Barbara De Dominicis (glas, field recordings, elektronika) i Julia Kent (čelo, efekti) improviziraju u neuobičajenim izvedbenim prostorima - šumi, tunelu, tvornici... Svaka snimka bilježi jedinstveno pretapanje okoliša, tehnologije, instrumenata i glasa.
Parallel 41 is the ideal name for this collaborative CD-DVD project involving Barbara De Dominicis (voice, field recordings, electronics) and Julia Kent (cello, looping, effects), given that the forty-first parallel draws an imaginary line from Naples to New York—the home bases of De Dominicis and the Canadian-born Kent, respectively. But the cross-continent concept extends further than just a group name in this case as their self-titled project would seem to be fundamentally rooted in the notion of geographical span. Consider: recorded in 2009-2010, the CD's nine improvised settings (one a bonus) were birthed in multiple settings, including a Brooklyn loft, an ex-wool factory in Napoli, a war fortress in Venice, and an abandoned tunnel in the mountains surrounding Bolzano. In addition, field recordings from the locales have been integrated into their creations, and consequently the resultant CD acts as a physical embodiment of the settings within which the material came into being.
As an indication of the duo's sound, the opening “Illusory rendez-vous” alternates between De Dominicis singing a haunting lullaby and Kent emotively responding to it before the two sounds merge, with the cello providing a backing for the singer's spoken-sung musings (in Italian and English). A ponderous blues-noir feel pervades “The Naked City,” which finds De Dominicis' spoken text (at times so dramatically expressed it recalls beat poetry) embedded within an enveloping field of looped cello textures and outdoors field recordings. The piece most directly evocative of New York's urban environment is “Herald Street,” due to the field recordings of subway trains and station announcements that appear alongside its vocal and cello elements.
De Dominicis' approach to vocalizing is eclectic and often theatrical, and her delivery enriches the recording by keeping the listener on edge in never knowing what form the next vocal element will take. Kent likewise draws upon the full range of sounds afforded by her instrument, with her playing presented as a series of strums, plucks, and bowings and the sounds often elaborated upon using loops and electronic manipulations. Kent's beautiful, full-bodied tone is displayed repeatedly, never more affectingly than during the bonus track “Voiceless Laughter,” where her bowed playing appears amidst echo-drenched voices. It's the uninhibited power of the duo's expression that gives the recording so much of its impact. “Une journeè d'un sud sans soleil” captures the extremes of which they're capable, with the possessed creators offering up a nightmarish series of moans and groans for eight provocative minutes.
Faraway Close, Davide Lonardi's thirty-five minute video, is no add-on or afterthought but a fully realized and high-quality work in its own right. Featuring footage captured in Naples and New York (archival and contemporary) and spanning a ten-month period, the film effectively documents the project's development and scope. As a portrait of the artists, it's comprehensive, too, in showing them in conversation, traveling within and absorbing the cities' settings (the centuries-old buildings of Naples a stark contrast to the commercialism of Times Square), and, of course, creating the music. They're shown performing in concert settings and also outdoors, the latter more directly representative of the recording itself, given that much of it was captured outdoors, too. We see them performing in an abandoned highway tunnel, the Alto Adige valleys stretching out around them, in the Venice-based war fortress Forte Marghera, in a one-time wool factory in Napoli, and, finally, in New York, where we see De Dominicis using a hand-held recorder to capture the industrial noise of the subway and escalator. Finally, special mention must be made of the Baskaru label for sparing no expense in presenting the project so superbly, with the CD and DVD housed within a sturdy, large format sleeve design and covered by a protective box. Parallel 41 impresses on multiple levels as both a thoroughly engrossing travelogue and document of an inspired creative undertaking. - www.textura.org/
Connecting People: An Interview With Parallel 41A collaborative project stretching across the globe from New York to Naples, Parallel 41, named for the line of latitude that connects their respective countries, is cellist Julia Kent and vocalist Barbara De Dominicis. Last month Baskaru released their debut album with a film made by Davide Lonardi chronicling the duo’s travels and the recording process. Performing live in a wide range of locations in Italy and New York, Kent and Dominicis explored the power of their surroundings and the imaginary line known as the 41st Parallel North. Recently I spoke to Julia and Barbara about the album, Lonardi’s film and the joys of travel.
Hi Julia and Barbara! I hope you’re both well. The Parallel 41 album is really beautiful.
Julia Kent and Barbara De Dominicis: Thank you so much! And thanks for your interest…
First of all, tell me how your collaboration came about.
J & B: We met through the internet, via a virtual acquaintance who subsequently became a real friend. The whole encounter was very much improvised, like the music!
The film Faraway Close by Davide Lonardi accompanies the music you made. How did the process of marrying image with sound work out?
