Giuseppe Cordaro hides himself behind the pseudonym con_cetta. A guitarist in several ensembles, he has devoted himself to electronic music since 2005. Releases so far have been 'Sclerosis' for the netlabel Zymogen, and also 'Micro' for the UK label Moteer. He has collaborated with several artists, Corrado Nuccini and Jukka Reverberi from Giardini di Mirò, Emidio Clementi, Giorgio Sancristoforo, Grey in Sparkle, Luca Sciarratta (musicians), Giuseppe La Spada, Quayola, suicase (video-artists), and Francesco Fei (director), amongst others.
Hi Giuseppe, to begin with, where does your moniker come from?
There’s a sentimental tinge to my moniker, which has a strictly “familiar” origin in my case, as it is a due homage to my grandmother Concetta. When I started releasing audio material I immediately thought of her. I owe my passion for a certain sound to her. When I was eight, she gave me two albums, which have shaped my musical education, and I played them to death on my parents old Telefunken stereo. Those albums were Trans Europe Express and Radio-Aktivity by Kraftwerk.
You were the first Italian artist to appear on the netlabel Zymogen with the album Sclerosis, your debut under your moniker. In the linear notes it states that Sclerosis could be seen as your “attempt at escaping the chaos of the industrial metropolis, generally seen as lacking the colour and poetry of everyday life”. Phlow magazine wrote that the opening track sounds like “Arvo Pärt underwater”. It is unusually focussed and restrained for a first album, even though there is a sense of trying out different things. What was its gestation process like?
That album was born out of a particular and specific context. During the same period I also recorded my other album Micro, released on Moteer::. Generally speaking, I retreat for a few months after having gathered enough audio material (field recordings, my own recordings and / or different loops), after which I start assembling the lot. Mine is not really a “flight from reality”, as I try to find a musical aesthetic in the environment I inhabit, something that moves me, even some noise combined with something else could become poetry. Everything comes from there, I have the raw material and I start working on it just like a sculptor who chips away and chisels a piece of stone.
Following from Sclerosis, you’ve released Micro on the British label Moteer::, an album where you’ve been “exploring the properties of the looping and layering techniques available in the post-glitch era” to quote from the bookmat product review. To me, Micro feels like it inhabits a different sound space, more self-contained with solitary broken piano lines that seem to be talking to themselves. Also, it is an album that seems to have found its perfect home on the Moteer:: label. How did that come about?
As I was saying, both Scleroris and Micro share the same gestation period and as a consequence they have a similar approach to the sound. The sound of Micro, in particular, is heavily processed, the finished product is like a sonic sculpture, the result of a long process of manipulation of sound. Once I completed the tracks I tried to give them an identity (I had 4CDrs of finished material). I knew Moteer:: as I’d been following them from their first release and I immediately thought of submitting some material. I prepared a demo with a few tracks and I sent them to Craig. A few days later I got an answer from him asking for more material, as he was interested in doing a release.
You have been collaborating as a sound designer with the artist Giuseppe La Spada, amongst others. One of the projects you’ve been involved in is A Fleur, which is a poetic reflection about love inspired by Jean Vigo’s seminal film L’Atalante. How important are visual within your work?
My collaboration with Giuseppe La Spada started completely by accident. We met in a pizza place in Rovereto after having attended a gig by Sakamoto. As that evening my girlfriend and I were the only people in the restaurant together with him, we ended up sitting at the same table. After that first accidental meeting, we exchanged a few emails attaching our respective work. As we shared the same geographical origin, our beloved Sicily, there was a certain chemistry between us, and my music suited perfectly his images. We share a similar and decidedly “romantic” aesthetic. I feel that any image can be very strong if attached to the right music and vice-versa, a sound visualised by an image can touch more easily the listener.
Your 30 seconds “audiosnapshots” on soundcloud read like an audio diary. I took an audio diary myself for a number of years, and one of the things that struck me was that as an activity it is very much viewed by some as “suspicious”. Whereas photography is acceptable, with the proliferation of all kinds of different format cameras, and social networks that very much encourage this kind of activity, sound recordings are still considered more intrusive by some. I kept being asked, “What are you going to do with that recording?” by apprehensive friends. Still, personally, I find that photographs often tend to hijack my memories while sounds seem to be more effective in conjuring up images of people and places. What is your take on that and what is behind your soundcloud field-recordings?
Those 30 daily seconds were an experiment of a particular time of my life, a sort of summing up. There are several photographers who take a daily self-portrait of themselves to document change. I have recorded the sounds that have followed me in the course of a year, always in 30 seconds snapshots. As you have rightly pointed out, sound can conjure up a specific imagery, just like perfumes. It’s fascinating and in the future I’d like to develop further this sound/essence alliance.
