Here's chat-shaped intro/guide to the Italian band Caligine's works, both informational and musical. I like this project and think some of u will do too. So scroll down this post, hit "play", get back to the beginning of the interview and read. Thanx.
African: So.... Where u'd prefer to start?
Gabriele: Well you choose... We have to talk about the label, the Caligine collective or the noise project Istituzioni Ambienti Naturalismo.
U also involved in Istituzioni Ambienti Naturalismo? So i think we just should start from where it all begun. When and what happened first?
First it happened that I started making noise in 2006. I just recorded things around with a portable cassette recorder, and looped, and cut, and recorded again. I didn't know pretty much anything about noise, but I liked to mess up with sounds and distorted things. Then one day I decided to put something on the internet, I chose some recordings and I had to choose a name for the project. So I opened a book I was reading and chose 3 random words in 3 different pages. And it came out Istituzioni (Istitutions) Ambienti (ambients) Naturalismo (Naturalism). I thought they fitted quite well and that's it. Then I continuied making noise and shit and experimenting until I went to China for 2 months, where I met Torturing Nurse and other noisers and I played a show with Lolita Vibrator Torture ( I knew him before); then we recorded a collaboration with Torturing Nurse and it came out unexpectedly cool. So I came back to Italy with the recordings and I didn't know what to make with them. And I created a label.
So the whole idea of label came to u thru the dozens of unreleased and homeless stuff u've recorded up to that days? U made it more to promo yr music or more to find co-thinking artists and to widen the catalog?
At the beginning I made it just to release 2 things we recorded in China - the TN collaboration and the live recording of the show, which was really good and deserved to be released. Then I started thinking that the label could become something more, like a way to put together artists that I liked. In fact I try not to release too many things by myself, it's not a so self-centered label.
Since then as far as i see u released 10 cdrs and 1 web-compilation?
Yes, the 10th release is just out and we're really happy, it's one of the best things ever done. Professional package and everything. The net-released split (download it here) was an experiment - it's just something different from anything else we've done and I thought it would be great to put it free to download for anyone. It's a 3-way split with 3 italian noisers (one is myself) that are really different from each other (ioioi, she's really great) all centered in some way in homerecorded sweet noises, domestic in some strange way.
When 1st one went out?
1st one was the collaboration with Torturing Nurse, and was ready and packaged in November 07, but recorded in August.
I'm not really into the bands which are in yr catalog (ex. one) - describe the common genre vector of Monstres Par Excès. Maybe if few words.
Well the genre vector is essentially "experimental". We have a broad range of music and we are not just a "noise" label or a "psych" label. I try to blend different genres with a same aestethic impulse. We have some lo-fi psych things (God Generator), we have chinese harsh noise, we have more refined glitch/ambient, and we have the strange folk-psych elements emerging from a noise backgrounds (Caligine). Really different artists that I try to bring together with a common attitude towards music. I suggest to try God Generator and the net release... God Generator's "Electrocatalysts" you can download here.
Here we getting to the starting point of our acquaintance - Caligine. So... I'll ask u not to be hurry — what's Caligine? Who? When? Where? How?
What&Who: Caligine is a collective. It means that I'm always into it, but with different people in different times. Since today already other 7 people performed and recorded with Caligine. Caligine was born because I love acoustic instruments and I felt the need to explore the origins of sound itself with simple instruments and proto-folk structures. I was becoming more and more fascinated with folk music from around the world and I needed an output to channel all the things I listened into something I played. I think that there is a kind of common matrix behing all the folk expressions of music in the world, because they are the most basic things an human makes when he builds himself an istrument, everywhere. So I decided to take a step back, before different kinds ok "folk music" and try to do just what could came out of lot of people jamming with musical devices.
When&Where: Caligine was born in summer 2008, in China again. China has this sort of power to give a form to my projects. I think this is because it's so stunning to live there that you have to grasp at the core of yourself to keep stead. I wrote the first caligine song there, and recorded it on a crappy mp3 recorder, with a guitar I bought there and left there once I came back. This song is yet unreleased but I'll probably re-record it for the first Caligine LP coming out soon. Born East, Caligine came back to West and we recorded and jammed and I composed and wrote songs all 2008 and 2009 since today. The first volume of Minimalia was recorded in Rome and it was sort of "departure" from the noise with which I played before. It begins with noise and it ends in peace, with a strange pulsating arabian bassline and a crackled distant acoustic guitar. It's just the beginning. Minimalia, vol. 2 is more refined and focused, it was meant to be the real "birth" of Caligine, and we added a drummer to the collective for that occasion, and we recorded water dripping, and lake waves, and we chanted and moaned and it was like a spring ritual. The Minimalia series is meant to end with Vol. 4, and each volume covers some months of the years. Volume 3 will probably deal with October and November, and volume 4 will end the cycle to March, the end of winter.
