> MAURIZIO BIANCHI / M.B. INTERVIEW By Marcelo Aguirre
In recent times, there has been an amazing amount of re-editions and new releases by the elusive Italian meister. Deservedly. His ominous soundscapes cover a big gap from bleak to atmospheric and sedating, so best please check the link at the end of this post for a clear overview on what is being produced on MB’s headquarters.
This interview was conducted through email in two sessions after the release of the 5 LP box M.B. Archives in 2006 on german label Vinyl on Demand, which I went to review for the monthly webzine Paris Transatlantic, still available online here. This interview remains unedited. If somebody wants to take the task of editing this to make it read better in English, welcome!
Marcelo Aguirre: First and foremost, what moved you to start doing your own sound work? Please add comments about your musical background, related interests, and the music you were listening at the time.
Maurizio Bianchi: The purpose was to leave a fermentative trace on the history after my departure. An epileptic seed on this moribund society. My musical background was beat music, decadent music, cosmic music, punk, electo-pop, and noise. As for related interests, photographs. I was listening to electronic/ electroacoustic/ experimental/ contemporary music.
M.A.: How was the social and cultural climate in Italy when you started/ early years?
M.B.: The social culture was in the deepest boredom and the masses were submerged by the conventional clichés.
M.A.: Would you comment on your rumoured proximity to the Brigate Rosse at that time?
M.B.: It’s purely false. I never have been involved in any politics because I hate it.
M.A.: Where another artists doing things you related to or others you got to know afterwards with whom you felt sympathy?
M.B.: There was nobody to whom I related. By the way, I was in touch with Monte Cazzazza, Genesis P-Orridge, Konrad Schnitzler, Nigel Ayers, and others, but without to get influenced by their way of life.
M.A.: Could you specify where the moniker Sacher Pelz comes from?
M.B.: It comes from a Sacher Masoch fiction titled Venus im Pelz, celebrating the masochistic apotheosis of the modern victims.
M.A.: Could you introduce on the modus operandi of that project and why you changed to your own name after a series of tapes?
M.B.: I started using pre-recorded tracks and then modifying, maltreating them until they became an unrecognizable mash. There was a sort of poetic view, a precession of human superficiality with adding some mind lobotomy due to the social useless. I changed the name because there was a dramatic evolution in my musical approach and to disseminate my own personality.
M.A.: It is said that your work evoked the proceedings, but more accurately the sound of 50´s musique concrète from your first stages onwards. How much were you aware of that, and how do you see that now?
M.B.: I was completely unaware of this, even if I listened in the second half of the seventies some works by Henry, Schaeffer, Ferrari and others; now I can define such similarities as a degenerative coincidence.
M.A.: You released also records under the name of Leibstandarte SS, again flirting with German; Nazi drenched imagery, what seemed a common interest or shock tactic prevalent in the industrial culture. Could you comment on what were your own ties to that, including to Industrial Culture?
M.B.: The correct sentence is that the Come Org crew released such records after promising me an imaginary gratification…my ties with Industrial Culture were only through the horrifying visuals, nothing else, because my philosophy was very personal and obscured by distressed existentialism.
M.A.: There is little information on the luxurious 5 LP box Vinyl on Demand released this year, which unites all tapes you released under your own name. Could you give a glimpse on its proceedings?
M.B.: Practically, with the precious help of faithful friends like Siegmar Fricke, Stephan Kraus, David Van Ravesteijn and others, I obtained the re-mastering of my oldest tapes and some other works edited after my abandonment. I sent all to Frank at VOD and then he did a strong work making everything ready!
M.A.: Although your music has took another direction, you are interested in re-releasing your earlier work. What is the value you find on it?
M.B.: It is simply an affective value. Nothing more.
M.A.: By making these recordings newly available could be understood that you don’t reject your past?
M.B.: Not totally because on the ashes of my past I’ve constructed my grazed present, waiting for the imponderable future.
M.A.: At some point you mentioned to be a de-composer for not being a (trained) composer. What were you referring to?
M.B.: It’s a sort of description of my composition planning out. I prefer to use already generated sources, interacting with them to create a sort of magmatic polarization.
M.A.: Would be interesting to know how your instrumentation and work methods evolved from a first stage. Did you achieve a compositional method after a while?
M.B.: After having used analogue/synthetic equipment, step-by-step I came to my early experiments’ approach related to more unconventional sources.
M.A.: Could you specify?
M.B.: In fact I’m currently using a simple cassette-tape recorder with a microphone incorporated and a DVD-player with some special functions. All analogue. That’s all!
M.A.: When did you realize that?
M.A.: How did you get in touch with William Bennet and Come Organization?
M.B.: I sent some of my tapes to them to exchange with their products. That’s all.
M.A.: There is a story of a fake record deal where Steven Stapleton was also involved, how did you come to terms with them?
M.B.: Are people still interested in such sterile dissertations?