J & B: We feel as though the visual element of Parallel 41 that Davide creates brings the music into another dimension. In this project, the musical and visual elements are equally important, and completely intertwined. As a filmmaker, Davide has an amazing vision and amazing eye in terms of composition, which we think Faraway Close reflects, but, also, he is an essential partner in our live shows, as he improvises a visual element in the performances in the same way that we do musically.
Parallel 41 is the line that connects you across the world, from Naples to New York. It’s variously described on the album artwork as ‘illusory’, ‘dreamt’ and ‘chimerical’, which gives it a very mystic sense. What energies did you take from the line and can you feel each other along it even when you are at opposite sides of the world?
J & B: We feel as though we (Julia, Davide and Barbara) have become really close from all the adventures we have experienced in the course of making music – especially making this record – and we feel as though we do share a unspoken line of energy or perhaps a line of communication that transcends whatever surroundings we may find ourselves in. We think of it as some kind of psychic telegraph line that crosses oceans. Definitely the image of the line that connects is one that has inspired us from the beginning.
What was special about the specific locations you chose to record in?
Julia: Each location had a unique character and brought a unique acoustical quality to the recordings. We recorded in places that ranged from a farmhouse in the Piedmont countryside in glorious golden summer, to an ex-factory in Napoli, to an abandoned tunnel in the Alto Adige, to a former fort outside Venice in bitterly cold winter. It was a privilege to have the opportunity to interact with these historical and fascinating spaces by recording in them.
Barbara: A compelling sense of discovery has been accompanying these irregular and fragmented intrusions in most of these places; the fortress by the water in Venice had a peculiar energy: quite intriguing and utterly melancholic; the decaying nineteenth century wool factory in Naples (which
has been tastefully restored) had its own very strong sonic colour due to its nearness with a local street market but it also retained a somehow macabre and desolate sense. Uniforms used during the first world war were produced there. Valdapozzo has immersed us in a bucolic and enchanting setting, while finding ourselves being in the mouth of an abandoned highway tunnel felt quite unreal and surrealistic. New York’s gripping urbanity on the other hand gave a frantic flavour to our sessions, both visually and sonically.
What are your respective working methods like and how did they combine to create Parallel 41?
Julia: I have been working primarily as a solo artist recently, and enjoying very much the autonomy that can provide, but it has been wonderful to collaborate with Barbara. In addition to her glorious voice she is an inexhaustible source of creativity and inspiration and kindness.
Barbara: I am in a constant research of a balance: see-sawing between song structure and open ended music. My last works tend to combine field recordings with live instrumentation and fragments of “what is found” on the run. Of course having the privilege to interact with such a marvellous, visionary and generous musician like Julia made things incredibly stimulating and surprising for me. Working with Julia and Davide in a sort of “improv-modality” could have been seriously disorienting and fragmentary while I feel we’ve had a special glue given by the fact that while recording we were actually in the process of getting to know each other… observing each others’ gestures, vulnerabilities, sights, obscurities, lights… learning to know each others’ “sounding notes” and “melting points” (metaphorically and not!)… tasting each others’ limits and capacity of abandonment. I feel like the whole process has been a [tiny] voyage in flux between identities, ways of working, humanities and places… where snags are part of the whole picture.
How did you enjoy each others’ cities? What are the similarities and differences?
Julia: Napoli, for me, is very much like New York. They have a similar sense of being chaotic yet creative urban centres, and they both feel like cities that are very much open to the rest of the world. New York, though, especially Manhattan, where I live, feels as though it is becoming increasingly homogenized and generic, while Napoli retains its unique character. So many of the spaces that nourished creativity in Manhattan have been ploughed under by development and commercialization.
Barbara: Topographically the two cities are different, [but] it seems to me that New York and Naples share the same risk of sensory overexposure: eyes, gestures, colours, ears, aromas might lead in both these city to a sort perpetual drunkenness. Both [are] dense and teeming cities; there’s almost a constant “possible” undifferentiated state in which boundaries between public dimension and private spheres venture to dissolve and exterior and private almost melt in a sort of continuum. Going back to New York and filtering the city through Julia’s eyes has been a special experience: [it was] almost a new place [when] compared with the city I used to know. In addition Davide Lonardi re-tracing (using archive material and original materials) the imaginary line we drew on the path of the 41st parallel actually refreshed what was my impression and knowledge of these two cities.
Barbara, your lyrics are a big feature of the album. You flick between Italian and English throughout. Did you do this to differentiate between the locations the underlying music was recorded in, or for other reasons?
