Originally posted as part of my mix/interview series at http://www.acloserlisten.com
Last year while in Napoli I met Mario Gabola (A spirale, Aspec(t)) at Perditempo, an incredible music venue in Piazza Dante with a sister-store nearby, both of which act as bars that sell radical books and music. Roberta of Jealousy Party had tipped me off about Perditempo, for which I am eternally grateful. (For that matter, be sure to check out the insane hybrid sounds of Jealousy Party.) Mario’s band-mate in Aspec(t) is Mimmo Napolitano aka SEC_, the guy behind Toxo Records and many related musical projects, including mixing and mastering several local projects, and the mastermind behind this installment of the Lost Children mix series.
SEC_ has cultivated an idiosyncratic technique for producing his music, an apparatus composed of Revox tape recorder, no- input feedback, laptop and electromagnetic devices. Through this system, SEC_ channels his interest in free improvisation, power electronics and musique concrète into a unique manifestation of his artistic vision, capable of balancing the tension between chaos and order, and always surprising sudden shifts. The latest disc by Aspec(t), Abbatoir released on the French Nunn Records, showcases this style alongside Gabola’s saxophone feedback and electronics, while his collaboration with Jerome Noetinger, Testacoda on Bocian Records, is a fine testament to what post-gear worship crazy improvisations can be accomplished by two freed-minds with tape machines. SEC_ has also recently ventured into radiophonic work with “Music for a becoming-insect” for the Austrian Kunstradio. Aong with Gabola and Maurizio Argenziano on electric guitar and Francesco Gregoretti on drums, SEC_ has recently released the the CDr Twilight of Broken Machines on Eh?. The aptly named Strongly Imploded quartet further pushes the boundaries of live electronic and improvised music even further.
For this mix, the first of a two-parter, SEC_ combines music that reflects the darker, more chaotic side of his Mediterranean seaport. SEC_’s aesthetic practice is deeply personal and his technique and focus are inspiring. This mix showcases some of his recent projects as well as what has been inspiring him recently.(Joseph Sannicandro)
How did you put this mix together? What ties together your choices? Is there a common theme?
Basically I put together the music that I like and that I’m listening more in this period. There is a kind of path or story made by assonances, influences, but also by very personal feelings. And I’ve tried to put in the mix some of my music or music in which, in a way or another, I collaborate mainly here in Napoli, connecting it to music of people who have an affinity with that work or influenced it.
What music are you working on currently?
At the moment I’m working on my solo album Outflow, that is almost ready but I still don’t know when it will be released. And I’m also working on the new Aspec(t), on a collaboration between Aspec(t) and Dave Phillips and on a duo with guitarist Olivier Di Placido. Next year the new Weltraum should be ready too.
How has your technique evolved over the years? Can you tell us a bit about how you work with the Revox and no-input mixer and whatever else you are using at the moment.
I started electronic music playing analogue synth and computer, but soon I developed a personal approach, very physical and dynamic to that devices, for example playing a controller keyboard as a crazy pianist but using electro-noise samples and digital processing…I still use this set up with Weltraum, my more rock-oriented project. Then I started working with tapes and I discovered the world of feedback, and this has literally opened my mind. Now I’m very focused on this, but without losing that physical approach consisting in sudden cuts, scratchings, blasts and a lot of dynamics. Revox is a wonderful machine that I use both as a tape recorder, both as a no-input mixer, with the advantage that I can manipulate all these feedback on tape in real time! I’m also very interested in the edges between analog and digital trying to explorate the zones in which this limit is difficult to recognize: for example I generate feedback between Revox and laptop, using the latency of the soundcard to modulate the sound…is this process analog or digital?
When did you start Toxo Records? What made you interested in releasing this music?
I started Toxo Records in 2009 when I released Weltraum’s CD Sy. My main interest is not only releasing music as a product, but to feed the music as a practice made of relations between people, places, meetings, exchanges, fun, etc… I use records to increase my live activity and to meet new people, new musicians, new realities.
You’ve chosen a lot of recent selections from European artists. As we all know the situation in Europe, and globally, seems to be coming to a head. The dominant culture has lead us to the brink of disaster, we’re dangerously close to the precipice. Much of this music seems to be some sort of reflection on (or reaction to) the decadence and hedonism of modern life. Do you think the current situation, the return of the rhetoric of austerity and management and so on, has created an aesthetic reaction?
