Four imaginations of sound occupy the space of Black Forest. A sometimes lonely existence that eloquently unfolds revealing a more open, rustic landscape. Drawing you in like a flame as embers disassociate and re-join lost memory in serene, almost spiritual ways. You get that strange sensation that in amongst all the intense waves of motion that something beautiful is escaping into your arms. All of which are simple thoughts received when listening to this joint venture of CHIHEI HATAKEYAMA & DIRK SERRIES, following on from their equally telling debut, The Storm Of Silence. There is of course an ambience to this but then again perhaps the longevity it strives for suggests Classical might be more of an appropriate word.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Alessandro. Your new album Algida Bellezza is a stunning piece of work which appears on the label you originally founded Glacial Movements. Can you recall the decision to name the imprint itself and why you choose that particular reference?
I would like first of all to thank you for this invitation and above all, thanks for the support that Magazine Sixty has always given to my label. I read your review of my album, and I must say that I am proud and obviously very happy that you enjoyed it so much. I made it with my (icy) heart and I hope it can also reach the hearts of the public. Glacial Movements is the connection, both mental and physical that I decided to create between man, woman and the cold and uncontaminated nature. Snow, winter, ice and mountains are a refuge from everyday life, a place where you can reflect and rediscover your “inner center”. Unfortunately it’s also a very current and dramatic topic. Ideally, and with the help of the artists I work with, GM tries to restore this delicate balance. The music of my productions travels in the ether, and I would like it very much if the ice contained in the sounds can somehow restore the ice cap. It would be really fantastic!
The album was created by using a Roland VP9000 alongside various effects. What is it about the hardware that appealed to you so much you wanted to make an album with it? And can you tell us about some of the favourite affects you used to mould the sounds?
This tool has infinite potential. Besides being a sampler, it allows to adjust the pitch and time of the sound in real time and to associate it with an excellent level of effects. Three banks effects can be activate or deactivate: different types of chorus, reverbs and a special effects section such as for example guitar and bass distortions, vocoders, delays, various types of noise, aged LP noises, radio effects and many more. Each effect has its own modifiable parameters which therefore completely distort the original sound. As if that were not enough, I connect the output of VP9000 to further effects of the Eventide series (Space and Time) that model the sound even more, making it more abstract and undeciphered. I also love synths and in fact I have an Alesis ION and I also want to buy soon a new Waldorf.
The album was inspired by the arrival of your daughter. How did the emotional roller-coaster of fatherhood translate into creating the music?
The birth of my daughter was the most beautiful and intense emotion I have ever experienced. The first few days were obviously full of emotions. It is not possible to explain what the meaning of being a parent is. You just have to try it. After leaving the hospital we returned to home and in the evening I held my newborn baby in my arms. I felt a new energy inside me and the only way to be able to externalize it was to turn on my instruments and let my emotions go free. I composed all the loops and various sounds within a few nights. Everything happened very naturally, nothing was forced and the sounds seemed to come out of the speakers without my contribution. I was simply the link between emotions and instruments. My daughter has always been there, so this album is completely dedicated to her. Without her “Algida Bellezza” would never have been composed. I then put the following thought in this regard: perhaps a parallel exists between the beauty, innocence and fragility of a newborn baby girl and that of the flora and fauna present in the fragile Arctic ecosystems? My answer is found in the 45 minutes of the album.
Algida Bellezza features an amazing photograph by Carsten Egevang on the cover. Can you tell us about the plight of the sled dog and why the animal holds a special place in your heart?
Carsten is a truly unique and exceptional photographer. In his catalog there are some wonderful photos, but amonstg all, this photo has a very strong impact. It cannot leave you indifferent. The delicacy and naturalness of the sled dog that shakes off the snow perfectly represents the meaning of my album. The purity of the animal is enveloped by the purity of the snow which in turn can connect to the purity of a newborn child. There is a very strong bond between these images … everything has a meaning and finds the right place in my thoughts. There is also another very important aspect regarding the photo that was taken in Greenland wich holds the Arctic’s largest remaining sled dog population. Unfortunately this population is close to extinction and this phenomenon is irreversible. I would also like to add that the entire digipack design – done by Rutger / Machinefabriek is gorgeous. I always entrust him with the task of executing high-level graphic projects.
Did you find not using drums a liberating experience while making the album? Where you ever tempted?
