Eraldo Bernocchi Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Your latest album: Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It (RareNoise) provides the soundtrack for a new documentary on the American Artist Cy Twombly, called Cy Dear. Can you tell us about how you got involved in the project and about its origins?

I was contacted last year to compose the soundtrack of this documentary film, the first ever made about the contemporary art giant Cy Twombly. The production company and the director contacted RareNoise Records to ask if I would be interested in working on it. I loved the idea and also because the film is shot and written from a very intimate perspective. It’s biographical but at the same time really intimate – a trip back in time meeting the people he loved most or that were the most important for him and his art.

What does the artist’s work mean to you personally? Do you favourite piece of his work?

Twombly is a giant, one of those figures who is so emotionally charged that anything you look at of his is fantastic. I’ve got my favourites; one of these is the cover of the album. What I like about him is how he transmits strong emotions through his paintings and at the very same time keeps them simple and direct. Twombly is one of those artists whose work you stare at in awe and are mesmerised by. I find him hypnotically entangling.

The album was mainly created through the use of guitar and various effects. Can you give us an idea of how constructed one of the tracks from the album? And about the types of affects you used in that process?

It’s true. I mainly used guitars, treating them in order to achieve what I had in mind. I used a lot of pedals: mostly Strymon or Eventide reverbs and delays. Various types; tape, analog, modulated digital. I created drones and loops with guitar and on top of them I improvised with guitar or piano, often for hours, until I found the theme or the emotion I wanted. At this point I’d start from the beginning and construct the whole track, arranging it at a later stage. It’s a time consuming process but it’s the only one that works 100% with my brain. I need to improvise in order to find the right colours. Improvising is giving me the right emotion I need to carry on composing.

I worked entirely on Ableton Live as DAW. Live has a very handy function that records all midi actions even if you’re not recording, it does it in background.
To me this has been a key point, as I could improvise for ages knowing I could edit all my sessions of piano to edit at a later stage.

For example in “The space between us” I had this piano theme turning in my head. I created the backing drone with guitars, as well as most of the little melodies that you can hear here and there, I then played the theme and started to build a groovy part…so back to the drone, I muted the piano, finished constructing the groove and added the bass. Once I was happy with that I played again the piano improvising on the theme.

I then leave the “finished” track for days – not listening, not working on it. And after a good mental space I go back to it with fresh ears for the final touches.

Would you say that good music is more about Art or Emotion? Or both? What elements make a piece of music particularly special for you?

For me it is mostly about emotion, I crave to feel something when I listen to music. You can be the most skilled player in the world, you could play thousands of notes per second, know every single micro detail of theory, orchestration and whatnot, but in the end if what you play doesn’t transmits feelings I’m not into it. There are loads of people who aren’t interested in this side of thing and more in the technical one. The perfect piece of music for me is a combination of the two, 70% Emotion 30% Art. I want and need to dream, fly, cry, get angry, smash things, destroy speakers when it comes to music. I’m interested in falling, endlessly. As long as the emotions are there that’s for me. It’s not a general rule however, it depends from music genre to music genre.

Do you ever feel that instrumental music misses words? Or does it create more impact to leave that space for the listener’s imagination?

Sometimes it does. I tried my best to replace “possible” singers with piano and guitars. Impact is created by emotions and sound. In the end it doesn’t matter if there’s a voice or not, as long as the sound is wrapping up you and your heart. It’s obvious that having a singer is more direct but there’s been so many great tracks without vocals that it really not does matter on a personal taste level.

What is your favourite guitar? Do you own one?

I have owned many guitars over the years. It’s a fever all guitar players have. You buy and sell guitars searching for that perfect tone that is playing only inside your head. In the end I discovered two that I absolutely love.

A Gibson Les Paul standard from 1981 and a baritone Nude Guitar with aluminium neck.
Baritone guitars became my main tool since 12 years, I love the deepness of sound they have, the suspension of frequencies they create. Nude Guitars are hand made in Italy one by one. They sport an aluminium neck that resonates like a dream and are really versatile and also when I play heavier music. I could never give up to these two guitars, they’re my sound now.

The closing track from the album: Near By Distance is dedicated to Robert Miles. Can you tell us more about that?

Robert and I were friends. We actually got in touch a long time ago, I think it was around 1996.
That track has been the one that I composed for this soundtrack – I mean the piano theme. The rest came when I started to arrange it. The more and more I listened to it, it was distantly reminding me of Robert’s melodies so in the end I thought it would be nice to dedicate it to him. I’d love to play him this song, to know what he thinks, but sadly I can’t. It’s not an homage, just a way of remembering a friend and a great artist.

How long did it take to make the album? Do you ever feel hurried or rushed in creating music, or is it a more naturally evolving thing? And how would you describe your studio’s environment?

