Interview with Alessandra Novaga
Dear Alessandra … the last time we chatted toghter was for my book “Chitarre Visionarie”, I think it’s time to talk togheter again, your first solo CD, La Chambre des Jeux Sonores, dating back to 2014 .. now finally comes out this new LP “Fassbinder Wunderkammer”, why much time in between?
Well…between these two albums there was the “Movimenti Lunari” LP, which was released by Blume in 2016. I don’t think there are no rules to release records and it is not necessary to create too many. Three discs in three years is too much, maybe! I justify myself thinking that Movimenti Lunari is a derivation, or rather a development of La Chambre des Jeux Sonores. Fassbinder Wunderkammer had several years of incubation and then for my solo record I think it will take quite a while.
There are several things that differentiate these two works, however, the record company, Setola di Maiale, is always the same … you feel comfortable with them …
Yes a lot. Stefano Giust, which as you know is the soul of Setola di Maiale, gave me complete freedom, from the content to the graphics, which for me is very important to treat alone. He is a dear friend!
This “Fassbinder Wunderkammer” comes out as LP, not as cd … and you play your music, not composed by others as in La Chambre des Jeux Sonores ….. aren’t you turning into a sort of Simon Reynolds’s Retromania?
In fact the music is not mine, but by Peer Raben, the composer who wrote the music for all of Fassbinder films. Between them, over the years, they created a harmony and a common purpose similar to that we can meet for Lynch – Badalamenti or Fellini – Rota. I have reworked the existing themes, extrapolating from the films. I hope I have made them mine, in a way, but I can’t say to have composed them. As for the choice to get it out in Lp and not on CD, it has a lot to do with the nature of the sounds and music of the disc. The atmosphere is very dated to the 80s, and the sounds are pretty lo-fi, so I think that vinyl is more authentic to convey what I have planned.
We said that in the midst of these two discs, almost as a kind of transition, there is Movimenti Lunari….
Movimenti Lunari was born thanks to the intuition of the man who runs the Blume label; after having heard him play La Chambre Des Jeux Sonores he asked me to think back two pieces, In Memoria, by Sandro Mussida and Untitled, January by Francesco Gagliardi, and to try to register them again in longer versions, more relaxed, and thus Movimenti Lunari was born. For me, this new version has been invigorating and I still really want to play them in concert. Every time is a strong immersion in sound, physically speaking.
You know .. if I were to re-read the last few years of your music, with the switch to electric guitar and improvisation I’d say you’ve done several quantum leaps …. the Book of Heads of John Zorn, but … you have allocated them ?
For now, but not with a real will to do so. For me playing them was a major and useful leap forward, and I still think that for a guitarist who wants to explore, playing them is extremely challenging experience. I don’t play them for a while because I was not asked to do so and I am quite involved in other projects in just the past year, and I would say that I tend to bring more new things for me. But if I would play now I know that would be very different from how I played them last time!
Let’s go back to Fassbinder Wunderkammer .. I am not a movie fan and I don’t know of the work of Fassbinder, so I “read” your music like kinematics, disconnected from the images that generated it, but if I had to explain how visionary Fassbinder was how could you him define and why have you been inspired?
Fassbinder is a director that I love since I was a teenager. Of him I have always loved the ability to be direct, to go straight to the goal without following fads or styles that would have aligned to his contemporaries, he had the courage to talk about feelings even in a historical moment in which cinema, and German’s cinema especially, went in other directions. I loved not so much his vision in itself, a rather painful and pessimistic of mankind and interpersonal relationships, but the strength and determination with which he has made about 40 films in 35 years of life to tell the vision to give it life. I’ve always loved the variety of styles he mastered as a true teacher but always, or nearly so, in packs, I would say, lo-fi. So for several years I thinked about the idea of doing a job on his film and I waited until now because only last year I realized how I could make it happen. In all this, of course, the main source of inspiration was the music composed by his faithful Peer Raben who knew how to write incredibly members themes for Fassbind’s vision!
And then … how does come a romantic concept as the Wunderkammer?
Titles are ‘sound’, ‘musical’; I’m sorry to disappoint you but I haven’t thought about the Wunderkammer as a romantic notion, and to be honest, the title was suggested to me, or rather, a gift from someone who has “chewed” Fassbinder all his life!
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
The first task I have is just return the gift I just mentioned! I will make the music for the new play by Elena Russo Arman (the friend who gave me the title Fassbinder Wunderkammer), The Jumiper Tree, which will be staged in May at the Teatro Elfo Puccini in Milan. I am very glad to have meet a really important a guitarist for me, that I love and I followed for years, Stefano Pilia, with whom we are working on our project, and I will carry out my work in solo, Movimenti Lunari and Fassbinder Wunderkammer (which I will start turn in May).
Listen .. a few years ago I read a good book by Bill Milkowski called “Rockers, Jazzbos and Visionaries”. Carlos Santana at one point replied that: “Some people have talent, some people have vision. And vision is more important then talent, obviously.” … after all these years of playing, to always seek new boundaries to broaden the background … what is your vision?
Ah! What a question! However I totally agree with Santana. The world is full of people playing well (just to stay in our camp), but really great! Technicality, flexibility, versatility, are important characteristics for those who decide to become a musician. But most do them don’t emerge, do not you see, they remains in the pile, because they haven’t a vision, don’t follow a personal inspiration, not a trace their way, don’t speak of themselves in what they do. I love those who have this vision, and not only in music. Even just the people we have appointed so far, are artists that I love very much because of this, I speak of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Peer Raben, Elena Russo Arman and Stefano Pilia. I love Jonas Mekas to madness for this, and Marc Ribot, and Francis Bacon and David Hockney, and David Lynch, and who knows how many others … but do not ask me what is my vision. I guess I’m the last person who can tell you …