The idea that is expressed in the Emilian band Gasparazzo new album Mo’ Mo’ is a mix of catchy and well orchestrated sounds. A production line with a differentiated and exacting market, where the standard of living with the electronic sound “acoustic style” marked and elegant denoting the skill and dexterity of the performers. Mo’ Mo’ is a multi-faceted album, which takes us on a journey through diverse styles and influences. A disk from which emerge refined and dynamic arrangements, as well as the liveliness of interpretation of a thick and tight-knit band. Similarly, the album – which seals more than ten years activity of the band from Reggio Emilia, which has assets of five albums and numerous collaborations in the Italian panorama of folk rock – is part of the rich musical “alternative” landscape of our country, helping to expand a cultural proposal that Gasparazzo know well and play back through a recognizable style, very rhythmic, cool. The band’s style is also a reflection of not only musical, but also political and cultural experience. In fact, scrolling through the various stages of the biography of Gasparazzo, a number of facts that contribute to the definition of a language direct, clear, determined and, at the same time cosmopolitan. Among the most significant experiences we can recall, for example, “Sabbia e libertà”, the DVD-book published in 2010, which include the journey that the band has undertaken in Western Sahara, in collaboration with the Saharawi Association Jaima and Dar Voce, the Center for volunteer of Reggio Emilia. The first disc of the band, “Tiro di classe”, released in 2007, is a collaboration with some members of the nu-folk and alternative Italian scene, as Giuseppe Fontana of 24 Grana and Simone Filippi of Ustmamò. Finally, in beginning of 2014 Gasparazzo publish “Esiste chi Resiste”, album dedicated to the Italian Resistance, produced by New Model Label and distributed by Audioglobe. Although this work is characterized by an articulated language. In fact, as you can read in the presentation notes of the album, “tribal rhythms and monolithic have always been part of the language of Gasparazzo and the use of open tunings and capos have added an exotic flavor to the tracks at times, leaving space for the insertion of other instruments such as violin, cello, accordion, sax and percussion. The repertoire, however, differs mainly on the textual level, in the acoustic design emerge historical data, quotes, projections to the present and a narrative structure, a true story in music”.
Similarly – and this obviously affects particularly the readers of these pages – the presence of the accordion, as well as to denote the album in terms of “folk” (folk-rock, nu-folk, alt-folk), defines a more articulated message, at the same time giving an international character and rooting it in a local scenario. A scenario not isolated or static, but rather through recognizable forms that it’s expressive culture has changed over time. In this context, the accordion “promotes” a new language not only in form, but especially in content. To the extent that dialogue – and with it, its history, and the set of representations which refer – with more “traditionally” rock instrumentation (consisting of guitar, horns, keyboards, drums, bass and double bass), and expanded by fabricating an inclusive story.
We reached Giancarlo Corcillo, the accordionist of the band, to talk about this new project and the “space” of his instrument in the world of contemporary music.
Giancarlo, we talked about a production characterized by multiple contaminations… Why this artistic choice?
One of the salient features, I would say the main, adopted as a true “guide wire” in Gasparazzo (as well as my staff, both in the artistic and human) has always been the research and experimentation, the ability to use the language of art as real mirror and vehicle of his own experiences and emotions, a sort of laboratory peddler who move to take a sail blowing in the wind of curiosity.
This work by Gasparazzo was born spontaneously, as the album title suggests, “Mo ‘Mo’“, ie an expression that means “now!”.
We worked quickly to the entire project, from the ideas arrangement, having spent more than a year in concerts around closely with dub-reggae festivals, concerts by the sea, buskers in the city, political rallies etc., a real mix of diverse situations between them.
All this certainly was reflected in the genesis of the disc with an eye definitely on accordion!
How could you merge into a single sound timbre and warmth of acoustic instruments with loops and sound derived from sampling and virtual sound?