The composition stage didn’t take too long, as after about one week I was so emotionally involved that things started to flow.
The arrangement took longer. I’m a a “freak” when it comes to sound and mix. I spend weeks and weeks changing small details, sounds, effects, and inevitably once a mix is done once I listen to it I always find something I’m not happy with. At some point I need to give myself a deadline.
I never felt pressed or pushed on anything. The production and the director left me total freedom to do whatever I was feeling that I wanted to do. My studio is very simple since I left Italy and moved to London. I was forced to shrink my environment. It’s a normal room with a Mac, subwoofer, speakers, loads of pedals and synths here and there. Boxes of effects, small noise machines, guitars etc etc. nothing fancy. It’s more a mad scientist’s laboratory than a studio. When I need to record acoustic instruments I use external studios.

And finally. Can you tell about any forthcoming plans for promoting the soundtrack and what you have in store for 2019?

I’m starting to think how to bring on stage this album. 2019 is going to be quite busy. There’s a new Blackwood EP coming out – the third Equations of Eternity chapter with Bill Laswell, a duo with bass clarinet wizard Gareth Davis, one with Markus Reuter from Stickmen, one with Japanese electronic artist Ken Ikeda and one with electronic wonder Nadia Struiwich, soundtracks, music for adverts and the beginning of some projects that will be disclosed at the right time.


Guido Schneider & Daniel Dreier – Liquid Summer EP – Opulence

Love this. Right from the moment the beats hit you know you’re in for a good time. Liquid Summer contains the sort of uber funkiness that you can’t help but move too. Its rolling, effortless grooves come primed with all sorts of atmosphere delights expanding across some ten minutes of mysterious temptation. Remixes come from an excellent Martin Buttrich who adds a darker mood to the equation with a grainy intensity, while reworking it all up on an equally great Sub Fire Dub. Second track, Behind The Curtain sequences an elastic grooviness that again sets the pulses racing with expectations. This time the drums are much tighter allowing space for an ambience that creates intrigue all the way down. Ostrich creates another first rate remix feeling moodier, exploring a startling array of sounds which are never less that totally compelling. Brilliant.

Release: December 16


Engyn – Jesus Pose – UNREEL

A brilliant, imaginatively precise piece of music from Engyn. Supplying the sort of caustic, grainy electronics that really espouse the word Soul for the 21st century this is a challenging, brutal yet brilliant sound which teases and tears at the edges of melody transporting you to wherever/ wherever. It’s accompanied by an excellent remix care of John Tejada who injects extra bass into the arrangement while channelling the pure, resilient, haunting essence of the original. Mirror Pyramid then twists a crazier sense of sound around undulating synthesizers and chugging bass to complete this stunning release.

Release: December 14


No Else – Ground Bwoys EP – Lemon-Aid

No Else aka Gábor Szeles works up a feverish intent with both of these new numbers for Dennis Cruz’s Lemon-Aid imprint. And once again they deliver plenty of attitude when it comes to sheer intensity. Opening with the heavy-duty funk of RockaRolla and its lippy Hip Hop voice announcing the title it’s all then down to the swinging, smoky groves which prove to be irresistibly frisky plus the heady rush of accompying sound. The even more direct Ground Bwoys follows with more of that same attitude driving the vocal, and the drums, on this just as fiery track.


VONDA7 – Wide Awake EP – W&O Street Tracks

Almost saving the best till last W&O let VONDA7’s killer statement of intent complete December’s festivities in all sorts of tempting ways. Up-tempo beats push this captivating production forward as hints of melody only enhance the experience, while the artists own voice delivers the message you need to hear. There’s something altogether urgent about it all which of course only adds to the anticipation, but that aside this is a distinctive, forming its own unique space, sort of release and as such deserves every praise. A Satisfying Choice, follows with twisted synth lines working their way around punchy drum machines amid suggestive voices, leaving the title track to reimagine a slice of 1980’s sleaze that hits hard and heavy with deep bass plus repeating electronic motifs creating dangerously compelling moods.

Release: December 14


Re.You – Lifting Me EP – connected

Another label to complete the year with further highs sees the brilliant Re.You supply connected with innovative, forward pushing ideas which cumulate into the stunning Lifting Me. Driven by tough, vigorous percussion and moody intonations – both vocal and synthesised – this feels certainly typically special. Next, Calisi revisits Chicago as hot basslines along with caustic keys rework the concept in truly funky directions, while more percussion is heaped upon the closing Calisi with excitable electronic sequences hotly contesting the spaces in-between. Looking forward to 2019.

Release: December 14


Senzala – Ratio EP – No.19 Music

Another killer release from the label this time has London duo Senzala deliver hot on the promise, percussion fuelled frenzy for your afterhours satisfaction. The title track does just that as funky rhythms incorporate atmospheric swirls of sound, amid punctuating drums, on this uncomplicated yet hard-hitting arrangement. Nitin & Alexi Delano then provide an excellent remix adding more juice to the bass and reworking the percussive elements. Next track, Virus follows a similar template while the throbbing drum machines plus shimmering Detroit stabs of Transmit end on an equally robust series of notes.

