Some of you may know I have a soft spot for the box of ideas that people call techno. Now, I am not one of those discriminatory listeners that sets up border security in my brain around genre labels. I happen to dislike genre labels, since they do more to close off listening habits than help you understand sound. However, I do happen to enjoy the toolbox of themes and emotions brought out with “techno”. This may be obvious from the fact that the only outside interviews and mixes I have done in the last 5 months have been with Penélope Martin and Chance McDermott. Both artists play with techno ideas in different, but I think interesting ways. Today, I continue exploring what like-minded artists outside our scene are doing with sound.
Alessio Pili is an artist I have grown to really enjoy his music over the last year. I first found him while exploring the back catalogues of Panel Trax Records when local artist Plural released an EP on their label a while back. I checked out Pili’s soundcloud and was really drawn in by his EP “How The Few Control the Many” for Aconito Records. As someone with a love of Sci-Fi and dystopian futures, I was immediately drawn to the release and how he articulated a cyber-punk aesthetic with his music. “Melancholia” just really griped me with its fragile “boot-up” loop that dances over the top of his aggressive drum and synthesized backdrops.
“How The Few Control The Many” also really interested me. The track teeters on the edge of anarchy for its entire duration, which brings to mind the sonic equivalent of how a powerful regime would bend and flex in response to external challenges.
This same approach is highlighted in his label Frames of Thought, which is a collaboration between Pili, Scam, & Ness. Their first release builds on Pili’s core sound, and shows how Scam & Ness are working with very similar ideas in their music in equally interesting ways. Just listening to the samples from the EP demonstrates that all three of the artists are embarking on the kind of sonic ruminations about the state of the world that drew me to Pili’s solo work.
Listening through this back catalogue, it is evident that Pili has paid careful attention to past forms of “electronic” music, but he has carved out his own unique approach to creating sound that really captures the tension of living in the 21st century. Due to this, I felt I wanted to share his story and a mix he created for this project with our community. I hope you enjoy it and support him by picking up one of his releases.
Alessio Pili – “Local Autonomy Mix”
Local Autonomy: How did you get your start producing & DJing?
Alessio Pili: I started when I was 18 years old on my first technics turntables and a very simple mixer. I remember the day really well! My life was completly changed! During that period, I lived in the country, and so I spent most of the time listening to music. So, the step was natural! Later, in 2007, I started to produce. I think it is the same for everyone. If you are a dj and you really love the music you play, the first thing you need is try to create your own music.
LA: What has it been like growing up in and around the Italian dance music community?
AP: In the past, I really enjoyed the Italian style. Until 2003/4, there were were a lot of big producers in Italy (especially in the naples and rome scenes). Later, with the arrival of the “new” minimal style, everything changed, and I felt like the italian scene was losing his quality. However, I always prefered the uk and german scene in Europe, and obviously all the detroit scene! Fortunately, there are now a lot of interesting producers coming up here, so I’m confident for the future. Moreover, I’m Sardinian and I have to say that in Sardinia we have lots of great artists, and this is really inspiring for me!
LA: You are open about your love of vinyl. Why do you think vinyl is still important in the digital age?
AP: For sure, I think vinyl can keep the actual underground techno scene alive and can keep it at a state of high quality. I’m happy to see a partial rebirth of this music medium. Vinyl had been in decline for years. Eveybody says that it doesn’t interest to them release in vinyl, but if they could choose, I believe everybody would choose to have their music released on vinyl. The new technologies are welcomed, but are a little bit abused. I heard a lot of boring sets made with controllers. If you buy vinyl, you are more accurate in your choices. Now, everybody can become a dj in a really simple way. But true passions needs sacrifices. The record industries are inflated by thousands of labels that are born every day! HOME MADE MASTERS and strange mixes. I think the audio quality in the gigs has decreased due to this. It’s my personal preference ,but I like to hear and see good DJ’s. I like to see their hands working, repairing errors, foreheads sweating! This is, for me, what a dj has to do! It is much more than just pushing the sync button.
LA: I love how your music creates a sort of soundtrack for a dark dystopian future. What makes you so interested in thinking about the sounds of the future?
AP: I dont know how the music could be the sound of the future. Sincerely, when I’m making music, I dont try to make “the music of the future”. I think that in the electonic music all has just been written. When I think about the music of klaus shulze or brian eno (and many others), years & years ago, I think it is almost impossible to make it better with virtual instruments and PCs. Today, to make dark stuff is cool. I really like this moment in the underground scene, but for me, the music of the future is still the old electronic music. In those years, people were afraid of the cold war, possible atomic explosions, radiocative fallouts,and the music was contaminated by this elements. Now, we live similar times in a climate of uncertainty, and consequently I think techno is becoming “dark”. Since my childhood, I have been really interested by all the post apocalyptic and cyberpunk culture..books,movies,videogames etc. Now, I found my way to make music inspired by this background!
LA: What ideas/themes/emotions were you working with in this mix?
AP: Usually when I’m doing a mix I am full absorbed. I have no time to think. I work with all my collection on my side, so I don’t choose tracks before. I think doing this in the moment is the better way to put what’s in your mind in the mix! I always play new and old stuff toghetar, because I think techno music knows no time. Instead, there are only good and bad tracks, and with every new good release it increases our musical baggage and our culture.