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IGLOO MAGAZINE’S REVIEW FOR METROPHONY Francesco Giannico recorded Rome’s metro—lines “B” (Rebibbia-Laurentina) and “B1″ (Bologna-Conca D’Oro). For Metrophony, the results were manipulated and blended with synth and instruments. While a soundscape may naturally be compelling in itself, to rise above humble audio-document, artistic intervention—perhaps a concept, even some pitched material—may assist. Both are provided for by the Italian sonician. Conceptually, the train trip is seen as semiotic of a duality in our post-industrial world: a dynamic soundscape in conflict with a static one wrapped up inside, wherein much—mechanical sounds of trains, doors, and brakes—is already processed recursively, the metro over time having its so-called dynamic rendered static via repetitiona and circularity (see Giannico). The single long-form piece sets out with a chatter of voices and mechanical sounds situating you at subway centre. Then train doors hiss open, guitar strings resound and all slows down, and crowd cacophony cedes to slow release synth tones. To concept add some good old-fashioned musical instruments–guitar pluck, synth swell, and strings in doleful mesh with captured mechanics–and you have the making of Metrophony (and more on it here). Station to station the rhythm of the tracks is assimilated into the music, an oneiric quietude prevailing, periodically sundered by sundry sounds–of braking cars, opening doors, shuffling passengers, announcements…Mensch and Maschine.


Through a musical lens: Francesco Giannico – Metrophony [Time Released Sound]
“Through a musical lens” is a short series of reviews focusing on albums that present and explore human experience through music. Each album incorporates field recordings, ephemera, or motifs that revolve around everyday life and memory thus creating an especially intimate connection between their transportive sounds and the listener. In August of 2013, electroacoustic musician and video artist Francesco Giannico recorded the entire route of the “B” line of the subway in the city of Rome, that connects the Rebibbia station with the Laurentina station, and the “B1″ line that connects the Bologna station with the Conca D ‘Oro station. He then transformed those samples electronically and enriched them with additional instrumentation to produce an utterly absorbing cinematic musical journey for an album and art installation called Metrophony.
The album is presented as a single long form piece which lasts about 40 minutes. It begins exactly as one might expect, with a chattering voices and mechanical sounds that instantly place the listener inside a bustling subway station. What the first time listener may not expect, however, is just how absorbing and engaging the narrative is about to become as the first musical coda arrives. As the doors to the train hiss open, strings of reverberating guitar are patiently plucked and suddenly everything slows down. The cacophony of the crowd recedes into the background and, gradually, synth tones begin to flower. The listener is no longer a passenger, but a transcendent and melancholic observer.
To be compelling, a narrative requires a certain amount of conflict, however subtle it may be. Giannico explains the duality that drives the narrative of Metrophony. “The metro trip represents a dynamic soundscape in conflict with a static soundscape boxed in itself with a lot of samples already listened in a circular way like the mechanical sounds, doors of the train, train brakes and so on.”
It certainly helps that the dynamic musical elements are so gorgeous. Lovely guitar textures, lush swells of synthesizer, and doleful strings dovetail with sounds of the journey. Between stations, the hypnotic rhythm of the tracks becomes a part of the music. For the most part, the stillness of reverie prevails, but periodically we awaken from the daydream to the sound of braking cars, opening doors, station announcements, new passengers shuffling on board, and the occasional laugh or loud talker. What Giannico has created here is so spellbinding that 40 minutes goes by surprisingly quickly. In fact, Metrophony has turned out to be one of the most satisfying ambient records this listener has enjoyed all year.
Metrophony is available through Time Released Sound who specialize in artfully bespoke hand made releases. The deluxe limited version (only 75 copies) comes in a vintage, hand stamped, 7” 45rpm sleeve from a 60 year old vinyl binder with the outer envelope tied up with a string from which hangs a used ticket from the Rome metro system. Inside is a set of hand silk-screened 6” square prints each printed on a different sort of paper (ancient ledger papers, music sheets, rice papers, antique vellum, cardboard etc.) as well scraps of paper and ephemeral detritus found on the Rome metro station platforms and trains and the factory pressed CD in a hand stamped cotton sleeve. A standard digipack version is also available.

