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Autunna Et Sa Rose interviewed

Autunna Et Sa Rose interviewedMr Olivetti spoke to Saverio Tesolato about the newest manifestation of his Autunna Et Sa Rose project, whose recent Entrelacs Du Rêve album draws on dreams to inspire a form of majestic musical poetry. 

Mr Olivetti: It has been five years since the previous Autunna Et Sa Rose release. Has that time been spent attempting to convene a suitable cast of players to do the music justice, or do you have other interests that have taken up that time?

Saverio Tesolato: It may seem to you and to the readers that five years are a very long time between two releases. Actually, as regards Autunna Et Sa Rose and its habitual preparation time for a new project, it is normal enough. For instance, even in case of the second-to-last work Phalène d’onyx (2012) the phases of composition of all the pieces, of training for playing them, of searching for the right musicians, and, last but not least, the period of time I had to spend in creating the graphic artworks (that I inserted, in that occasion, in the 20-page booklet enclosed with the CD) took much time. Moreover, I must have another job to live and so I have to devote a considerable portion of time to it.

As a matter of fact, in this last case Entrelacs du rêve was not actually the first choice… In summer 2013 I had started a project for which I firstly wrote the whole libretto, ie a long poem in French for a theatrical opus of fantastic genre: soon after this phase, the project had to be continued with the composition of its musical part. But it was interrupted after a few months. I think I will surely resume this project from where I stopped it, but now I do not exactly know when this will happen. Anyway, its subject is really too vital and stimulating to permanently abandon it, because it deals with deep concepts, mystical and somehow transcendent.

Returning to Entrelacs du rêve, the whole project is the result of a unitary work, the two parts of which reflect in one another in relation to its subject: in fact, some months before the issue of this CD, a book with a homonymous title has been published, though in Italian (Intrecci del sogno), narrating the dreams from which this adventure began. Finally, I have created some images so as to naturally complete the work and used to accompany the text of the tales, in order to try to evoke the most significant images in the dreams. So, if the composition of the musical part – that began in late spring 2014 – was completed at the beginning of August 2016, the recordings of the pieces actually finished in December 2016, after that the first studio/theatre sessions had started in October 2015 (thus, while some of the pieces had still to be composed); but at the beginning of 2017 the work was not actually over, since I had to reassemble the primordial (2014) writings for the book in a comprehensible and reasonable form (and also completing its introduction), and especially work with the right dedication and alacrity for the creation of the graphic artworks to be inserted in the book.

Clearly music, poetry and visuals are integral to the project and to your vision, but which if any is the primary focus and if there is one, do the others then easily flow from that?

I do not think it is correct to imagine the existence of a primary focus: each form of art has to give a contribution to the “community”, that is, the (often chaotic, or maybe only apparently chaotic…) result of their interdependence. Certainly, music becomes what Walter Pater wrote: “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music”. My credo is also based on the strategic role of theatre, considered as the summa of all arts, a sort of a “container” of the totality of ideas and inspirations, material or not, a work of art is made up of. Nevertheless, music has clearly the power – and that is, of course, Pater’s idea – to embody a sort of an “emotional plasma”, able to communicate a considerable amount of meanings in a multi-sensorial way. In any case, if you think of a primitive form that, as a “mother”, generates the birth of other forms, I can tell you that poetry and literature have had in most cases this role: from these ones a tide of inspirations normally flows. But, if I have to consider the instance of the latter work, dreams have been the First Cause, the origin of all what could actually spring just afterwards.

Autunna Et Sa Rose interview

I note that in the past you have collaborated with Steven Brown from Tuxedomoon and that Sonia Visentin is a returning collaborator. Are the inceptions of the projects entirely yours or is there a collaborative element right from the outset?

Autunna Et Sa Rose is my fully personal project as a music composer, writer and graphics designer/video producer. I have known Sonia Visentin – one of one of the most well-reputed (and high-pitched…) sopranos in all of Europe as regards classical contemporary genre – since 2003, when we decided to find a clever interpreter: as a matter of fact, the ideal line-up for the ensemble I had in mind since the beginning of our activity was made up by piano, cello and a soprano singer. Sonia instantly gave my music a special warmth and in fact both a “weird” and delightful nature.

