Solo Andata: Fluid Radio (2010)
After the highly praised Fyris Swan (Hefty) and S/T (12K), Solo Andata return with Ritual, a meticulously-crafted album emphasizing an engagement with the unknown…

Ritual is Solo Andata’s third full-length album and also the inaugural release for the Buffalo-based label, Desire Path Recordings. This limited edition 12” LP consists of four glorious sonic ‘topographies’ that are altogether spellbinding, eerie, visceral and energetic. Ritual, similar to Solo Andata’s self-titled album on 12k, is fundamentally made up of organic sounds, such as primitive gongs, bells and bowls, wildlife and environmental recordings, sacred chants, the vibration of human cancerous cells, cleavers, and prepared piano. These four pieces seem to work toward a repetition or ‘ritual‘ between disparate elements so as to transport us, via a magical spell, to dense otherworldly habitats. In fact, the title of the twenty-minute piece Incantare translates as ‘to chant’ (a magical spell upon), which derives from ‘in’, into, unto and ‘cantare’, to sing. For the eight-minute piece Carving, there exists a ‘ritualistic’ image similar to that of Kafka’s In the Penal Colony, where an intricate carving device inscribes the Condemned prisoner’s sentence onto his flesh. The whole affair of Ritual is bound to leave listeners mesmerized by its vividness and bewitched by its intensity.

The album ships today, September 30th, so to commemorate the occasion –

Paul Fiocco and Kane Ikin were kind enough to take some time out of their schedule to discuss some of the elements of the album with Fluid Radio, preview some upcoming work and share some insights into their collaborative process.

The wildlife recording on the album seems to have a strong sense of character – did it all come from the same place, or was it from a collection of accumulated material?

SA: The wildlife recordings more or less all come from a place called Injidup (a remote part of Western Australia). They were recorded during mid-summer. The location is very close to Canal Rocks, which was used for a track on the 12k release. Come to think of it, it was the same location that was used for “Woods, Flesh, Bone”.

Was there a deliberate attempt to capture a tone, or did the mood develop as you worked? Were you surprised at the end result, or did you have it planned out?

SA: I think at the very beginning we were preparing ourselves for the idea that the record would have two very different sounds as far as tone or mood is concerned but I guess after working together this long we’ve developed a kind of Solo Andata aesthetic that comes out in the end, even when we approach writing from radically different places in regards to everything from what equipment we use to our sound sources.

I don’t think we ever had a definitive plan when were writing… though saying that, it was fairly clear early on that it was going to be a ‘dark’ record, but that was never a locked in idea for the record… just how it seemed to progress as we wrote it.

I’ve got to ask – the press release mentions “the vibration of human cancerous cells” as an organic sound used on the album. Can you expand on this?

Paul: Those sounds are from a very sensitive microscope that converts nano-mechanical motion data into sound. And the cells, which were oscillating at a strange and erratic frequency, were human bone cancer cells.

Kane, the credits list the last track as being yours, and the first three as Paul’s. Did both of you develop the pieces separately then work on them together? Or did you both bring finished pieces to the table?

Kane: The process was slightly a combination of both.

With our previous records we’ve always worked partly together and partly in isolation, relying on FTP-ing files back and forth with a constant stream of emails and phone calls in-between… after two records I think we needed a break from this method and at the time it was going to be impossible for us to record in the same space. So the conclusion we came to was to work on the record mutually but individually – with the vinyl format being an integral part in this, setting up the idea of two sides and a duality in sound. This is of course after Desire Path had contacted us and piqued our interest of a vinyl exclusive release…

I think the original idea was to have two sides operating on a positive/negative kind of vibe, like High fidelity vs. Low fidelity. Paul had just purchased a new super high quality recorder and I had been experimenting a lot with very old records and recordings. At that stage Incantare was actually two separate songs which were later edited and joined together with a third song to create one long ‘movement/journey’ with a focus on repetition with trance like hypnotic elements. Paul heard it in all its various stages, adding his thoughts on it along the way, though never actually involved in its creation. When Paul shared his songs with me I’d offer my opinions in much the same way. I like that despite our ‘separateness’ the record still works as a whole and has a fairly consistent sound even though we were using radically different techniques.