M.A.: Perhaps that may help to clarify…
M.B.: You’re right. I’ve been in touch with Steven Stapleton and through him with William Bennett of Come Org and he proposed to me to have issued for their label a long playing. It was a very good opportunity to get a little popularity in the United Kingdom. I signed a fictitious contract and then I sent to William a cassette tape with some tracks recorded and in few months the record was out but with my very big surprise there was overassembled some nazi speech on it and my name was changed in Leibstandarte SS-MB… I was very surprised but reluctantly I accepted… Then after some months a second issue went out and the story was the same. And the rest you know. By the way, what is done is done and can’t be undone.
M.A.: How was the experience of working on music for the film Morder unter Uns Come Organization did for you?
M.B.: I didn’t take part on that project at all!
M.A.: Could you tell then how is the real story of that album and film?
M.B.: The album evidences there are still at our times, but concerning the film I don’t remember how the things went. I’m very sorry about that… I remember only that there was a person involved in this project, Paul Hurst.
M.A.: There has been a break-up for some years after what’s called your Archeo period. How did you come back to music making, and with which aims in mind?
M.B.: I came back with renovated forces to express my renewed personality. The liner notes written on Colori explained that properly.
M.A.: Were Emanuele Carcano and his label Alga Marghen, playing a role in your comeback?
M.B.: A very important role, because at that time he was the only person who really trusted on my effective capacities.
M.A.: Who created the EEs´T series and with which idea?
M.B.: Was a project created in cooperation with Carcano. The aim was to re-edit the already deleted records in order to avoid the continuous speculation with the originals.
M.A.: After being an absolute solo artist you started doing collaborative work. That added a new facet to your work, with the particularity of you considered somebody who doesn’t mix up with others. How did it change?
M.B.: I tried to get new vitality cooperating with others in order to have an exchange of emotions, thoughts, feelings, etc. And it helped me to mature myself and to open new purposes in my life.
M.A.: Is there a sense of spiritual content to be understood in the work you are doing?
M.B.: You’re right. This is the part of myself, which makes me really happy and free. In my decompositions there is a sort of inner battle between the carnal against the spiritual and it’s a daily struggle to stay alive in this decadent epoch. But at the end the victory is in a positive way.
M.A.: I’m interested in how your work has been received after your comeback. There have been critical or adverse reactions, especially since it mutated a radical, jarring sound into a more calm and introspective one, into a sort of ambient terrain. What would you respond to those who accuse you of mellowing out, getting into new age territory?
M.B.: The reactions were quite negative (except very few impartial ones) about my trilogy Colori/ First Day Last Day and Dates, but I explained that I was not involved in any “new age” trend, and the sounds contained in those works are just coming from my peaceful inner mood.
M.A.: But now you returned to some kind of more noise-oriented work again…
M.B.: It’s not a return but an evolution.
M.A.: How would you define your approach into the realms of ambient music?
M.B.: It’s an exciting experience originated by my research of new experiences. It’s part of my innate eclecticism.
M.A.: What’s your meaning about this musical form and how do you consider it has evolved nowadays?
M.B.: Sorry but I’m not really involved so much in this realm and I don’t have enough competence of it.
M.A.: There’s certainly an interesting bunch of musicians working in this area, how much are you aware of them?
M.B.: Please see above.
M.A.: Especially in your recent work there is an explicit reference to the Bible, and seems to reflect a complex structure. Based on which kind of specific interest on the sacred writings do you build the frameworks in relationship to your music?
M.B.: I appreciate you made this question, which demonstrates you are curious of the Holy Scriptures. The reference to The Bible is purely academic and to show to the people the reality of the teachings contained on it, so far from the deceptive explanations made by the traditional religions.
M.A.: There seems to be a strong presence of the piano and sparse keyboard work, used more in a sense to give colour than formal structure. Where do you take your inspiration from?
M.B.: Mostly from the minimalistic gear of our spiritual existence.
M.A.: In your work “Antarctic Mosaic”, based upon cut and paste of classical and electronic music, and Hertzian waves, you anticipate on The Technological Nonsense. Could you elucidate on that upcoming book?
M.B.: It’s a written project based on spreading out some sentences coming from scientific/technological universe, mixed up in a sort of lexologic nonsense but with an emotional sense.
M.A.: Could you give also a glimpse on your use of classical music as a sound source and which are the qualities you strive for?
M.B.: I understand you were impressed by the two transition works Frammenti and Antarctic Mosaic that only very few people appreciated. Anyhow, I tried to take out some looped samplers from the so-called symphonies searching for the parts where the sonorities where so averse from the whole harmonic structures.
M.A.: Could you specify about which symphonies you sampled?
M.B.: I used some excerpts from Dvòrak, Vivaldi, Schumann, Haydn, and others I don’t remember the composers’ names.
M.A.: You have made an analogy between colours and suffering, in your work Dead Colours, indeed your comeback trilogy (Colori, First Day/Last Day and Dates) introduced it. Which significance has a visual content in your work and how do you established this parallel?
