Interview by Benjamin Fleury-Steiner/Gearsofsand <

How did you become interested in sound? Where did the name "Alio Die" come from? How did you develop this persona?

It is probable, as I can remember, that I become interested in sounds for the first time when I was few months old, and my mother for convince me to eat when I didn't wanted, usually played with a spoon on some glasses and bottles around… Than sounds provoked an illuminating feeling of stupor in me and saying "Aaaa!!" I opened my mouth... by the way as a child, apart school, I never training with music, I become interested in listening music later when I was around 16 years old when I've discovered electronic and new-wave bands like Depeche Mode, Tuxedomoon and lot of gothic music, then I started to research more about mostly unknown groups and musicians with ambient/ ethnic influences, over the limit of the pop/rock song.
I found interesting the music by Brian Eno, David Sylvian and Sky records and some early new age, but I was fascinated also by industrial music like Throbbing Gristle, Coil, Nocturnal Emissions, SPK, Lustmord, Vox Populi and many others. I've also enjoyed the music by Robert Rich, Vidna Obmana, Jeff Greinke, I thought their music had something close to the spirit of the sound I was looking for... Their music had already a beautiful acoustical quality and the introspective direction had a fine natural feeling. Listening lots of music I started to focus more about my visual of sound and I decided to buy a small sampler and try to research more directly into sounds. I was inspired also a lot from natural sounds, as I had strong passion to fish in small rivers in the mountains, always I was fascinated from birds, animals and water sounds experiencing that when are listened in an open space in some occasions it can be very relaxing and induce meditative states. Apart that my equipment was quite simple (a Dat recorder, a four-tracks tape recorder, a multieffect, a mixer and a sampler) after a while some of my first sound experiments become interesting and I recorded my first two tapes (now on the cd "Sit Tibi Terra Levis/ Introspective"). It was at this point that looking for a name for my sound-project I've found in a book 'Alio Die' and I've choose it as for the sound of the word as for the positive meaning, it mean 'elsewhere day' in old latin language and was used like a greeting to a better time.
In 1992 "Under an Holy Ritual" was out with a good answer of critics and labels and I took more contacts with musicians making parallel researches into sounds, around the globe. The developing of my music was for sure helped by collaborations, and also influenced from the music and the experiments with sounds itself. At the beginning of 90's, in Italy, ambient music was not so much around like today, and there was still much to say, I mean mixing different elements like tribal/ethnic sounds with electronic was something perhaps not totally new but still offered a lot of possibilities to explore. I've found mostly of this music interesting but personally I've focused more and more on drones and loops possibilities, combined with fields recordings, and only some years ago I started to play with real instruments like zither, salterio, khen… not with the focus to play them in traditional way but looking for find specialtunings and effects, to treat later electronically expanding in this way my looping technique.  

Your music seems to have a very visual element. Where did that come from and how do you approach visuals when  making sound? Is it a  conscious process or not?

I think that the visual element is a consequence of the musical process, yes at some level I'm conscious of it when I compose some new music, nevertheless the attitude is purely intuitive and the concentration is focused on a kind of adherence with sounds, in order to obtain a special feeling that the music bring itself . The choose of sounds and the way they are merged together grows in the process and represent the magic of the music itself, then the visual quality ,that can be both personal than objective starts. I call the objective visual quality of music a kind of pictures in movement that come while I listen and often rest with me all the night long while I sleep, after I've work on some music for a while: it is something between waves of colours and sounds and it is the consequence that the mind don't think anymore it is just impressed from sounds and massage from them. The personal visual quality touch another layer of conscious and have something to do with what the music can evoke but it is in also in relation with the thinking movement and subject's sensibility: images, natural/ imaginary landscapes, special feelings, remembering or downright stories… precisely I think this is related not only to the music, but to the moment we are listening the music and all our context. Both these qualities are important in my music and I try, following the muse, to give power and poetry to them, intuitively as I can. I find an interesting analogy from the intuitive method I have to compose and the philosophy of the painter from NY, Yanusz Gilewitz (see "Leaves net's" cover paintings and his site ) that with his VTS (Visual Transmission of Sound) experience, listen Alio Die's music and organic, quiet and hypnotizing sounds in general to release his visionary paints, where the music effectively helps to leave behind the wandering mind and open hidden channels of the inner self, as well as removing from events in the immediate reality, so that the artist/medium translate in lines and colors throw his meditative/active listening at the point that the painting is then virtually "painted by itself", like he said.  Sara Luciani a painter from Italy have experienced something similar and have already created different abstract paints, and some of them will be used on some of my future releases. Visual element in music is almost an abstract subject, by the way I enjoy to find often, in the comments of people, in the feeling of paints, or in the reviews that the evocative message I found in my music is arrived to his destination.


Speaking of visuals, the cover of "Mei-Jyu" is  beautiful. What was it like working with Jack or Jive? Tell me about  the process of making  that album. Were you both influenced by the very  zen theme running  through the music? Do you see a connection to sound  and zen? If so,  HOW?

Yes, visuals on covers are also important to give a bridge by another medium, with the music inside a cd and I like to take care myself with organic, natural compositions,photos and artwork like I do on Hic Sunt Leones label and with mostly of Alio Die's cds also on other labels. In the case of Mei-Jyu it was started from some photos I did, later mounted and maked up by Sam Rosenthal/ Projekt that printed the album.
The music with japanese duo Jack or Jive was started some years ago when they was coming to my studio in Milan, I think it was important to meet together first, instead working only by was an interesting collaboration for me a new step to create some music supporting the particular voice of Chako. After we made some recordings together we've exchanged some basic tracks with music or voice, and we sent it back each other adding our contribute, than I've arranged some of the tracks more deeply, and finally I've choose the tracking list in the way to obtain a comfortable path throw the album. About the connection between Zen and music I feel usually something like that celebrating ritual improvisations with sounds I play both in the studio or near water or singing insects, by small sounds or by some acoustic instrument, in this sessions my focus is not about some virtuosity but about tuning with the present moment, the atmosphere, the environment ..and the result when it is tuned is just the simple but successful manifestation of the 'here and now'. During our meeting and in the concert as well, I found that Chako's approach into improvisation is just close to what I tryed to,after I've asked them to find a ideogramma for the title and they proposed the concept of Mey-Jyu for the album I've found it was perfectly suitable for it.


