Needs, techniques, improvisation, guitars, all in the music of Andrea Massaria on #neuguitars #blog
In how many ways can a record be listened to and “read”? How many possible interpretations can be found in its traces? How is, what is heard, perceived and reworked? How much can the work be separated from the intentions of her/his author? All these questions are spinning in my mind as I am listening and writing about the latest long awaited effort by the Italian experimental guitarist Andrea Massaria: a ‘solo’ album with a very interesting title “New Needs Need New Techniques”. I’ve read some reviews that focus on the title right from the start. They are right, it’s very intriguing and already provides some possible interpretations.
I believe that a large part of its attractiveness is played on the game between ‘needs’ and ‘techniques’, two terms that leave a vast field of interpretation and on which one can work at will. At the same time the title is very eloquent as it expresses a strictly contingent truth: the times we are experiencing express new needs and new solution/satisfaction techniques, at any level: social, economic, medical, environmental, political, artistic. Without needing to mention Covid-19 and the Marxist theories on culture according to which a superstructure capable of influencing the structure itself is obtained from societal and economic structures, I believe some basic aspects of our society are now evident. We are no longer able, even through science fiction works, to describe neither the logic of late capitalism, such as the growth of a globalized market that is no longer able to manage its own inconsistencies, nor the current post-modern, irregular, fragmented and ambiguous culture. What is the ordinary need for this type of society? An inordinate desire for consumption, often an end in itself, towards which the same innovation is aimed.
Now the music of Andrea Massaria instead shows us the need to adopt new needs and new techniques to achieve them. I don’t think it’s accidental: music has always shown a remarkable ability to anticipate the future and to comment on the present. A certain type of music, at least. Because guitars have disappeared from mainstream and pop music for several years, self-referring to other, more experimental, more underground sectors, and in these contexts their needs have changed. I believe that Massaria’s solo album fully expresses these new needs and new techniques: on the one hand, therefore, the musical needs, on the other those of society. All filtered and mediated by Massaria’s particular sensitivity and his culture. “New Needs Need New Techniques” is, in fact, a particularly complex album, whose music can be read on several levels. Let’s start with the sound of Massaria’s guitar, a particular sound, heavily filtered by effects and pedals, which however has two important characteristics: first, it’s a sound that belongs only to Andrea; second, it’s a sound that does not cover the particular free and be-bop characteristics of his phrasing. “New Needs Need New Techniques” is, then, a solo album, an important feature for those who belong to free improvisation, where the solo nature has always been experienced in an identity way by all its acolytes.
Massaria was missing from this important test, so far I had always listened to him playing with other musicians, in duo, in trio, in group. I almost got the idea of a follower of improvisation, perhaps linking this to the figure of him as a teacher. I was wrong. Andrea preferred to wait for the right moment to better express needs and techniques. He did it looking for new inspiration in the analysis of the art of three great painters, of three great revolutionaries: Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg. This is not unusual: the history of art is full of fruitful examples of collaboration between music and painting and Massaria himself is not the first time that he resorts to these forms: already in the previous album “The Spring of My Life”, made in 2016 with the cellist Clementine Gasser, the music found inspiration in the aiku of the Japanese master Kobayashi Issa.
Here, however, I have the feeling of finding myself in front of an album characterized by a higher rate of information. In “New Needs Need New Techniques” Massaria has concentrated needs and techniques, effectively demonstrating how both are the expression of two sides of the same coin. They cannot exist alone without reciprocal connections, and their balance is the final result, something necessarily ephemeral and unstable, which exists only in the space of these recordings and which tomorrow will see the emergence of new forms, of new solutions.
“New Needs Need New Techniques” is necessarily a solo album: here the individual, the artist, is divided from the totality and in this gap the details of the cultural maps appear much more nuanced and uncertain. It’s a record that defines an identity, with a high information density. Congratulations to Leo Records for producing this gem.