M.B.: The visual represents the abstraction of the sonorous contents. Sometimes the parallel is evident, but sometimes is not so evident because I prefer to leave a free interpretation to the user.
M.A.: In which sense it refers to a spiritual search and to factual circumstances?
M.B.: Without the spiritual search there is no hope to modify the factual circumstances.
M.A.: You mention and refer widely to a certain tradition of minimal music present in your work. With that are you encompassing the axis of Riley/Glass/Young/Reich at some extent?
M.B.: I don’t have the claim to tread in the above artists’ footsteps, but I’m very obliged to them to have opened the research.
M.A.: If there were an interest in that particular school, which would be the values you may rescue from that?
M.B.: At the times of Regel, there were a sort of imitation of Riley’s sound sculptures, but was only a very short parenthesis.
M.A.: What are you referring to when you say Riley’s sound sculptures?
M.B.: I’m referring to his particular compressed sound, which holds your mind as if in a mantric vice.
M.A.: Are you aware of another minimalists that resurfaced in past years, like Charlemagne Palestine or Éliane Radigue?
M.B.: I know very well Palestine because the EEs’T record label issued some of his past and recent works, but I don’t know anything about Radigue…
M.A.: What’s your meaning on Palestine’s music?
M.B.: I don’t have any.
M.A.: It is known your interest in bionics, and even your recent work Niddah Emmhna, part of the box Together’s Symphony along Italian atmospherics artist Nimh, lists everything from “erythrocyte frequencies, menarchal viola, neurological piano” to “coagulant clangs” among its sound sources. Maybe I’m getting messed at that, but what could be understood as “bionic aesthetics” in your work?
M.B.: I’m interested in bionics because I love life and I hate death. The death is our enemy and the life is our friend. I like to use this kind of aesthetics to awaken the listener and to avoid the dangerous abysses of some gothic/esoteric/occultism culture.
M.A.: In relation to that, were you aware about the concepts of cybernetics – “music is sound – and sound is self-sufficient”- coined by German composer Roland Kayn, where the result coming out of electronic circuitry systems would be unpredictable for the composer, or were you influenced by other composers working in that field/ way?
M.B.: I don’t use to have any philosophical influences in my work because I prefer to use the genuine emotionality, devoid of any artful schema.
M.A.: You have constantly struggled a battle against the ugly face of consumerism, responding with a music that is ascetic and obsessive in its conception. Do you think the battle has got its dividends?
M.B.: It’s not my aim to win any battle because is a task beyond my capability, but I can say that giving a view to the past 25 years the followers of this discipline have increased.
M.A.: Your recent works shows a marked interest in long duration. Which is the main end on that form of suspended, slow musical evolution?
M.B.: It’s simply the devotion to a sort of meditative sound and during the 30 or 40 minutes of a single track the magmatic sonorities are trying to capture the attention of meditative people, without hypnotizing them.
M.A.: Taking in consideration there is some bootlegs of your work and that your records appeared in every format, how is your position about having total quality control on the material you release?
M.B.: It’s a very peculiar thing; that’s why in collaboration with Frank Maier at Vinyl On Demand I started a sort of battle against the bootleggers in order to fix my archives in a better quality of the final product and to satisfy a larger number of initiates.
M.A.: How is your experience with recent releases on net labels and free downloadable music on the Internet?
M.B.: It was a very satisfactory experience and the feedback very positive.
M.A.: There are many references to apocalypse, Armageddon and the abolishment of human presence on earth in your work (as stated in the notes of Mokushi XVI, XVI), in face of a new era. In which form it connects with the challenging and oppressive atmospheres in your music?
M.B.: Practically those atmospheres describe the current human presence influenced by the demonic presences on earth, and the Armageddon final war is simply the total freedom by their slavery!
M.A.: You have been always quite well networked during the eighties with many well-known names of the industrial scene, meanwhile you continue doing so. Now you also collaborate extensively with another artists (among others Telepherique, Sandro Kaiser, Aube, Land Use, Siegmar Fricke). What are the differences in the network between now and then?
M.B.: I can’t say anything because during my networking during the 80’s I’d already quitted the underground scene.
M.A.: Could you specify which underground scene are you referring to?
M.B.: The scene where people like Enrico Piva and other unknown artists who were moving their shy steps.
M.A.: How do you set collaborative work?
M.B.: After the first approach, I propose to send some material to the collaborator, which is going to include his sounds and some treatments, special effects, etc. And then he’s going to send back the result to me for the final approval. All this work is made only by mail.
M.A.: Could you comment on upcoming activities?
M.B.: I’m preparing about 8 or 9 collaborations with national and international artists like Claudio Rocchetti, Matteo/Hue Uggeri, Emanuela de Angelis, Saverio Evangelista, Crìa Cuervos, Maor Appelbaum, Siegmar Fricke, Craig Hilton, and my solo projects will be ready soon, I’m referring to Blut Und Nebel, Neuro-Munalp, Eascape to Bela-Zoar, Nevrobatterio, and others.