In a process where water is a conductor and you are a spectator, where nature does not teach (it has already taught too much) but is (and you have to listen to it), it is not necessary to do but to let it go. And that’s what Max Casacci does, abandoning the classic instrument for a while (tool that accompanies him, for example, in his work with Subsonica). Letting the natural sounds "lead" this time, starting a new musical project called Watermemories, a project presented, for the first time, on Sunday 13 October in Biella, at the inauguration of Arte al centro, a review of Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto.
A long but, above all, unexpected process, that of Watermemories: from a trip with family and friends, accompanied by the simple curiosity to discover this "wonderful place", along the rivers in Northern Piedmont (more specifically in the city of Biella) to a software called Logic, to compose the whole. A software that is a constructor to elaborate and then finalize what, he tells us, must have an "emotional resonance", come to be "a story". A software that should be used with caution, because "it is too easy to let it become something else" and because nature is "already perfect" and "taught us everything".
Water is a walk, while its recorder, called hydrophone, with the one of Luca Saini (HatiSuara) are the only support tools. In addition to the camera, a must for Max's friend and a Tibetan bell to protect the silence from the wind. A project that sees the light after other remarkable successes in the field of musical experimentation, the last of which Glasstress, with Daniele Mana (Vaghe Stelle) who transformed a Murano glass furnace into a rhythmic object. Conceptuality is not sacrificed, never, but "it was good to be carried away by the flow".
In addition to the recordings made in Biella, Barra d’aria by Giuseppe Penone and the hissing of kettles from the work of art by Pistoletto, Orchestra di stracci, were also made available to the work. One, located inside Cittadellarte and pointing towards the stream that flows in Biella, the Cervo, generates a low note, similar to the cello, which "may, perhaps, represent the soul of the waters", the another is a gurgle of kettles that has become an imaginary, exotic, sacred instrument. What distinguishes Max Casacci's journey, however, is his motive: the discovery that is and must be a source and result of itself. What purpose, what outcome must art have, in fact, if not the ultimate goal of the discovery itself? What can it be, if not a "narrative connection necessary to make things exist"? From this project and this research that "brings out how much more musicality you have in front of you" tells us, "you quickly become addicted" because "facing what you don't know, that's where you find yourself discovering your musical nature" and "it is a feeling of fundamental bewilderment."
From 11 October Watermemories will be available on digital platforms. The work, called sound work, draws inspiration from the memory of water. How does it develop?
First of all, Watermemories is divided into two parts. The first track, that has the same name, exclusively made with rocks and noise of the water, without any instrument, which represents the widest section, and the rest, the second moment, created with the sounds produced by incredible limestone rocks, encountered on the cliffs in Kozo, on the little sister island of Malta, already known in antiquity and used for rituals or why not, by primitives as jubeboxes. The second version, that of the jubebox, I have to say it, seems to me the most fascinating one! These rocks emit noises even without apparent cavities, they emit, even if weakly, sounds. The incredible thing is that with this friend of mine, who besides being a sound healer is a photographer and a director, we found ourselves on these rocks to beat them in front of a goal with no purpose whatsoever, for pure pleasure ours, aligning the sounds and... Well, we discovered that these rocks were in tune with each other, they formed a sort of natural orchestra. As the limestone, according to the famous Pintuccio Sciola (sculptor and musician who worked for many years on stones and sounds), keeps the memory of water, this seemed to me a nice appendix for a concept entitled Watermemories.
A few days ago, the video of the second "movement" has come out: its title is Ta'cenc. I'm curious. Can you explain it to us?
In Maltese language, Ta’Cenc is the name of a place, of a cliff of 150 meters above the sea. The title is a place, we haven't found another one yet. It is already so beautifu! It seems, among other things, that these rocks were already used a century before Stonehenge.
How is it, technically and materially, "playing rocks"?
The thing I like the most about this experience of extracting music from natural elements, from noise, from random sounds is that your approach necessarily changes every time. In that case, we had heard of this place, we brought families and children, leaving them on the beach and we climbed. The only thing we had was a digital recorder, a must-have for my friend Luca, a camera and a Tibetan bell, knowing it was a very windy area, to protect the digital recorder from wind noise. We picked up some stones on the ground and started playing them. We had no sticks or objects of any kind, we followed what we had around and we started to play it. The beauty is to bring out as much musicality from the things in front of you.