My experience with Steven Brown started from that night of 4 November 2000, when Tuxedomoon played a gig at Riolo Terme (near Ravenna, Italy): on that occasion, I met Steven after the gig and gave him a copy of the Né l’être… éternel album. I was very happy, because he was very interested in my project and in its philosophical connotations (eg Hundertwasser and his spiral-houses), and so he was glad to give his precious contribution for the recordings of the Sturm CD in 2001! He revealed himself to be a fine interpreter of the written musical parts I had assigned for his instruments and a great improviser as well, creating magical waves with his extraordinary saxes.

Dreams are important to our understanding of the internal self. Has the construction of this album helped you to find something that was out of your grasp?

This long adventure, started more than twenty years ago, has been a continuous process of self-discovery, maybe one of the essential aims of art. Actually, it all began twenty-five years ago, when I had my first contact with a publisher to print my first book of poems: but things have changed since then, and it took me twenty-five years to find myself with a book in my hands, ready to be published.

The idea of narrating my dreams was maybe a necessity: since I was young, dreams have fascinated me, as well as surrealistic writings and artworks, in which dreams were the primary tool to show and therefore to try to explain most human feelings, passions and fears. The works of Antonin Artaud, in particular, had from the first years an essential influence on me because of his revolutionary concept of theatre and his extremely “dangerous” sensitivity. His Dionysian approach to theatre has been fundamental for almost all of my activities.

As regards Intrecci del sogno (“Dream-links”), the backward analysis, conducted during the phase of the writing of the tales, brought to light many hidden feelings: in particular, a past idiosyncrasy – dating back from childhood – towards borders. The origin of that feeling is to be found in my numerous trips, since from the age of ten, to Yugoslavia, where my parents had relatives. The video, recently produced, entitled Au-delà… de la borne X (Beyond… the X-Border) describes the part of the second dream I had, in which, after plenty of odd adventures, I reached a great, indefinite bar, at least one metre high before a rail. It is clear that the oneiric vision of the indefinite bar to be crossed had some firm connections with my childhood, but especially with the subtly (not too) hidden remains my brain still keeps after so many years, and that will probably not abandon me. Almost all the material was shot in the town of Gorizia and its close proximity: as a matter of fact, Gorizia is a border city, a symbol of too many other towns in the world that have been divided by wars, or by political or even religious reasons.

The music styles and instruments used are a diverse and fairly esoteric combination. Where do your interests lie musically and what if anything informs your visions?

After finishing writing the two tales, I found it absolutely natural to create several musical counterparts to each oneiric representation: as a matter of fact, even though the first compositional structure to be chosen for both dreams was the cello-piano duo (often constructed as a sort of a ”match”, a game played by two sides), it was clear that new forms were designed to follow the first one, with the aim of ensuring some varied visions and multi-sided interpretations, emerged more and more strongly during the writing of the tales. So from each dream four pieces have been generated, each one having a different form of composition: to be more precise, the two original cello-piano duos have been the basis to build the further three forms, as if they were “sons” of a “father” from whom they carefully retained an unstable leitmotiv; afterwards, two compositions for female lyrical vocals, cello, percussion and electronics were created; then piano improvisations, by working with alacrity on string piano techniques (enriched with a personal touch, by using several tools to play with) and electronic sound processing; lastly, I directed my efforts towards the composition of two duos a cappella (for soprano and mezzosoprano), able to expanding the overall conceptualization.

I think that after more than twenty years of activity in experimentation, I have gained such a wide-ranging expertise as to know almost exactly the kind of effect I wish to obtain, both from a musical phrase I write on the pentagram or from their combinations in the whole score, and from the electronic sounds I generate from the specific synths I use in diverse situations.

The avant-garde and experimental directions in which music is travelling at the moment are becoming more and more satisfying, with self-released albums and home recording allowing anybody to release music. Do you find this environment fulfilling and are there any other artists that you enjoy hearing?

I think these “experimental directions” are not really taken as it may seem at this very moment. Or better: there is great abundance of “experimental” projects, most of which are not satisfactory at all. There is often a clear incompetence in making music: music must be linked to a cultural issue; it is not enough to buy a PC and some synthesizers and try to manipulate them with a lack of knowledge of musical composition, even about electronic music and its history.

