Enrico Coniglio – SONOSPACE 2017
Recorded in Lanzarote on march 2016 using binaural microphones and a cheap digital recorder.
Thanks to Rachele for helping me on site and to Nicola Di Croce for supporting my work.
Dedicated to all pepole suffering from Hodophobia.
CUT AND RUN
Enrico Coniglio’s most recent release is a result of his trip to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands in 2016. Departing from the layered and sequentially arranged fields of much of his work (Astrùra
are both prime examples of that method), Aʻā
is instead comprised of two rather short field recordings. While the dynamics and content of each piece are different, both their recording on “binaural microphones and a cheap digital recorder” and the binary nature of their content binds them together.
To the first point. Purposeful distortion obviously has a long history in contemporary music. Early precursors include Junior Barnard’s and Goree Carter’s over-driven blues and rock guitar from the late 1940s.
The idea of accentuating an existing melody by reducing its fidelity eventually bred attempts to produce audio content via that method itself – I imagine there are much earlier examples, but one that continues to stand out for me personally (all the more so in its distinction from the majority of her subsequent recordings), is Pauline Oliveros’s A Little Noise In The Systemfrom 1967. It is all the more impressive given its composition on a Moog system – a device largely used at the time for noodly space-age synth wonkery.
By the era of bedroom- and synth-pop throughout the 1980s, incidental distortion had gained its own sort of credibility (justifiably or not) as a mark of independence or authenticity and a rejection of the polished consumerist artifice of studio recording . Note that this was largely an incidental reversal of the role of distortion in those early works of Barnard’s and others; themselves an attempt to instrumentally reproduce and capitalize on the raw and gravely sound of blues vocalists’ popular in the era. Most recently, it’s appeared in the simple(-istic) romanticism of lo-fi house, which may have arrived as a natural evolution of vaporwave. Like any artistic practice, the use of distortion has cycled between the avantgarde and the fashionable. Somewhere in the last decade and a half, it finally found its place in field recording.
In contemporary field recording practice the technique has focused on purposefully (and often heavily) obfuscated soundscapes, frequently of a journalistic or diaristic form. Dakim’s release on Senufo Editions comes to mind.
This approach typically unfolds as a single unedited recording of the artist (given their typically urban habitat, often literally) ‘in transit’, using, for example: poorly manufactured piezo mics stuffed in their pocket; ambient noise bleeding into tangential conversations with friends; bootlegs of odd concerts, and so on. Another less common approach would be typified by Toshiya Tsunoda’s formal experimentation with location and landscape – placing microphones in such radical configurations as to alter the sound of very often mundane soundscapes to the point of near-unrecognizability – or alternately, framing a sound event so specifically as to locate/create a subsequent or nested event.
Enrico Coniglio’s Aʻā, on the other hand is a publication of singular soundscapes with a focused narrative using sub-par recording devices. To varying degrees the devices themselves colour the recordings. Particularly in the case of ‘Famara’ however, they also add a fair amount of the track’s content. Obviously the effect here is more subtle than most of the previous examples, but they serve as a reminder of the tension between low fidelity’s use as an aesthetically pleasing or political tool versus it’s recognition simply as a contributor to total harmonic distortion and an aberration to be reduced as much as possible. (Or, in any of a variety of idiosyncratic listening politics, eliminating noise in every element of a production/re-production system except for a limited set of conditions often determined by social fashion – for example, driving electrostatic speakers with a vacuum tube amplifier).
Which is all to say that I suspect I am not the only listener to first read Coniglio’s reference to a ‘cheap digital recorder’ as apologetic. After further listening, it seems the nature of the recordings themselves present the listener with two possible narratives, either: Coniglio has decided that the characteristics of the digital recording reinforces and/or recontextualizes the events themselves, or; he tacitly accepts that the sonic qualities of the events outweigh the loss of fidelity he was to inevitably introduce. I would argue that both narratives are at play for each track in their respective order.
‘Famara’ is a short recording of the eponymous beach at the north end of Lanzarote. As the sonic qualities of such an environment tend towards drone, the listener has the time and space to deconstruct the tonal and timbral development of the piece. As such, it is becomes evident that the modulations and harmonic overtones of the sea’s swells crashing on the beach are enhanced to a focal point within the work’s range by the recording equipment itself. The rather claustrophobic dynamic range (dominated by mid-low frequencies) is offset slightly by the hiss of what is either/both the frothy leading edge of the waves on the beach or of the pre-amps – it seems the former for most of the recording until the last minute and a half when the microphones are re-positioned relative to the sea. In its loss of stereo balance, the latter becomes more apparent – suggesting it may have been both all along. Through some combination of environment and technique, the result is a near textbook example of Brownian noise.