If I have to compose a more intimate and deep album, then I can’t think of using defined rhythmic sequences (although I must say, that in the song “Somniosus microcephalus” there is a continuous percussion that I have manipulated and suffused properly). The only time I experienced the rhythmic parts was on “Zastrugi”, for the techno / dub Iceberg series of the label. This album is perhaps the best combination of abstract and dilated sounds with those typical of certain techno music.
How would you describe the experience of listening to the album to someone who might be used to a more traditional structure of music with melody and instrumentation?
Nice questions! For the poor man, it could be a negative experience, in the sense that what I do has no reference points or even a clear and foreground melody. From time to time in the first song of the album, you hear the sound of a piano entering and vanish, but it is treated by various types of effects, and it is also the only recognizable element of the whole work. It could be destabilizing but I’m sure that it doesn’t leave you indifferent. Anyone involved in composing this kind of soundscapes could seem like a non-musician. In part this is true and in fact I don’t feel like a musician, but a sculptor of sound. I believe that this characteristic is not very well understood by those who have a more classical and traditional approach.
Who are you most important influences outside of electronic music? Are there any painters, writers etc you particularly admire?
Another beautiful question that would require a very long and detailed answer. Since I was a child, I have always been very attracted by mysteries and things that had no definite answer. During the course of my life I have had the opportunity to deepen my curiosity and to look for answers through the study of the ancient civilizations which have left a really impressive amount of informations. My approach to this methodology is not the scholastic and academic one, but rather that of an adventurer and revolutionary. I have a bookstore in which there are books on the Egyptians and their mysteries, the Sumerians, the ancient peoples of Central and South America. Books on Hermeticism and on Alchemy on Buddhism, Hinduism and Gnostic Christianity. Books on the various orders of chivalry, on the various mythologies of the whole world that all have the same matrix in common cannot be missing. For some years now I have been following Mauro Biglino’s books very closely, dealing with literary translations of the Old Testament. A new story about our origins is emerging from his works, which is also confirmed by biology, genetics by science in general. Besides him, I very willingly follow H.P. Lovecraft, Graham Hanchock, Robert Bauvall, Rene Guenon, Zecharia Sitchin, Gurdjeff and all those researchers and writers who go beyond the border. Who throw themselves into the abyss of the unknown in search of a glimmer of light.
The video for Orcinus orca was directed by Uršula Berlot & Sunčana Kuljiš Gaillot. What attracted you to their work and how would you describe the refection of the music created via moving images?
I met Uršula and Sunčana because a few years ago because they made the presentation video for the “The Great Crater” by Scanner (album on GM). I really liked the organic nature of their video, and I wanted to repeat it also on “Orcinus orca”. They had a free hand on everything, and accepted my proposal with great enthusiasm. Based on my piece they have composed and made the video organic. I think it’s perfect, and that was exactly what I wanted to achieve. They are really very good and we will probably work again in the future.
And finally. Can you share with us any future plans for the label and yourself as an artist?
Absolutely. I have already planned the next two years of record releases. Towards the end of 2019 I will produce the second chapter of Machinefabriek “Stillness Soundtracks II” whose sounds accompanied the images of Esther Kokmeijer’s Antarctic travel / research. The package will contain a booklet full of wonderful images of Antarctica. Then it will be the turn of “Ten Times the World Lied” a new album by my friend and great artist Brock Van Wey / bvdub that – for the first time ever – will not contain any vocalization, but only ethereal and glacial sounds. The second collaboration between the Belgian artist Dirk Serries and the Japanese Chiehi Hatackeyama will then be produced. Both had made the beautiful and now sold out album “The storm of silence” years ago. Another great Japanese artist – Toshinori Kondo – together with Eraldo Bernocchi and myself, will be the protagonist of the “Palaoa” album which is now nearing completion. This is a very special album as the sound of his wonderful trumpet blends with the manipulated oceanic recordings from the Antarctic “Palaoa” base. It is the only hydroacoustic observatory in the immediate vicinity of the Antarctic continent. In the recordings are therefore present underwater animal sounds, the noise of ice blocks and Antarctic storms. Then there will be publications by Aria Rostami & Daniel Blomquist, Erik Levander, Serga Kasinec, Eliphas Vega and many others.
As for me personally finally, after several years of waiting, I realized my dream: to have a studio of my own where I can combine all my passions, music, record label, books and the whole collection of my CDs. On the walls of the studio I designed geometric peaks of snow-capped mountains to give them that glacial touch. I can’t really ask for much more than this!