[Interview] Alessandra Celletti

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A few days ago, I had the honor of interviewing Italian pianist Alessandra Celletti, one of the most creative composers active today.  I came to know her work thanks to an old business partner named Michael Sheppard, who became her champion until his passing a few years ago.

Without further ado, here is Alessandra:


 

Though I know you from our conversations, can you tell us about yourself? Who you are, your background?

I’m a musician, and naturally I love music. But, first of all, I love life. I love nature, the sea, the trees and the flowers, I love all people and animals as well. I like to come upon new things. The relevance of music is that it gives meaning and emotion to everything. I’ve been playing the piano since I was six. The piano is my life, but I also adore singing. Singing is happiness. I have a classical education, but I am too curious not to look for other musical experiences, so I’m always looking for something new.

What inspired you to be a composer and pianist?

I’ve always played the piano. I started my career as a pianist playing classical authors: Mozart, Bach, Chopin, Brahms, Ravel… but at some point I felt the desire to transfer my personal emotions into music by composing myself. It felt like a natural passage.

Which composers or art movements have left a lasting influence in your compositions?
Erik Satie is my first love and I think of him as one of my milestones. I was swept away by the purity and freedom of his search. Then, I appreciate the intelligence and lightness of John Cage. But I am also into punk music, electronics, rock and, sometimes, even pop music. I love painting and the commixture of colors. For me, music is also color. Not for nothing my last album is a blue vinyl titled #cellettiblue, inspired by my favorite color. Blue, for me, is the color of freedom. Just look at the sky and you’ll understand.

How do you go about planning for and making a new album?

I had several producers for my previous albums: here in Italy, in England but also in America. I was lucky enough to have Michael Sheppard of Transparency as a producer. It was a very special human and artistic relationship and I miss him so much. Before he died, he told me that he would be in every note I played and sung… and, indeed, I can feel his presence. I want to make you party to a secret: I always think of Michael when I compose a new melody. Right now I don’t have a record label that produces me, so for my new project I resorted to Musicraiser’s crowdfunding. I really like this personal contact with my audience

What inspired this latest album?

To put it simply, my love for animals. I’m working on six songs dedicated to the animals that had a special role in my life, tangible or symbolic. Among these is Pedro, a cat to whom I am connected in a magical way. And a donkey that I fantasize becoming my husband… And, last but not least, my mother, who I consider the sweetest and most wonderful of all the animals that filled my life. It is, obviously, an affectionate dedication to the person who gave me life and who flew away just a few months ago.

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Are you collaborating with anyone else these days in terms of live performance or studio collaborations?

Yes: a while ago I’ve discovered Paola Luciani and I’ve literally been bewitched by her animations. Luckily for me, this internationally recognized artist hasn’t lost the purity of her artistic expression, so I proposed a collaboration, to which she graciously agreed.
Now she’s drawing and animating her paper clippings according to an age-old and very peculiar technique. Ath the moment she is working on the donkey song and she will soon finalize the animations for the little cat Pedro (or maybe for a little bird)…

How do you feel about the state of the music business?

It seems so difficult for artists to get exposure outside of working with a major label.

How do you manage to do so well?

I simply dedicate myself to what I do with commitment and love, thinking of people with affection and trust. And – this will probably surprise you – I’m even confident in the future of music. Modes and media change all the time: vinyl, cd, streaming… but, basically, nobody can live without music.

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What projects are you working on? What should be expected to see from you in 2020?

As I said, I am working with Paola Luciani on the “Love Animals” project and I very much hope to be able to make it with Musicraiser’s help. Then, I’d like to do a lorryload of concerts and play my piano and sing these sweet songs to everyone. Even if they are dedicated to animals, they are all love songs.

https://musicraiser.com/it/projects/15090-love-animals

[Music] Theodosii Spassov & Milcho Leviev – Raga Todor

In 1995, I was approached by the owner of MA Recordings (a kind man whose name I have since forgotten) to sell some of his CDs on consignment.  Among the releases was an album performed by Bulgarian pianist Milcho Leviev.  He had several releases on this imprint because he was living in Los Angeles at the time, and it is one of my life’s regrets not having the chance to meet him.

Milcho passed away this week, and we bid him a fond farewell and a pleasant afterlife.  Here he is collaborating with Bulgarian multi-instrumentalist and a friend of this blog, Theodosii Spassov.

 

[Music] Glåsbird – Svalbarð

This album by Glåsbird is so utterly enthralling to my ears that I feel like the angels are talking to me at the moment.  There is a sense of a cool peace that this album is making me feel at the moment in a grimy, grotesque Beijing that I have to thank the creators of this sublime work for their efforts to keep me sane in this very, very odd place.

From the Whitelabrecs Bandcamp site:

In February 2019 we released the debut album by an anonymous artist named Glåsbird, in the form of Grønland, a sonic expedition of Greenland. The album received much critical acclaim despite being from an anonymous artist and was even featured on Bandcamp Daily under their ‘best Ambient’ feature. CD copies of this record have long since sold out, but the Glåsbird continues its flight to a new destination: Svalbard.

