Two years after Deepness and the collaboration with Giulio Aldinucci, Italian sound artist Francesco Giannico released a new album. Les Mondes Imaginaires is out now via Time Released Sound. According to the press release, this is an exceedingly lovely and evocative, field recording infused aural journey through the Italian countryside, as is portrayed in the manipulated photographs used in the packaging that were taken by the musician during an outdoor workshop that he was involved in.
This time Francesco utilizes more real instrumentation, and the piano, guitars and ethereal vocals, blended with delicately refined electronic nuances create an overtly organic feel to the album in general. The melodic, melancholy and pastoral mood he sets here will have you wishing you were there yourself… wandering in the fields…over the hills…and as night falls, out under the star spattered Italian skies.
We had a talk with the artist about the new work, the concept and the evoution of soundscaping, the project WeLoop and more. Check it below after the full streaming of the album.
Let’s Start from your new album “Les Mondes Imaginaires”. How was born the idea of this album and what about the evolution of the creative process?
Les Mondes Imaginaires was released by Time Released Sound, the label founded by legendary Colin Herick. It is an album tied to a somewhat evanescent and ethereal conceptual idea, as thinking about otherworldly soundscapes or outside the planet Earth. Unlike other albums I made (“Metrophony” comes me to mind, released 4/5 years ago for the same label) in which the acoustic component was strongly attached to the concept in various ways, “Les Mondes Imaginaires” is a certainly more free from this point of view.
There is less tension compared of when you have to keep control of all the ideas to submit to the line of the concept but the creative process has found, at the same time, a large vent thanks to a theme as broad as that of the exoplanets which was the idea which inspired me. But then again, it was simply a suggestion which i followed not only in the sound work but for the whole packaging published by Time Released Sound, where inside there is also a more complex photographic work on the theme.
The choice of the label is always an imporant step. How is your story with cult label Time Released Sound?
Colin (the founder) is a remarkable person which, as I told you, has already released one of my previous album Metrophony, a single track dedicated entirely to the soundscape of the Metro B in Rome, a work that I was lucky enough to present to the legendary 90db Festival in the beautiful “Parco degli Acquedotti” in Rome with a dedicated installation. Colin works a lot on the concept and on what the album can inspire him at the packaging level; the packaging itself is an essential part of the whole process and he is a true artist, his packaging work is huge and who deals with electroacoustic field knows which Time Released Sound is a reference point label in the sector.
The visual aspect is very important in your works and even in this album you chose a wonderful Artwork and you also shared the official video for the track “Flammarion Engraving”. What can you tell us about both?
Yes, as I mentioned before there was a shared process for the artwork. The starting point was the idea of people of the future who managed to land on a habitable exoplanet. I took pictures of pleasant places (of this world of course) in black and white on which Colin built the whole graphic narration of his packaging.
Later then, all what concerns the making of the video came. I have always made videos that capture me during the live shows or for my installations and of course also for the single tracks of my albums. For “Les Mondes Imaginaires”, I made 4 promo videos following various methods. “Flammarion Engraving”, for example, is born from a strange idea, I was very impressed by the shootings of “Interstellar” and the part where the movie focuses on the exoplanet entirely covered with water. So, driven by the desire to reconnect to this stellar hypothesis, I made a series of shots of the sea in the Torre Guaceto reserve.
You were born and live in Puglia, South of Italy. Considering what you do, what is your relationship with your birth place and how much affected your way to thin your art?
It is not easy to answer this question; you see, for example, about my works related to the soundscape, I started in Puglia more than 10 years ago with a sort of workshop / residence that I had conceived in the old city of Taranto, then I moved to Rome and I co-founded “Archivio Italiano Paesaggi Sonori” with the creation of different initiatives and thanks to which I met other sound artists, friends and colleagues. I remember that at the time soundscape wasn’t a subject of discussion, a lot of people came, even from outside the region and it was a huge success.
