 but the situation seemed pretty regular at that time, we were completely unaware of what would have happened just a few days later.
At the time of my flight the tour looked like this:
5. March - Bellizzi (SA)
6. March - Napoli
7. March - Bologna
10. March - Siena
11. March - Rome
We were supposed to play our first gig on the 5th of March in Bellizzi (SA), the club we were playing at was a really small one, but we needed that concert as a dressed rehearsal for the concerts to come. Jaromir Mulders, a multimedia artist from the Netherlands that we met when we lived in Utrecht was also joining for the release concert in Napoli at L’Asilo, a big venue in my hometown that we knew we would fill up, and the concert in Bologna that was planned in a contemporary art space called Gallleriapiù.
Of course nothing went as planned, new anti-Covid regulations were introduced day after day and our concerts were either cancelled or reconsidered. The one in Napoli became the occasion to perform an audiovisual performance without audience to use afterwards, the one in Bologna became a radio show. I realized the situation was pretty bad and I was lucky enough to manage to leave Italy just before the lockdown, but it took me two extra flight bookings. Since I came back I’ve been in full isolation, as prescribed by the government.
This situation is making me think a lot and heavily pulling over the feelings that were already hanging on me earlier. I love what I do, I love it enormously, but the market and the music environment disgust me to a point that make me feel extremely depressed. In the past three years I must say that I’ve become much better at knowing what I had to do and when in order to gain what I wanted. I can say that I’ve become better at my work… but I don’t really know if I’ve become a better musician.
At the moment I feel completely blocked. I can write about music, I can write about society and the market, I can talk and read and write about what's happening around me and talk about my role in it, but I can't see the relevance of my work. The idea of making music in the same way I did before repels me.
As I said earlier, February has been a very active month. Other than the trip to Tbilisi and the concert with Trevor Wishart I also played two more concerts.
On the 12 of February I played at SERENDIP festival in a completely new ensemble featuring me on synth, Simen Wie on electric bass and Jormar Jeppsson Søvik on drums. We had few rehearsals before and our sets turned out to be very gestural noise beasts of roaring power that I enjoyed a lot. The concert was 45 minutes of absolute mayhem which was surprisingly very well received. It was recorded and I will mix it to turn it into a demo we can use to book more concerts and do more. It's pretty rare that I'm satisfied with a concert to this extent and that I want to keep playing in newly established formations but this time I was and I wish we will be able to do more in the future.
On the 29th instead I presented a new piece of mine at the first acousmatic concert organized by the NyMusikk Komponistgruppe.
The piece I presented is called "Albēdo - ti porto sempre con me anche se non te lo dico mai" and it was the one I started composing at EMS a few months earlier. I can't say much about this piece, it was truly an emotional outpouring of feelings that have been haunting me in the past months. I spent a lot of time asking myself whether the choices i did were the right ones and if I was following a satisfying path. I am doing great, my career is going well and I think that I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do in the best possible way, yet... This all idea of art production and the schemes, the networking, the environments, the market, it all really kills me.
Maybe I'm emotionally not ready, maybe I had expectations about this field which were a bit too idealistic, maybe I am just too idealistic. But I have maybe given up too much of the simple things which I will have to recover to feel grounded and happy.
It's funny that what I'm writing comes to my mind in the moment when I have known that Albēdo and Strade fatte a memoria were selected for two very prestigious festivals of acousmatic music: Kling Gut in Hamburg, one of the leading events in Europe for 3D immersive music and BEAST Feast, where I got the chance to finally perform my music on that amazing sound theatre. Also at Latimpe in Vienna they chose a presentation I submitted which illustrated the work we did in Tbilisi, but to that one we have agreed on sending Mike.
On the 15th of February I was again flying to Tbilisi, this time final adjustments for the festivals needed to be made and I was continuing the discourse about the soundscape that I’ve started last time. In addiction to this, Mike and Mariam asked me to have two electroacoustic music listening sessions for our students that would help to create a context for the music that we are talking about and making.
The first of my lectures was mostly about the importance of the environmental sound in sound art and the concept of horizontal mapping, as suggested by Leandro Pisano in his book Nuove Geografie Del Suono.
I started the discourse using theories and classifications by Bernie Krause and David Monacchi in comparison to the original Soundscape categories of Murray Schafer to show how different “filters” of an environmental recording provide different ways to read it and different informations to retrieve. This background was used to introduce mapping as a tool to investigate reality, and by highlighting the differences between any vertical “2D” visual map and a sound map with all the significances they afford. From this, we also touched the concept of the Third Landscape, as illustrated by Gilles Clement, and demonstrated how areas that are apparently sterile, abandoned, fringes, can tell stories that are invisible to the eye.
The second Lecture was meant to shake all the knowledge we accessed in our last talks, we went using Hildegard Westerkamp together with True and Monacchi to define what is soundscape composition. Once we found a definition for it, we went on dismantling this definition using texts of Carlo Serra and Tim Ingold to question whether such a fixed idea of it actually helps us or not.
For the listening sessions: I did one session based on the development of the aesthetic of GRM, featuring pieces of the early GRM times, mostly by Henry, Parmegiani and Chion. The second was instead focusing on the use of the voice in electroacoustic music, I used the fact that singing is such a big part of the Georgian music tradition as an excuse to create a narrative thread in our listening, featuring pieces by Berio, Wishart, Harvey and Parmerud.
This trip was also for me emotionally very relevant, I bought a Panduri by an old builder who lived in the old town, close to the cathedral, he told me stories of the Georgian resistance and shared his wine with me. It was a great experience that I’ll bring with me forever.