The widespread diffusion of low-cost technologies has given many people the illusion they can record music at home, making them forget that maybe they cannot actually do it. Mixing is an art that only experienced technicians know perfectly. Therefore, I do not call all of this “freedom. The reason why I find this situation repulsive lies in the fact that, if compared to ten/twenty years ago, there is too much s**t music in circulation now, and this creates problems even to whomever tries to take his/her job seriously: a sort of musical (over-) saturation rules nowadays, and this seems to be an irreversible phenomenon. Several products of poor quality have invaded the market, so that the listeners, even the most attentive ones, can hardly find their bearings. The role of labels has subtly, but radically changed, compared to what they have meant during the past decades: when underground labels really existed, they in fact believed in the musicians they had decided to work with, they put skill, passion and determination in their activity. They represented a truly available and skilful partner, able to provide active help to artists, and having real consideration of their contributions.

To tell the truth, I do not regularly listen to music: my job usually steals time from my creative life, so that I must try to use the most of the reduced spare time to produce something worthy. I occasionally devote myself to listening to music, and, if possible, I prefer reading books. In any case, I like listening to contemporary music (several historical or living composers, as, for instance, Stockhausen, Sciarrino, Lachenmann, etc), but even musicians like Vladimir Hirsch, Emilie Autumn, Young Gods, Pink Floyd and others.

The players on the latest album are all of a fantastic standard and the singers are delightful. Is there a rich seam of avant-garde talent in Italy and does Autunna Et Sa Rose have the sort of profile that draws people to you?

Thank you for your consideration. Of course, there are an increasing number of experimental Italian musicians who are trying to follow the wake of important acts of the recent past, such as Area (with Demetrio Stratos), Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso and others. The problem is that, differently from what happened in the seventies, eighties and also the nineties, it has become more and more difficult to reach a satisfying level of success (I do not mean to reach the masses, but at least an adequate level of notoriety in some underground and independent circles).

In 2015, the Italian writer Antonello Cresti founded an association of bands, called Rete dei Solchi Sperimentali, soon after having published a book entitled Solchi Sperimentali Italia, followed last year by a DVD, a real movie (with a plot, actors, and so on) in which several contributions from live shows – or even extemporary extracts – of Italian experimental bands are present. The aim of this movement is to give prominence to some music genres, almost totally forgotten by most listeners, in spite of their originality and often excellence in the artistic and cultural fields.

As a matter of fact, over the years the Italian public has become more and more conservative, conformist, bourgeois. Unfortunately, there is a disconcerting fact to point out: there is no consideration for modern artists; the media refuse to promote and talk about new ideas and projects, so that it is quite impossible for new artists to express themselves in a satisfying and appropriate manner. This phenomenon generates a negative influence, even on the mentality of the masses, more and more enslaved by the call of big shopping centres that rise on day by day like mushrooms everywhere: art has a reduced importance now, you had better think about your brand-new **hone model, or even get new (?!) ideas about your forthcoming holidays in the snow, or else… Why do artists exist?? They DON’T WORK at all!!! Who gave them the permission to live without working? Come on, it is time to sweep up all that riff-raff of worthless spongers!!!

This is Italy, that’s all. Moreover, there is even another disgusting phenomenon somehow linked to the artists’ world: everything is permitted to you, if you are already someone. Generally, it’s not difficult for famous (??) artists to find good opportunities here to get a satisfying success in this country, independently of the quality of their proposals. At that point, the idiotic masses respond, and they also respect. At that point, because of a stupefying, miraculous and revolutionary event, the artist gains a bit of consideration and sometimes he is also held in great esteem. At that point, the artistic activity has become a job like many others. That’s a quite mysterious phenomenon, isn’t it…?

Especially during these years, we are living in a sleeping country, where everything is blocked, not only the economy. As long as nobody gives the right amount of importance to the production of arts, music and theatre, nothing will substantially change. But is there anybody now who really believes in a possible future rapid change of mentality, and furthermore, to a re-qualification of Italian cultural production?

Autunna Et Sa Rose interview

The live shots on your website look remarkably dramatic. Is this current project something that could tour and if so, do you intend to take it on the road?

