OZMOTIC is the venture of two explorers who have chosen to break with the past without denying it, their gaze anchored on the horizon of a sonic landscape in equilibrium. Driven by the common desire to put the sound back at the centre of all attention. Without giving the origins of sound priority, but rather filled with a desire to create a symbiosis between these different origins. Whether they are electronic, acoustic or of concrete origin, their work attempts to create an interaction between those sounds, the dynamics of contemporary society and the visual arts, by using their musical, scientific and artistic experiences. From the desire to create an osmosis between the various elements that characterize their existence, Ozmotic was born.
Based in Italy, the duo formed by Riccardo Giovinetto and Simone Bosco, have 2 previous albums to their project name. AirEffect and Liquid Times, both released on the Folkwisdom Label.
On these albums, they collaborated with talented artists such as Christian Fennesz, Senking and Frank Bretschneider.
Today the duo make their debut on the prestigious Touch records label, with the album Elusive Balance.
An album that explores the relationship between humans and nature, as well as seeking a balance between these two entities.
Given Riccardo Giovinetto and Simone Bosco’s broad academic qualifications, professional and artistic skills, it is with some apprehension, but also with great pleasure that I open this conversation with them for our Magazine.
Hello Riccardo and Simone and thank you for giving us your time to talk about your Ozmotic joint project.
Your Biographies are impressive!
Riccardo, you are a Doctor in Acoustic Physics, specialized in acoustic signal analysis and mathematical modelling of sound propagation. You design spaces intended for quality listening and requiring a specific acoustic level of comfort. You are a musician, composer and sound designer, playing both piano and saxophone, with essentially a jazz background. But you also teach acoustic physics, electroacoustic for sound engineers and techniques of audio-video interaction. And you are also visual artist.
Simone, you are Percussionist, composer, sound designer and performer, you have played and worked in Italy and in Europe alongside internationally renowned artists. you have a personality complex style, developed through an artistic path that touches different fields of expression.
You have a rich record production and have composed music for theater and for big events.
The use of electronic components in the context of its productionled has allowed you to enrich your sound horizon characterized by research and experimentation.
In 2001 you represented Italy in the International Biennial of Sarajevo, and in 2002 you won the “Movin ‘up” award of the italian ministry of culture. In 2006 you played and conducted 80 percussionists in the opening ceremony of the XX Olympic Games in Turin broadcast worldwide.
You have an international concert activity, and compose music for, theater act and performance-installations.
From 2000 to 2018 you recorded 14 Albums, and from 2005 to 2018 writed music for 17 theatrical works.
In order to make this article accessible to everyone, I will approach our conversation in a way that tries to find a balance between technical or scientific terms and emotions or feelings.
The way you conceive your projects, combines in effect, all your skills including science. The result is a meticulous and rigorous long term process, very technical and analytical, perhaps not accessible to the average musician. At this stage, I want to ask you what role emotions play in the practical application of your technical and scientific skills. Is there still a moment of magic, a revelation linked to creation?
Ozmotic : Perhaps in previous works, we left a minor role to emotions in comparison to Elusive Balance. The starting point of this work was different. Not in the definition of the concept, because the method we use for our research (graphic, cinema, video-art, photography, music, philosophy) focuses on two or three key words. But the words we have chosen for Elusive Balance: beauty, human, nature, and equilibrium, are all emotional. The emotions pass naturally through each of them.
So we have worked to create something that we could feel as the Elusive balance, that all of us can live when facing beauty or by feeling joy or moments of symbiosis. And we hope that this album is full of those magic moments…
Staying with the word Magic, it was the first key word that came to my mind to describe Elusive Balance. Magic because I rarely listen to Jazz or Ambient in the common sense of their musical genre. (no offence intended!)
My second feeling is that of being taken by the hand in order to be guided towards these Jazz and Ambient sounds. Whilst listening, I concentrated more on Simone’s electro-acoustic structures. But also on the multitude of small details, of concrete sounds, sometimes barely perceptible. Like on the title Being for example.
The moment I focused my attention on these details, the music took on a whole new dimension in my body and an incredible symbiosis took root between all the sounds. Obviously, I listened to this track in a state of great calm, giving it my full attention.
Ozmotic : “We love details, humans need time to feel them.. try to keep still.. breath deeply, and be aware that you are here… and then you will be able to feel their presence, their sound.”
You could be in the woods, but if your mind is in another place, you can’t see all the kinds of green that it has, how the space is defined, the different shades of lights and all the sounds that make it what it is.
