Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Neil Feather Sound Mechanics

Sound Mechanic Neil Feather has been creating radical and unusual musical instruments since 1970 and is increasingly known as one of the most original musical thinkers of his day. His instruments each embody uniquely clever acoustic and engineering principles, and are visually arresting. The music he plays on the instruments is equally original, embodying new principles and resulting in a nearly alien idiom of music.

Neil Feather has been involved in Baltimore’s fertile and eccentric culture since moving there in 1985. He was a founding member of the Red Room Collective and the High Zero Foundation, a group committed to the presentation of experimental and improvised music. He has a long history of collaborative projects and solo concerts.

Some of his major music projects are The Official Project, Thus, Aerotrain, Elephantitans and Mugwump. These groups all centered on Feather’s instruments and compositions.

Feather’s work has always been fully rooted in art and music together in concept, execution and performance. His deep involvement with Baltimore’s experimental music community compliments his wide international acclaim. He won the 2014 Sondheim Art Prize and the 2014 Trawick Art Prize. He was included in a major exhibition “Art or Sound” in the 2014 Venice Biennale.

The Wiggler

Strung apparatus. Inspired by extended guitar techniques, the wiggler uses the mass of rods and the tensions of strings to create complex sonic phase relationships.

Former Guitars 

The former guitars have two strings which share tension through a "head" that pivots under the control of a long whammy arm. This configuration causes one string to tighten as the other is loosened, creating a tonal center.

The difference of the strings at rest (equal tension) is an octave, because of the string diameter.

The Former Guitars also have a movable bridge that acts as a big fret for "hammer-on" and other techniques more specific to the instrument.


Pickups are mounted under both ends of the string, allowing for multiple independant string segments. The range of the string tension is two to three octaves. The movable bridge futher divides the string into intervals. 

The first former guitar was made from a guitar and became something that is not a guitar, hence the name. They are no longer made out of guitars.

A former guitars have two strings that are share tension. A long “whammy” bar pivots at the top to change the tension of the strings inversely.

 One string tightens as the other string loosens. There is a movable bridge that acts as a fret and as a (reverse) bow. The strings are open when not being pressed or rubbed against the bridge.

Pick ups amplify both ends of the strings so the inverse relationship between the string tension is combined with the inverse relationship between the string length above and below the bridge.

This configuration creates a tonal center and an equilibrium. 

The interval between the strings at rest is determined by string diameter. The range of timbre is very broad because of the tension control.


This is one of his older instrument designs and demonstrates some physics of sound that have remained central to his work.

The rod divides the string into a glissando of inverse tonal relationships. The frequency of the rod is transduced into the strings. The strings are stretched by the weight of the flexible steel body, so there is a physical equilibrium built into the design.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Tone Wood: Gibson Super400

What is really superb

For 6 years old children Playmobil delivers the Super4 series toys. Whatever it is the sky-jet, pirates or the alian they all will inspire the kid for many hours of playing.

Kids grow older and once they get their driving-licence and the first car, the first upgrade often is the the exhaust.

Flowmaster delivers the Super400 delta flow muffler which gives the car an impressive “vroooom vroooom” noise. It will take some time but for some there comes a time that they get interested in a tool which produces controlled sound directly driven by mind and hands.

The Gibson Super400 might be what they need. The picturers show an example of a vintage Super400 from 1980.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Giovanni Succi 13 Questions

Giovanni Succi (1969, from Piedmont, Italy) musician, writer, readings performer. Author and guitar player in several different projects from 1994 up today: Madrigali Magri, Bachi Da Pietra, Spam And Sound Ensemble, La Morte… 

Spacing from avant-blues to post-rock, dark-ambient, electronics and heavy oriented rock music.  The first one in publishing order was MADRIGALI MAGRI, a three-piece band with Valerio Rossi on drums and Nicoletta Parodi on bass. In spite of the absence of labels Madrigali Magri have been cut their enviable space in Italian rock underground scene, such to become an influence for various Italian bands.

In 2004 Giovanni Succi founded BACHI DA PIETRA, with Bruno Dorella (OvO, Ronin) on his minimal drum-set. Their first album Tornare nella Terra  (2005, Wallace Rec.) is a visceral emotional journey: the dissonant blues-based songs develop around the steady drone of Succi’s voice, a trance-inducing vocal presence singing of grim lyrics crafted and performed with disarming sincerity. Just like the mysterious and enigmatic characters that orbited their doom-laden, disturbing world, Bachi da Pietra is an unpredictable live band that leaves the listeners feeling vulnerable, moved, and sometimes totally spaced out. The Bachi Da Pietra world is inspired by insect world and stones (the name of the band sonds like Stone-worms, imagining insect digging stone) and the sound of the project slowly changes as a strange metamorphosis album after album. 

