Davide Ficco’s asymmetrical thoughts on #neuguitars #blog
Please pay attention. We live in strange days, and I’m not referring to Covid-19. If you look around you will notice a curious identity-seeking anxiety. Everyone, today, is looking for their own new identity. So far nothing strange, in a world that for some time has made transformism its primary requirement. What surprises me is how they do it. People, consumers, companies, political parties, all seem to seek their identity by wallowing and using an indistinct bunch of collective and individual memories, abstractions from the past, reinterpretations and, unfortunately, even historical renegotiations, in search of something that gives them a qualification of integrity, belonging, a certified existence. Of course, memories are important to define an identity, but they are not enough: the distinctive factor is not only given what one has done in the past, but what one is and what one does today. What goes on. The things towards which one is projected. Identity is as crucial for an artist, for a musician as style, to a level that the two terms are often taken as synonyms. Davide Ficco is a guitarist who has always sanctioned an extremely personal style, based on some basic factors: a complete attention to the recording quality, the studio used with discretion, but as a fundamental element of a clean, precise and characteristic sound, the desire and research in the field of sounds expressed by the potential of the classical guitar, sometimes electric, and the combination with electronics.
These aspects characterize him, from my point of view, as an exponent of the “conceptual guitar”, that musical niche where aspects such as avant-garde, depth of thought and desire for research still make sense. The conceptual guitar is a musical niche capable of expressing a subculture dedicated to a role of discovery and exploration, fundamentally it is both a legacy of Darmstadt’s legacy of thought, and its integration with other research languages such as radical improvisation, both an elegant interaction with experimental forms derived from mass culture. It is a subculture linked to radical forms of thought, crossed with a sophisticated, multicultural and cosmopolitan vision, where the forms adopted are not affected by trends expressed in national terms, but rather refer to a subculture shared through knowledge gained through seminars, conferences, masterclasses, concerts, limited edition cds and the creative and dynamic use of global communication networks. Where the record production does not respond to a market criteria, but rather satisfies the urgency of providing sound documentation similar to the written one, a complement that flanks the score or the graphic composition, testifying the importance of the interpreter.
I believe this is the musical and cultural scenario in which Davide Ficco has created this impressive work of his: a sumptuous box set of two CDs and a DVD, entirely dedicated to contemporary music for classical and electronic guitar. Produced with rigor and passion by the increasingly courageous independent label Da Vinci Classics, ‘designed in Japan, Printed in Eu’, supported by the prestigious EASTN-DC (European Art-Science-Technology Network for Digital Creativity) project. Eighteen pieces all composed by Italian authors. A kind of state of the art. A kaleidoscopic photograph able to offer eighteen points of view on the same creative theme: how to make a purely acoustic instrument interact with complex electronic textures. How to generate a non-idiomatic musical form, far from the well-known stylistic forms around which the world of classical guitar has been revolving for at least a century. The result is really interesting, eighteen songs, we said, for a truly heterogeneous and complex collection. Ficco defines this project as an itinerary, a precise structure in four groups, two for each CD, to each of which he wanted to give a name to better define a conceptual map made up of sounds and scores. The titles are “Teachers and Students”, “Evocation”, “Extreme and contrast” and “Electronics and guitar”. The composers are: Alessandro Sciaraffa, Angelo “Motor” Comino, Angelo Benedetti, Azio Corghi, Davide Ficco, Gianluca Verlingieri, Giorgio Li Calzi, Giorgio Sollazzi, Giorgio Zucco, Giuseppe Gavazza, Luigi Giachino, Luis Milán, Marco Trivellato, Mirko Andreoli, Patrizio Barontini, Sergio Bertani, Simone Conforti, Stefano Giorgi, Valerio Sannicandro. The first group, “Teachers and Students”, includes Azio Corghi, Gianluca Verlingieri and Giuseppe Gavazza, composers linked together by didactic and personal approach to composition ties. The second group “Evocation” includes works by Valerio Sannicandro, Simone Conforti, Stefano Giorgi, Davide Ficco and Alessandro Sciaraffa, with pieces characterized by powerful evocative elements. In the second CD we find the two remaining groups. The first, called “Extreme and contrast”, feeds on the combination of both sounds and concepts with decidedly non-classical features, and entirely classic sensations. It includes works by Mirko Andreoli, Sergio Bertani, Giorgio Li Calzi, Angelo “Motor” Comino and Marco Trivellato. The last group “Electronics and Guitar” concerns Giorgio Sollazzi, Luigi Giachino, Patrizio Barontini, Giorgio Zucco and Angelo Benedetti. Their pieces bring attention to the electronic realization and its dialogue with the guitar, which is at the center of both the discourse and the contrast. Stand alone track that introduces this collection, Luis Milan’s “Fantasia XVI in the 5th and 6th tone” which connects directly with the piece “Consonancias Y Redobles” by Azio Corghi and “Resonancias y redobles” by Gianluca Verlingieri.
These thematic groupings mean that this box set doesn’t sound like a compilation, like a simple set of tracks, but has its own organic sense, a common chain of sounds, a sort of well-defined musical landscape. Personally I really appreciate this artistic aspect, I like it when an interpreter creates his own path, his own musical world made up of the connections that can be obtained from listening to the pieces he proposes and shows to his audience. As I have already written about Sergio Sorrentino’s excellent CD, “Electric”, here too we are faced with the potential creation of a musical world, a sound scenario very different from the usual list of pieces presented during a “classic” recital “. This is another characteristic of the exponents of the “conceptual guitar”. Davide Ficco fuses together acoustic sound and electronic sound, visions, ideas and emotions, reflecting a greater self-reflective awareness and the very high quality level of its components, in search of a new verbal and expressive level, favoring different forms of communication than traditionally assigned to the world of classical music.
If you don’t believe me, I invite you to carefully examine the cover of the box set: I have never seen a similar cover on a “traditional” classical guitar record. Davide Ficco is portrayed wearing a traditional Japanese black kimono, in a half-light slightly illuminated by a vermilion red light behind him, probably kneeling, in seiza, the straight and regal posture, the classical guitar held vertically in his right hand, as if a samurai would carry his sword. It is not an archaic portrait: Ficco wears a pair of dark glasses, with a design that is somewhere between minimal and industrial. The photo may have been taken in Tokyo exuding the future depicted in William Gibson’s novels and appears to be inspired by the designs of Masamune Shirow. An ironic image, an almost metaphysical shot by the talented Sergio Bertani, who at the same time already projects an impression on the audience that awaits inside the box. Tradition. Innovation. Future. Contextuality. Conceptuality. If Davide Ficco’s “conceptual guitar” is neither mass culture nor underground, with this cover it proves to be a new form of avant-garde that has adapted to the new multicultural and interdisciplinary environment, adopting procedures and points of reference and absorbing some aspects of design, media and architecture. A form that is another expression of content and information that also offers considerable food for thought, for example on the complex dualism between the performer and the composer. In this box, this dualism is not resolved, however, passing through a vision quite different from the Marxist critique inspired by the division of the works and tasks of Taylorism-Fordism: here there is no contrast of roles, both need each other . I feel the expression of a fruitful collaboration that reverberates in the excellent recording quality of the CDs and DVDs, which confirm the skills of sound engineer of Ficco himself, the deus ex machina of this project. The writer seriously invites you to purchase this box set, offered for sale on the Da Vinci Classic website at a very modest price, if compared at the quantity and quality of the content. You will not regret it. Ditch that Spotify nonsense and listen properly, at least this time.