Well, there’s always an aesthetic reaction, but usually it is a consequence of a more complex reaction: when the reality changes, the people change their practices and ways to do as well and this has an influence on the aesthetic side.
The current situation is stressing people to impose them (and you can feel it strongly in south of Italy) a way of life they don’t need. To save the financial capitalism we have to accept every kind of absurd, restrictive law. Life is probably a struggle between the desire of freedom and the need to limit it. In this moment the oppression is making the desire of freedom stronger: people is looking for other ways to live, to produce, to organize (not only in music), far from the main circuits in which they cannot find any freedom. This has a very strong aesthetic consequence, but it doesn’t show up in a kind of anti-capitalistic or apocalyptic rhetoric, but it influences the real ways in which music is done, the relation with tools and technology, with spaces and people, the need to explore the world of sensation without stopping at the clichés. Aesthetic is not a matter of message, is a matter of practices.
photo by Maria Auriemma
This month’s mix comes from Mario Gabola. As I described in the intro to SEC_‘s mix, I met Mario at Perditempo, a center of the experimental music scene in Naples, Italy. Born in Salerno in 1981, Mario Gabola is an active participant in the radical music scene of southern Italy. Since 2000, Gabola has lived in Naples and released several records with the trio A Spirale and Aspec(t), his duo with SEC_. Though he began playing saxophone in traditional brass bands, Gabola music explores structures and timbres that are both challenging and intense. His methods include incorporating unstable system using feedback and resonance by recycled or self-made instruments and sax. He’s performed and collaborated with a long-list of artists, including Arnaud Riviere, Agostino Di Scipio Andy Guhl, Alexei Borisov, and Mat Pogo (of Jealousy Party). Along with his A Spirale collaborators M. Argenziano and M. Spezzaferro he runs the label Viande Records. In addition to the aforementioned collaborations, he also performs with radical-impro music as part of Strongly Imploded, Sarkazein, Razoj, Akhiano. Through Mario’s generosity I was able to be exposed to facets of the Napolitano scene that I would have missed otherwise, and I’m please to be able to share some of that scene with our readers. Mario takes us deeper into a fruitful cross-polination of art and life, or material practices stemming from as much from the ethos of radical improvisation and punk rock. The image of a butcher shop somehow seems appropriate to accompany this mix, during a week in which we skeptically watch the authoritarian populist comedian Beppe Grillo and his Five Stars movement jam Italian politics. Buon viaggio. (Joseph Sannicandro)
I’m glad that Mario and I were finally able to make this happen. We’ve already heard from Mimmo (SEC_) about some of the connections between radical aesthetics, the city of Naples, and the current political landscape. This mix seems to suggest an elaboration of that.
Here’s a statement from Mario Gabola to put this mix in context:
I thought to proceed in the selection of this playlist working toward systems and constellations of relations and affection.
Obviously, not relationship or parentage, but just an attempt at mapping during the continuous geopolitical loss of bearings.
We’re talking about escape, friction, and collision, “feelings conquered because they’re sons of no one” and not things bought, moved by the possibility of liberation from the spectacular mercantile economy that as of now organize even the small niches /bitches that are the products of underground cultural consumption for the bourgeois bohemian mish mash middle European youth.
We have shared techniques, ideas, discussions, spaces for concerts, houses, full tables and empty tables, bottles, bars, shitty pubs, streets, books, listening and writing…
And above the author aesthetic as a revelation of a practice that passes through improvisation to break the walls, the separation of languages, the genre, the consumption of music as a product tied only to the enjoyment of a form or a narration or a composition, all around a world that moves as a result of everyday battles and movements of liberation.
A discussion around the practice and the means/tools, years of forgotten history of radical improvisation only to restart this mood in new fragile fields, where grindcore/hardcore/punk, hip hop, technorave, funky, rock ‘n ‘roll, blues, fall apart and give space to the lived and human movements more than to the genres and authors.
Again against the new post–museum logic, to the artist collectives and their re-qualification of abandoned areas, against every form of mediation between the individual experience and the outside world.
The previous playlist by SEC_ has already expressed esteem for different musical areas and communities…
The A Spirale and Aspec(t) experience was born thanks to these encounters.