The second one, Non io  (2007, Wallace Rec./Die Schachtel) has a world distribution that reached U.S.: the first track of this album (“Casa di legno”) is the only Italian song in the “Sons Of Anarchy” serial soundtrack. The following album Tarlo terzo (2008, Wallace Rec.) definitively confirmed Bachi Da Pietra as one of the most interesting and influential Italian band. 

In 2010 they released Insect Tracks (Wallace Rec., Boring Machines, Bronson Prod., Rizoma Films), a live tape recording with 50s technologies, from tapes to vinyl with no digital process, on LP and DVD, recorded by Francesco Donadello (Giardini Di Miro). 
In November of the same year is released Quartz, the fourth studio album for Bachi Da Pietra, a concept album about time. 
In 2011 they collaborated with Massimo Volume to a split that presents a mutual cover for each band: the sound of the band is now totally heavy-music oriented. 

2013 is the year of a great turning point with Quintale (Woodworm/La Tempesta), followed by two EPs (Festivalbug in 2014 and Habemus Baco 2015 Wallace Rec./ Tannen Rec./La Tempesta) in 300 limited edition vinyls. Bachi Da Pietra ten years anniversary is celebrated by Necroide (2015, La Tempesta), blending together 80’s Metal influences with Black Music.

Giovanni Succi side projects include La Morte, with Riccardo Gamondi (Uochi Toki), a deep-death electronic dark-ambient reading project released by Corpoc and Anemic Dracula in November 2012.
Spam &  Sound Ensemble, is an electro acoustic adventure with the sound engineer Ivan Antonio Rossi, Bruno Dorella and other Italian musicians. Giovanni Succi (broken) english lyrics in this album are mostly amazing spam stuff picked up from emails.

In 2014 Giovanni Succi released Lampi per Macachi, a concept album dedicated to the Italian songwriter Paolo Conte, with personal arrangements.

Readings projects are mostly dedicated to Italian medieval and last Century Italian poets. Il Conte di Kevenhüller (recorded by Alessandro Bartolucci, 300 LP Tarzan Rec. 2012) is dedicated to Giorgio Caproni (1912-1990), a project who  gives voice to his last composition in verse, in the centenary year of the birth of one of the most important and innovative Italian and European poets of the last generation. 

Latest live readings are dedicated to Guido Gozzano (1883-1916) and Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), presenting the so-called Rime petrose, a very interesting experimental laboratory of the medieval poet before the composition of his most famous opera, the Divine Comedy.

What's the relevance of technique in music, in your opinion?

Technique is a useful medium not a target. Nothing really interesting never comes when you love technique instead of music. I know too many musicians with great technique and no ideas. Ideas with no technique remain ideas.

Why do you need music? Can we live without music?

Yes, for a short time. I need it as a physical process. But it’s also important not to abuse: sometimes nothing is better than a good and rare silence. Listening is an exercise.

Bachi Da Pietra - Bruno Dorella (drums) - Giovanni Succi (guitars)
Video di Fatima Bianchi, con la curatela di Paolo Ranieri

What are the challenges and benefits of today's digital music scene?

Digital music today makes any process fast and easy. Even the listening process  that for a musician means the growing process. Fast means more. Easy means less deep. If you are a musician you have to learn to face those two new elements of the century in which you are living. Digital music scene today gives you many opportunities. Also too many opportunities can turn into a limit. Well, every period has his paradoxes.

What special or extrange techniques do you use?

Some times I like to approach guitar (electric or acoustic) as a simple sound-making-object, looking for some sonorities similar to pseudo-drum-machines or electronics. You can get some interesting sounds rhythm pattern beating on strings for harmonics with a physical approach. If I play electric I do never forget that I'm not playing just one instrument but two at least: guitar and amps. Of course I didn't invent nothing. If you find something that sounds original in my works it may be just an unusual syncretism. Other times I simply play guitar with the most honest rock'-n'roll attitude that I can.

Bachi Da Pietra - Bruno Dorella (drums) - Giovanni Succi (guitars)
Video di Fatima Bianchi, con la curatela di Paolo Ranieri
What’s your craziest project about?

Well, six Bachi Da Pietra LPs of songs with a two piece band fading from minimal ambient blues to loud pseudo-metal songs in ten years of evolution (or involution, as you please) could be crazy enough. But I do prefer to mention about my readings projects. There is one that’s about the only human experience that nobody can share: La Morte (literally “the Death”). It is an italian spoken words on deep death-ambient electronics by Riccardo Gamondi. On vinyl limited edition vita cover screenprinted with ash.

Another good crazy one is the complete poem reading recording of a contemporary italian poet, Giorgio Caproni (1912-1990) using only my voice over a deep silence and no music, as the music are the words itself and the silence the white page blanks. Check out “Il Conte di Kevenhüller” on my soundcloud.com channel , I’m running a blog on it: caproni.wordpress.com (in italian).