by Stationary Travels


FRANCESCO GIANNICO – Litania (Unknown Tone, 2014) di Mirco Slavadori (ROCKERILLA ITA)
Molti di voi accomuneranno il nome di Francesco Giannico ad un ennesimo nuovo lavoro dedicato al soundscape, com’è buona norma per uno dei due fondatori di un’istituzione quale l’Archivio Italiano dei Paesaggi Sonori. Ad esser cinceri devo dire che ‘Litania’ non possiede le peculiarità legate a tali registrazioni bensì può esser descritto come una delle migliori produzioni di elettronica dolcemente introspettiva che ho avuto modo di ascoltare quest’anno. Si badi bene, non cito il termine “Ambient” perché oramai troppo inflazionato. Preferisco andare oltre.Preferisco espandere l’ascolto e abbracciare con un sorriso un suono che profuma d’intensa gioia e delicatissimo incanto. ONIRICA LITANIA.
Mirco Salvadori.


FRANCESCO GIANNICO – Litania (Unknown Tone, 2014) di Raffaello Russo (musicwontsaveyou ITA )
Nella costellazione di sperimentazioni ambientali troppo spesso ripetitive e autoreferenziali, le pubblicazioni di Francesco Giannico – in veste solitaria o in una delle sue numerose collaborazioni – presentano già in partenza un pregio, quello dell’imprevedibilità. A fronte di un tocco compositivo sempre lieve e impressionistico, l’artista pugliese spazia da un soundscaping atmosferico incentrato su field recordings a sfumature jazzate, fino a correnti di elettricità statica.

A manifestarsi in “Litania” sono gli aspetti più evocativi del ventaglio espressivo di Giannico, in una linea di evoluzione che individua una diretta discendenza dallo splendido “Luminance” nel dosato equilibrio di melodie pianistiche, risonanze e minute sinfonie ambientali. Sul nichilismo aurorale dell’iniziale “Non esisto” si innesta così un universo di riverberi che amplificano e trasfigurano le note del pianoforte in vibrazioni appena riconoscibili (“Organic”, “Levando”), il cui esito ambientale si manifesta nell’ambivalenza, da un lato, dell’emblematica ipnosi della title track e del soffio vitale di “Feroce”, e della maestosa apertura di “Slow Thoughts”, che sublima persitenze distorte in una stratificazione abbagliante, da sola in grado di incarnare l’ampiezza di un’orchestra.

Ricorrono così anche in “Litania” le fascinazioni di paesaggismo emozionale riscontrabili nel precedente lavoro solista, che trovano opportuna sintesi nell’elegia finale “Il male minore”, ideale punto di arrivo – o, più verosimilmente, di partenza – di una ricerca sonora nella quale suoni concreti, filtraggi elettronici e armonie acustiche si fondono nuovamente in un tessuto sperimentale animato da profonda sensibilità umana.


FRANCESCO GIANNICO “FOLKANIZATIOW (Pater Records /Orkhestra)
A la maniere d’autres musiciens reputes, comme Christian Fennesz ou Jim O’Rourke, l’Italien Francesco Giannico transpose sa guitare dans un univers electronique trouble et diffus. A leur difference, son approche semble beaucoup plus humaine. Sa guitare ou son piano jouent de leur dada pour laisser filtrer des humeurs folk nostalgiques. lei, les lignes de frondaison electroniques cherchent a donner une profondeur supplementaire, un sens esthetique brouille qui fait autant vaciller la quete de memoire de ce disque, perclus de samples de voix et de field recordings, que la musique, subtle et imagee. Des titres comme Caminar con mi cerebro ou Jokio Pagrindo Mums s’averent saisissants… De la folk music mutante mais surtout profonde et captivante. Laurent Catala