The piece was made exclusively with the sound of calcareous rocks (imperceptibly sound) capturing sounds and noises of the water of Biella, from the sources to the streams passing through ancient sacred places and more recent sanctuaries, up to to get to the blades that have transformed the power of water into energy for work. This is not the first time that you approach this type of experimentation with sound in the meditative, dream-like and spiritual sphere. How does his approach change for example from Glasstrass (expressive technique put into practice with Daniele Mana - Vaghe Stelle - who will receive the compliments of Pharell Williams) to Watermemories?
This is just the beauty of this experience and it is perhaps the reason why I feel the need to undertake them: the approach necessarily varies and leads me to always experiment with others. In fact, it necessarily depends on the environment you find yourself approaching. The first approach is a conceptual approach (the risk is to feel lost) and the second is the exclusively musical instinct, which for me is the most important, which does not require a theoretical formulation and which must be usable by all. Facing what you don't know, that's where you find yourself discovering your musical nature, it's a feeling of loss that is fundamental to test yourself from a musical point of view.
Sunday 13 October the entire sound work will be presented in Biella on the occasion of the twenty-first edition of the review "Art at the Center" of Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto. What do you expect from the public? Do you think he will welcome this new experimentation?
First of all, this work gets its completed form in the same place, a space created within the path of the Cittadellarte, headquarters of Michelangelo Pistoletto who decided to complete the experience with one of his works. It is a multisensory, immersive fruition, an extremely relaxing place also, because among other things that is a bit the symbol of this transformation that he wanted to give to the path, the importance that water had for history of Biella and that not everyone knows. Sound, yes, but not only that: it is not that you go to see a concert, it is a work that will remain stable in this space. I believe that people who know me through other musical experiences will not feel anything repulsive, also because I always try to give a complete musical form which does not require any effort to get in touch with the listener, and not just conceptual and theoretical. It is something that must capture you, I apply it both when I write the songs, and when I work at the production of music, which can be more or less pop or underground: everything must have a form of its own even for those who are not literate specifically. What is certain is that the fact of knowing that something that seems almost an orchestral piece is all recorded starting from elements like water, involves you much more, but it must not be an element without which you cannot enjoy the experience.
Do you want to talk about Biella?
Biella (and not all Biellesi know it), in the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century was the city of water in Europe. In fact, nobles and bourgeoisie arrived from all sides for the famous "lighter water". It was a real destination, there was a whole activity linked to the spa and to the treatments with water. Another thing they told me is that the chemist Avogadro formulated the bases that then led to the H20 chemical formula during a stay in Biella. Unexpectedly, Biella becomes the city of water. It is nice that Michelangelo (Pistoletto) thanks to Cittadellarte unveils, bring to light this story of Biella, which helps the Biellesi to fish out of their memory (and this, among other things, is reunited in Watermemories). They then told me that the quality of the Biella textile was very closely linked to the quality of the water. Last but not least, I discovered that washing dishes in Biella is really difficult!
How did you meet HatiSuara, the sound healing duo born in Bali in 2013, founded by visual artist Luca Saini and Mariacristina Busso?
With Luca Saini we have known each other for a long time, being a photographer and director, I even involved him for a video clip of a piece by Subsonica called Eden. More recently, he has made a video clip for the Demonology Hi-Fi project, a project that I also share with the Subsonica drummer and recently, only recently Luca undertook this journey with these instruments such as the gong, creating sessions of acoustic massage and using music as a healing element. He is very attached to extremely spiritual aspects and, in reality, the collaboration with him is born out of pure chance. We were together in Gozo on vacation with our respective families, he comes to find out from another person who is interested in the existence of these rocks and talks to me about it. Let's do an inspection! We understand that the rocks, hit with other rocks, sound. We record a metronome to make sure that one of the two starts a rhythmic movement, gives one stimulus to the other, from the point of view that they are synchronized between them to then be superimposed. We make ourselves two hours with the sun going down, wearing sandals and a bathing suit, without ever thinking that we would have made a piece of music or a video! When we get home, we find, realigning the sound files on my software, that the stones are tuned together. It is an incredible blow of astonishment, even the stones create overlapping agreements one on the other. From this simple picnic we understand that we have the material to structure something and we decide to do it. Let's say that perhaps randomness, chance does not exist: Michelangelo asks for a passage on the memory of water, in the meantime I have become a little more passionate about the sound material linked to stones, I deepen Pinuccio Sciola, this sculptor who worked his whole life on the sound of stones and ... A perfect square is created. Michelangelo sees this video and gets passionate, he tells me that he wants it absolutely in the spaces of Cittadellarte and then, from there, everything finds its own form.
