[On the occasion of the publication of the album Pierlugi Billone: Sgorgo Y . N . oO (Kairos)]
What and how was your first approach to Pierluigi Billone's music?
I very much remember hearing Mani. De Leonardis in Darmstadt as the first work I came in touch with by Mr. Billone. From that and from the moment circumstances brought us in closer contact I naturally got more and more familiar with the vast pallet of his work and warmly recall Quattro Alberi, ITI KE MI, Mani.Giacometti and Mani.Mono to resonate in me strongly. Although I believe to be able of putting in words how I approached his music I still preffer to recall a feeling I came accross with many times during the process of working on the piece. It was a feeling quite similar to the sensation of getting in touch with a new friend where you seem to have a none spoken understanding and sensitivity to things. In our case, a strong affection to the most minimal phenomenas the sound is consisiting of. Once embracing this approach and sensitivity, the path, to my humble opion, is extremely clear and in a sense, almost classical.
What are the main difficulties of a cycle like Sgorgo?
There are various layers to tackle for properly answering this question. First the works are no less acoustically challenging than they are electronically demanding so before (or following) the construction of the electric signal path (The "electronic" asspect of the sound), awaits the performer a microscopic handling of an extremely rich verity of physical execution parameters - slow or fast - that apply eventually to all four limbs. Parameters such as finger pressure, timbre and manner of attack, playing dynamics, articulation and additional body-instrument-machine actions (For example: regulating with your legs the pitches) are pivotal to the resulting sound succeeding the effects/electronic chain. The relations are eventually so that a non controlled physical action can easily result a completely different outcome then required in the score.
Secondly, a great challenge was to find a way for coming to a convincing sound (to my ears) that will further compliment the sound vision of Mr. Billone. In general for every piece I play and the Sgorgo cycle is no different, I take extreme care of the developped sound which is obviously a result of the physical asspect of playing but also requires a visionary handling of machinary and accordingly keeping them both in symbiotic relations.
In these pieces not only that the sound manipulation gives an added definition to the works, they sometimes become critical to "amplifying" a succesful desired sonority. Once overcoming the above two, you are left with the obvious difficulties coming with the performance of a 75 minute tryptich.
Do you believe that the electric guitar already has its own literature in contemporary music?
Looking at the facts, Yes. There is literature and it is many times very electric guitar oriented. If it stands shoulder to shoulder with canonic literature of other more veteran instruments, obviously it is not. This is by the way fine and natural and it even might surprise you but I don't find this to be of a disadvantage. On the other hand, I am not a crusader of the electric guitar as there is anyways so much music to play on the instrument without having it defined as "literature".
Of what contemporary composer, live or not, would like to have a work for electric guitar?
Luigi Nono, Gerard Grisey and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Do you think that it is difficult for the composer not to take into account the instrument's history rock / pop?
I imagine that with all that surrounds us it is hard to block out the domination of popular culture on our life. Since the composer is a person in society he/she are not amuned and accordingly, wanting it or not, the instrument's history has an impact on him/her. Still, once identified it is also quite possible I believe to reject these influences, at least to a crticial extent.
How would you define the profile of the Nikel Ensemble?
A quartet of four very different but complimentary people and artists, that sahre passion for performing music they believe to be potentially exciting and such that will challenge and expand their musicality and life experience.
What can you tell us about the tenth anniversary and the next publication (Nikel Box)?
This Nikel anniversary box is an object that will include 4 cd's - each with a specfic focus - and one dvd documenting a full live Nikel show joined by a medium size book (not booklet) hosting visuals, texts by various writers and additional inserts from the composers we've been working with and recording their pieces for this release. It is done with no label as part of our indie approach and as well for fulfilling our desire of oferring this objebr in a very accessible price for each who will desire.
Versión ampliada y en inglés de la entrevista publicada en el suplemento cultural 'Aladar' de El Correo de Andalucía el 11 de febrero de 2017.