Luca Formentini

Emotional depth and intuitive music are what Formentini is after and it is these two elements, rather than a desire to perform with famous names, which have brought him in musical contact with Can's Holger Czukay and Markus Stockhausen - both known for their equally idiosyncratic attitude. The latter connection has proved to be a long-lasting one. After the minimal arrangements and nocturnal whispers of debut disc "Subterraneans", Luca formed an ensemble with Stockhausen, Steve Jansen,Steve Lawson, Deborah Walker and Frank Moreno and recorded "Tacet", a work which sought to engage the listener just as much as it did the performers in a dance between improvisation and composition, between Sound Art, Jazz and Ambient,leading its audience away into a land where these terms turned entirely irrelevant.

Scintilla

In a way, Scintilla hits the reset button on Formentini's approach to music. The new collection is a solitary investigation, a private walk through intense and yet delicate emotional landscapes. Some of the ideas date back as far as 2008. Formentini would pick them up at opportune moments and work on them in his own time,playing and recording all the instruments at home – with the exception of some field recordings and piano.

As could be expected, many of the pieces explore the polarity between the private and the public. Duende" and "Density of Light", for example, were realised in the studio of his friend Stefano Castagna, who wasn't aware a recording was taking place. Accordingly, the sounds of doors, steps and typewriting discretely merge with Formentini's piano sounds. "To the Seer", on the other hand, is part of a project Formentini has been working on for years: "It's about the way people visiting a museum react to the volume of the rooms and to the works of art on display", he explains, "I like catching the sound of people getting lost, disturbed or challenged while approaching strong works of personal expression. On "To the Seer", for example, I caught someone saying that the place is more beautiful than the artworks in it."

Scintilla translates to sparkle. According to Formentini, it relates to the "small,spontaneous and out of control tiny flashes of light that appear here and there in our lives. It's about using them to help us track our journey, to help us chose our direction." But of course, one could also understand the word to mean something more literal, the flame to a new chapter. Either way, one thing's for sure: This time,the fire is sure to keep burning for a whole lot longer.

Cat: AB082

Release date: October 2018

 

Reviews

  1. Merchants of Air

    After the two pieces of musical intensity I reviewed earlier today, I needed something to calm me down. Luckily, that something is always to be found in the rich and excellent catalog of Audiobulb Records. Today, I picked out 'Scintilla' by Italian sound sculptor Luca Formentini. With nine tracks and fifty two minutes long, this is a perfect album for this dreary November Sunday.

    Armed by electro-acoustics, the piano, guitar and a heap of effects, Formentini walks the thin line between classical music, ambient, jazz and sound-design. The result is a beautiful album, full of emotion and atmosphere.

    The album opens with the minimal 'Somewhere In That Moment', which draws comparisons to something between classical compositions and the ambient series of Brian Eno. With that, the tone is set for a slowly lingering and meandering album with many highlights. 'Youinyou' is one of my absolute favorites here, a shy but playful tune, driving on minimalism. Minimalism is also the keyword in 'About Disappearing', a piece of music that breathes both solitude and contentment. 

    If you want references, I think placing Luca Formentini among ambient gurus like the aforementioned Brian Eno but also Bill Laswell, Pete Namlook, Harold Budd... is not a bad idea. Much like them, Formentini works in an intuitive and emotional way, allowing unusual sounds like doors and typewriters to infiltrate the music. The result is something warm and soothing, something every ambient aficionado will easily appreciate.

    The darkest track is 'Density Of Light', driving on a deep drone, gloomy soundscapes and vague melodies. In a way, it's also the most jazz-inspired one, especially with the guitar plucks guiding it. Follower 'To The Seer' even adds a dark jazz bassline and sweet post-rock guitars, only to add to the amount of variation. So yes, this is a highly enjoyable piece of work, one that truly deserves a spot in your ever growing ambient collection.

  2. So What

    Moments of everyday life that unexpected manifest themselves as a magical emotional moment, marking the peculiar flow of a subjectivity in comparison with the world. They are fragments collected in the course of a dilated and slowly developed time to define a sinuous route through suspended sensory landscapes to mark the return of Luca Formentini, closing a hiatus over ten years.

    "Scintilla" is proposed as an intimate exploration conducted by the musician from Brescia in absolute solitude, absorbed pilgrimage that sees essential harmonic plots and fluctuating atmospheric fluctuations merge with measured equilibrium to generate a combination that punctuates the entire work from the initial movements of the initial "Somewhere in that Moment ", track whose title also fully expresses the emotional impact of work. What emerges is a magnetic sequence of delicate and fascinating snapshots embedded in an introspective journey that finds in the meager cadences of the piano and in the reverberating textures of the guitar a narrative nucleus free to expand through rarefied settings, sometimes reduced to a faint trace of the background (" About Disappearing "), consisting of an alternation of soft and alienating brightness and restless shadows.

    To interrupt an apparent state of isolation intervene occasional inclusions of environmental resonances ("Density of Light", "To the Seer") that clearly show a relationship with the surrounding often muffled but always unavoidable. It is a careful movement, almost on tiptoe, in search of elusive details capable of defining the essence of one's being.

  3. Scintilla in Depth

    The idea of Scintilla was born in 2013, while suffering the weight of old musical ideas trapped in my archive for a long time: basic sketches containing the complete feelings of emotional images.

    The oldest of these were born in 2008, immediately after my previous album – Tacet – was published. I can recognize the reaction to the intense investigation into the concept of using music to create the emotional state of silence, which was the core concept Tacet album. Scintilla is therefore a collection of songs which range from 2008 and goes to 2017.

    All these songs are a reaction in continuity, an act of evolution.

    The music memories in Scintilla have been evolving through the years. It’s been like a continuous, open dialogue during which I’ve been diving incessantly into the core of their meaning, trying to clean up, let the disturbances go, define, underline and set free all the germinal ideas and consecutive reactions.
    It was like a sustained and immersive work,  an introspective journey into the core of their meaning.

    An element which was constantly present and clearly identifiable, was the will to preserve the ingenuity of the initial sparkles ( scintille) that gave birth to these musical life forms.

    The act of composing has always had a very intimate meaning and approach to me.

    In this case I began to understand there was an additional ingredient that became part of the recurring meetings of the content of this box of old sparkles: isolation. If I had to explain it in images I would offer a picture of a box of old prints being opened, revealing what now looks like a different life. The only eyes that can connect those images with the same existence, which can find and know the connections that make them all coherent in their distance, are yours.

    This is why I’ve been working on these songs by myself, without inviting other musicians or people to collaborate in the making. An intimate work, which until the final stage has been played to a single person without her knowing what it was going to become.

    I was very happy to find the right artwork for Scintilla. Marina Marcolin’s painting is more than the album’s cover, it is showing one of the possible connections with these sparkles, it shows what it means to stare at the glowing of distant lights, ready to hold the wakes you want to keep in your life. It shows the sparkles define your borders. Finally, you may be someone’s sparkle without knowing.

    This new album brought me to David Newman and to its label Audiobulb. It’s been a very stimulating meeting, immediately breathing enthusiasm in developing this new collaboration. I’m very grateful of having found such a supportive artistic partnership.