‘Teguise’ is so-named after the municipality in which Famara beach is found and is a slightly confounding recording of what is clearly an artificial environment. The first recognizable sounds are akin to shoes on a polished wooden floor, and while the most likely scenario is some sort of team practice in an indoor gym, not only is there a complete lack of vocals over its nearly 11 minute length, but there is also a cascade of odd sounds that can only be described as muted horns. Ironically, the audio fidelity of the recording of an artificial event seems higher than that of the natural one on ‘Famara’. It may be partly due to the stochastic nature of the sounds on ‘Teguise’ themselves – the listener must reckon with their timing and spatial location before engaging with their timbres and qualities. It is an exciting and engaging listen. Were I to encounter ‘Famara’ on its own, I wouldn’t give it much thought. It finds a more distinctive purpose alongside ‘Teguise’, however, as the latter offers a striking counterpoint to the former’s muddy dynamics, phasing drone structure, and narrow stereo array.
While I’ve made much ado about one of the only liner notes provided and some subtle sound qualities, there are other aspects of the work to explore. Coniglio states the work is “dedicated to all people suffering from Hodophobia,” which may lend itself to interpretations, personal or otherwise, beyond the mere fact that they are recordings from away. Any considerations in this regard should take note of the fact that Lanzarote is a popular tourist destination. The title itself, Aʻā, refers to the Hawaiian name for a specific type of slow-moving lava, the surface of which has cooled enough to produce small glassy crusts producing a rather remarkable sound as if flows, which may be beneficially compared to Coniglio’s recordings.
While the Canary islands are indeed volcanic, they are also frequently referred to in tourism marketing as ‘Europe’s Hawaii’. Perhaps a joke?
All in all, Enrico Coniglio has presented a short but worthwhile listen on Sonospace, available at Bandcamp.
Visioni di un’isola condensate in due racconti accomunati dalla consistenza materica evidente. Ci racconta due aspetti notevolmente differenti di Lanzarote Enrico Coniglio
, utilizzando il suoni del territorio stesso ricombinati assecondando le sensazioni ad esso riferite.
“Famara” è l’essenza del margine, della fascia in cui il mare si scontra con la terra sprigionando un’energia in costante deflagrazione. Il suono è denso, impenetrabile, modulato nella sua intensità da un vento invisibile eppure percepibile. È la natura che domina celebrando la sua potenza e annullando ogni traccia umana.
“Teguise” con la sua crepitante tensione conduce verso l’interno, distante dal primeggiare degli elementi che qui risultano sovrastati da suoni artificiali che riconducono alla durezza della civiltà. Il flusso è accidentato, irregolare e saturo di profonde asperità.
Enrico Coniglio explores vast unknowable spaces on the fantastic journey of “Aʻā”. Akin to a choir of various found sounds the songs positively teem with life. Textures have a tactile approachable quality to them as they reveal a great deal of nuance. By taking on such a loose, improvised feeling the songs additionally embrace elements of near silence for the subtle qualities that come with repetition. During the album, Enrico Coniglio allows the main action of the tracks to recede in and out of focus. Melody, rhythm, these appear only sporadically throughout the two extended cuts for the greatest importance is placed upon the journey of the collection.
“Famara” sets the tone for the collection. At first the embrace of the drone becomes critical as the gray-scale textures dominate the track. Upon deeper listening it reveals an appreciation for the natural world. Deeply soothing the song presents a celebratory spirit, one that shines within the small distinctions of the greater unknown. By the time the song moves away from the literal wash of sound it becomes quite meditative, reflective almost upon the gigantic space that the piece takes up. Far more anxious in its approach “Teguise” ends things with great tension. Various squeaks and stabs of high-pitched noises dominate the recording. With everything in great flux the song has an unstable quality, one that hints at potentially noisier terrain.
On “Aʻā” Enrico Coniglio lets an entire world take shape, one that feels full of surprises and unexpected gestures.
Enrico Coniglio w/ Daniele Goldoni & Lisa La Pietra – CALAMITA/À 2015
“M” is a composition based on 3 ambient pieces specifically conceived for CALAMITA/À.
Enrico Coniglio, guitars, e-bow, banjo, computer programming, outboard gears
Daniele Goldoni, trumpet
Lisa La Pietra, vocals
Illustration by Caterina Gabelli (Studio Fludd)
Enrico Coniglio – Impulsive Habitat 2014
Recordings made at an olive oil mill site on the hills a few kilometers from the charming town of Assisi, Umbria (Italy). Special thanks to the nuns of Monastero Benedettino di Sant’Anna, Bastia Umbra, and Frantoio Le Vecchie Macine, Tordibetto. Coordinates are 43°05’33.9″N 12°34’48.5″E.
“C’era un tronco dalle ricche fronde, d’ulivo, dentro il cortile, florido, rigoglioso; era grosso come una colonna: intorno a questo murai la stanza, finché la finii, con fitte pietre, e di sopra la copersi per bene, robuste porte ci misi, saldamente commesse”. Omero (Odissea, XXIII, vv. 184-204)
“A long-leafed olive tree, strong and vigorous, and thick as a pillar, grew in the courtyard. I built my room of solid stone around it, finished it off with a fine roof, and added tight-fitting timber doors”. Homer (The Odyssey, XXIII, vv. 184-204)
All recordings made with Soundman Binaural microphones. Please use headphones for the best result.
This work is dedicated to my wife Rachele.
