Alessio Riccio – March 2013
It has always been my desire to live music in a profound, absolute way. In every phase of my relationship with music, I have sought to follow a desire for immersivity which often went far beyond my means at the moment: the musical experience as an initiation ritual which, besides renewing itself each time, leads to a catharsis, leads to a re-imagination of languages and realities (as I write I have in mind James Hillman and his re-visionary imagination, which invites the individual to become a member of a community of committed people, each in their own field, in a re-vision of things), an experience which leads to a serene acceptance of being literally invaded by the music, each time cut to pieces, torn open, pulverized, transformed into something else. The idea of a music pervaded by a breath which is personal, fresh, radical (in the sense Marx intended, of grasping things at the root), of a journey which is at the same time clear and informed, but also favorably disposed to abandonment and the temporary loss of self, has always been at the center of my thoughts, the objective and dream at the same time, and it is with this in mind that I propose my music of recent years: an exercise in aural imagination, a proposal for a non-linear journey, an invitation to undertake forms of thought and sensibility which are out of the ordinary, towards a precise idea of perceptive freedom which, to cite Umberto Eco, exercised at the level of aesthetic fruition, cannot but also be developed at the level of daily behavior, intellectual decisions, social relationships.
The obstinacy necessary to give form to a truly visionary music, a music of new relationships, of alternative ethical and aesthetic perspectives, of an elsewhere, an initiatory time and temple without linguistic or expressive filters, has proceeded hand in hand with what, coming from James Hillman (read his splendid The Soul’s Code: On Character and Calling), most of all reverberated relentlessly in my head: how to find a place in the world for what has come into the world with me? How to fit together that meaning with the meanings which I am asked to conform to? And so I decided: this music is that “place,” the only place, the “place” which holds my meaning, that which obstinately, inexorably refuses to “fit together”, to “conform”. Speaking of his music and today’s New Music in general, John Zorn describes it both as an act of necessity and as a labor of love, and I am totally in agreement with him: the spontaneous flow of aesthetic insights, something normal for those who live for music, proceeds symbiotically with an idea, in fact, of necessity (Ananke), of the necessity of music which, through its just being there and resonating, is spontaneously in contrast to ossification (Guattari, of whom I’ll write more later), to the standardization of behaviors and perceptions, to the degradation of all the processes of subjectification.
The implementation of a meta-stylistic musical thought, of a subversive and transformational idea of performance which would be, indeed, both mythical and rational, for me had to pass through a precise point, an absolutely non-negotiable condition: the ironclad predetermination of musical materials. Only in this way did I have the perception of being able to proceed along pathways not already thoroughly trodden, to be able literally to construct a music which would prove to be a violent explosion of conflicting forces meticulously organized within rigorous structures, music in which the genesis, the recoding, the recontextualization of the acoustic sound cells, electronic and synthetic (the deterministic component of the creative process), would have to be integrated with elements of a discerning improvisation, conscious and current. At the moment in which the meticulous organization of the sonorous event merges with the idea of rituality, of initiatory sound and rhythm, of potentially hallucinatory sonorous phenomena, of meta-normality, of symbolic musical languages, autonomous and personalizable, life is given to music able to (again Guattari) engender universes of reference and existential territories, music deploying examples and expedients that will simultaneously analyze and produce subjectivity.
In recent years, all the music which I have elaborated (in the Varèsian sense of the composer of music, the worker in rhythm, frequencies and intensity) has been inspired and shaken to its foundations by the ecosophic thought of Fèlix Guattari, which is the reason why I cite numerous quotations from the French psychologist-philosopher and close collaborator of Deleuze. In particular it is the writings contained in his The Three Ecologies which I have felt resonate profoundly with my idea of music: a spontaneous convergence of artistic undertaking, creative militancy and ethical and aesthetic feeling. When I decided to accompany this music with what I define as conceptual consequences, considering that in my case the writing always takes form after the music, I intentionally decided not to elaborate yet another list of concepts and ideas which revolve around electro-acoustic music and which too often seem to be given more weight than even the music itself: Guattari himself suggests that ecology will first of all be mental or it will be nothing at all. Basing a part of this text on the ecosophic formulations of Guattari, thereby sparing words which have already been said, and better expressed and more effectively organized, not only do I bring into play a quite precise idea of ecology, which is indeed mental (I’m also thinking of Dorfles and his horror pleni or of Bateson and his ecology of mind), but what’s more I satisfy that desire for connection linked to the actual creative undertaking, to the elaboration of the sound, to the shaping of the compositions, without then hiding the fact that the desire to branch out connections with that part of reality which attracts me is also born from the need to mitigate that sense of scarce utility and weighty insignificance which accompanies, like a not overly friendly companion, my artistic work.
