This article originally appeared on Noisey Brazil.
The Italian instrumental trio Stearica based its latest album, Fertile, on the personal impressions they had on during the popular demonstrations in Spain in 2011. Their album is an attempt to sonically cauterize social wounds left by abuse of power, information manipulation, and the repression of demonstrators. The album itself gives the empression of constant change with its crescendos and orchestral arrangements. There is an unlikely mixture of abrasiveness and refinement, which leaves the Italians Francesco Carlucci, Davide Compagnoni, and Luca Paiardi light-years away from a the sameness that plagues many instrumental bands.
Noisey is pleased to premiere the video for "Delta." The clip (which was directed by Gabriele Ottino) depicts a man's metaphorical search for his own life, complete with a hole in the place of the heart. Dive in below:
We took this opportunity to ask Francesco Carlucci a few questions about how the concept of fertility appears on the new album, and why political engagement is worth it.
Noisey: Your new album, Fertile, was inspired by the Arab Spring and Indignado protests in Barcelona. How did these protests affect you?
Francesco Carlucci: When we started to conceive this record, we found ourselves literally immersed in the middle of a powerful flow of energy surrounding the Mediterranean. From the Iberian Peninsula, along the North African coast, up to the Middle East; wherever there was a desire for change, to reverse patterns and force cages, and especially in the region of the Fertile Crescent, people were screaming in the name of “Tahrir,” or “Freedom”.
The spark for composing Fertile caught fire in 2011, when we were invited to perform at the Primavera Sound festival. We stayed in Barcelona for several days, and we lived the beauty of a country that was awakening in those days. It was a surprise if you consider that the Italian media had not uttered a word about the Indignados, and we found ourselves to be part of something important and that we somehow felt as somehow ours. Once back home we started the session from which it was born this album, we played so much in those months and every day, before locking us in our cave, we were bombarded by images of those squares, overwhelmed by frames filtered by the eyes of Western media. Fertile has suffered a lot of that energy and took the features of a vital and full-blooded creature.
Both movements exploded with heavy support from the internet community. How do you see the web’s role in popular movements, since there is so much misleading content and garbage being broadcast online?
If the Web is a "neutral" and democratically horizontal platform, then the contents depend on human beings, right? We basically think it is necessary to have an increasingly marked critical consciousness for orientation in this sea of information.
Do you believe that music and musicians should take a side in conflicts within democracy? Is there any band that serves as an inspiration for you in these issues?
We think everyone should express himself in the most sincere way and free from stereotypes as happens too often. In this sense, a band that has marked us is definitely Fugazi. They were able to both influence people through music and preach politics from the stage like few others. Politics are not blasphemous if done from the heart, as in their case, and, by moving the horizon towards other languages, I think about the dear departed Italian director Elio Petri. We suggest you look for his movies if you do not know him.
Which ideas you would like to see “fertilized” in the future? And which ones deserve an atrophy?
What a wonderful question; you're asking us to imagine a new world and we thank you for this. If you think about the fact that the planet we live in is becoming less fertile—also from a human point of view—we'd like to have a greater promotion of the respect for the land and of all those who live in it. Ecology is an important key that contains infinite values that nowadays are essential, more than ever. On the other hand, it is fundamental to reverse course in the vision of progress, currently conceived as a synonym of profit: the neoliberal economy makes everything sterile and authorizes few people to expropriate consciences and roots of communities.
Fertile was born from the idea of revolution. Do you feel any kind of obligation to revolutionize anything?
As Husker Du used to say (I think it was Grant Hart): "Revolution starts at home, preferably in the bathroom mirror".
Back to the album itself. Why did you decide to put vocals on “Amreeka” and “Nur”? Did you already know vocalists Scott McCloud and Ryan Patterson?
We began to experience the effects of the encounter with the instrument voice in our first album Oltre, on that occasion was MC Dälek engage onto wonders on an unusual carpet made of Farfisa, string section, distorted piano and drums produced along with Oktopus: the result was exciting and we decided it would be nice to continue this path. Regarding collaborations, for us, everything has always revolved around those emotions that arise when sincerely sharing the stage and that then are transformed into friendship. This was evident with Acid Mothers Temple, with which we recorded a whole record at the end of a long European tour, and the same happened with Scott and Ryan we knew from playing with Girls Against Boys and Coliseum, and from which a sincere friendship was born and documented on Fertile.
How did you want to sound when you chose to work with Colin Stetson? In which way do the orchestrated arrangements reflect the album’s theme?
Colin was the first musician we've worked with without having met on tour. In this case we played away and we were the first to throw the stone. We were planning to orchestrate the last track of the record and we were considering different possibilities until one morning we were literally electrocuted by a live video where this alien produced the primordial sound we were looking for. We felt stoked and soon we realized that we had some friends in common; it was worth it to try. And the answer came quite soon, as indeed Colin was immediately interested in the idea we proposed to him: we wanted a ghost orchestra projected into another era. We were looking for a specific sound and imagery but without imposing any tonal or harmonic constraint. After a few daunting weeks during which Mr. Stetson seemed to have disappeared, one day I got an invitation to download several gigabytes of material: Colin had composed almost twenty tracks—including flute, French horn, bass and tenor sax—which followed with such care the evolution of Shah Mat, that you can almost imagine that he has been playing with us since forever.