CUT & RUN
While the former focused on the alienating mechanical rhythms of factory farming, this release broadens the scope to a more cultural and holistic approach. With more traditional fields alongside machines droning harmonically, Coniglio manages to make the mundane nature of food processing sound rather more interesting.
A CLOSER LISTEN
A compact yet effective recording, OlivElegy
is both a tribute to the olive oil industry and a romantic gesture. Recorded in an olive mill near the holy town of Assisi, the work is dedicated to Coniglio’s wife Rachele; one imagines it may have been accompanied by a bottle of olive oil!
The aural document is a relatively new way to approach a subject. One could read about olives (recommended: Julie Angus’ 2014 tome Olive Odyssey: Searching for the Secrets of the Fruit that Seduced the World) or enroll in a cooking class, but the quickest crash course is likely this sonic love letter. Beginning outside the mill, Coniglio collected the sounds of the first scraps, collected in a large metal tank; what sounds like rain is instead the sound of the pump at work. Proceeding inside, he then captured the sound of the machines, and more importantly, the sound of local people at work. Their joyful laughter sets the tone for the entire piece, while the ringing of phones suggests the busyness of the day. When the mill’s main machine is turned on, all conversation ceases; the sound increases in pitch and density, like a plane about to lift off. Eventually the sound evens out, suggesting normalcy, albeit a normalcy that might require the daily use of sound-dampening gear.
OlivElegy is an overview that serves as a snapshot of the mill. The olives are cured and rinsed, pitted and eventually canned, although the piece doesn’t take us all the way through the process. When the machines are turned off, gentle conversation seeps in, along with additional laughter; while it may not make the listener hungry for olives, it produces a wave of good will toward the industry, which comes across as pleasant and personal. It’s always heartwarming to imagine that the food one eats has been prepared by happy hands.
The abrupt beginning and end suggest a larger set of captured sounds; a longer recording would be welcome, perhaps a full-length soundscape. On the other hand, a love letter is often best brief; one need not write a novel in order to express affection, and Coniglio has clearly expressed his own, both for his wife and for the mill. Who knew field recordings could be so romantic? [Richard Allen]
ACL 2015: Top Ten Field Recording & Soundscape
This audio documentary captures the process of time-honored artisanal production of olive oil, a product which since ancient times has been deeply linked to the character of Italy and its people. On OlivElegy one encounters the sounds of olives being collected, the churning of the mill, the sound of machines as the oil is pressed. And importantly one hears the joyous sound of the workers, inseparable from the process. The machines create rich, engrossing drones, with pulsing low ends and slow polyrhythmic clicking that exceed documentary purposes and that are sonically interesting on their own. Significantly, this mill is located just a few kilometers from the city of Assisi (as in Saint Francis, the namesake of the current Pope), and is operated by the nuns from nearby monasteries. Created using binaural microphones, OlivElegy must be listened to with headphones to conjure the feeling of being there. But despite the realism of the stereo effect there is a musical, narrative quality in the framing and composition of these recordings that one would expect from an artist of Coniglio’s talents. [Joseph Sannicandro]
Enrico Coniglio’s “OlivElegy” has love for its surroundings. Adhering to the idea that ‘music is everywhere’ the sounds are incredibly tactile. Indeed his slights of hand are so great the song can oftentimes disorient the listener. Enrico Coniglio gets incredibly close to his sounds. By taking this approach he is able to immerse the listener into his own peculiar sonic universe. Edits within the piece at times can be quite jarring as sudden decreases in volume are thrown into to sort of ease the listener out of the territory. Industrial churn opens up the piece. Spinning around in a giant metal vat has rarely sounded so good. From the physical sound of the machines Enrico Coniglio slowly moves away from the machine letting it naturally fade out of the mix. Going further out into the territory the churn becomes a distant hum. Lots of people lots of various tools working together to reveal the sound of creation. When the machines turn off nearly completely that is when Enrico Coniglio focuses on those who make the machines run, the assorted bits of conversation and yells. Returning to the machines again he gets into more aggressive aural landscapes. On the final moments of the pieces Enrico Coniglio goes for an abrupt edit. Now far away from the machines he appears to be out in the fields. Minor noises rule this territory though on nowhere near the same level.
From machinery to humanity Enrico Coniglio’s sonic explorations are beautiful.
Enrico Coniglio – Green Field Recordings 2013
‘Sabbion’ is a soundscape composition based on recordings made in the lagoon of Venice, using binaural and hydrophonic microphones. The composition is built in a very schematic way: the first part consists in the recording of the propeller of a small boat moving toward St. Erasmo island; the second is the recording of a semi-submerged pipeline along the shore (same site, over and under the water) and the third is made in a shrubby area on the southeast embankment of the island. ‘Sabbion’ is the name of the sandy bottom, homogeneous and consistent, typical of the surrounding areas at the inlets of the lagoon.
