Ataraxia, August 2008

 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

We are quite tired but we’re working hard on the new stuff and summer concerts as we want to present new arrangements and several new songs and start recording our coming full-length album in October. Anyway, in a few days we’ll be on holydays finding inspiration, as always, in beautiful and ancient Mediterranean natural landscapes.

Hi there! How is summer in Italy? How are you these days?

Hi! It’s very hot indeed! We are quite tired but we’re working hard on the new stuff and summer concerts as we want to present new arrangements and several new songs and start recording our coming full-length album in October. Anyway, in a few days we’ll be on holydays finding inspiration, as always, in beautiful and ancient Mediterranean natural landscapes.

How was your latest concert? What about the audience?

The last concert we gave was near Barcelona, a few days ago, during the Ethereal Fest. We played as headliners quite late in the night in front of the full-moon. The sound of acoustic and hypnotic drums, the bewitching vocals, the poetic and moving strings of the guitars and the enveloping soundscapes of the keyboards built up a sacral and pagan ritual. We have a good memory of that live-act and the warm and felt reaction of the listeners was actually welcome. Both the band and the audience created a beautiful and intense atmosphere, we are grateful to all the witnesses for their strong support.

Could you give me all the details of the tracks you will be playing in Brasov? Perhaps even to describe them…

The concert will be mainly based on Mediterranean, spelling atmospheres but several songs from the Celtic and Medieval (both from Italy and Provence) tradition will be present together with neoclassical airs, elegiac ballads based on classic guitars and many new songs that will be included in our forthcoming 2009 album. Mediterranean and tribal airs will be mainly based on the rhythms of acoustic drums and the peculiar sound of chitarra battente and they will be quite all taken from the recent album “Kremasta Nera”.

We’ll also play some traditional songs from Scotland, France and new and revisited versions of our older songs especially taken from “Lost Atlantis” (more melancholic, emotional, ethereal) or “Suenos” (more in keeping with Middle Ages and Renaissance).

We’ll also play some beautiful classic guitar ballads taken both from “Il Fantasma dell’ Opera” and Vittorio Vandelli’s solo album “A day of warm rain in heaven”…

The new songs will have different tastes: some of them will feature sweet sounds (keyboards pads and flutes could recall the Pre-Raphaelite paintings about nymphs and mythological scenes with spring-time and Autumnal soundscapes and evoked natural environments), some other will be stronger like marches with a most powerful approach.

We’ll also perform eastern songs with santoor, chitarra battente and mantra vocals and some tunes reminding a bit ancient Sabbaths and pagan night ceremonies. All the live–act will be lived as an ancient pagan ritual with movements, symbolic gestures and ritual dresses as if it was an offer to the Goddess and the cosmos. Words can’t substitute live experience, so everything can be lived but not effectively described.

How will the new album sound, the new tracks, the influences, the inspiration…?

Since one year we are slowly but deeply working on a new full-length album to be released in 2009. It should feature 8 long songs; the majority of them have already been composed.

The concept has been inspired by a herald of light, an avatar, who has taken body and lived on the earth during the four ages that mankind has known: the Golden, Silver, Bronze and Iron ones. This enlightened being has taken different shapes and forms during his stays (priestess, shaman, king, oak, wild animal, musical instrument, mountain) and has lived in different places, sometimes very far the ones with the others, with different traditions, moral codes, spiritual beliefs.

His role was/is the one of keeping alive hope and bring light and wisdom in dark times, times where our soul can definitively be lost. The role of this figure is the one of being at our side till the final steps in order to see if a new awakening, an acknowledged re-birth in accordance with the harmonic laws of cosmos will be possible.

Musically western and eastern musical scores will be mixed or juxtaposed. Occidental music structures (especially in early and classic music) are more in keeping with strong shifts between abrupt heights and depths alternating peaceful moments and huge climax, emotions and sensations. The link is with the air and earth elements. Oriental music is more in keeping with the art of enchantment, a hypnotic spiral of sound leading to meditation, feminine ritual magic. This music is more linked to the fire and water elements. Medieval tunes, Celtic ballads, eastern and western epic rides, elegiac airs and exotic Mediterranean perfumes and suggestions will be at the menu!

What are the differences between listening to ATARAXIA and seeing ATARAXIA play live? Does the live performance have a different atmosphere than one to be found on a DVD, for example?

Yes, of course. Many people think that we are better live than on CD. I think that this is due to the fact that every concert is different; we never play the same music in the same way twice.

All what we play is played live, no samples, no pre-recorded basis, no computers, no recorded patterns, just fingers on the leathers of the drums, on the strings of classic guitars, on the touches of keyboards and, of course, the vocals. We always like to bring new songs to the concerts, new versions of old ballads or tracks that will be included in coming albums.

Concerning DVDs, even if it has been a fashion to release musical DVDs in the last 8/10 years, we sincerely think that is not a good means to express ourselves; it kills the real, enchanted pleasure of a live contact, of a live enchantment and vibration. Live music can’t be substituted by some sound and image on a small screen, the audience and the musicians have to exchange energy. Videos could be a sort of compensation just for people loving the music of a band that has never had the chance to play in their country; all the others should live this experience personally.

What do you know about Romania? Do you have fans here? Have you received letters, emails from around here?

We have never been in Romania before so we are quite curious to “taste” the atmosphere, to enjoy this new possibility. We have some people from Romania writing us and also some from near countries that will be present to the event (from Bulgaria and Serbia). We have heard good things about the Transylvanian landscapes. We hope to enjoy good vibes.