In our music we have a rule to work to the sound details, they must be independent and autonomous. Therefore you can just listen to one of them and to its life.. And to stay in the wood metaphor, when you are there, if you want you may only listen to the wind, or to the birds, and it works… but if you want you can enjoy both of them and also their interrelation… or the entire soundscape.
If my feelings are correct, it’s that symbiosis that you’re looking for. And I sense a progression throughout your 3 albums.
AirEffect, released in 2015, shows me a marriage between acoustics, concrete sounds and electronics.
Liquid Times, released in 2016, evokes the birth of this osmosis between these 3 sound origins. The contours are more defined.
And Elusive Balance evokes the refinement of this osmosis to me. The sound landscape is rafined through the distribution of sounds, and the saxophone outline is softened.
The search for and implementation of details is only possible if they are clearly perceptible. And I think that is where your scientific expertise comes in. Throughout the entire process, both of you are fully aware of the space in the sound spectrum that each of you can and should occupy. You work on sonic textures as well as frequency ranges. It is undoubtedly this that allows you to avoid overlapping sounds, and therefore allows a perfect perception of all these details.
Ozmotic : Normally the first step of the mixing process that the audio engineer does, is to clean all the different sound that a band has recorded… they do this kind of work for every single instrument (for example for all the parts of a drum set) and then for the whole ensemble. Just to make sure that every component has the right space in the frequency domain. During our sonic experience we have decided to make this kind of work before the mixing session. In other words, we do this kind of work at the beginning during the composition process. In this way the overlapping is always refined and we can understand if and where we have space and if we should fill that place or leave it as it is.
Taking into account the fact that each acoustic space produces a different acoustic print, how do you reproduce or offer the same listening quality when you perform live?
And if you have any in mind, in which European venues would you particularly like to perform?
Europe is full of great places where we would like to play, but it would be great to perform at “IRCAM” – Paris, “La Scala” – Milan or at Nikolaisall in Potsdam.
You approach your projects in a particular way.
While the majority of musicians allow themselves to improvise, which often leads to draft projects, with Ozmotic you approach new projects through dialog and discussion.
Together, you define the conceptual scope of the project by isolating key words, which you keep in mind, in order to work on the first part of the composition process on your own.
You Riccardo, on melodies and textures. And Simone on electronic or electro-acoustic skeletons.
Is Ozmotic a project where words play an important role?
And can we say that the search for these key words in order to direct the concept, “replaces” the more typical instrumental improv game?
And please let us know the keywords relating to Insecting and Lymph on Elusive Balance.
Ozmotic : Working on Elusive Balance we have changed the approach that we used to have… As we said before, the conceptual work remains, and words are crucial for us. Through them we define a common imaginary boundary by chosing colours, shapes, emotions… but now neither of us has a specific role in the composition process. We have a parallel day to day working progression on several ideas, atmospheres, single sounds… and then together we focus on some aspects of one or more ideas; we talk a lot, there is a continual comparison between us… then we leave the sound material for a while, just to take time and give us the space to come back and see, listen, as we couldn’t before. Then taking a great deal of attention to the details and on the whole work, we go ahead. And the words are always there, they define a territory…
For Insecting the key word was “The power of nature” and for Lymph, the “contrast – horizontal/vertical”.
On what essential aspect(s) of your identity, have you, in your opinion, evolved with Elusive Balance?
Ozmotic : In our opinion Elusive Balance is a “good place” for us to stay for a while… we mean that now we have something more clear in mind and our “sound identity” is more focused. We think the same about the Elusive Balance’s visuals and the way in which we have built the interactions between them and our music. We think that we have found a “Sign”, probably we have to be more precise with it… but now we have something more to work on.
Your live performances are accompanied by visuals that you create yourself Riccardo. My opinion has always been divided on the question of whether or not music can be accompanied by a visual. If music inspires me, my mind creates it’s own scenario. So the question remains open. Is there a risk that the visuals distract attention away from the listening process?
Ozmotic : We think that music is music, and there everybody can create his own scenario, live his emotions. In the same way visual is a different field and there the music plays another role, often the images win… but our idea is to stay in another artistic path, different from music or visual; the sound-reactive or audio-video performance is a “new place”, where the balance between music and visuals creates another kind of experience.
Tell us about the importance you place on designing your visuals at the same time as the music composition process. And tell us about the process.