How: Well, how... We used anything we can find that fits well with our idea of music in the time we record. We played drums under a rainy day to catch the drip drop of the raindrops on the drums. We used junk, old instruments, strange world percussions, the echo of rooms and the whirling of the wind. Even a car passing was captured and was so perfect in that time and place that we left it in the record and you can hear it sometimes. We put together a lot of things, from harmonic chanting inspired by Tuvan singing to my friend's grandpa speaking of cars and crops. It's really like my idea of folk music: any sound that you feel homely and cozy.
Do u have some inspirational stuff for this move from noise to psychedelic? Or it was kinda call of "inner artist"?
It was all my musical tastes evolving... Since when I was young I loved folk music. I listened to metal, and I loved folk tunes. Then hardcore, and I still love folk hymns. Then noise, psychedelic stuff, jazz, and still I kept listening and playing folk. I think it's kind of a cycle closing on itself. I'm trying to build with Caligine the foundation of my musical vision. By the way, of course I had some inspirations. I feel really close with David Tibet, Ben Chasny and other guys with which I feel some empathy.
As it seems, u just gathered all yr past and current interests around yr devotion to the folk music. It really worked cool. Tibet & Chasny are a bit different. Whom u'd prefer if u'd have to choose the only one to take with u on the far island where onnly electrisity to fill yr player and nothing else?))) I mean - its funny question, but with serious basis: what's yr favorite music in nowadays?
Ahaha, yeah Tibet and Chasny are a bit different but you listened only to Minimalia series, which is the "improvisional" side of Caligine. We have some "real" songs yet unreleased that are more C93ish... By the way, nowadays I would bring with me some Anna Ternheim cds. I know it's strange, but she's one of my favourite artists. She's a swedish songwriter and I completely love her. Every word of her, every tune, every song. I bought her all the albums she released and I keep listening to her lot of times, even if I'm not into folk-pop singers. It's some kind of affinity I feel with her songs and words, probably she's not so famous and it's really different from my main listenings, but she's the one. Hehehe.
Which side of Caligine - improv or this song-oriented - u prefer yourself? What closer to u? Besides i can't speak straight about the second one coz all i heard was Minimalia 1+2... But i liked it alot.
I feel them like two sides of myself. They can't exist without each other. I find and discover sounds and possibilities during improvisations, and then arrange them into proper "songs" when I have focused them, but the I feel the need again to play without rules, so I'm back to improvising... It's a cycle even that.
Sounds really clever. Like prepared torch. Do u have currently some other project(s) alongside with Caligine?
No, I keep experimenting with noise with I.A.N. and I've got some split cds on various labels, now I'm really into drone and power electronics. Running a label, mailorders, a folk collective and a noise projects are enough.
I was always asking myself a question - is it possible to run everything around and still have time to have some fun? U must be a really busy guy. Do u have dayjob or smth like that?
Ahahah actually I've just graduated in Chinese and Japanese studies. It's a bit hard to run all together and there are some really hectic days - recording, then printing something, then sending 2-3 packages around the world... But yeah, I have fun when I want to! And for me writing songs and jamming around is fun, so Caligine is pretty much a relaxing affair.
What could u say about current changes around music distribution in connection to web powers increasing? Do u think we observe the end of the world we knew it before or its just a slight transformation? It’s the question more to Gabriele - label runner, i think, than to Gabriele - musician, but interesting to hear thoughts from both.