FRANCESCO GIANNICO/ZAC NELSON – “LES NOMADES PAYSAGES” HAVE YOU SAID MIDI / LEMMING RECORDS (SENTIRE ASCOLTARE)
Incontro tra opposti, in questo album licenziato dall’accoppiata Hysm/Lemming. Da un lato il sound sculptor italiano Francesco Giannico, co-fondatore e membro onorario dell’Archivio Italiano dei Paesaggi Sonori; dall’altro il multistrumentista americano Zac Nelson, noto per le sue scorribande a nome Hexlove e decisamente lontano dalle atmosfere del primo.Proprio il clash tra mondi distanti rende le tre lunghe tracce che compongono questo mini-album una sfida interessante non solo per gli artisti coinvolti, ma anche per gli ascoltatori che li seguono da tempo. Il primo fornisce un tappeto sonoro al solito visionario e cinematico, sorta di ambient in divenire molto probabilmente figlia dei field recordings catturati nelle varie mappature sonore effettuate nel progetto AIPS; l’americano ci mette un altro tappeto, stavolta ritmico, fatto di tribalismo free, primitivo e fanciullesco insieme che chi lo segue, in solo o sotto i vari alias con cui spesso si traveste, riconoscerà come marchio distintivo. Il risultato è una specie di free-form applicata all’ambient textures (la parte centrale dell’opener Briques De Fer) o, quando la grana sonora si inspessisce, droning ascensionale alla ultimo Fabio Orsi sorretta da un drumming cangiante e vario (La Race Des Loups). Insomma, fidatevi: è roba molto più appetibile e coinvolgente di quanto possa sembrare leggendo queste parole. Musica adatta a paesaggi nomadici e orizzonti “altri”.


FRANCESCO GIANNICO “LUMINANCE” SOMEHOW RECORDS (SODAPOP)
Il titolo di Luminance è accompagnato dalla frase di Leonard Cohen “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in” e devo dire che è una descrizione molto calzante: l’ascolto di questo disco dà l’idea di una vista luminosa su un qualcosa altrimenti scuro e nascosto. Esce per l’inglese Somehow il nuovo disco di Francesco Giannico, musicista con all’attivo una discografia interessante (inzialmente pubblicava sotto lo pseudonimo Mark Hamn) per varie etichette italiane e non come Boring Machines, Porter, Afe, HysM?. Chitarra, piano, field recordings, e suoni vari sono tutti amalgamati attraverso il laptop a creare un’ora circa di atmosfere cinematiche e sognanti: un mood malinconico ed estatico da colonna sonora, perfetto per un tramonto senza fine che lascia senza fiato. La maestria di Giannico nel creare ambient cristallina è notevole: l’ascolto di Luminance è davvero un’esperienza intrigante, poiché volta dopo volta si viene risucchiati in un vortice di suoni gentile e avvolgente, scoprendo via via nuovi dettagli.


MATTEO UGGERI/LUCA MAURI/FRANCESCO GIANNICO ~ Pagetos (A Closer Listen)
The opening of Pagetos (morning frost) is directly connected to the end of Kapnos, as the introductory sounds of “Ground Frost Breeding” are extremely similar to those of fire.  But Pagetos quickly breaks with its predecessors via the introduction of clear, unadorned melody.  This concluding installment is presented by Matteo Uggeri, Luca Mauri and Francesco Giannico, who embed field recordings (such as footsteps on frost) in a modern classical suite, providing a definitive bookend to the series.  While piano and guitar provide the primary sounds, guest stars contribute violin and cello, and Uggeri’s trumpet conquers the sound field whenever it appears.  One wonders if the collective (over a dozen strong when all are counted) knew all along what they were building to, or if the trio simply decided to lighten the load at the end.  As much as Kapnos is about destruction, Pagetos is about rebirth, as evidenced by the clarity of the composition, the brightness of the timbre, and the concluding track, “Melt”.  This is no longer the sound of the hermit (Erimos), the philosopher (Nefelodhis) or the mourner (Kapnos), but of the prisoner set free.  The six selections flow as one like winter flows into spring, chronicling the inevitable tumble into warmth, the awakening of the seeds.When listening to all four in succession, the scope of the project is revealed.  The release pattern might have been a little haphazard, but the end product is a sonic symphony of sounds as diverse as their subjects.  In order to succeed, the four installments had to sound distinctive, and they do; an additional bonus is the progression from abstract to melodic and from (seemingly) improvised to composed.  Each entry stands on its own, but together, the Between the Elements Quadrilogy is a remarkable achievement, an ambitious project that delivers on its initial promise and should easily stand the test of time.  (Richard Allen)