While on the subject of Water, this free download from the portuguese Green Field Recordings
netlabel (focussing mainly on pure field recordings) should not go unnoticed. This relatively short work features recordings made in the Venice lagoon (Coniglio’s ‘natural habitat’), using binaural and hydrophonic microphones, but feels like a composition in three parts: “the first part consists in the recording of the propeller of a small boat moving toward St. Erasmo island; the second is the recording of a semi-submerged pipeline along the shore (same site, over and under the water) and the third is made in a shrubby area on the southeast embankment of the island.” ‘Sabbion’ is the name of the sandy bottom, homogeneous and consistent, typical of the surrounding areas at the inlets of the lagoon.
‘Sabbion’ is a tactile work. Literally every little detail sounds completely pristine. His hand remains hidden in what is edited and what remains the same. ‘Sabbion’ adheres nicely to John Cage’s idea that ‘Music is all around us’. Brief flourishes of Enrico’s hand can rarely be seen. At moments the piece plays like an industrial version of Luc Ferrari’s Presque Rien particularly the ‘Le Lever Du Jour Au Bord La Mer’ section. Water is the core of this piece, letting it sound relatively buoyant, even cartoonish. Weird noises introduce the piece. It is unclear if the sound comes from machinery or from insects. Judging from the later sounds it is most likely machinery. Swirls of the water make themselves more and more prominent. Eventually that loud noise is mixed out of the system, submerged under water. What remains is the swirl which suddenly pops out of the water. For a moment at the four minute mark it feels as if Enrico has emerged out of the water for the first time. Now the machine noises are far more prevalent. Construction machinery mixes with the natural bobs of the waves. Halfway into the piece everything else appears to drop out leaving only the water’s weird noises. At the nine minute mark Enrico throws a total curve ball. Gone is the quiet meditative nature of the piece. Noise dominates. The field recording appears to continue as a dog can be heard barking far in the background. Water swirls around the piece. By the very end the piece reaches a sudden high climax before it slowly fades out. This is a strange piece of work yet surprisingly visceral considering its origins.
THE FIELD REPORTER
There have been several studies by field recordists into the various tonalities of water – Enrico Coniglio’s latest work “Sabbion” may be one of the finest to join this body. Coniglio’s subject is the lagoons of his hometown, Venice. The title “Sabbion” refers to the sandy bottom that is characteristic of the Venetian tidal lagoons. The title, though providing context, does little to convey the poetry that Coniglio extracts from its depths. Running at just over 14 minutes “Sabbion” is composed of three sections. The first of these features the steady motorised whirr of a boat as it sets off towards St. Erasmo Island. From this early section it is obvious that Coniglio knows his subject well. A lifetime of listening to the Venetian aquatic environment has enabled Coniglio to present sounds that are far from predictable. As the boat progresses to St. Erasmo Island the movement of water against its hull trickles in a light glissando while hydrophones inform the listener of the deeper engine sounds that prevail underwater. It is a perfect balance of pitch and timbre. The boat arrives at St. Erasmo Island. Once the site of an 8th century port it is now a sparsely populated agricultural locale whose produce feeds much of Venice. The tranquillity of this island in comparison to central Venice is reflected through Coniglio’s discovery of quiet sounds being emitted from a half-submerged pipe. Water from the lagoon laps inside it creating an airy gurgling effect. Time is lost. Once the boat-traffic quietens we are left alongside the pipe as waves gently move in and out of its circumference. It is a curious sound, one made through the combination of industrial and natural elements. The final section is introduced with a sudden increase in volume. We hear the rustle of plant-life as it sways in the wind, a dog barks in the background and the engine of a passing boat emerges from the far reaches of the lagoon. We are away from the sounds of the aquatic – the intimacy of the previous sections is broken. Images of Venice are so prevalent in popular culture that we could be forgiven for thinking that we already know its canals, piazzas, churches and bridges. However Coniglio presents us with an alternate vision, a sonic portrait of the very water that sustains, and threatens to destroy, this great city. With so many dominant sounding objects at his disposal Coniglio has instead amplified the minutiae of Venice, the tiny melodies and rhythms of water that normally go unnoticed. It is an intimate and unique portrait of both place and matter by a talented field recordist and composer. “Sabbion” is a work that deserves our closest attention. [Jay-Dea Lopez]
Enrico Coniglio – many.feet.under 2013
‘Koumpounophobia’ is a long-drone track made with guitar and laptop, recorded live-in-studio on 2010 using my “Lovedrone” Ableton Live set. Thanks to dramavinile and akamoi. Artwork by dramavinile. Buttons are so scary at times.
THE VIRGIN AND THE PLAGUE
Enrico Coniglio – Crónicaster 2011
Going with my binaural mics on the 21st November 2010 to the Basilica of St Mary of Health (in italian “Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute”) at Punta della Dogana (Venice-Italy), during the typical feast-day. Thousands of people visit the main altar of the church to give thanks to the Virgin Mary and ask to keep them in good health. The church was built in 1631 after the Senate decided to honor the Virgin Mary of Health for delivering Venice from a plague.