The album artwork is striking – does it have a particular significance to the intent behind the album?

SA: The artwork stems from the title ‘Ritual’, which in turn came from our own conversations and interpretations of the record, which to our ears had a ritualistic feeling… For example I really wanted Incantare to have elements of the kind of trance like states people would get into in pagan rituals and the like.

At the same time we were looking at images for the artist Chris Koelle to consider for his illustration, we sent him a whole combination of images from old mythological illustrations to photos from cult ceremonies and a few photos by Barbara and Michael Leisgen… Chris’s own interpretation of our records as well as some of the ideas and concepts from those images resulted in the album artwork. Two hands in ritual, holding the sky.

Did the record develop any characteristics in mastering? Were any elements enhanced or minimized in the process?

SA: James did a stellar job, we were asked if we had any special instructions for him, but our instincts were to trust his judgment. He’s worked with a lot of people we admire, so it was very easy to sit back and relax and wait for the finished product. We’re always surprised at how much a good mastering engineer can get out of something… I couldn’t say if anything specifically was enhanced or minimized… he just made it all sound, right. One thing worth noting is that the digital and the vinyl have had separate masters produced optimally for each version. We had both pushed a lot of crazy low end into our mixes that if left as they were would have flung the needle out of the groove on the vinyl version. James managed to sculpt and tame those frequencies without loosing any of the ‘sound’ we were going for.

How did the relationship with Desire Path develop?

SA: I think it all started with an email from Michael Vitrano to our MySpace expressing interest in us releasing on his proposed label exclusively to vinyl. We had yet to release anything on vinyl, which had always been a secret dream of ours… so it was a no brainer. Plus he was super easy to work with and had excellent choices in labels as his reference points to what he wanted to establish (e.g. 12k, type)

Your Facebook page mentions you now live in the same time zone – are you both in close proximity to each other, or is the internet the conduit?

SA: We’re a lot closer, about 2000km’s closer. But we still live in different cities (Melbourne and Sydney) so the internet is most definitely still the conduit. Luckily the internet is getting better and faster in Australia, so that is becoming less and less of a problem. In saying that though I’d like to think this is the last record we do long distance.

Is there a tour planned to coincide with the album launch?

SA: At the end of Paul’s studies this year I think we’ll embark on a quick tour of Australia’s east coast (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne) and hopefully early to mid next year we’ll finally get back to New York and then over to Europe and Japan. The hardest part about being an Australian artist is the distance from everything and the cost. Touring anywhere – even locally in this giant spread out country – gets very expensive.

When you do play live, is it a replication of what you have recorded or do you improvise?

SA: An improvised replication maybe? We use the same instruments a lot of the time, so it always has a similar ‘sound’. I think replicating anything we’ve previously recorded would be next to impossible with just the two of us, unless we had it all as separate loops or something in our computers, but that’s something that’s never been of interest for us. Our aim is to perform, live. So 9 times out of 10 we’re just using our computers as glorified loop pedals and effects… One day we’ll ditch the computers all together!

What can you tell us about Live In Tokyo?

SA: Earlier this year we had an opportunity to play an amazing show with Taylor Deupree, Minamo, Sawako and Moskitoo in two incredible buildings, an old Japanese Temple in Komyoji near Roponghi, which is probably the most remarkable venue we’ve ever played in and in an old school hall designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The recordings from these shows will come out later his year on 12k. We’re pretty excited about it. We hadn’t played together in about 6 months, hadn’t really rehearsed, weren’t super familiar with what we’d each brought to play as far as instruments and objects and despite all that pulled off probably our best live performance. So yeah, very excited for the release of that.

What other offerings are in the wings that you can discuss?

SA: Aside from Ritual, there’s a remix we did for Hessien’s new record, Kane’s started working with David Wenngren of Library Tapes & Murralin Lane on a new record and a documentary Kane composed the soundtrack for will be coming out early next year, called Anatomy: Face by Adele Wilkes.

- Interview by Alex Gibson for Fluid Radio

Orders for Ritual are available from Desire Path Recordings
Solo Andata