FRANCESCO GIANNICO & ZAC NELSON / LES NOMADES PAYSAGES (BEACHSLOTH)
Francesco Giannico and Zac Nelson use the drums to full effect on ‘Les Nomades Paysages’. Ambience rules over the elegant album. Rhythms from the drums do more than give the drones structure, they fill in the blanks. What the drums do is hide everything beneath. From the deepest recesses of the barren industrial soundscapes come colors. Evolution occurs in gradual doses. Though it can be hard to focus on the elegance of both, the long track lengths allow for repeated listens to understand the smoky features.‘Briques de fer’ introduces itself with the massive slab of sound. Drums become incredibly energetic. After a while the drone hides itself behind so well that around the five minute mark the drums die down to reveal the emotional core. Piano moves into the fray. Classical elements come in for a moment while the atmospheric sound takes over. Upon re-entry the drums add to that emotion, working together. ‘La race des loups’ takes a more active approach. Here the drone uses a strange, almost surf like approach, akin to ‘Fly Pan Am’ at their most spaced out. Using the middle as something of a ‘calm sea’ it returns to the airy begins, making it cyclical in nature.  The finale ‘Les Nomades Paysages’ takes the most intimate approach. Little snippets of background noise glow through. Francesco and Zac avoid the abstractions and go for the most rock-orientated piece on the whole set. Emotion serves the finale well. It makes sense and reveals the glimpses of humanity that are peppered throughout the entire album.


FRANCESCO GIANNICO & THEO ALLEGRETTI / FLOW SIGNS – MIRCO SALVADORI PER ROCKERILLA(IT) Mirco Salvadori, Rockerilla, n.400.
Flow Signs rappresenta un connubio ben riuscito tra il soundscaper e sound designer Francesco Giannico e il pianista jazz Theo Allegretti. 7 tracce che posano il loro sguardo lungo paesaggi dedicati alla pausa riflessiva, lì dove il field recording sostiene e amplifica il tocco del pianoforte, rendendo vivo e reale quell’attimo dedicato alla percezione visiva. Linguaggi di paesaggi e nebbie.


FRANCESCO GIANNICO & THEO ALLEGRETTI / FLOW SIGNS (IGLOO MAGAZINE)
Francesco Giannico and Theo Allegretti pose the “riddle of the mood” (as their final piece is christened), pose, but leave the answer up to us. Giannico is an electroacoustic and video artist, Allegretti an ambient jazz pianist, and each of their Flow Signs is a poem, with concrete references to place and oblique suggestions of temper. As a “Shy Early Morning” bleeds into a “Lazy Afternoon,” claret light chilly on the eastern horizon warms up to leaf-filtered yellow and green. Allegretti improvises a soothing melody up against Giannico’s quietly soaring guitar, as if to close the story of a good day “At Sunset” with an uplifting, reassuring happily ever after. If the opening trilogy is restfully arcadian, “Recall” opens up a more restive, cubist worldview, first refracting a rural quayside through angular gesticultions, then tumbling into “Angustia,” where the piano is eventually overwhelmed and obliterated by dark fog, and the unanswerable “Where is the Oracle?,” which Giannico clutters and collages. Finally, the “Riddle of the Mood” leaves a trail of breadcrumbs through the forest leading back to a clearing where the early morning first shyly rose. Flow Signs solicits closer listening and bids you find its deepest truths by following your own emotional interests. Flow Signs is available on Oak Editions (physical) and Monkey (digital).