The space mystery of the Piccola Orchestra Gagarin, its myth, legend and space
The Piccola Orchestra Gagarin, or the trio composed by three unusual musicians: Paolo Angeli, Sardinian modified guitar; Sasha Agranov, cello and loops; Oriol Roca, drums.
A very small orchestra, and it could not be otherwise for an orchestra that is named after the great Yuriy Alekseyevich Gagarin, cosmonaut and Soviet aviator, the first man to fly in space, on our heads, on April 12, 1961.
Today, it seems like a little thing: we are spoiled, accustomed to the successes of spatial probes and the various expeditions that, from that fateful day of 1961, sprang into space, toward infinity and beyond, as a cartoon character often says.
I tried to ask Nasa about this Piccola Orchestra, but they assured me that they didn’t know anything about it, I made several attempts at the Vostok Soviet space program, nothing, nothing also from my requests at the Bajkonur space base in Kazakhstan, where Gagarin left that April 12, 1961. There is no clue to my research, not even a meticulous search in the SpaceAnnals (1), which has led to no results, this Piccola Orchestra entitled to great Yuri Alekseevich, remained one of the mysteries of the sideral space that surrounds us.
Then as always when it seems that there are no hopes and one begins to wonder if this Piccola Orchestra Gagarin is nothing but one of the dreams that a cosmonaut does in space, here’s the first clue.
A CD, dated 2011, where you can see the Piccola Orchestra deployed, already equipped with the skates that will allow its crew to survive in the deep space, the CD was in fact accompanied by the Orchestra’s photos aimed at launching preparations and in moments of leisure … for example in the act of refreshing in the space base table that welcomed them eating before the imminent launch. A careful analysis of the cd showed that what I believed was a mass of datas and informations suitable for the flight computer of their ship was instead a music cd, played by the same cosmonauts!
What kind of music could it be? Popular folk songs played by Soviet cosmonauts? Commemorative Hymns in honor of the great Jurij Alekseevič Gagarin? None of this, already the title “Platos Combinados” left some margin of doubt … it is a pure post modern crossover, absolutely powerful: no tension’s drops for all 45 minutes of the cd , A unique musical flow that moves between free jazz, contemporary, improvisation, popular Sardinian music (an exceptional version of Corsicana with Paolo Angeling singing in Sardinian dialect), Spanish, Russian and arabesque music.
The three cosmonauts are exceptional and they are well integrated with each other (surely due to their rigorous training): Oriol Roca is a perfect, flexible and perfectly fit in poly-rhythms drummer and able to play even outside the pulse, the perfect shoulder for Angeli and Agranov who play cheerfully on the bass and melodious territories, saturating any free space possible and creating a sound in continuous mutation. Perfect symbiosis, perfect interplay. Never a blush, never a fall of style.
A beautiful disc, then launching some hidden base, perhaps from the fantastic Gaudì Area, where some people said that the remains of ancient Catalan posthumous architectures are kept and hidden, and then nothing more. Anything. Destination and mission unknown, no news, absolute radio silence.
Then, a few days ago, another cd came to me, dated 2016, I open it and I find a significant photo: the Piccola Orchestra that plays from a ship, from a space ship, but I could not understand where, I think we can see Lunar ground, perhaps they are playing on a lunar basis, the notes accompanying the cd don’t tell us anything, but the three seem fit, focused on their performance, forgetting almost to be in space hundreds of thousands of miles from their homes.
The title also gives us further clues: “Vostok”. The most aware of you will have surely understood: Vostok is the name of the Soviet space program that sent Gagarin into space, beating Nasa’s competition. The Russians, again. Too many coincidences.
I put the cd on the player and listen to it. And I think the cosmonaut Paolo Angeli enjoyed so much, being a great fan of Tom Cora and cello lover, to play with a multi-faceted musician like Russian Sasha Agranov. For years Paolo has added another mobile bridge to his modified guitar guitar so that he can play it with a bow like a cello. Listening to the cd we can see as the long time passed in the sideral space, isolated from Mother Earth, sounds and long walks in space have further improved the musical dynamics within the group, which now reaches new levels of finesse by continuing to that musical hybridization form among so many genres that had populated their first cd.
To note at the beginning the presence of the rhythms of another cosmonaut, Mandala Maseko, maybe a meeting by chance, on board of another space station, a propitious addition to the departure of this cd that tells us in about 40 minutes of new stories, encounters , magic, possibility.
Continue your mission, proud Piccola Orchestra Gagarin! Space is your place! I want to greet you with the immortal words of the Hero of the Soviet Union. Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin:
“From here the Earth is blue! What a wonder! … it is beautiful, without frontiers or boundaries … “
(1) for those who do not know the Space Annals. They are the most detailed collection of information written on A4 size, ivory paper, brochures, each of the 500 pages size and weight of 2 kg. Published and updated every year from the prestigious Ullapool Space Academy, available for consultation strictly in situ, only to bloggers who demonstrate how to solve the logic of the Turing Test and collect records about contemporary guitar music.