From the beginning, it was a strong passion for a musical way of expression that pushed me into producing, but writing has always been important because it could inspire very naturally the musical creation in the attempt to give the most suggestive completion to words, in order to communicate emotions in a multi-sensorial way.

Besides, each live performance was focused on the fundamental role of acting: thus, everything has been considered from a specifically theatrical view, as if the weight of soliloquies and of gesture acting, mixed with dynamic movements on the stage, can get the upper hand over everything else and so take the audience into a breeze drifting from the former context (moreover, for ten years the synchronized video projections have added more pathos and dramatic force to the performances). By voicing and screaming on stage the complaint of the “distance from being and appearing” that you can feel in this world of “perfect men”, I have always revealed my strong need for expression: but all this is possible if your audience turns out to be a real one.

I have never accepted any hypocritical half-measures, just to gain an increasing (in a hypothetical measure, anyway) audience. This irremediably leads to some kinds of problem, because it is not so easy to find venues that can be suitable for a performance by Autunna Et Sa Rose. Theatres seem to be the right locations, but it is very hard to organize a show at one of them at the moment, at least in Italy. Italy is probably not receptive enough for this kind of performance, and this is a conclusion I am reaching now, after decades of efforts.

I know this album has taken some years to come to fruition and is still current, but what does the future hold for Autunna Et Sa Rose?

I hope to have some fortune. Nevertheless, I am not so certain. OK, fortune favours the brave: but I am daring now, more than I have been in the past.

In the meantime, the composition about which I answer question #1 is still waiting for me: however, the project linked to this piece is aimed at writing its score and not recording the music. Many future choices will surely depend on the circumstances and on what life will potentially offer me. Anyway, I would like to deepen my research into electro-acoustic improvisation using string piano techniques and electronic treatments. Perhaps I will produce some new videos, and I still have some ideas on which they can be focused. But, above all, I think I will devote myself to writing a new book, which will possibly be a novel, an unconventional novel (very probably illustrated with new graphic artworks of mine), of course.

You mention the twenty years of experimentation and the accumulation of synths that can be used for specific feels and sensations. Do you work from a particular room that could be considered a place of safety and germination? Or can the muse strike at any time?

If you consider the situation of the latest work, I can confirm what I have already explained above, that the right place of safety has clearly been my bed. This is because my experience as a dromomaniac was just what I lived in a dream, so there has been really no need to keep my craziness under control. Of course, in the phases of writing of the tales and, subsequently, of composing the pieces, I have normally worked at home, with a pencil and music paper in my hands, with pens, paint brushes and colours, and/or my PC and my instruments.

When I think of Italy in terms of its relatively modern culture, I think of the likes of Federico Fellini railing against the status quo. The feeling that we have here in Britain when regarding Italy is of a relatively liberal and interesting society. We rarely hear of bands from Italy these days (Julie’s Haircut is the exception for me), so what has happened to your country’s attitude to art in the last 30 years?

That is right… As a matter of fact, the last thirty years have been quite disastrous for the Italian cultural scene. That is why, twenty-three years ago, I created Autunna Et Sa Rose.

Leaving irony aside, though, there are some facts to briefly recall. After the new wave tide throughout the eighties, most Italian bands, certainly influenced by new trends started by rock bands like Diaframma and Litfiba, and with the intent to imitate them, decided to sing in Italian: in fact, this decision started a real trend during the nineties. This phenomenon has not actually finished yet: rather, while in the nineties it was typical in independent circles, afterwards this trend become more and more increased among pop bands, or major label acts, often playing genres not exactly classifiable as rock, but evidently more detectable as contaminated with pop music or “false electro”. It has been clear that most promotional efforts were made to satisfy the Italian market.

Furthermore, it is not news that Italy is passing through a period of political, economic and social stagnation, and even as far as the cultural situation is concerned, I can say this is indubitably a period of crisis. The pop “culture”, mainly based on the logic of appearance and on approval coming from the number of shares or “likes” measurable in the social media, has engendered the supremacy of trash over anything else. Here in Italy, TV is still the guardian of this supremacy, while the web strongly relies on television, that decides what has to be important and worthy of being transmitted (and so able to become popular).

Thank you very much for taking the time to give such thought-provoking and considered responses to our questions. I hope that we have the opportunity to see this current work in a live environment at some point in the near future.

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