Echo Ex Machina is the first solo record by Simone Faraci, an Italian musician based in Bologna, where he has been active for several years in the electroacoustic improvisation scene, also with the collective Minus of which he is one of the founders. After various experiences in the field of classical music, he currently focus on experimental and electronic music.
Out today October 1st, 2021 on CD and on all digital platforms via Slowth Records, Echo Ex Machina was born from a suggestion that arose during the pandemic. In fact, over the past two years we have increasingly surrounded ourselves with voices mediated by technological tools. These voices come from afar, dismembered and reconstructed by digital technology.
The idea of a project about this theme initially materialized in a live solo presented for the historical research, production and musical teaching center Tempo Reale, founded by Luciano Berio in Florence. Everything then evolved using the collaboration with the vocal performer Agnese Banti and finally transformed into a concept album in five tracks (Apparatus [songmachine] and Τυέρτι chose
The record is based on four concepts: voice, distance, machine, metamorphosis. The title summarizes these concepts by referring to the figure of Echo and her myth, handed down by Ovid in The Metamorphoses. In Ovid’s work, Echo loses her body and turns into pure sound that wanders invisibly through the woods. Likewise, our voices travel bodyless in the video call stream and social media feeds, like an echo of our presence. This topic is approached in a different way in each of the five tracks, along the course of a concise and extremely fresh electronic flow.
The first track Scroll Macabre is composed exclusively of materials sampled from the reels of Instagram. The succession of these voices and sound events creates a speech that is charged with meaning even in its pseudo-randomness. In the background, a loop with a macabre mood marks the alienation of the repetitive action of the scroll.
Τυέρτι was born from the collaboration with Banti. Here words do not exist, because they appear dismembered in a myriad of syllables, to be reassembled by a random algorithm, which brings them together in a totally unconscious way. It is a game of inputs in which the listener can find his/her own interpretation of what the machine proposes: syllables are only sounds, it is our mind that is looking for a meaning.
Metamòrpho is the only track with a real text, however deformed by a rhythmic grid in contrast to the original metric. The text in question is made up of very few verses taken from Ovid’s The Metamorphoses, read in Latin through a vocoder. The short nocturnal landscape in the central part of the track is dotted with small interventions of vocal residues, reminiscent of the ASMR universe.
Vox Aeterna gives space to singing in its harmonic dimension, referring to the music of György Ligeti and Olivier Messiaen: the voice of Banti seems to move in an empty space, in a continuous timbre transformation, in a cyclical agglomeration and rarefaction of chords, framed by pure frequencies of the synthesizer.
Apparatus [songmachine] represents an imaginary singing machine capable of producing various voices. In this track, different techniques are used to elaborate the voice that becomes a malleable material, in constant evolution. A series of vocal metamorphoses alternate on the rhythmic grid traced by a vocal synthesis motor: voices that seem to come from metal bodies, voices that turn into birdsong, madrigals played by a turntablist, or the autotune used as a distorting mirror of the vocal timbre.