by unknown writer, Jun 2008 (Brisbane, Australia)
– How is the space program progressing?
It’s steadily growing in new directions. It’s a work program designed to be flexible and expandable. So on the performance front, i’ve recently premiered Space Study 4, a modular synthesizer solo, and in this tour i’ll be performing the newest Space Study 6, for portable square wave oscillator and filter. On the other hand, the phrasing and technique for the older pieces is always improving. In terms of recording, the first volume from the “Space Elements” series is ready, to be released in September. I’ll soon start production on Space Elements Vol. II and also Space Solo 2. On the new field of collective performance, i’ve been working with the wild Space Trio (a sort of free-jazz classic trio driven by visceral electronics) and the yet slowly developing Space Collective, which in the future may be expanded into a small orchestra. I’ve always been refining concepts, and at this point i’m working towards a definition of the program’s core features, a sort of manifesto.
– what did you learn from your period working with guitar and electronics?
That’s about 15 years of work, during which i learned most of what i know not only on electronics, circuits and technology, but also on acoustics and physics, music theories and thinking, and too many ways to approach a guitar. But the most important thing i learned was to be severly demanding on myself and work incessantly towards achieving uncompromising results.
– what led you make such a marked change from one approach to work to the new ‘space work’?
The main reason was that i found my previous line of work completed, when i was finishing Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance by late 1999. I clearly felt i had achieved what i could ever have hoped to, and would become formulaic from there on. I can’t tolerate repeating myself. So my decision was to just terminate it and enter something new, as radically different as possible from the previous work. The first things i decided for the new “era”, was that the music would be based on direct action over silence, it should be made of real-time decisions and it would be electronic. Another key factor that propelled me was that the world is changing in alarming ways and we need to take action and be aware. My previous line of works was mostly designed to be an immersive experience, an alternative environment. Taking a hard look at it, it seemed to me an escapist approach to music. So i decided to make music that would be the opposite: sharply produced sounds over silence, made by direct physical action and resulting exclusively from individual decisions. A more fitting approach to the idea that we must be active as individuals in changing our collective destiny…
– can you explain the ideas behind your space theory?
I don’t have a “theory”, i’ve just been trying to understand my own practice, since i don’t know of anyone having attempted this before. Basically, i’m establishing a performing practice which i call “post-free jazz electronic music”, and it’s on a crossroads between jazz and electronic music histories, but draws very little from each. Not from jazz because my instruments are free-spectrum and inadequate to deal with the Western system (no notes, scales, chords, etc) and not from electronic music because it has always been based on different thinking patterns (namely timbral exploration, sound processing and studio composition strategies). This practice is about physically performing experimental electronic music with notions of phrasing and instrumental simplicity, with a tactile approach. I say “experimental” because these instruments always have a degree of unpredictability, i never have absolute control over them. This allows me to keep from closing their lexicon, which otherwise i must establish in order to perform. The Space Program is discourse driven and its main concern is actually how to articulate sound and silence in order to meaningfully structure phrasing and discourse. This articulation is done with instant decisions, which are informed by a matrix of possibilities and by jazz playing as an abstract model.
– A lot of the work has revolved around modular synthesis, what does this instrument bring to the way you work? Could the ideas of ‘space’ be achieved using other instrumentation?
I’m sorry to say that is not accurate. I’ve used modular synths as much as other devices and there is no instrument here more important than others. A key aspect of my instruments is that they are simple. The must be simple in order to have a sonic identity, so their sound is recognizable, and also in order to be able to structure phrasing using not too many variables. I temporarily stopped using the guitar exactly because it’s too complex. It became too complex for me now, i still have to re-invent it.
– The first space release has a strong composed approach, how are the radical shifts in the work reflected in a live context?
“Space” is a very complex composition made of many bits of studio and live recordings, and is designed as an orchestral environment. It is utterly impossible to perform live (it would take 21 clones of myself). In a live setting i occasionally collaborate with other musicians, but most often i perform solo. That is the simplest and also the most demanding way to deliver what i do, because i’m fully responsible for the music and play in direct confrontation with silence. “Space Solo 1” is an accurate document of how some of these instruments sound like in solo performance.
– what are your plans for the remainder of the year? and what might people expect from your concert in Brisbane?
In August i’ll start production of “Space Elements Vol. II” and continue developing the “Space Collective” (an expanding and open group), while continuing work with the Space Trio. I may also start recording “Space Solo 2”.
In Brisbane i will be performing solo sets on 3 different instruments, after having toured Japan and New Zealand, and i can only say that regardless of how well i can explain what i’m doing, the music explains itself much better…