The postmodern electric body: Trash TV Trance by Fausto Romitelli on #neuguitars #blog #FaustoRomitelli
I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them, They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them, And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.
Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Fausto Romitelli was a contemporary Italian composer, one of the most performed and appreciated. A pupil of Umberto Rotondi, he graduated from the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan, later studying at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena and at the Civic School of Music in Milan with Franco Donatoni. From 1993 to 1995 he collaborated with Ircam in Paris as a ‘compositeur en recherche’, studying among others with Gérard Grisey. He has won numerous awards, including the Franco Abbiati Award of the Italian Music Critics for the work An Index of Metals. He took up the lesson of the French spectralists and then managed to synthesize a personal research based on an intensive use of the most varied contaminations. Author of a rigorous poetics rich in personal ideas, Romitelli managed to define a sound light years away from traditional classical music, able to draw on and blend together both the rock of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and the cultured predecessors of Western avant-garde music, all without the slightest trace of that stale and worn academicism. His music, characterized by an intense emotional energy and a remarkable archetypal strength, has always shown a natural attraction towards the use of a distorted, acid, psychedelic electric guitar, to the point of using it both in numerous works for ensembles: Acid Dreamns & Spanish Queens (1994), Dead City Radio (2004), An Index of Metals (2003), Professor Bad Trip (1998-2000) and for the solo opera Trash TV Trance (2002), undoubtedly the most performed composition , along with Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, from the electric repertoire.
“We shook together the bits and pieces, parts and samples, textures and tastes, humors and distillations that would move her compass needle north to cool us, south to warm and comfort us, east and west to travel round the endless world, glide her eyes to know us, mouth to sing us asleep by night, hands to touch us awake at dawn.”
Ray Bradbury, I sing the Body Electric!
Sergio Sorrentino writes, in his excellent book “La Chitarra Elettrica nella Musica da Concerto”, how the presence of the electric guitar in Romitelli’s music is not simply due to a need for timbre. Romitelli is not a composer who aspires to progressive sounds. The electric guitar is the rock par excellence, the iconic symbol of the destruction of all that is constriction, myopia, conventional rigidity. The rejection of the static conservatory academism linked to the past. This is how Romitelli replies in his writing “THE COMPOSER AS VIRUS”, a true summa of his theoretical thought: “The musical avant-garde of the postwar period has made a clean sweep of the past and elaborated new categories of thought; from post-Webernian structuralism to ghostly music, the generations that preceded us were beset by the “exasperated desire for a total reorganization, on new foundations, of musical language” (Gentilucci). Our generation, on the other hand, has not invented new linguistic systems but has tried to find a perceptive efficacy and a new, strong communicative impact. The legacy of the avant-garde has been sifted through and, in some respects, integrated into our work, rejected for others: some writing principles have become the heritage of the new generations, others have been abandoned. The selection grid was not ideological but musical: the dogmas on the “purity” and neutrality of musical material, indispensable from a combinatorial point of view, in a mythology of abstraction and formalism, collapsed. “
The piece was dedicated to the Belgian guitarist Tom Pauwels, pioneer of avant-garde music for electric guitar, who following the untimely death of Romitelli, wrote the preface to the Ricordi edition of the piece, illustrating in an exhaustive way all the technical and stylistic facets of the composition. Trash TV Trance is an absolute technical, visionary and sound masterpiece, where the interpreter is called upon to master a complex and extensive variety of instrumental techniques: the use of unusual objects, the coordination of complex mechanical gestures, an indiscriminate abuse of effects and pedals.
So, more than a substance, plastic is the very idea of its infinite transformation; as its everyday name indicates, it is ubiquity made visible. And it is this, in fact, which makes it a miraculous substance: a miracle is always a sudden transformation of nature. Plastic remains impregnated throughout with this wonder: it is less a thing than the trace of a movement.
Roland Barthes, Mythologies
In the words of William Gibson, Trash TV Trance seems to be the perfect postmodern case of cultural change introduced by technology. “Emergent technology is, by its very nature, out of control, and leads to unpredictable outcomes.” Gibson wrote in “DISTRUST THAT PARTICULAR FLAVOR”. Romitelli believed that “compared to our predecessors, composers of my generation have to face different kinds of problems, in particular: 1) the impact of technologies; 2) the impact of the “media landscape” and of the new “communication” strategies; 3) the influence of popular area music (pop, rock, techno, ethnic, etc.); 4) survival at the extreme periphery of the cultural empire. ” Romitelli was well aware of how new technologies could upset the foundations of musical thought, but I believe he saw them from a technical, not a social point of view, as the culmination of a long process towards absolute control of sound and emancipation. of noise: “technologies have not generated a new language, but have suggested to composers new interpretations of the same principle: to compose« sound »rather than« with sound ». The main problem is to make the use of the machines personal, functional to one’s own creative needs, so that they do not become an additional instrument of approval by imposing standardized sounds and treatments. “
From this point of view, Trash TV Trance represents a representation of the technical and tonal possibilities made available by the electric guitar, which assumes the role of a new functional paradigm. The symbol of a new poetics of rupture, energy and psychedelia, the birth of a new way of thinking about music, capable of exposing the listener to new scenarios never heard before. “Take for example the case of Jimi Hendrix: in his music we hear a modulation of the thickness, of the grain, of the sound space, realized in a completely intuitive and yet very fine, inventive, energetic way. All this could not fail to interest me, considering how much he cares about the Debussy-Ligeti-Grisey filiation, that is, the idea of composing sound, rather than composing with sounds.”
Romitelli seems to be the son of the neo-avant-gardes, of a postmodern art that allows itself to be guaranteed not by the product, but by the process; from the artistic event that the artist manages to trigger with his own creative process, but without his productive identity being able to give him social recognition, which derives, on the contrary, from the connection with a political ideology, which seems to be something far from the composer’s thought. The great crisis of the seventies, which seems to be replicating itself in the days we are experiencing, affected not only the fields of economics, but also those of the models, values and motivations that had led the artists of the neo-avant-garde to produce experimental languages. The situations that determined this crisis were identified in the collapse of the Marxist ideology, the questioning of psychoanalysis, the relativity of the human sciences. A sort of epistemological catastrophe, which touched some fields of knowledge on which the avant-garde was moving.
The crisis of Marxism, which turned out to be an exact science as regards the analyzes of capitalism, but very inaccurate as regards the perspectives it proposed to overcome it, an impasse from which, years later, Mark himself did not seem to have found a way out. Fisher. Thus both the productive optimism of the advanced capitalist economies, but the confident experimentalism of the avant-gardes, to the belief that both art and Western civilization harbored for the possibility of developing towards new conditions were questioned. Romitelli seems to have overcome this level of crisis with Trash TV Trance, clinging to a fundamental value of the avant-garde culture: planning. Trash TV Trance seems to move beyond the horizon of a logocentric culture, which finds its support system on rationality, the optimism of reason, as a tool capable of bending the antinomies of history, differences, producing an overcoming of conflicts. With Trash TV Trance the composer rediscovers the confidence in history that leads him to experiment with new languages and, at the same time, finds himself in the position of having to unmask even the bad conscience within which he himself finds himself, because conceptual art at the end of the the seventies had become a sort of superstition, a work on emptiness carried out in the name and on behalf of an abstract ideology with no more confirmation in reality.
They were there by the edge of the sea, Linda Lee and the thin child who said his name was Neuromancer. His leather jacket dangled from her hand, catching the fringe of the surf. He walked on, following the music. Maelcum’s Zion dub.
William Gibson. Neuromancer