Speaking of collaborations, what was it like to  work with Robert  Rich? "Fissures" is such a beautiful album, did it  have an influence on your music since?

Thanks you. Probably you know of the passion of Robert Rich about mushroom huntings… me, too I'm affected as I was a child from this fever.. so, when I was in California Robert lived in a small village on the cost and it was the right time for them, ok actually this is not exactly about the recording of the album, but I'm sure that being close to a beautiful environment near the ocean and have occasion to pass lot of time in the forest together and meet animals like roe-bucks, procyons, birds, have inspired making the music in some way, too. I've deeply loved the music by Robert Rich and it was an important step for me to work together, I had for sure lot of inspiration understanding a bit the way Robert build up a track and the cure he give to each effects and editing. At that time my technique was a lot more simple and primitive, by the way the encounter over "Fissures" was successful. I like to be influenced from the music I love, as well as mix elements from different styles of music, in a personal way of course, we work mostly with different instruments but yes sometimes I can find some very little Robert's touch here and there on some of my album.


While this obviously a subjective question, I'd be very interested in getting your perspective on the power of the "drone." Where does its power come from? Is it a product of both the individual's surroundings and his/her mind or both? Going further, why do drone music fans tend to be so fanatical about this music? Is it something that they "get" that non-drone fans do not understand?

Power of drone bring me back to indian traditional music. Of course not only indian music have such droning quality, but it is a clear example of a deep refinement, ancient consciousness about the power of sound, special tunings, vibrations in relation with feelings and the seasons. It is not a case if early minimalism La Monte Youngs, Terry Riley, Jon Hassell were also influenced from indian music. The pure drone in indian music on which all the music is build, is a tonal sound made by the tampura or shruti-bux and it is performed for all the length of the concert. I think drone music today is also related with time and space, feelings, and that it can open new prospectives, points of views from where observe and meditate. Power of drone is connected with the capability of the listener to answer to a special vibration, so it need an open hear that is not related with the usual concept of rhythmic and melodic music, it is something over the thinking attitude, and it's close to a concept of harmony and chaos in relations with the archetypes of the human perception: sound is directly connected with the pulsation of life and the states of consciousness... we can feel fascinated how much drone music can be deep, relaxing or stimulating, more than other kind of music can induce particular states without needs of any thinking movement, or imagination, it is an inductive quality itself… although it is not 'passive' music at all. Works with drones can be truly magic, when the balance between vibrations become perfect is created a precise place where it is possible to experience the harmony blending the repeated and looped sounds. Yes, fans of drone music are sometime very enthusiastic about it ,while other people don't find it interesting, or very boring, or irritating; personally I think that the listening approach of mostly of the people that can't listen at all ambient/drone music is too much mental oriented, they need more concrete compositions, related with sentiments, or movements, while drone music fans have some more gates already opened to meditation with sounds and listening introspection. About this matter I think there are lots of ambient/contemporary music that have both the drone quality and some melodic or rhythmic element, together in a good way, perhaps this kind of albums could be the right occasion to introduce people to some new deep listening possibilities.


How has Alio Die's music evolved over time? Is there any consciouss effort in the way you make new music that goes on a cd or is it completely stream of consciousness? Do you hear sounds on colleagues' records that inspire yout to take new directions when making music?

Yes, if I stop and I try to give a look to my discography i think that my music is evolved over the time, more in the form that in the spirit, I can recognise a development of my technical approach and more capability to related with different atmospheres or long tracks respect to my first albums. When I'm not in the recording process I listen music usually all day long, and in this way I've a lot of new stimulations from different styles, so I suppose I'm influenced from lot of them, when are assimilated.

When I play some music I'm focused on the process and I don't take care to create some original composition, music must always altering so, it is not necessary to think what is Alio Die's sound for make new Alio Die's music… instead, the music come to me when the intuition is follow with cure and I'm tuning in a good way with the material I'm looking to work with. I think that there is a strong consciousness effort in release new music, sometime it is not conscious at all till the music is finished, but I think it is a complex approach where you look to be tuned with sounds but transparent, present, able to experience the development of the music and hear the directions to choose.. there are just some intuitive ideas at the beginning, the concept grows during the process and this happen more easily and tuned with my feeling of harmony, more I don't try to force some ideas in it. For sure there is also some rational ideas or thinking in the creative process but the umpire is always the listening experience. (of course it is possible to work with a theme or an idea from the beginning giving to it the discrimination in the recording session without change too much the method I expressed below) On my last collaborations with Raffaele Serra for two new 5000 Spirits albums (that will be out on HSL in 2006.) I experienced a process like that: I started working on electronic material by Raffaele, and I had to find a way to choose, organize, arrange and mix about seven hours of basic tracks.. after a while listening to the sounds I was disoriented as its were quite different from my usual sounds: very intense, noisy, obsessive sometimes… I tryed to create a journey mixing one track into the other, following punctually the suggested atmospheres and adding other layers in the way to help the glide of sounds.. the music was coming itself to his identity, the result looks original to my hears now and the combinations between our contribute melt organically together.