Svalbard lies 78 degrees north, is inside the Arctic Circle and had a population of around 2600 people and an estimated 3000 polar bears! Its calendar year divides between the midnight sun and the polar nights. The former is a period of constant daylight and the latter is the opposite. However, the dark season is broken from time to time by spectacular Northern Lights.

In Svalbarð, Glåsbird became immersed once more in this next excursion, through means of Google Earth, 360° photos, blogger accounts of the isles, maps and also, videos by Efterklang who were an obvious reference point with the band having visited.
This time, we are treated to a greater number of tracks, as ten movements weave Modern Classical influenced Ambient soundscapes. The pristine, polished reverb of Grønland is replaced with a slightly muddier, more lo-fi approach to the sound as the artist strived to present a tape-eroded aesthetic to their work. The recordings deal with dramatic landscapes, glaciers, an abandoned coal community, a seed vault, the Island’s capital city Longyearbyen and of course, polar bears. Each piece feels icy cold, yet the warmth and hiss provided by the decaying tape effects provide a comfort blanket for the listener as perhaps you take in these scenes from a lonely cabin, at one with isolation and natural beauty.

The packaging for the album includes photography from Svalbard itself, courtesy of Aldona Pivoriene who is a professional photographer based in Norway. We are also set to release the next Glåsbird album next year. Where will the destination be? For now, we hope you enjoy immersing yourself in this new set of works exploring Svalbard.

Cold-climate ambient.

[Music] Selen Gülün – Many Faces

I’ve had the pleasure of following Selen Gülün’s work for about five years now, and her albums keep getting more and more interesting.  Many Faces sounds like a work straddling the line between music, theater and painting.  The sounds are delicate, graceful, but never sappy.  The vocals are crisp and sharp, with no feeling of wasted motion.  It’s a beautiful album.

I only have one gripe – I would love to see all of her back catalog become available digitally, at least, through Bandcamp and, if possible, to see these all come out on vinyl.  It’s a selfish wish, of course, because I find her music is suited best to the audiophile world, but one can dream.

[Music] RICK WAKEMAN-1973-1977: HIS GLORY YEARS. — dereksmusicblog

Rick Wakeman-1973-1977: His Glory Years. In January 1973, Rick Wakeman released his sophomore album The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, which was a groundbreaking album, one that would forever change prog rock. The Six Wives Of Henry VIII was the album that legitimised synths in prog rock. This was a game-changer. Following the success of […]

via RICK WAKEMAN-1973-1977: HIS GLORY YEARS. — dereksmusicblog

[Music] Jeff Gburek – Haunted Houses


 
Jeff Gburek spent his Easter recording a dark album of piano music (with feedback and effects among his weaponry) played slowly with elongated, pensive strokes rather than crashing thuds.  This album is creepy, but not in the horror-movie way it would imply with the album title.  These tracks, like most of his works, are elegant, more refined and force other experimental musicians to up their game.  He remains in a league of his own.

From Jeff’s Bandcamp site:

No one believes in haunted houses anymore but I believe in haunted houses just a little bit more than the unbelievers, after having lived within several, if only inside the skull, the crackling brain-case, and the house-bones, as they settle unsettlingly, in the merger meridian between seismic flow and over-head gulf streams and low frequency nor’easters. There is a spectre in spectralism and a prismatic fractal flaw splitting hairs without identity. Without the words equal to sound and the sounds equal to words there is the poem that rides shotgun over the carriage drawn into dawn by subtle horses, nameless ones, I cannot know while being guided by them over paths of further air, knowing them anyway, gusts of hydrogen-weighted gravity, a bustle between vibrating strings, the bright glow in the punctum sordum, a train running in one ear & out the other.

The worlds within the worlds inside the piano, the innenklavier, so called, the haunted house, the inner everglades of a sensual buzz as of strings in distant hunters of the stars drawing the mark.

Materials: grand piano, microphones, fingers, feedback (an immaterial material if ever there was one), delay, volume and pitch pedals. Did I miss anything? Please let me know.
Easter Sunday (4/21/2019).

It’s available now, and worth your time and your coin.

 

[Music] Sven Laux – You’ll Be Fine.

Though I was impressed on initially hearing the track Flickering Lamp on Sven Laux’s newest release, I wondered if his record label, Archives, had mis-tagged the album.  Ambient and electronic music I certainly here, IDM I certainly don’t.  No dub, but definitely there is a nod to classic 1970’s electronic music albums (think Neuronium from Spain, and perhaps a more electronic-leaning Popul Vuh, sans the horrible ‘techno’ phase).  The album also has a feel of this modern classical vibe I keep running across.

This album was not what I expected to hear at all.  It’s damn-near perfect walking music.