This is just a composition of raw recordings take with binaural microphones. From the minute 0 to 5:50 about I’m walking over the “Ponte votivo”, a temporary bridge set up on barges over the Grand Canal, and then through narrow streets until to reach the church and enter in the middle of the hall. From the minute 5:50 to 8:50 about I’m walking slowly through the crowd towards the main altar and then behind, to sit on the “coro” stalls where people stop, pray and pass in front a Vergin Mary icon. From the minute 08:50 about, you can hear a serie of recordings of prayers and organ tunes.
SONGS FROM RUINED DAYS
Enrico Coniglio – Spire/Touch 2010
The present release by the Touch label’s SPIRE, is a long-drone track mostly based on recordings made in Porto Marghera, a big industrial coastal area on the mainland of Venice, Italy (Winter 2009), now largely on disposal and afflicted by a severe economic and environmental crisis. Part of this work was originally used for a sound work in the Antares pavilion of VEGA Park (VEnice GAteway for science and technology) for a photography exhibition as a part of the project “Le nuove vie di Porto Marghera”. Other field recordings were made in Vienna, Austria (December 2009), in an attempt to explore the sacral spaces of the city. ‘Song from ruined days’ is a mix of industrial and liturgical soundscape, a brief journey in the space of a full desolation. All field recordings were made using Soundman Binaural stereo microphone head-set.
Enrico Coniglio is based in Venice, Italy, where he trained as an urban planner, and his music has deep roots in his environment. I reviewed one of his collaborative works a while back, and this year he released Songs from Ruined Days digitally on the Touch sublabel Spire. At first glance it seems like an odd alliance, since Coniglio’s only traditional instrument is the guitar and Spire is all about the pipe organ. But Coniglio is operating here as an aural observer, composing this 45-minute work from field recordings, some of which include a pipe organ. Songs from Ruined Days is a poignant indictment of commodification and the resulting dilution of cultural identity, where the pipe organ acts as a symbol of the paradise lost. The origin of Songs From Ruined Days is a collection of field recordings from industrial sites and cathedrals, both of which Coniglio sees in a state of crisis. The industrial samples feed into deep, buzzing drones with a full sonic spectrum, an aural equivalent of a dense fog through which we occasionally hear incomprehensible voices and other traces of human activity. Sometimes sustained organ tones underpin this fog, materializing quietly, merging into slow melodies and hushed harmonies. Sometimes, it’s just static, atmospheric crackles and the oscillation of distant traffic. But three times out of this haze emerges unadulterated liturgical music, startling in its clarity, beauty, sadness and tradition. These interludes of sacred music bring a sense of holiness to the music, yet these songs are as ruined as the industrial wasteland that surrounds them, corrupted by human frailty and unable to offer any spiritual nourishment. The pipe organ plays a hymn in the first interlude, faintly accompanied by its congregation. The reverberant space around the organ informs us that we’re in a cathedral, and we should have a massive choir celebrating in song. Instead, a few voices, out of tune and out of sync, struggle to carry the message. The second interlude is for a choir alone, but they emerge from street noise and transient conversations, a distant rehearsel punctuated by air brakes and other industrial noises. Choir and organ join in an offertory in the final interlude sequence, the organ setting up a beautiful, clear chorale to the Virgin Mary, Kyrie Eleison and a concluding organ postlude. Even here, the liturgical music is overlaid with conversations and street noises, the sound of nobody paying attention. Lord have mercy indeed. Songs From Ruined Days isn’t Coniglio’s first piece dealing with the environmental state of the Venetian lagoon and its surrounding industrial park. Field recordings from the factories show up in Abibes, his podcast for Cronica, and the pollution in the lagoon a subtext in Sapientumsuperacquis, a podcast for Touch Radio. Listeners shouldn’t be surprised that some of the drones in the earlier work bear more than a passing resemblance to this one, but the overt symbolism of the liturgical music moves Songs From Ruined Days away from a pure ambient work and into a class of its own. Songs From Ruined Days is available as a 320 kbps mp3 download directly from Touch. [Caleb Deupree]