According to Guattari, ecosophy is an ethico-political articulation including the three ecological registers - the environment, social relations and human subjectivity, and it is a discipline which proposes to indicate the lines of reconstruction of human praxis in the most varied domains. The three ecologies, environmental, mental and social, originate from a common ethico-aesthetic discipline, but are distinct from the point of view of the practices that characterize them. Their different styles are produced by what I call heterogenesis, in other words, processes of continuous resingularization. The admiring passion that I feel for these writings arises precisely from the strong and joyful appeal to a common ethico-aesthetic discipline, from the capacity, for me exhilarating, to allow to converge and proceed synergistically the technical work (musical in my case) as well as a profoundly ethical idea of the relationship with what one does: the “technical” concepts of lines of reconstruction (it is truly difficult for me to define as effectively not only the process of elaboration of the music and its insertion into the soundscape, but also the idea of hybridized rhythmicity through which I intended to construct these projects), of heterogenesis, of the process of continuous resingularization (perhaps the one I prefer out of them all), resonate perfectly not only with the methodologies of assembling sounds and rhythm, but also with the aims set by the act of organizing them into a composition, and when Guattari calls for re-anchoring existential territories that are drifting away, I cannot but associate this formulation as much with the truly interminable process of assembling the soundscapes and rhythmic hybridizations, as with the much more complex act of putting together one’s own “existential territories”, those of the man and of the musician, which, at last, find a place and form in a finished project.
Everything has to be continually reinvented, started again from scratch, otherwise the processes become trapped in a cycle of deathly repetition, writes Guattari. I have tried to do so through the use of a sonic range which is the richest and most varied possible, in an attempt to overcome a hierarchical idea of musical organization and, consequently, the use of non-conventional expressive finalities, seeking the maximum potential of every expressive and perceptive situation: entering into every single sound cell, and working from the foundations of the sound and its organization have truly constituted a totalizing and cathartic immersive experience, as well as permitting the creation of a music without a center, without delimited linguistic territories, to quote Guattari again: a true ecology of the phantasm - one that works through transference, translation, the redeployment of the materials of expression. The slow but progressive developing of the organic flux of the music, the branching out of the rhythmic hybridizations, ever more increasingly articulated, have represented a springboard to otherness: utilizing the music, both its fundamental breath and its compositional and assembling strategies, to reach otherness and consequentially to utilize otherness as a vehicle to attempt to reach oneself, or at least to experience oneself in a more profound manner.
This progressive attempt to reach oneself, to intensify one’s own perceptions, to widen the reading of oneself and things in general, according to Guattari has a very precise aim: to allow us to become both more united and increasingly different. By means of these transversal tools, subjectivity is able to install itself simultaneously in the realms of the environment, in the major social and institutional assemblages, and symmetrically in the landscapes and fantasies of the most intimate spheres of the individual. The reconquest of a degree of creative autonomy in one particular domain encourages conquests in other domains - the catalyst for a gradual reforging and renewal of humanity’s confidence in itself starting at the most minuscule level. If the landscapes and the fantasies of the most intimate spheres of the individual are in fact the motor which drives the musician to crystallize his creative flow, the idea of a reconquest of subjectivity, of difference, of autonomy (in creation as in thought) obtained step by step at the most minuscule level, truly seems to be the manifesto of the so-called alternative music: the musician as finally a participant in the social, historic, political and cultural phenomena of his times, proponent of an artistic creation liberated from the market system, of an educational system able to appoint its own social mediators, a figure capable, in each instance, of looking into what would be the expedients of the production of subjectivity, which tends towards an individual and/or collective resingularization, rather than that of mass-media manufacture, which is synonymous with distress and despair.