Can you describe a sound experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a musician?

I grow up in a small town, in a house by the road with a working place on the back:

everyday noise was normal. I probably learned to listen very well what was going around. Then I met rock'n'roll very early as a child with Grease (one all day long spent at the nickelodeon), and then Stray Cats, and then Ramones and so on.

Same jackets. My father was a painter and his darkest period overlapped with my childhood. Put this things together.

What do you recall about your playing learning process?

In different periods of my life I did study alone in different ways, but I have never been the one obsessed by reproducing famous solos or stuff like that. I did prefer to spend ours concentrated on sound, rhythm and composing. My first guitar effect was a talkback button pressed on from a low battery walkman on the top of my first acoustic guitar: that distorted sound in my headphones is the first great feeling I do remember about my playing. Sound is the answer.

Tell me one musical work which has provoked a change in your music.

Swordfishtrombone, Tom Waits, 1985. I heard it a couple of year later, when I was eighteen and totally addicted to punk/metal music until that moment. I disliked it at first, totally. I gave it some more chances. Ok, take your time before deciding what you do like or not. That was the listening process just one record at a time and for more than 3 minutes before digital streaming. It opened my mind. It changed my
music, it changed my life. 

regia e montaggio: Delia Simonetti, fotografia: Giulia Scintu, ballerina: Flavie Akpa

What is your relationship with other art disciplines?

Music is theater and literature together with something more, and if you are music performer you have to know it. I mean, if you are on stage, no matter what you are playing, moving or not, you are performing. Even if you are totally still, or you just sit back to your laptop pressing play botton and than checking your mail on stage, you are performing. If you are performing, well it is theater. Even if you write something, that's literature. Very simple. Good or bad, interesting or not, complex or childish, it’s literature itself, what else.

Where are your roots? What are your secret influences?

Chivalric epics and european Middle Ages literature. Insects watching.

If you could, what would you say to yourself 30 (or 35) years ago, about your musical career?

Straight ahead boy. Never leave the road in which you believe looking for some way to survive. Never look for short ways: it is just a big waste of precious time.

What quality do you most empatize with in a musician?

A real listening skill is very hard to find.

What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?

About twenty five years ago mr. Paolo Conte told me to get deeper in my blues knowledge. So I did.

Concept album dedicated to Paolo Conte.


Madrigali Magri - Lische
MadMag MM 003 1999

Madrigali Magri - Negarville
‎Wallace Records 2000

Madrigali Magri - Mini
Self released 2002

Madrigali Magri - L'Avaro
Self released 2002

Madrigali Magri - Malacarne
Self released 2002

Bachi Da Pietra - Tornare Nella Terra
Wallace Records 2005

Bachi Da Pietra - Non Io
Die Schachtel, Wallace Records 2007

Bachi Da Pietra - Tarlo Terzo
‎Wallace Records 2008

Bachi Da Pietra - Insect Tracks
Boring Machines Wallace Records 2010

Bachi Da Pietra - Quarzo ‎
Santeria Records, Wallace Records 2010

Massimo Volume + Bachi Da Pietra
La Tempesta 2011

La Morte
Anemic Dracula Records, CORPOC AD005, CORPO*008 2012

Giovanni Succi - Il Conte di Kevenhüller
Tarzan 2012 

Bachi Da Pietra - Quintale
Woodworm 2013

Spam & Sound Ensemble
Retroazione Compagnie Fonografiche RCF-001 2013 

Bachi Da Pietra - Festivalbug
Corpoc CORPO*025 2013

Bachi Da Pietra - Necroide
Wallace Records, Tannen Records 2015

Bachi Da Pietra - Habemus Baco
Wallace Records, Tannen Records 2015 

Readings and lectures

"Il fruscio della bestia in fuga. Terreni selvaggi di controcanti." 
Assaults At Heart Festival 2009, Rimini. 
Personal project dedicated to Giorgio Caproni.

"2010: the testament of Edoardo Sanguineti"
Iobook Library, Senigallia, June 25.

"Chiudo sbaracco e mollo e stacco" 
Leave compared (Edoardo Sanguineti and Giorgio Caproni).
Bookseller Modoinfoshop, Bologna, 21 January 2011

2011 to 2012 (centenary of Caproni's death), 
audioblog with weekly episodes of "The Count of Kevenhuller" (1986), for solo voice.

2010 "Michele racconta. Storia di una famiglia del vino in Piemonte" 
by Paola Gho and Giovanni Ruffa, 
photographic book about the world of Piedmont oenology 
in collaboration with Michele Chiarlo, Carlin Petrini (Slow Food).