No need to say it, I imagine that music, or at least experimentation has to you to be taken from the natural element. Is it for art in general? To make art, have you to be inspired by an already perfect nature, or is it art to corroborate and make nature perfect?
The art completes that necessary part of the story to make things exist. I have always been fascinated by this very famous book by Bruce Chatwin which is called Le vie dei canti, the story of the shamanic experience of some shamans of the Borneo who walk every year on pilgrimage sites, walking, singing… Because the places, only once sung can really exist. It is a metaphor for the fact that places, if things do not come to tell, do not exist. Art is the element of narrative connection necessary to make things exist. This could be, if not the only, at least one of the exciting readings of the function of art.
What do you think of music that, on the contrary (a bit like Esthetism, the antagonist of Verism and Naturalism that meant the goal of creative work as a representation of itself and not of nature) to define itself "experimental" distance itself, as much as possible, from nature?
I worked with noises in different directions. Two years ago I realized an album in which, together with an electronic musician named Mana, we recorded all the sounds of our city, that is Turin, and for a week, day and night, we transformed this whole sound world (which is not a natural world, but it is natural for us who have it in our ears since we were children) in a rhythmic body to give life to a jazz album. We have transformed the whole city, somehow, into a jazz drum. As in jazz, drums represent urban frenzy. We created this rhythmic structure calling to play among the best European jazz musicians (who then reside in Turin) who are Emanuele Cisi (who also composed the songs for us), Enrico Rava, Ginaluca Petrella, Furio di Castri, Flavio Boltro... This to say that the world of the noises you encounter accidentally, whether they are of nature or mechanical, city artifacts, contain a musicality that I like to go exploring, extrapolating and, somehow, transforming. Having these two elements now, I would like to complete a path and create an album, without the use of instruments, with sounds recorded by nature. Even the suggestions that Michelangelo Pistoletto gives with the formulation of his "Third Paradise" (a work that unites the two circles of Infinity and a third circle), which represents the need of man has through the artifice to reconnect with nature to save the place where we live, interest me a lot right now.
Is there anything we can learn from nature, today more than ever?
I would say that we have learned everything from nature. Think of us musicians! Only the first lesson of music in middle schools taught us that wind instruments were suggested by the wind that played through the reeds and produced sounds... I still remember on a vacation in Martinique awakened by the exuberance of the chirping tropical birds near the window, in my slumber I thought that those chirps, those syncopated sounds could only be at the origin of the most typical music of Central America, of Africa, in fact very rhythmic and syncopated too, because they had very similar rhythmic structures. Perhaps, rather than "learn", what we should do today is to reflect on what nature has taught us. Even our artistic experiences of a figurative type, from the aesthetic point of view, perhaps can only aspire to emulate the colors, the wonder of nature that she herself generates, precisely, in its forms and colors. Dwelling on this aspect is already a nice way to get in touch, to recreate the proportions between us that are an accessory in the nature of this planet, and nature itself.
In a previous interview (for distopic.it) you state that yours is a generation of "hood and swords" and that, in this sense, you have much more in common with the twenties and thirties than with the current forties, the Generation X. Can you tell us why?
The hood and sword element are a typical element of our generation. I belong to that narrow generational band born a little under the rubble of the shattering of dreams of the previous one, that is of the generation of the 1960s. We arrived later, the signs of shattering, dispersion and disillusion were evident. But something about that impetus has remained with us, together with the fact that we had to build the references ourselves. We, somehow, had to build our own dimensions, a bit like we were "without fathers", without references but with a great desire to do. I believe that the next generation, the one born and raised in the 90s, has found a more comfortable scenario, with a greater wealth of proposals, with a future not mined, not threatened like the one we had at the time, which is then the same that we find today in twenties and thirties. We are united by the same spirit of "do it by yourself" to say it in the Anglo-Saxon manner, in having to build everything by ourselves, including the coordinates for the future, clearly drawing on energies and a necessary desire to do, and build what perhaps the previous generation was not stimulated to have. Personally, I find myself really in tune with the guys who are half of my age. I lived their own things, I understand them, I intercept them.