Ozmotic : Ten years ago when we have decided to give life to our OZMOTIC project, one of the questions in relation with the performance side of its nature was: how could we include all the things that we are and that we love (music, performance, photography, composition, acoustic, graphic, cinema,…) within this new adventure? The answer was something like this: we have to define a process of research that will bring us to a new form of performance, a “unicum” and for us this “unicum” was the audio-video live show or the sound-reactive performance. The creative process is hard, fully immersive, technically very complex and rich of details. The two fluxes, the audio and the video one must follow the same conceptual lines, conditioning each other so as to become unique. The work must be developed through a definition of hierarchies (what is more important and what is less for each phase of the project), dynamics (kinematics, luminosity, dimensions, colour, …), interaction in real time (clearly defined and projected) and last but not least, the entire show must have an overall evolving narrative, both in terms of sound and vision.
Intelligent Living Sounds – reflection
Y.Vh : When I say that I have the feeling that osmosis is refined on Elusive Balance, I think partially of the work done on sounds of acoustic or concrete origin. I am certain that the concrete origin of a sound is recognizable by our unconscious, (in a way, they are anchored in our genes) and I think that they bring a feeling of comfort, of familiarity when listening, unlike sounds of a purely synthetic nature. In my opinion, concrete or acoustic sounds are difficult to reproduce identically, if they are taken out of their design context. They interact directly with their environment, but especially with the action that produces them. This is what makes them unique, but above all, alive.
The work of combining these living sounds with our intelligent technologies offers endless possibilities with which to explore these sounds, thus creating new sounds that are unique and comfortable since they are of living origin.
So I would call it “Intelligent living sounds”. And that’s a term I would use to describe, in part, what you do.
The term electro-acoustic being too easily attributed nowadays, I find that there is a difference to be made between “manipulating a sound of concrete or acoustic origin” (the origin of the sound being always identifiable) and “creating a sound, hitherto unknown, from a concrete or acoustic origin” (the origin of sound no longer being identifiable)
I hope you follow me..
Do you share my opinion on this reflection and do you see it as a revolutionary way (finally! if I may say so) to make tomorrow’s music and sound evolve?
Ozmotic : We share your point of view and we like very much this definition of “Intelligent living sounds”.
From AirEffect until now we have changed our relationship with concrete sounds. We were looking for a balance between “real” and “synthetic”… and so we have tried different kinds of manipulation, also of very strange sounds. We mean, sounds that already have a particular strength and nature or origin.
The solution to keep only their roots and to give life to a new sound that has that kind of soul, but a different shape and function or role in the sound contest that you make, grew naturally… We think this could be a new solution to give an identity to what we do. And all that details that we talked about are often done with these kind of sounds.
I have in mind precise example on the title Insecting , more specifically at 1 minute and 39 seconds, as well as on several ambient Pads of your own on Elusive Balance.
Ozmotic : Again, you’re right. The most part of the pads that we use are made under this logic process. We use different parts of samples that we think have a “sound future”, processing them many times (granular synthesis, equalization, reverb, phase manipulation…) until we are satisfied. And then we find the right combinations with the other layers.
In Insecting we were looking for somenthing that was powerful and atavistic, primordial… and only a sound that has a concrete origin can give us this possibility…
To remain in the concrete or the living, few artists (but there are some) are in search of hidden or dissimulated sounds. I am thinking in particular of the use of hydrophones and more specifically, the work of two artists. Tomoko Sauvage uses this hydrophone technique in porcelain bowls filled with water and explores different architectural spaces affected by different temperatures and humidity levels. Or Nicola Giannini who, through his inner out project, offers a very special concept thanks to a process using ice blocks of different shapes containing hydrophones. Using various tools on these blocks, his research aims to capture micro sounds produced by melting ice or by the contact with his tools. They are explorers looking for new libraries of living sounds. I think there is great potential for association between these “researchers” and artists or projects such as yours.
Ozmotic : We know their works, and probably you are right, it could be an interesting “mix”… in any case. We think that now it is very important for us to stay focused on our identity, because there is a lot work to do inside “ the space ” that we have founded in the “Elusive Balance” world, and as we said, we feel that we should stay there for a while.
One final note, I can’t resist playing a track taken from your first AirEffect album, and this for two reasons. The first one is related to my own emotions. I fell in love with Ozmotic when listening to Epilogo. Of course, there are other tracks that I love, But this one has “spoken” to me. And the second reason is that the metaphor within the lyrics of this track shows us that, from the starting point of your project, you aim to reach a Balance between Analysis and Emotions.
“Alla fine è rimasto questo, sono felice quando sei felice e triste quando sei triste, e quando non ci sei.. mi manchi !”
.. Alla fine, l’emozione vince ..
Ozmotic on Vimeo : https://vimeo.com/user13975659