C’è davvero qualche cosa che si muove in Italia o si è sempre mosso discretamente, sommesso e con eleganza. Parliamo della musica ambient sperimentale, che persino nel Belpaese continua a far parlare di sé apportando al genere il suo perchè. Non mancano di dire la loro le giovani leve e dopo Ielasi, Rocchetti e Shinkei ecco il chitarrista, compositore e field recorder Enrico Coniglio a firmare un nuovo progetto niente meno che con la Touch. Un’unica traccia “Songs from ruined days” in quarantacinque minuti di raccolte per field recording intrappolate tra cattedrali, spazi abbandonati ed istantanee dall’essenza vitale. Tra senso del racconto, malinconie e memoria sonora alla Basinski, le forme -qui in sostanze organiche, incursioni dark ambient, particelle in droni, parti acustiche e distorsioni- lavorano con la rigorosità di un Hecker sulla prospettiva o come un Brian Eno emulano l’immobile ma dialogano con il divenire rilevandone chiaramente le fonti (organo, dialoghi, estratti di cori sacri) quando non le sorti affidate negli ultimi minuti al silenzio che diventa chiaro manifesto del tema dell’abbandono. Tutt’altro che asettico, il non luogo qui si scontra tra il sacro e il profano, illuminato prima tra le fila angeliche, celebrato poi tra rarefatte, cupe e crepuscolari manipolazioni sonore. Tutto fluttua in un equilibrio miracoloso, disponendo i substrati con accurata riflessione a favore di una composizione comunicativa, simbolica ed evocativa. [Sara Bracco]
Continua l’indagine del soundscape della laguna veneziana da parte di Enrico Coniglio, compositore, chitarrista, field recorder che, già in orbita Touch, pubblica questa volta nell’ambito del progetto Spire un’unica lunga traccia, disponibile solo in versione download. L’interesse documentaristico del musicista veneto per il paesaggio contemporaneo (ed in questo caso per le sue derive industriali) si intreccia in questo lavoro con la componente strumentale: un drone di chitarra dilatato e reiterato si interseca con i field recordings dell’area industriale di Porto Marghera (anche se una piccola parte delle registrazioni si riferisce ad una sessione invernale a Vienna). Una sovrapposizione che svela in negativo i contorni netti di un orizzonte alienato, di uno spazio desolato definito da un’operazione di aggregazione musiva degli oggetti sonori che lo compongono, nella minura in cui “gli oggetti che compongono un paesaggio non possono essere semplicemente concepiti nella loro individualità”. Un altro tassello significativo che si aggiunge all’antologia paesaggistica di Enrico Coniglio: i tempi sono ormai maturi per un album sulla label di Jon Wozencroft e Mike Harding. [Leandro Pisano]
ENNIO MAZZON's quote
Scorci di architetture digitali, improvvise riflessioni e aperture cristalline, austeri suoni industriali e sfocate istantanee di spontanea emotività. Cattedrali, mosaici. Spazi abbandonati. “Songs from ruined days” è un’opera che delinea paesaggi indistinti e atmosfere confuse. E’ una affascinante e preziosa concretizzazione sonora di un ambiente “contaminato”. Un ambiente fatto di margini… [Ennio Mazzon]
In keeping with its title, Enrico Coniglio’s Songs from Ruined Days exudes a primarily desolate and even dystopic character during its uninterrupted, forty-five-minute presentation. A download-only release that’s part of Touch’s Spire project, the Italian artist’s latest work is a shape-shifting ambient-drone collage based on 2009 field recordings made in Porto Marghera, an industrial coastal area on Venice, Italy’s mainland currently afflicted by severe economic and environmental crises, and in Vienna, Austria. If there’s one thing in particular that distinguishes Coniglio’s work from that of others in the field recordings-based soundscape genre, it’s the degree to which it’s focused on distilling environmental settings into sonic form and on capturing the evolution—degradation included—of the urban landscape. Against a static-encrusted bedrock of reverberant industrial churn, glassy tones and vaporous surges appear, with the mass gradually giving way to a liturgical passage that suggests a church setting where organ playing and rustling movements of people intermingle. Blurry, windswept episodes follow, as do ones involving speaking voices, choral interjections, and industrial ruptures of one kind or another until the piece descends into an electrical swamp in its closing minutes. The impression formed is of a society undergoing collapse, its technological advances undermined by unanticipated cracks in the seams and its rusting machines poisoning the environment as much as benefiting humanity. Shrouded in gloom, the piece unfolds with patient deliberation, moving from one ruined setting to the next, with fragments of choral illumination (a children’s choir the most affecting) offering tentative hope for salvation.