It is an alchemy of many factors and so many elements. In a group matters a lot fellowship mental and technical, to be on the same wavelength on the same boat. Although maybe nobody individually is a real phenomenon or sample, the union and the respect of the group is the strength and the difference it can make to spread their wings to an idea or shelve it and make it implausible to us and to the public.
We play, we travel and we share and experience music together for a long time and we’ve got to record a lot of things together, therefore we definitely developed, even unconsciously, the result is a style of ability but also incapacity.
I think the most important is to respect the intention of the song, to understand the text to anyone who will listen.
Not playing instrumental music these elements are essential for us. I think this record can be defined quite successful from this point of view, therefore, already respecting and keeping in mind these principles, we define certain well coordinated arrangement, the insertion of loops, virtual instruments, and so on.
Even Massimo Tagliata, from his “pop” experiences with Biagio Antonacci, helped advising and working mainly in parts with many electronic sequences, trying not to sink anything in the overall mix of the disc.
It is our practice to prove the pieces together as much as possible in the rehearsal room to make them “turn” and, when ready, test them as soon as possible once live on stage… only then we realize that many elements, perhaps, on paper seemed work but that later turn out to live in the negative.
I conclude by saying that surely do not need to add items but need to pull away and keep the essentials. Play play play much, too much is useless, you have to be humble and be at the service of others… sometimes I find video on YouTube with millions of views that leave the time they are… you do not make the Olympics with instruments! Respecting this, in my opinion, there are no problems of coexistence with loops, guitars etc.
What is the accordion you used to register? What mics did you shoot? Do you also use mics for environment recording? It seems to be a very warm sound and well equalized… Merit of noise, some specific processors, interpreter or instrument?
In the process of recording I used my Armando Bugari who routinely use for classical music. It is an instrumenti that I have for so many years, I think it’s the early 90s.
Its special feature, in my opinion, lies in the left hand, entries but not overpowering like modern ones; also the change of system (standard/free bass) occurs at the hands of registers and not with the converter. It has excellent sound that I later appreciated even more when were “cannibalized” by using and experimenting with various effects. Its tonal goodness and his power were essential for a professional sound.
In some pieces, however, I superimposed another accordion, a 3-1 Lucchini c late 80s, trying to get different effects, using it in lighter moments.
The small Lucchini, however, is the accordion, which I always use in live, but in the album I found more appropriate use an accordion with a more “important” and powerful sound.
The shots were made with two condenser microphones: the average aperture of the Russian Oktava MK-319, close to the instrument, and the small aperture of the Swedish Line Audio CM3, about twenty centimeters. The lines passed through the preamp Neumann V472, then tab M-Audio Profire 610 and finally Logic. A third stereo signal captured by CM3 (and pre-amplified by the Profire) was processed by the pedal guitarist for special effects. In the studio it was possible to work on three signals: one full-bodied and very direct, one airy and full of frequencies and a stereo. The musical style of the album made us choose not to mic the environment. In the mix Massimo Tagliata did play the best footage shot with this criterion, used consistently and accurately throughout the album.
Massimo Tagliata, multi-instrumentalist involved in jazz music, ethnic, and just to reiterate the concept of the versatility of the accordion, a regular member of the band of Biagio Antonacci, is also a “friend” of Strumenti&Musica. What were his contributions to the album?
Massimo is one of our longtime friend, met him several years ago thanks to the friendship shared with Maruca Rodrigues, Brazilian singer of the project Banda Favela, where the band at the time and Massimo militant.
The critical view of Massimo certainly helped the album to have artistic honesty. Specifically Massimo oversaw the mix, arrangement and small ideas on a few songs and then took care of the mastering. Surely plating accordion also in pop/rock area facilitated the task and was easy for me to communicate and interact with him.
How hard is, at present, emerge in a context in industry influencing the musical tastes of the younger generation?
I think it’s difficult, but I also think that if a band has something good and valuable to say, sooner or later the doors open. Surely the record companies make their game by imposing fashions and trends for the masses but, if the product and the project is valid, with a bit of luck anything can happen.