Over the time, events focused on this have increased throughout Italy and of course, also in Puglia. I only regret not seeing initiatives linked by a common thread because the study of the territory through sound, I think is a very important thing but often it is trivialized in function of a specific activity that is exhausted in the time dedicated to it and then it all dies. I am looking for in this period of my life to renew experiences and contacts which have interest to put something extremely important in this sense. For me, the chance of using the soundscape is a real political tool, it triggers forms of pro-activism in the people because the themes linked to the soundscape are not only electronic music and sound art, but it also concerns a series of positive externalities that are connected to transversal topics on the agenda: ecology, environment, society, conscious consumption, pollution and so forth.
Experimentation is an important aspect of your work. When is it necessary and when instead it becomes something of which we become slaves and almost self-referential?
Experimentation is a word that I believe has completely lost its meaning today, there is mainstream music, a music for the people, made to sell and then there are different shades of sounds that lead inexorably to niche music, of course with different styles. The only discriminating factors, for me, in these musical grades are quality and money; both seem to be inversely proportional in some way; not always certain, but often the more the quality rises, the less it sells.
You are a slave to your work when you do not feel free to express yourself, when you feel connected, if not even obliged to refer to an aesthetic that may have distinguished you at first but then tired you out. Take the theme of soundscape for example, to which I am deeply connected as you know, well, you can turn it like a sock in a thousand different ways, you can give your impression and choose a specific aesthetic which has its own language but always talk the same language could be problematic especially if nobody understands us. The accessibility of what we express is a value if we don’t say nonsense and we don’t do it in a obvious way but in an intelligent way, not didactic but revealing little by little to the listener.
Obviously, everyone has their own tastes, for some people we will always be little experimental, for others we will be too much but I believe the truth is in the middle. The true distinction is quality, knowing how to recognize a good production while appreciating a certain style but instead welcoming with pleasure what is achieved in a non-obvious way, not immediately recognizable, which is why then I should be attracted by some works to the detriment of others, I think.
You are the founder of AIPS and part of your work is focused on Field Recording. How has the concept of soundscaping evolved compared to when you started, especially at the level of cultural diffusion?
Yes, partly I answered you before, in 10-15 years we passed from “nothing” in terms of events dedicated to soundscaping to a great offer, often not all with great quality, often without connections with the territory that is the thing, in my opinion, more negative. Everything that gravitates around the soundscape is in strong connection with the context, with the environment in which that landscape lives.
It seems unthinkable for me to do “fast” operations on field recordings without highlighting at least one specific aspect of the territory. From this point of view, I greatly appreciate the work of the guys at VacuaMoenia with their wonderful studies on the abandoned soundscapes of Sicily, the work of the dear friend Leandro Pisano, curator for many themed projects. I would like to create a closer connection between those who deal with this type of sound design as an essential element of our life.
Now, you are part the Weloop project. Can you tell us something more about it? What is your approach to teaching?
Weloop is an Electronic Music School in Puglia, near Bari, in Castellana Grotte for accuracy. This is an absolutely innovative project for South Italy because there are electronic music schools, certainly not many but there are several, with a questionable quality and above all not all with this strong imprint devoted to “doing things”. We immediately wanted a school with high-level courses like Sound Design and Soundscape Design, Audio Recording and Pro Tools, Electronic Music Production and Music Theory and Film Scoring.
The idea is to give life not only to a school but also to a factory, where to carry out cross-media collaborative projects, where one can dedicate not only to training but also be able to share ideas and projects in an informal manner, where to attend workshops with industry experts of contemporary music and live streaming performances by sound artists who have their focus in the relationship between music and technology.
My approach to teaching is anti academic, I like deepening and seriousness in dealing with subjects but I hate the bombastic and counterproductive rituals of a certain way of teaching. Feel comfortable is essential while trying to learn something and posting only creates unnecessary barriers.
Ritual question. What are the best releases you recently appreciated?
There are a lot of interesting things right now and there are three records that I paid more attention to: Kali Malone with her “The Sacrificial Code”, a really beautiful and hypnotic work. The other album I’m listening to a lot is a beautiful collection of 10 years of Japanese ambient music called “Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990”, and outside the perimeter of electronics, I’m listening a lot Alice Zawadzki and her “Within You Is A World Of Spring” album.