Yeah, well, I'm really pro internet. I'm happy if my music is shared for free because I think people - real listeners, I mean, not casual ones - are building a real ethic about that. So I know that if someone likes my music he will buy it, sometime, and if he will not because he has not enough money, he will recommend it to a friend and maybe the friend will buy it... So I'm not against file sharing at all. I think it's one of the most important revolution in the world's communication, not just music. Now anyone can make music and share it and you can listen shitloads of music everyday, and choose exactly the music you like more, and when you're sure, buy it - just as a reward to the artist who produced it. It's not a slight transformation but it's not a dramatic one. It's just that medias are changing, but the system remains the same. Someone produces, then promotes, and someone elsy buys. It's just that now the "good" music has more chances to be appreciated by a wide audience. 15 years ago there were diy labels sending cassettes all over the world - things worked the same, but slower, and you could not try music before buying it, and you should be satisfied with the things your dealer sent to you. Now you can take exactlly what you like, from anywhere. I think it's good. These are both from me-musician and label owner, you see, because when I release something I feel "mine" in some way, for the cover art design, for the package... So I'm happy if people like it :)
Today there's a lot of small indie labels around the globe - cdr, cassette and lp releases with funny (comparing to the worldwide web-promo) editions up to 100 copies... I deeply believe that they live coz of current possibilities internet gave all of us - musicians, distributors, listeners i mean. Some of 'em have nothing against filesharing, some say it’s a robbery, some keep thinking their own minds, but in tongue not saying it... People revealing new huuuuge bunch of cool bands thru web, then buying (or not) their albums... The whole situation around this so called experimental music, its totally messed up and noone can say for sure common wrongs and rights. Where u see yourself in this knot of arts, morality & money?
Yeah is messed up but this is because this music in experimental... I think that every musician knows his rights. I mean, if you want to keep your music private and to sell it without sharing it do it, I've nothing against it. Actually I think that music is not business. It was never - at least not music made for the pure sake of it. As for morality, I think that it is a stupid thing invented in the recent history. I don't deal with morality, I deal with music and love for it.
That’s right but there's lotsa things which ain't fitting the global system... Ok, this question is kinda misleading... We'd use some cliches - how do u see the future of yr label?
As for money, I just think that the money I spend making release should be payed by people listening to them, if they want it. If people pay the price I pay to make cdrs and everything, then I can afford to continue my label and offer more music. If people don't like my music, well, probably I will have to stop... Well, the future? I actually don't know. In september I'll be in China again so who knows... New directions? Eheheh) For sure I want to release a proper Caligine LP someday. I've got something like 15 songs ready, just have to record them and then who knows, maybe I will release something in China, new collaborations, new projects... I just hope to refound a bit selling something in between. Since today, I'm completely down on money :)
Let's figure out together how we'd get to the finishing point...
Well I don't know, ahaha, do you have some funny question? I feel I've said a lot of important things!
Maybe we missed smth... As for funny one - why yr MS profile says u don't want children?
Mh let me think. I just would like to say to anyone to check our music. I think I put a lot of effort into packaging and shipping - just 10 days wait and you get the package, and I print pro-printed sleeves and artworks and good cdrs and I draw every single cd by hand, and I think that our prices are really low, compared to other diy labels who use branded cdr and xeroxed artworks... Ahahah, yep, I don't want children. With children to care, how can I manage to do all this things?!
CALIGINE  MINIMALIA, Vol. 1
Monstres par Excès
"First effort from Rome's best unfolk act. Unfolk means wood, iron and nails, drenched in analog noise and lo-fi whispers. Indian blessed bells and mandola, acoustic guitars playing from remote ages through the hands of a stoned muezzin. Ben Chasny blindfolded jamming with Om through broken speakers."
Jewel case, handdrawings on blue minicd, 20 hand-numbered copies. 3€ + shipping.
GET MP3 HERE
BUY IT HERE
CALIGINE  MINIMALIA, Vol. 2
Monstres par Excès
"Second chapter from the improvised sessions of this unfolk collective base in nowhere, Italy. Recorded during a long jam session on the shores of a vulcanic lake, reflecting the watery moods of a rainy summer, a new sound stems from the muddy distortions of the past and reveals itself as a soothing dew on the cold windows of your heart."
Jewel case, handdrawings on red minicd, 20 hand-numbered copies. 3€ + shipping.
GET MP3 HERE
BUY IT HERE
ALTAR EAGLE/PILLARS OF HEAVEN/CALIGINE/HIGH WOLF  ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS
"Four heavy-hitters converge here in totally complimentary energies on Stunned’s 40th release and 1st double cassette edition." (Read more release notes here and wide review from Henry Smith @ Ear-Conditioned Nightmare — here)
GET MP3 HERE