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INTERVIEW

Max Casacci and the sound of Kenya

The holidays of 'Earthphonia' creator

21-09-2023 by Freddie del Curatolo

Karen Blixen said she knew 'the song of Africa' and wondered if the land that had welcomed her and which she could describe so well, knew her own.
But Kenya does not only have 'songs' and whispered stories, it also and above all has countless sounds.
Sometimes boisterous like the cries of animals, scary soft or surprising, sometimes atmospheric like the sound of the Indian ocean crashing on the coral reef. But there is not only nature, in Africa, the sound of life, of the transformation of a continent and its people, the coexistence of ancient traditions and induced and absorbed modernity, of immense spaces and unbridled urbanism, create a fascinating aural mixture.
One holiday was enough for Max Casacci to understand this.

In his 'pop' life, the Turin-born artist is known as the mastermind and guitarist of Subsonica, a band capable of selling more than a million copies of records and filling arenas for two decades.
But Casacci is much more than that, he is a 'music scientist' who over the years has carved out an important place for himself on the international scene, recording and setting to music the sounds and noises produced by our planet. Both those of the ecosystems that man has not yet managed to corrupt, and those of the civilised world.

This is how "Earthphonia" was born, a project that, as the musician and producer himself explains, "stems from the sounds and noises of nature transformed into musical texture, they are the amazement and empathy towards ecosystems and all the wonders, often unknown, that they hide".
After patiently recording and transforming into dance, techno and 'lounge' tracks the sound of the ancient stones of the island of Malta, the infinite work of bees in beehives, the scores of water in rivers and oceans and even the imperceptible vibrations of plants and roots, he published a CD and related book for Sugarmusic with personalities such as the botanist and essayist Stefano Mancuso, the artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, the marine biologist Mariasole Bianco and the patron of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini.

It is the creative musician himself who tells us about the Kenyan adventure, which in the end is very close to his concept of sound exploration, whereby, as he says, "the man-music relationship is overturned and the man-nature one ventures out in search of a new balance". There are so many suggestions that this land can offer to a mind (and a microphone) as open as his.
'I hope this is the first of many more trips to Kenya,' admits Casacci, 'thanks to dear friends, now acquired Kenyans, Bruno and Loredana, who welcomed me, my wife and 12-year-old daughter in Malindi, in their poetic house by the ocean, among the branches of the casuarina and the whiteness of the frangipani flowers. Thanks to them, we had our first taste of a country that, in its richness barely glimpsed among the many colours of the land, among aridity and lush hues, among landscapes capable of rapid change, would certainly deserve much more time'.

Casacci and his family obviously visited the Tsavo East National Park, the mangrove forest of Mida Creek at sunset, the beach of Che Sale with its magical shimmering sands and that of Watamu 'which at low tide looks like a fantasy drawing', recalls the artist.
Here, between endless walks along Silversand beach, the plunge into the softly chaotic and smiling vitality of the 'town', his daughter Frida's approach to the plight of her peers and desire to help, and his meeting with his cousin Nicoletta, known as 'Mama Paka' who lives in Watamu and takes care of stray cats, Max had time to 'stretch his ears' to the sounds of his first Kenya and imagine their harmonic and arranging implications.

'Among the most intimately personal things I take away with me,' the artist tells Malindikenya.net, 'is a recording made with my smart phone from inside a camp tent at Tsavo, during the first afternoon of safari. I was about to fall asleep when the sound of birds, wind, insects and other animals began to drift vaporously into drowsiness. I had to force myself to wake up in order to turn on the recorder and capture a magical sound moment that owes its perfection to the inherent functionality of every single voice in that corner of nature. Those sounds, which are not random, respond to precise biological functions and as such to a 'score' of individual elements that necessarily take into account the entire sound picture, until they compose a perfect musicality, against the backdrop of a deep silence elsewhere that has completely disappeared.

Having perceived that 'orchestra' in an instant that caressed the dream dimension made me realise how much, in such a place, the link with reality can easily become imbued with the unconscious, spirituality, magic. Every time I listen to those sounds again, those birds and insects appear to me more like representations than real forms. I also carry with me the sound of the ocean at night, listened to from Loredana and Bruno's house, in the full range of its breaths, different depending on the strength of the sea and the times of the tides.

Max Casacci's world, which we invite you to discover on YouTube (the 'Earthphonia' channel) and on Spotify, where you can also find the project related to urban sounds, where the rhythm is marked by means of transport, environments and consumer objects, is not only sound but also images to which his music can become an ideal soundtrack.
"Some of these," the musician confirms, "put me in a good mood and appeared to me as a sign of great hope. For example, in the Malindi of the Tuk Tuk and the Bajaj, in addition to observing incredible numbers of passengers and objects on the same motorbike, you can see two friends walking arm in arm, one wearing a full burqa and the other wearing comfortable shorts. An image that makes the heart smile and that I will carry in mine for a long time'.

 

TAGS: earthphoniasuonivacanzamalindicreativotsavomusicaintervistapersonaggi

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