Release: December 14


Steve Miller (Afterlife) Q&A

Welcome back to Magazine Sixty, Steve. You are in the process of crowdfunding a vinyl release of your Afterlife album Speck Of Gold from 2003. So the first question is why have you decided to revisit that particular album in 2018?

Earlier this year I created a post on social media asking fans what they would like to see me release to celebrate 25 years of Afterlife in 2019. A sort of “Best of Afterlife” if you like. They all asked for it to be on vinyl and specified their favourite tracks, a lot of which were from the original Speck of Gold double album on CD. Even 15 years since its release it is still one of my top selling albums digitally so it made sense to be the first album in a vinyl format since Simplicity 2000. This release is Vol.1 only as with vinyl the maximum playing time per side for top quality is only 21 minutes max. If it proves popular then vol.2 with the remixes will follow. I thought it would be a nice touch to have gold vinyl rather than black. It was great to dig the premasters out of the archives and have them mastered with full dynamic range for vinyl only. These masters sound better than the originals.

And the second is talk us through the process of crowdfunding itself. Something which wasn’t an available option as such back in 2004?

Diggers Factory provide an elegant solution to producing short limited runs of vinyl. You specify a number of discs to be produced. They recommend a campaign period of 50 days to receive the pre orders. Once that amount is met then production starts and the wax is delivered to Juno Records for delivery to each customer. In this case I specified 200 copies. If pre orders do not reach that figure then everyone who ordered it will be reimbursed automatically.

What does Crowdfunding say to you about the breaking down of barriers between audience and artist and how each can now interact directly?

I think the concept of crowdfunding screams AUSTERITY loud and clear. In this case it helps cash strapped non mainstream artists and labels to still release vinyl which has expensive set up costs that may result in a huge loss if they misjudge their market. That’s OK for big labels to absorb but small labels can go bust. There’s a lot of talk about the resurgence of vinyl sales on the increase but the amount is still pitiful in comparison to digital downloads and streaming which is a shame because the sound quality on vinyl is just so much better. I have bought rare vinyl on this basis and when it arrives I get a warm feeling that I was part of a bunch of people that actually made it happen and treasure that.

Generally crowdfunding seems to be the new way for new ideas to become a reality via a populist vote unless you have a friendly bank manager or an investor that will want a share of the business. It’s a more transparent way of doing business and that can only be good.

What does the album’s title: Speck Of Gold signify? Why did you choose Cathy Battistessa in particular to sing it? And can you tell us about how you married the music to the vocal?

The track started as my reaction to the utter horror of the 911 attack. The world had become a very fearful place and I felt it was only the start of the madness to come. I began the original track the day after and it was incredibly dark hip hop.

Cathy and I had discussed writing a track together so I called her and said “I have this really dark track that needs the sunshine of your voice”. When she sent the vocal back with those pure, melancholic lyrics I realised that the backing track needed to be more hopeful, less despairing, to create the right amount of juxtaposition, so I rewrote the track from scratch working with the vocals as inspiration. Still too dark. Three attempts and two years later it was finally complete after at least 100 hours of studio time. Naturally it had to be the title track for my next album.

The original album featured a number of significant guests. Is there a certain track which you feel resonates more now than it did in 2004? Or did one of the collaborators capture something that has defied the time in-between?

It has to be the title track Speck of Gold. Right now the world is in so much trouble due to human greed and stupidity it resonates more than ever with the opening line “Hope is all we have, with each birth, every tear, we have hope”.

It’s time we put our differences aside once and for all and started living with compassion and intelligence. This world could be a beautiful place and we, at the moment, as custodians need to take responsibility for it.

And finally. What else have you been working on, are there any forthcoming plans you would like to share moving into 2019?

I am just working on the finishing touches of my next album called Everything Is Now which is scheduled for release on 7th June next year.



Eraldo Bernocchi – Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It – RareNoiseRecords

RareNoiseRecords co-founder, multi-instrumentalist and composer Eraldo Bernocchi has created a wonderfully evocative selection of music to accompany the new documentary on the life of celebrated American artist Cy Twombly: Cy Dear. It’s awash with rushes of delay and ambient reverberation which makes you feel a certain way. At times poignant, almost lost. At others warmer re-assuring reflecting life’s more gentle echoes. However, always pointedly meaningful. After all those haunting piano hits never fail but to probe inward. I guess what I love most is the sense that you don’t want it to end as each piece unfolds leading you casually astray in a sea of atmospherically charged emotion. We Had A Good Time, pulls at the heartstrings as it does the treated guitar and as much as anything else you will hear releases a yearning for more.

Release: November 30


Rai Scott – Detached Observation – Church

Rai Scott has created a series of tastefully resonating pieces of music for this latest release on Church. They grab hold of you and then expand your mind in differing directions. Perhaps that’s best via the melancholy orchestral pulses of Lazy Sunshine. Although, the intensity of Detached Observation with its rolling drums and swirling pads, or indeed the haunting disquiet of Paradise Crane both wrestle equally for your attention. There’s also a great remix of the later by Valentino Mora which teases and tears at the fabric of electronic sound in a most invigorating way.

Release: December 6