Also, you are quite meticulous about your 30 seconds “audiosnapshots” as each one of them comes with a title and a different image even if these sometimes appear as random and cryptic. On a general level, do you hide a narrative impulse behind your sound work?
The titles of the audio snapshots are randomized and were created by a software that generates text, the cryptic intent was intentional. The narrative impulse behind it was to capture key 30 seconds of a typical day in the life of Giuseppe Cordaro. I carried with me my digital recoder 24/7, I looked like a sonic hunter. The illustrations are all creative commons images, some of which were taken by me and they represent a sonic element of the audio sample. I have collected 365 samples that sooner or later I will blend together in order to create a piece on my 30th year of aural life.
Together with Alessio Ballerini, Enrico Coniglio, and Attilio Novellino, you have captured sounds in four ailing Italian industrial sites as a basis for the album Loud Listening, out on Cronica. Your field recordings were then distributed to a host of musicians and sound artists that, “looking from afar to Italian industry, but perhaps feeling much of the effects of the crisis that is affecting it, reinterpreted the original sources and provided the ten reinterpretations that complete this release”. In particular, you visited the Acciaieria di Rubiera, in Casalgrande near Reggio Emilia and close to the Secchia river, an area surrounded by fertile farmland. How did the Acciaieria respond to such a project and do you believe field recordings should strive to document the socio-political landscape in which we live in?
In Italy there’s a great vitality around the notion of soundscape. This is important and needs to be supported. Loud Listening, which Alessio, Attilio, Enrico and I created, has been a wonderful experience. I really hold in high esteem Alessio, Enrico and Attilio’s work. It has also been the opportunity for me of releasing on the Crònica label, which I knew from Victor Joaquim and Francisco Lopez’s work.
As for my specific piece on the Rubiera steel mill, I need to specify that I was there thanks to a project I worked on in collaboration with Agon and the composer Giorgio Sancristoforo, which was commissioned by the Teatri di Reggi as part of the Rec Festival.
The Rubiera management immediately agreed and we spent a couple of nights inside the steel mill filming and recording sounds. The chance of entering a labour environment, which has become so removed from that office and desks workplace many of us have now become accustomed makes one appreciate the ennobling value of the industrial process; I believe it to be extremely important on a socio-political level to voice not only its sonic activity but also its visual side.
Talking about Reggio Emilia, you were born in Agrigento, Sicily. How did you end up living in the Emilia Romagna region?
The path that took me from my birthplace of Agrigento to Reggio Emilia has been a long and winding one made of coincidences and bizarre situations. Upon leaving high school, I moved to Perugia where I did media studies. After graduation I spent some time in Tanzania and then moved to Milan where I worked for a communication agency before taking up a post working for a company that organised events such as the Milano Film Festival and the electronic music festival Audiovisiva. During that period I had the opportunity of meeting many musicians such as the Giardini di Mirò, which I am a big fan of. Once I decided to quit Milan I followed my friends’ advice and here I am in Reggio Emilia, a less frantic city with a higher quality of life.
You live quite close the epicentre of the recent earthquake in Emilia. What has your experience about it been? Also, what role do you believe a sound artist should play in preserving the memory of a specific soundscape?
Alas, the 29th of May has left a scar on the lives of many people. I live 60 km away from the epicentre of the earthquake and it hasn’t been a pleasant experience to say the least. Luckily the situation in Reggio Emilia itself hasn’t been too bad. Our sonic landscape needs to be preserved and documented. We might not realise but our aural environment has dramatically changed since the early XX century, our sound references have changed. Our hearing has grown accustomed to the sounds of modernity even if we are no longer aware of the “noise” since we are immersed in it from birth. Now that we have the possibility of storing the aural world in increasingly smaller digital archives, I believe we have a duty to leave a record of it for future generations.
The Italian electroacoustic scene is very diverse and also incredibly active with dozens of interesting projects and labels form North to South and yet there’s no 12k, Touch or Editions Mego. Why would you say that is and who would you recommend looking up?
Luckily, the electroacoustic scene in Italy is quite vibrant. I really like the work of Giuseppe Ielasi, Nicola Ratti, Alberto Boccardi, Lorenzo Senni, Attila Faravelli, Enrico Malatesta, Stefano Pilia, Giovanni Lami, Barbara de Dominicis, Andrea Serrapiglio and many others. (The list is never ending!)
Finally, what are you currently working on and when can we expect a new Con_Cetta album?
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of sound design work for videos and installations. For instance, I’ve just finished working, together with Giuseppe La Spada, on a piece about the sounds of wine, which was shown in Milan. As for a new album I have so much material ready… I just need to find time to retreat and complete all the “sound drafts” that I have accumulated over the years.
I will also start collaborating with another Italian artist Jukka Reverberi (the guitarist from the band Giardini di Mirò) and a new EP is planned for 2013.