I always invite young guys to dare, to experiment and have fun with music, if one wants to get serious; do cover, or worse, tributes to this or that other band may make sense and minimal advantage at the beginning… but then persevere in this direction, I find it pointless and boring.
You told me in a previous conversation that your performances are not confined exclusively to the Italian territory… But is it really so complicated to be “prophets at home”? How is the approach with young people across the Alps?
Yes, indeed, we often play in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Personally, in other situations I was lucky enough to play in the Czech Republic, Ireland, France…
I would say, in principle, that from my point of view, certainly in Germany, either for a whole series of messages that we carry with us, you want this for Italian, or because our genre has more feedback, the approach of the young is always very positive and rewarding! For us is great: the audience involved, have fun and make a collective unique concert experience!
An accordion player in a pop/rock scenario… Do not tell me that at first there was a little ‘distrust!
Well, I would say no suspicion, certainly much healthy curiosity! The accordion has the wonderful ability to attract people from 6 to 90 years with ease and I can not be happy with everything. I am fortunate to be able to play abroad and also here but… no mistrust enthusiasm and warmth!
The important thing is to vibrate and excite our listeners and undoubtedly the accordion has this emotional nature on his side!
What are your musical roots?
My musical roots are certainly to be found in the tape! When I was a child I remember my father listened at home, without stopping, a myriad of artists so that, little by little, I began to want me too all my music tapes to listen to and keep. Go to flea markets, flush cassette from thousands and thousands of different artists and strangers and finally listen to the evening that same cassette of the heart so that you had struggled to find it was a fantastic experience!
My father (who also is accordionist), in my early years of study of the instrument, always made me listen to very different musicians and accordion, so as to increase my musical knowledge. I will never cease to thank him. The first musicians and the first music I listened to, therefore, were based on the accordion: Emilian artists as Carlo Venturi, Learco Gianferrari, Barimar, Vittorio Borgesi, along with other more “exotic”, as Giovanni Vallero, Peppino Principe, Wolmer Beltrami etc … I had them in my ears for years! Great virtuosos that, in some cases, I also had the good fortune to meet.
Unfortunately or fortunately later in my childhood routine to some music and some studies have had an effect on me so bad and make me abandon the accordion at the age of 13. From then on it was opened for me the door of rock music. Artists such as Steve Vai, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jaco Pastorius began to peep into my ears and, therefore, I immediately started to become familiar with drums and guitar. Year after year for me has been a continuous experience of genres, instruments (bass, guitar, drums), people and artistic activities: I did theater (founding years later, along with other boys, a cultural association which still exists called QuintaParete), music for installations, hard-rock concerts, concerts of Balkan music, funk, weddings, funerals… everything! I have always kept very busy with new situations, constructive, trying to grow and learn, regardless of the instrument shouldered. Good music or bad music!
Now, the commitments with Gasparazzo allow a few “distractions”. Nevertheless, for years now, thanks to a precise determination, I embarked on a course of “official” classical accordion study with Mirko M. Ferrarini, who I will never cease to thank for his proverbial patience and proactive!
How does a song like “Michelazzo”? What is your muse? What can we expect in the near future?
“Michelazzo” (first single) is inspired by the urban legend of Michelazzo common to many folk traditions, from Sicily to the lower Po valley. The source striking is a real character that the author of the text (Generoso Pierascenzi, Gasparazzo guitarist) knows and “appreciates” the qualities when, as the text says, decorating concepts, smears and wonder idly doing the deck living annuity. That of “creative leisure” is actually reading that musicians prefer to associate with the theme of the song.
The next projects are definitely related to both the promotion of the album and the video of Michelazzo (visible both on our YouTube channel and the channel of the American BlankTv). Later we will turn definitely another video for another single.
A special greeting to the readers of Strumenti&Musica…
Thank you, first of all, you Strumenti&Musica for the interview and the review!
I invite the readers of the magazine to listen to the new album “Mo ‘Mo’” and participate in some of our live… party, emotions and energy guaranteed!
This article is available also in: Italian