What sorts of instruments will you bring on stage?

We’ll have both classical guitar and chitarra battente (owning the typical sound of luthe or oud as in medieval or eastern music); several different percussions as the Daf, a drum from Iran owning special resounding rings, or the tamburello from the south of Italy; the eastern Tar – similar to the Celtic Bodhran-; the Indian santoor, the ocean drum that recreates the sound of the waves and several electronic drums as well; pads of keyboards and strings, two different flutes, several bells and chimes and the vocals.

What kind of music you listen to? Have you seen or listened to other bands with a sound that resembles Ataraxia, maybe? Could you perhaps recommend a few nice bands?

We listen to several different genres and we have an open-minded musical approach. Each of us has different tastes and discovers new things, so there’s a good exchange of  ideas starting from the Medieval (both liturgical and popular) music to Renaissance and Baroque music up to classic and contemporary (Satie, Prokofiev, Ravel, XX Hesperion).

We also like contemporary ensembles like Madredeus from Portugal, or Loreena McKennit, Les Negresses Vertes, Yann Tiersen, Radiodervish, Natascha Atlas, Diamanda Galas, Ute Lemper, Lisa Gerrard, Brendan Perry and Justin Sullivan…

In Italy we have several good bands like Ashram, Argine, Camerata Mediolanense, Frozen Autumn, Hesperos, Lily’s puff and many more...

What are you expectations for the next two shows? What about your expectations related to the Romanian audience?

We don’t like to have expectations as we prefer “finding” that “looking for”. When you look for something you try to shape your future, the coming happenings and all what life can offer you in order to avoid unforeseen circumstances or just trying to calm down your anxiety. On the contrary, leaving all the doors open, trying not to prepare your mind can offer interesting surprises. It’s just like leaving our hands open rather than closing them in order to grasp for something. When a hand is open, many things can stay for a while on its palm. 

We’ll do our best giving, as we always do, a spontaneous, contemplative and professional concert, a moment that listeners can utilise and enjoy in order to go back to their ancestral past, to their roots, visiting reigns and landscapes buried since a long while in the collective memory.

We’ll try to offer beauty and grace, profundity and mysticism, feeling free as only music and natural environments make us able to feel. Both the shows we’ll perform in September will take place in suitable venues and will be focused on ritual, magic, medieval and neoclassical atmospheres. So who will live, will see!

What kind of merchandise will you bring over to Brasov?

We will bring quite all the titles of our discography included “A Calliope ... collection”, a collection album containing 16 of the better songs of our repertory for the ones who don’t know Ataraxia yet and want to have a broader and various perspective of our musical universe.

We’ll also bring our very first album “Simphonia Sine Nomine” (1994) inspired by liturgical medieval atmospheres, then “La Malédiction d’Ondine” (1995, repressed in a new digipack edition and digitally remastered last year) quite various and dedicated to all the mythical female figures linked to the water element; some copies of “The moon sang on the April chair” (1995) containing several ballads inspired by Spring and Autumn; “Il fantasma dell’Opera” (1996) very operatic and gorgeous inspired by the book of Leroux “The phantom of the Opera”; then we’ll have “Lost Atlantis” (1999) an album that we love a lot for its watery, mysterious and relaxing atmosphere inspired by the myth of the sunken land; then “Suenos” (2001) one of our most appreciated albums especially due to the medieval session of songs; “Saphir” – with precious lay-out- inspired by the magic and symbolic nature of gardens; “Kremasta Nera”, our latest full-length album (2007), 14 tracks inspired by the lunar cults in archaic times in the island of Samothrace and “Nosce Te Ipsum” a CD released just one month ago containing our first demo “Nosce Te Ipsum” released in far 1991 as testimony of the first musical steps of the band, the sound has been digitally remastered and the lay-out is completely new.

Furthermore we’ll also have a pair of collector’s items like “Odos eis ouranon” a double acoustic live album featuring Ataraxia on disc 1 and Autunna et sa rose on disc 2; and, especially, “Arcana Eco”, a very beautiful box containing an exhaustive 164 pages photo book of Ataraxia – with writings, poems, lyrics, a long interview and explanations about all the released albums- and a CD in a beautiful case. Last but not least, we’ll also have Vittorio Vandelli’s solo album from which we’ll play something in the concert.

There will be an After Party… Are you interested in meeting the fans, to discuss with them?

A concert takes all our physical and psychological energies, we do not perform, we live deeply our music, we receive it from beyond and we transmit it outside utilising our bodies, vocals, emotions...  We will be very happy to meet people in the After Party, to say goodbye to them, to shake hands with them, of course, but about discussing.... this would be quite hard as our mind is always empty after a concert    ;))

Are you involved in other bands/projects? I knew about Vittorio’s solo project, Francesca also played on the first Monumentum album...

Apart from Vittorio’s solo project (to which Francesca took part as well) and the first Monumentum album “In absentia Christi” (where Francesca sang three tracks), Francesca also took part to the first album of Camerata Mediolanense “Musica Reservata” (she sang three tracks). Giovanni takes care of a classic choir playing the organ and organizing the sessions and Riccardo plays live with a couple of world-music, ambient-ethno ensembles setting performances including both music and modern dance acts.

A final word to the public...

“When warm autumn embroiders on the earth purpureal drapes and it advances, in precious sandals, filling vases and bowls with myrrh and incense, we become receptacle of chants.”

We wait for you in Brasov, on September the 20th, to share and enjoy the magic of music...

August, 2008