di Giovanni Panetta
Interview to Nicola Boari, Naoki Ishida and Luca Tommasini about Spettro Audio Collectif, an organic work released by Bolognese label Spettro Records.
Spettro Audio Collectif cover

Spettro Audio Collectif cover (2021). Artwork by Akis Karanos.

An ohmic-like sound, between ethereal matter and physic consistency takes part in the music of these pandemic times. Spettro Records and its electronic/analogic sonic studies with the record Spettro Audio Collectif (released in 2021 June 18), organized a collaborative work with several artists from different countries with a mature concept of creativity rooted in personal original culture, from the depth of time, through the free parameter of space. Collaborators come from Italy (origins of label are Bologna, one of most important Italian university cities; the artists from Italy are: Angelo Bignamini, Elvio Bissolati, Nicola Boari (Spettro owner), Omar Casagrande, John Duncan, Ghobi, River of No, SorHe, Martina Storari and Luca Tommasini), Japan (Naoki Ishida and Toshihiro Yanai) and Greece (Akis Karanos); The work on the record began during the first lockdown, and it started from different ideas developed from a Angelo Bignamini’s electronic beat sended to Nicola Boari, which took the opportunity to create a organic, meditated, new record for his label. This mix of analog instruments (drums, piano, Japanese chordophones, physical objects, and human voices) and digital machines gives a naturalistic idea of an alien future, where the past is seen with nostalgia and those main characters took from it something precious for these present days. Pandemic could a new restart, but the dark, dystopian times are predominant; in certain sense an individual possible positive beginning (a direct example was about these musicians which collaborate in Spettro work) in an obscure context, which are expressed in these double-faced aspects, where darkness shades anywhere in lighting points.

Following the interview to someone of those artists (Nicola Boari, Luca Tommasini and Naoki Ishida) about Spettro Audio Collectif, its context and the artistic future of those main characters.

The platonic idea of Spettro Audio Collectif, released in June 18 of 2021 for Spettro Rec., is the Ether which encounters the urban day-to-day living, which is formed by superimposed and occasionally obscure lines. There’s an elaborate imaginary, where more than one voice comes to be contorted, expanded, and they chase between themselves. This overlapping gives something lyrical, through past and future which are indiscernible, and offers a nostalgic look and a projection of an organic tomorrow. This work, which was born and developed during the period of lockdown, which filled the idleness because of being constrained to stay home for several times, is structured in progressive and fluid textures, through complex harmonies. How was born this organicity in the sound of Spettro Audio Collectif, and in which manner its collaborators are fibres of a florent tree which has a systematic structure?

Nicola Boari: “I’m glad its structure sounds systematic and we have to thank Luca for his mix which was able to give it such an organic sound, but it is probably more due to the work of the various musicians involved who were able to blend their contributions together and make something truly unique. The artists were not chosen randomly and I guess there was some sort of direction behind all of it, even if no precise instructions were ever given to the participants, other than to add layers upon layers and respect each other’s work. This was always intended as a work of accretion, not of manipulation nor of orchestration. Certain tracks suited certain artists more, or at least that’s how we felt. It would’ve been interesting to see the different possible outcomes had artists contributed to different tracks, in different orders, in different times. The possibilities are endless.”

Luca Tommasini: “The collective was born from Nicola, who then looked around among all the friends from Spettro Records and decided who to call, when, and in some cases for which track specifically. So I could say it was him who had the original idea, but at the same time every person who participated has brought it beauty, thanks to the unique sensitivity of each, to their ability to self-produce at home and without mediation. Perhaps the most difficult part in bringing out the organicity of the sound was the mixing, as I found myself working with so many beautiful contributions and I did not want anyone’s work to be crushed in the amalgamation of sounds.”

Luca Tommasini

Luca Tommasini. Foto di Tommaso Suzude.

In addition to this complexity, there’s a plastic manage of these sounds, as if naturally existing DNA was altered, triggering the consequence of phenotypic reactions which take life in an urban and (at same time) country space. Moreover, you take a look to the origins of yours, between Japanese and Occidental culture (a relevant space to psychedelia, avantgarde, and hip hop too). How much does the aim to metabolize this own origins compare?

Luca Tommasini: “In this case I think the “secret” was not giving any kind of direction to anyone, so that each of the participants could feel free to express themselves 100% and in the same way also to measure themselves with structures and sounds which they wouldn’t usually encounter in their musical routine. I think this sense of letting go to the flow led everyone back to their roots. Everyone’s gaze is instantaneous and different from the others’, and therefore reactions are always the most varied, and to the eye they may seem altered opposing views merging then eventually coming together.”

Nicola Boari: “I don’t think anyone involved ever thought of it in terms of genres or cultures. Each of us would add with its own sounds, however such sounds had formed in time and space. The album contains field recordings from where we live, and the people involved just happen to come from Italy, Greece and Japan.”

We can say it’s possible to trace a double valence which consists of analogic aspects and other digital ones; ethereal music is the soundscape of the drums (Night summer sky, tall, dark and vast: lightings in the plains, day for a moment. A long road ahead), sounds of little material things, in which you experience the tactilism (…sentinella del dolore, vegliai insieme a una nuova folla di parole morte), a Japanese string instrument (some contributes of Naoki and Toshiro Yanai appear in “Towards a new digital sincerity” and “Don’t say sayonara when leaving the dream”, where there’s a reference to their land, probably through a kokyū, a high chordophone). There’s sung parts in Turn Back and Crepuscolo, Agosto, where the voice is more structured through a flow and is linked to an emotional and austere imagination. Several sounds amalgamate between ether and earth matter, lyrical and urban legacy. Let’s talk about this dualism in an extended way; how much these opposed elements are main characters in your poetics?