When Guattari asks: how can mentalities be modified? How can social practices be reinvented which give humanity back the sense of its responsibility, not only towards its own survival, but also with regard to the future of all the life on this planet, of that of the animal and plant species as well as that of the incorporeal species, if I may say so, of that of music, the arts, the relationship with time, the sense of fusion with the cosmos?, I am easily able to hazard a proposal: that every creative activity of man be considered a rite, that acts of transformation be generated aimed at liberating and favoring infinite energy, wild destruction and imaginative reconstruction, which are to contrast rationality, pragmatism and mechanicism. That all of the human being be interested in this Dionysian revolution, his thought, his words, his identity, his sensibility. That an irruption of becoming be favored, a revolutionary becoming which does not have as an objective another stable structure but instead ways of life which are renewed, mobile and open. The modification of mentalities and reinvention of social practices will obviously necessitate a special music, a music which, to quote Hillman, can transpose the mystery of the invisible, into visible procedures, music of a strong emotional impact, of an unexpected sonic fullness, of linguistic, tonal, rhythmic and structural unpredictability, music which is the experience of ecstasy and possession: creator and beneficiary constantly redefine themselves and the world, with no more need for confirmations. This proceeding by way of unexpected recompositions, this generation of qualities of being which are unprecedented, never seen before, not yet thought of, will transform the already heard into something not yet experienced, or at least into the unexpected, and take to the extreme the capability for the invention of mutant coordinates.
In his great book Gli Ultraterrestri (The Extraterrestrials), Mario Gamba writes about today’s music, defining it as being the practical works of relationships, of change, of symbolic activity, of language, which imply the desire for a liberation experienced directly in the first person, as the achievement of forms of life, alternative to those prevailing, which apply to the individual subjects of the great revolt, first and foremost, and for a collective which extends to the whole of humanity which one feels a part of in the immediacy of one’s own impetus to liberation, transformation, creativity. The revolutionary impulse is the impulse for the subversion and transformation of the present, to be experienced at the same time in which one feels intolerance for the ways of life imposed by the social order and in which practical acts of subversion and transformation are undertaken. A change in the way of living and in the way of thinking will never be able to be imposed from above: it will sprout from below (think globally, act locally, says one of the most popular anti-globalization slogans) when single individuals, writes Adorno, through the forms of their existence, with all the contradictions and conflicts which belong to them, attempt to anticipate the existential form which is just and true. Today’s musician can be a proactive expression of a new metamorphic cultural model, expression of otherness, plurality and diversity, provided that his music incarnates an alternative logic of emotion, the rational derangement of all the senses (Rimbaud), that he is willing to pour out into his work strength and passion, and that these, ultimately, act as intermediaries between nature, violent and primordial, and thought, lucid and organized.
Working for another modernity, or for a different modernity, writes the German philosopher Wilhelm Schmid, brings the individual back to the center even in a different way, no longer only as he who frees himself, but also as he who produces forms of freedom. And how does one produce this freedom?, given that, for Guattari, subjectivity is not a natural given any more than air or water. How do we produce it, capture it, enrich it, and permanently reinvent it in a way that renders it compatible with universes of mutant value? The answer which Guattari offers is for me the ideal conclusion for an essay about today’s music: individual and collective subjective assemblage is capable, potentially, of developing and proliferating well beyond their ordinary equilibrium. By their very essence analytic cartographies extend beyond the existential territories to which they are assigned. As in painting or literature, the concrete performance of these cartographies requires that they evolve and innovate, that they open up new futures, without their authors having prior recourse to assured theoretical principles or to the authority of a group, a school or an academy. It is truly impossible, for me, to find better words.