For some years now, in relation to electronic music, experimental and techno is becoming more and more an all-Italian project. ANGLE. A Duo born in Florence and formed by Piero Fragola (also in We Love and LABA and Professor IN the European Institute of Design in Florence) and Thomas Pizzinga who bases his work on mixing 3D visual architectural perfection with a unique sound based on the use of all musical equipment.
So Piero, how was the ANGLE project born/conceived?
ANGLE is an audiovisual project based in Florence which proposes a research towards both sound and vision. Before this project, I was co-founder of the We Love duo (produced by BPitch Control, Berlin). ANGLE was born on school desks: Thomas Pizzinga was a student of mine at LABA, a fine arts academy in Florence where I work as teacher. Thomas, who is a videomaker and founder of Elephant Studio, always shared with me his passion for electronic music and live shows, so he was keen in collaborating with me on a project where he could deepen his skills on videomapping; ‘Tetra 01’ was the perfect chance to run experiments in this field.
Tell us about the Tetra project and especially the visual aspect, which is truly remarkable.
Our first step was Tetra 01, with a 3D videomapping on a self-supporting, isostatic modular structure that is made up of triangles with junctions at their vertices. The structure composition consisted in triangles that have hinges as vertices; architecturally triangles figures are not deformable, although the leaders of the figure are joints, hinges. This element of the non-deformability allows the resistance and the size of the architectural structure: in fact, it was 4x3mt., in order to establish its presence as a real architecture, with the aim of an immersive audience experience. It was an investigation of the chances of sensory experience, with the use of the current technology. The latest version of our live set, Tetra 02, has used light from RGB led strips to reshape the structure’s frame, animated live through Arduino & Mad Light. We have cut, assembled, soldered a big number of LED strips; we have also written the code although we are not programmers so that we built a device to make computer and LED strips communicate.
What about your latest EP‘Hold Your Breath’?
‘Hold Your Breath’ is ANGLE’s first EP and the first vinyl EP released by Tiptop Audio Records, the Californian label dedicated to sound research through the use of modular synthesizers. The EP includes 2 original tracks by ANGLE and 2 remixes by Luca Agnelli and Maxime Dangles. The title track has a solid kick and ghostly male vocals, while ‘Landing’ opens with a rhythmic throb. Luca Agnelli remixes the title track by bringing the beat and voice towards a minimal DJ set. The first ‘Hold Your Breath‘ remix by Maxime Dangles (‘Repeat‘) overlays dense echoes to a heavy underpinning. Dangles’ other mix ‘Diskoid‘ adds in the sequencer of the original another cyclical rhythm. ANGLE’s ‘UK‘ is creating a more hybrid style between classic and modern claps.
The pairing of visuals with modular sound is not an easy task. Can you describe how you work?
The audiovisual research that we pursue becomes an investigation of the multimodal language offered by the visuals and the sounds. ANGLE’s songs combine a particular mix of electronic and techno music: the sound is headed to a style of music which is deep-rooted in some specific tools. For instance, the use of modular synthesizers, also thanks to the collaboration with Tiptop Audio’s synths, allowed us to explore widely the songwriting process, by designing a line and then a kick to articulate this, plus sounds in order to strengthen the basic concept loop while variegating the sections. This is a standaridized description, but of course sometimes the process is not so linear, since the music creation is a kind of expression which might rise from anomalies.
Another aspect of considerable interest is your live setting. Can you tell us how it was conceived?
After some experiences tied to the architectural 3D videomapping, I have decided to design a self-supporting, isostatic structure that could be the support for a videomapping show during a live music set. Thomas and I have been exploring this research and ‘Tetra 01’ was born. The videos’ concept was focused on a metaphysical research of man, who, by the geometric fractal universe, through dance and martial arts (artistic concretions, expressions of physicality and ideal balance), explores the depths of unknown space. The geometric space is inseparable from the percussive rhythm of the tracks, which manage to create a deep sound, in the contamination of languages and expressions. Currently, we are implementing our research including new chances and new formulas, for instance our ‘Shining Back’ live set.
‘Shining Back’. This is your visual creation. Tell us about it.
‘Shining Back’ is another structure, made of LED lights pulsing in a geometric matrix to our live sets. The immersive atmosphere that we aim at creating through the music is emphasized by a new research in the visual realm. Taking an architectural form of a kaleidoscope the lighting visually weaves and refracts the music into a surreal yet symbiotic form. This structure has been designed in collaboration with Stefano Bonifazi from JoinT Studio. The led light structure is inspired by Patrizio Travagli’s artistic research, which we included in our first projects’ videos with ‘Tetra 01’ live set.
In the techno scene you have collaborated with unlike artists. Who has impressed you the most and why?
I have already mentioned Maxime Dangles and Luca Agnelli for their remixes of our tracks, recently issued on our last release. Dangles produced remixes for some of the world’s most famous artists, such as Moby, Röyksopp, Miss Kittin & The Hacker, Simian Mobile Disco, etc., while Agnelli, who has recently appeared on Drumcode with his track ‘Phoenix’ and with ‘Porcelain’ remixed for Moby, is the founder of Etruria Beat Records, and is currently one of the best known Italian DJs. Moreover, we are in contact with many other international artists for the label Tiptop Audio Records. Blawan, Surgeon, Kink, Richard Devine, Scanner, Joseph Frajoli and many others collaborated with our label, on the same concept about music made with modular synthesizers.
And what about those who have influenced you the most?
The influences are so many that is impossible to list them! I have grown up listening to the music since I was a kid, and the sources were very hybrid, so I developed an interest in electronic and experimental music; among my favourite artists there are Coil, Throbbing Gristle, Suicide, Pansonic, Animal Collective, Fever Ray, James Holden, Cosmin TRG… But there are so many other artists that I have not mentioned! Thomas is a kind of electronic music addict too: he needs to listen 2/3 old jungle tunes everyday. In his car radio you may listen to Darkside, Kraftwerk, Dj Rashad, Rone, Clark, Tycho, Prefuse 73, Aphex Twin, LFO, Falty DL, FKA Twigs, Modeselektor, Mount Kimbie, Machinedrum, Foreign Beggars, and many more.
The ANGLE project is associated with Tiptop Audio Records label. Please discuss…
It’s been a while that I have been working as graphic designer for the American company Tiptop Audio, founded in 2009 by Gur Milstein. Both as a musician and a designer, this job has become day by day always more interesting in the discovery of the music instruments and their sound. Then two years ago Tiptop Audio gave birth to Tiptop Audio Records, a label which produces analog music manufactured from modular synthesizers with a dance-oriented vocation. The creation of the label connects Tiptop Audio instruments with the best electronic music composers of the moment, who are interested in the challenge of experimenting their tracks with modular synths. And these musicians and producers are keen on exploring the unique alchemy of the connected cables.
We are to greetings. First to thank you for everything, a mandatory last question: What can we expect from ANGLE within the year?
We recently performed at MEFF (Modular Exhibition – Fair in Florence), in April, dedicated to modular synthesizers, both a fair/exhibition and a set for workshops, performances etc., so the perfect framework for our live set! Among our plans, we are managing to issue some other releases, so you can expect other tracks and remixes. We have just released ‘Vortex‘ EP co-produced by Joao Ceser, who is both a talented young artist from Italy and a close friend.