Non è certo una novità la fascinazione degli sperimentatori elettronici per ambientazioni post-industriali e non-luoghi ove catturare suoni e restituire performance: miliarità architettonica, (assenza di) identità fisica, asetticità ambientale da riempire col suono o con la semplice presenza umana rappresentano concetti sui quali riflettere e con i quali giocare in termini di manipolazione sonora. Animato da una simile impostazione concettuale, l’artista veneziano Enrico Coniglio non è dovuto andare lontano per trovare l’ispirazione per il suo contributo al progetto Spire, patrocinato dalla prestigiosa Touch e realizzato esclusivamente in formato digitale. La lunga traccia da quarantacinque minuti “Songs From Ruined Days” da lui destinata al progetto rappresenta infatti il resoconto di un viaggio a Porto Marghera, nel quale Coniglio si atteggia a vera e propria guida, nella narrazione di un abbandono che corrisponde fedelmente a quel processo di desemantizzazione che coinvolge, in termini non dissimili, paesaggi naturalistici, cattedrali industriali e persino città una volta fortemente caratterizzate e adesso vittime di un progressivo svuotamento dalla loro essenza identitaria e del loro contenuto umano. Per la realizzazione di “Songs From Ruined Days”, Coniglio ha infatti utilizzato una notevole mole di suoni catturati in prevalenza proprio a Porto Marghera, alcuni dei quali riprodotti fedelmente in tutte le loro componenti accidentali, altri invece pesantemente manipolati, a creare il tessuto connettivo dell’avviluppante saturazione di drone sulla quale, per tutto il corso della traccia, si innestano sibili e particelle acustiche in continuo moto centripeto. Ben lungi da un descrittivismo di rassicurante immobilità, quello di “Songs From Ruined Days” è piuttosto un flusso magmatico in continua trasformazione: dai primi cinque minuti di ronzante drone ai successivi innesti organici, dalle incursioni nell’ambient più profonda e spettrale alla granulosa maestosità di aperture dalla forte impronta isolazionista, i primi venti minuti del lavoro descrivono un vitalissimo percorso all’interno della memoria, attraverso una completa rideclinazione percettiva del suono, sospesa tra rilucenti schegge heckeriane e incandescenti distorsioni che possono lontanamente rimandare alle torsioni più astratte di Aidan Baker. Nel lavoro di Coniglio non vi sono tuttavia soltanto astrattezze ipnotiche e ottundenti, ma accanto ad esse convive lo sguardo profondamente umano dell’artista, che dei (non-)luoghi e dei paesaggi sonori coglie tanto il vuoto quanto l’essenza vitale che li riempie o li ha riempiti. Così, le torsioni droniche si ritraggono, lasciando spazio a suoni organici ben riconoscibili – intorno ai quattordici minuti si distingue un organo che suona le note dell’inno inglese – dialoghi cristallizzati in field recordings e frammenti di un coro religioso, prima accennato (minuto venti) e quindi protagonista di un kyrie eleison (minuto trentatre) che suggella la sacralità del lavoro quale anello di congiunzione tra lo svuotamento post-moderno delle cattedrali dell’industrialismo otto-novecentesco e lo smarrimento di una dimensione spirituale, in qualunque modo intesa. Il messaggio sotteso a “Songs From Ruined Days” sembra dunque proprio quello che l’inaridimento di questi due cardini fondamentali costituisce la prima causa di annichilimento di ogni identità individuale e condivisa, che abbia ad oggetto persone, luoghi o costruzioni. E il monito è tutto racchiuso nella parte finale della lunga composizione che, rimossi mille innesti sonori che l’hanno caratterizzata in precedenza, si presenta come immersione nelle asfittiche profondità dark-ambient e infine nei tre aspri minuti di distorsione conclusiva, prima che sopraggiunga il silenzio, al tempo stesso benedizione e sentenza inappellabile.
Aggirarsi in luoghi, i più impensati, con un microfono binaurale è come avventurarsi nella scrittura di un racconto, si usa il field-recording come strumento per costruire con assoluta precisione una storia che poi verrà raccontata attraverso il suono. Enrico Coniglio è maestro in questo: assolutamente imperdibili i ‘fields’ downlodabili dal suo sito (http://www.enricoconiglio.com/radiousaghi.asp) così come imperdibile è questo suo ennesimo ‘racconto’ che vede la luce per Spire, colta ed affascinante realtà sulla quale vigila la sempre prestigiosa Touch. Ma entriamo in punta di piedi dentro questi suoni e cerchiamo di capire qual’è la storia che andremo a vivere: Fincantieri di Marghera, l’impatto è sconvolgente! Sul noise creato dalle turbine degli aspiratori si innesta una melodia creando un sorprendente ‘effetto cattedrale’ che si propaga per tutta la durata del ‘racconto’. Quelli registrati sono i suoni degli enormi spazi occupati dalla grande industria, sono i Grandi Molini, la Fincantieri, il MAS, un immenso capannone nel quale si assemblano i pezzi delle navi da crociera, è la liturgia del lavoro che si sposa con quella della preghiera grazie al continuo inserimento di droni che accompagnano il ‘lettore’ attraverso i due mondi portandolo dagli stabilimenti di Marghera fin dentro la religiosità delle chiese con le sue celebrazioni liturgiche. La crudeltà del duro lavoro e il tentativo di elevazione spirituale in un mondo alla mercè della rovina. [Mirco Salvadori]
Enrico Coniglio – Laverna 2009
A free download Ep for the italian Laverna net label dedicated to an imaginary glacial venetian lagoon.
Tracklist: 1. coldmill 2. glacial lagoon 3. mantilla
Instruments: guitars, Farfisa MicrOrgan, hydrophone, binaural stereo mic, computer programming, sampling.