Barbara: Not really to distinguish the different locations. Most of the sessions have represented a sort of travelogue of an underground Italy and it felt natural to make a brief incursion in this idiom and let other languages having an echo in the project. In addition lyrics have been vulnerable to the moods, to our state and latitudes; ‘Naked City’ for instance was actually recorded in Valdapozzo but the title is a homage to Jules Dassin’s noir portrayal of New York. On the other hand it does evoke W. Benjamin’s “Napoli”, inspired by the image of a porous city… could be any city, or a hidden corner of an ancient Napoli, the image of a place made of grey lava stone and yellow tuff, blackened by soot, grown upon itself, stratum upon stratum, worn by time…
Your voice reminds of Beth Gibbons’ in places…
Barbara: Thanks for such a generous comparison. Gibbons is an outstanding artist!
What were the reactions to your music like when you were recording in public places?
J & B: Apart from the occasional threat of arrest, it has been amazing to work in public places instead of studios, which can be so sterile. And so many people have been incredibly helpful and enthusiastic in terms of facilitating the process, by helping us find these amazing spaces and enabling us to record there. [We are] truly grateful! We must mention Andrea Serrapiglio (wonderful cellist and special soundman for us during Valdapozzo and Forte Marghera sessions), Marco Messina, Andrea Polato and Vanja Zappett. Moreover we’ve had the constant support of Eric Besnard at Baskaru. What a privilege to be part of such a wonderful label.
Thank you guys!
J & B: Thanks so much Steve!
A road movie about musicBaskaru music label will release the film by Davide Lonardi called FARAWAY CLOSE as a part to the upcoming record of Parallel41 Dvd+Cd deluxe edition.
hd 35 min. col. | Italy 2010 | produced and directed by Davide Lonardi for Au Hasard film
Faraway close…perhaps fundamentally we all are, regardless of language or appearance. Barbara De Dominicis and Julia Kent, though they come from distant and diverse worlds, divided by an ocean, by air, by difficult conjunctions and different rhythms, are much closer than it might seem.
Faraway close essentially tells the story of a musical journey, but also plays with the notion of meeting in sonic space. Here the music becomes an environment, where improvising means to test and discover oneself — to talk, communicating more closely than through language. Distances disappear, and the miracle of form is created, only in that moment, and only in that place. The camera follows them, listens to them, captures them silently, searching for that subtle link, that parallel.
The film unfolds over the course of 10 months, during which the duo perform concerts and also confront the natural sounds of special, almost magical places, environments that inspire improvisation and contribute their own sound-breath, whether that of water or leaves, stone or wood.
A few months ago I had the dream to create a collective audio/visual collage borrowing a widespread surrealist method [the exquisite cadaver] Barbara
__the idea of Exquisite What is slowly taking shape thanks to the energy and generosity of all the wonderful artists involved __
Exquisite What is a group of people assembling an evolving music/visual piece, divided into different scenes: each collaborator adding to a composition in sequence…
E.W. means to be a sort of open source project in progress that follows the surrealits method of “Exquisite Corpse”. A practice in which different people write in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal part of the poem, and then pass it to the next “artist” for a further contribution. This method we borrow to create something together, substituting words with music and images; each artist involved producing a part, in turn, and passing it to the next artist who will continue the piece mixing his contribution to the end of the previous idea.
This is the platform where the progresses of the project are visible. Our “grid” being a sort of abstract beehive made of a series of ”rooms”or “scenes”. Each one representing a theme
Find out more about the artists involved in the “WHO”____section of the blog
WRITE AN EMAIL TO THE EXQUISITE, WHAT! COLLECTIVE:
or find us here:
Dominic Cramp (USA)
Barbara De Dominicis (founder/curator) (IT)
Orla Wren (UK)
THE SERRAPIGLIO’S Andrea Serrapiglio /Alberto Serrapiglio/Luca Serrapiglio (IT)
Isnaj Dui (Katie English) (UK)
Mathias Van Eecloo (FR)
Leonardo Rosado (PT)
Fréderic D.Oberland (FR)
Luca Nasciuti (UK)
Andrea Ics Ferraris (IT)
Olivier Girouard (CAN)
Enrico Coniglio (IT)
Jared Blum (USA)
Gianmaria Aprile (IT)
Susanne Hafenscher (AUSTRIA)
Marco Messina (IT)
Alessio Ballerini (IT)
**Con_Cetta aka Giuseppe Cordaro (IT)
** no more in EW
Dan Crossley (UK)
Davide Lonardi (IT)
Sabrina Joy (USA)
Aude Francois (visual artists’s coordinator/curator) GER/FR
Anders Weberg SWEDEN
Fabio Scacchioli ITALY
Joao Luz PORTUGAL
Laura Focarazzo ARG
Roland Quelven FR
Cecelia Chapman USA
Loredana Antonelli ITALY
Yagama Yogmaya BUL/GER
Christian Sonntag GER/FR
Tom Mortimer UK
Ioann Maria PL/UK
Sonia Lau ITALY
Ana Pečar SER/USA
James Snazell UK
Olga Mink NL
Daria Gabriel USA
Mònica Ferreira PT
Davide Luciani ITALY
Eduardo Cuadrado SPAIN