Nicola Boari: “I agree with what you’re saying, such dualism of ether and matter, analogue and digital, the emotional and the austere. I think it originates from the work of all the contributors. Angelo’s work on matter, tape, objects, acoustic guitar feeling like a sculptural journey. Naoki’s tones always suspended as floating particles in the ether, sustained, wandering. Luca’s long ambient suites. Toshihiro’s lyrical simplicity. Elvio’s field recording of an old neighboring couple singing enka. Akis’ work on digital speech synthesis, glitches, as if words had been robbed from the human and evolved into an artificial litany, yet empty of intelligence, yet to come and horrendous at the same time. John’s sorrowful voice and lyrics, and John’s work needs to introduction. Ghobi’s sounds which come from forgotten traditions, ruins and languages lost to the tide of time. Omar’s guitar agitation and physicality. SorHe’s experimentation on a poem by Allen Ginsberg. Then my own unrest and tension, tension among everything and the awe and gratitude I felt for the privilege of working with such amazing people. I think the track “Crepuscolo, Agosto” is a great example of such tensions and collaboration among us, blending extremely different poetics and ideas together, seemingly incompatible yet somehow working.”

Luca Tommasini: “I feel like a child because I have so much to learn and improve and in the same way I still experience a lot of wonder in what I do. When I create I let things flow without thinking, because when I start thinking things stop working and everything breaks into a thousand meaningless streams. So, regarding poetics, I don’t know exactly, a friend of mine says that I translate events, or in other words I can say that it is purely emotional but at the same time multifaceted: for example, an event like the death of a friend led me to compose opposite things. The same day I spewed digital-noise violence, while immediately after the funeral I created a kind of delicate ambient-drone elegy, and two weeks later two suites of dark-ambient angst.”

Spettro Audio Collectif was born from a beat which all of release develops from, as a domino ordered in a contorted line causes, when the first piece fall down, a flux of consequential and mechanic chain through the momentaneous loss of equilibrium, showing at the end an organic pattern more than the sum of their parts. A difficult time for everybody – this pandemic period, in which the project was born and developed – and in which Spettro Audio Collectif found the right collocation anyway. How much of these illuminations prevail in the dark over the walls of your homes?

Nicola Boari: “The track order follows the actual order in which tracks were conceived and completed, and it somehow reflects an ascending movement from obscurity to some sort of light and prevalence of acoustic instruments (guitars, drums, vocals). I don’t know what that means, nor can tell what this period of time meant for the inception of the album. Of course it meant more time and the impossibility of meeting and playing together. It meant longer time online and in front of screens. Boredom and fear. Geographically it meant different things in different times. But that’s something I don’t feel I need to talk about anymore. This work anyway represents a light for me, regardless of the time and place it was created in.”

Luca Tommasini: “Darkness cannot and must not be erased and it can often be a very good advisor. After all, the light coming from music in this now long period is still illuminating my house a lot, offering more and more unexpected joys and satisfactions. It’s nice to be able to enlighten this world disaster and avoid losing in all the discussions that I hear every day, to able to think, imagine, design new sounds.”

Naoki Ishida

Naoki Ishida.

Let’s talk about your poetics. Luca, your glitched electronics gives probably more dynamics to Spettro Audio Collectif, moreover I suppose you, Naoki, offer a oniric and introspective touch. Indeed, you, Nicola, have a role as “happy medium” through medited, synthetically bittersweet and sometimes hallucinated texture. How much has your past work influenced Spettro Audio Collectif?

Luca Tommasini: “Glitch-music is a great love of mine which I have never really expressed enough. I’ve been listening to it for over twenty years now and despite the public’s recent lack of interest surrounding it, I still continue undaunted. Yes, I have brought glitch rhythms but I have also brought dense drones, and I have also challenged myself in many things which I hadn’t done for years, like making beats, playing drums with brushes and singing. Things that in my day to day life are not around, but in this case I thought I would add them where I felt there was the right space or density.”

Nicola Boari: “Yes, I tried to mediate and negotiate among people and I hope I was able to do so, but I know that I sometimes failed and am sorry. Regarding my past work, I spoke about this tension that permeates me and what I do, and mostly insecurity. I’ve played guitar, electronics, synths, did field recordings, sang, never fell in love with anything, never perfected anything, regretted a lot, but I don’t regret what I did on this album. I did a lot of music in 15 years, some of which ok, a lot of which not, under different monikers, but anyway I would say I’m proud of almost all of it as it reflects what I am, was and have been and done, whether good or bad, the people I met, again, whether good or bad. Here I tried working with other people and providing a platform and materials they could work together on.”

Naoki Ishida: “I don’t know for myself what effect I have on Spettro Record. Nicola is so interested in Japanese culture that I think they influence each other.”

At the end, what will be your next soloist or collaborative news?

Naoki Ishida: “I’m making some non-existent movie soundtrack right now. It’s a trilogy. One of them is a work called “Lineage” released by Ikigai label. And although I have no plans to publish it, I am practicing writing a novel.”

Luca Tommasini: “I have two pieces of new: two new releases, not sure which one will be out first. One is a split album with Luca Ferro, on Tiny Drones For Lover, where we play soft nocturnal drones, like ambient lullabies. The other is a project by Alessio Premoli I participated in remotely with many others for Drone Day 2021, where the sounds sent by collaborators were assembled in a thousand layers by Alessio creating a single drone wave of about 80 minutes.”

Nicola Boari: “I have a few things I’m working on, both solo, collaboratively and in a band I play in along with Omar but which still doesn’t have a name, nor songs. I’d like to collaborate more, offline, somewhere, whether in a rehearsal room or out in the open recording conversations, sounds, people and the lack of people. Again, I feel this tension, I want to work with people, and also with a total lack of human presence.”

Naoki Ishida

Naoki Ishida live.

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