Personaggio particolarmente attivo nell’ambient[e] elettronico italiano, con numerose collaborazioni alle spalle, Enrico Coniglio si fa interprete del rapporto tra Musica e paesaggio dipingendone le impressioni su tele sonore dilatate e ricche di sfumature. Glacial Lagoon, pubblicato liberamente su Laverna Netlabel, rappresenta a grandi linee l’esempio calzante di quello che è l’approccio musicale dell’artista in questione: in 3 tracce Enrico riesce a descriverci visioni paesaggistiche attraverso l’utilizzo di sonorità fluidificate, lugubri, astratte che vengono man mano elaborate nel loro ripetersi. Sia in “Coldmill” che in “Mantilla” ci troviamo di fronte a dei brani strutturati similmente nel loro procedere, caratterizzati da un costante ripetersi di certe sezioni vagamente noise che si sviluppano di pari passo con la base del pezzo. Anche se inizialmente il suono sembra essere semplice e scarno, con l’avanzare dei minuti assistiamo ad un piacevole arricchimento progressivo del sound, che trova il punto di forza proprio nella completezza raggiunta dall’intersezione dei vari effetti. “Glacial Lagoon” si distacca in modo marcato dal suddetto metodo di composizione, e riesce a distinguersi grazie a suoni dalle tonalità cupe che si miscelano con altri particolarmente acuti. L’atmosfera in questo pezzo si fa decisamente più angosciante, con tratti che sfiorano sensazioni di claustrofobia pura, punzecchiando continuamente l’attenzione dell’ascoltatore che attraverso queste soluzioni sonore accentuate viene sollecitato e tenuto in una situazione di prolungata instabilità. Il risultato messo in mostra da questo disco è quello di un lavoro strettamente indirizzato verso un particolare stile di sviluppo, reso efficace dall’attenta selezione dei suoni presenti al suo interno, che presi nel complesso creano un insieme compatto, efficace ed approfondito. L’intero Glacial Lagoon è di sicuro influenzato da una vena sperimentale particolarmente pulsante, e di conseguenza viene guardato dalla distanza quel certo tipo di minimalismo che spesso conduce ad una stagnazione artistica [e quindi alla banalità della proposta musicale]. Coniglio ha dimostrato e continua a dimostrare quanto la ricerca sperimentale sia affascinante, e quanto un’accurato sviluppo stilistico sia essenziale per perfezionare quell’espressione musicale che, altrimenti, diverrebbe prevedibile e noiosa nella sua monotonia.
ROCKERILLA n. 349
Enrico Coniglio è tra i segreti meglio custoditi del panorama ambient italiano. Insieme al collega Emanuele Errante il musicista veneziano ha appena pubblicato una bella raccolta panoramica sulla fertile scena del bel paese (Zaum vol. 1). Il mese scorso in Sonic Bang si è parlato della sua recente collaborazione con il romano oophoi a nome Aquadorsa e la net label Laverna ha da poco reso disponibile in download gratuito un suo nuovo EP di tre brani. “Glacial Lagoon” mette in mostra l’aspetto più sperimentale di Coniglio alle prese con sonorità elettroniche che cercano di traslitterare in suoni il concetto di disfacimento (quello della sua terra, innanzitutto). Tre brani per quasi mezz’ora di melanconica e desolante ambient music. [Roberto Mandolini]
Enrico Coniglio – Crónicaster 2008
Based on a mix of field-recordings, guitar-synth drones and a touch of digital post-production ‘ABIBES’. Check it out at the number 032 o Crónicaster.
‘ABIBES’ is the name of an ex coastal depot of GPL, which is classified as “high-risk” for the environment, in Porto Maghera, a big industrial site on the outskirts of the lagoon of Venice (Italy).
Enrico Coniglio – Touch Radio 2008
As part of an ongoing series of recordings of unusual sounds of the Venice lagoon, these tracks were made on 29th April 2008 at 2100 in a night-depot of boats of the public transport service at Riva dei Schiavoni, not far from San Marco square. ‘Sapientum super acquis’ is the title attribuited to the Magistrato alle acque of the Serenissima Venetian Republic, an organ istituited on 1501 by the “Council of ten”, that had the job of keeping safe the delicate natural/artificial balance of the lagoon, and looking after the “health” of the water.
There’s a gap between the Touch Music record label and its ongoing MP3 series, TouchRadio. While Touch album releases generally focus on processed sound, the sound on TouchRadio is generally unprocessed. The recent entries on TouchRadio have been raw field recordings, framed by the discerning ear of the recordist and by the broader context of the Touch cultural engine. TouchRadio just released its 30th entry, a 23-minute audio tour of Venice, titled “Sapientumsuperacquis” (MP3). The microphone technology was in the hands of Enrico Coniglio, who describes the situation as follows in the accompanying text: […] The burbling of water provides a thick scrim through which are heard industrial noise, conversations, the creak of waterborne structures, footsteps and more. It’s the perfect background music for an afternoon spent reading a China Miéville novel, the sort of tale in which the dank urban setting exists thanks to a tentative compromise with the fetid mote that surrounds it. [Marc Weidenbaum]
The Touch Radio series presents a recording of Enrico Coniglio made in the Venice lagoon on 29th april 2008 at 21:00 in a night-depot of boats of the public transport service at “Riva dei Schiavoni”, not far from San Marco square. One can hear the water lapping and the boats bumping in each other making for a peaceful but nevertheless slightly eerie atmosphere. [Andreas Bick]
Como parte de una serie de grabaciones de sonidos inusuales en la Laguna de Venecia, Enrico Coniglio grabó esta pieza una noche en un depósito de botes del servicio de transporte público, no muy lejos de la plaza de San Marcos. El título del tema, Sapientum Super Acquis, hace referencia a un organismo creado en 1501 para salvaguardar el delicado equilibro de la laguna y cuidar la salud del agua. No tuvieron mucho éxito, actualmente la laguna es un pozo de contaminación debido a que está próxima a una de las áreas industriales más amplias de Europa. [Blanca Rego Constela]