In Focus: Giorgio Gigli [ZOOLOFT/EDLX]
From underneath the sub-scape of electronic utterings and ethereal drones emerges the portal to transcendence, a world void of rigid form and defined lines, faces, ideas –
Pensive gazes into the subconscious abyss ratify our sound-induced psychosis and the immutable resolve of this paradigm –
Giorgio Gigli is one of the greatest exports to come out of Italy in recent years and is a pioneer of the deep, dark strand of techno; pretty left-field and not everyone’s cup of tea. His productions are expansive yet simultaneously introspective, characterised by large arching contours reaching far into the distance with seamless continuity. The track above (Hidden In The Darkness) is absolutely stunning and is fully representative of Gigli’s ability to create majestic soundscapes. The opening couple of minutes coerce us into a shaded underworld – distant murmurings of a fateful cadence soar across our consciousness, seeping into the recesses of the mind. As the insistent bass-line establishes itself, not as an oppressive ruler but as our unfailing guide, the kick drops into the mix in similar fashion shortly after. Passing through, Gigli adds percussive lines that weave in and out continuously with subtle sonic nuances that amplify our perception of this world. By 5 minutes in we are well under way with the first drop as the outer layers recede into the shadows, leaving our solitary bass to carry us forward; tight hats take us to the next phase of this somber journey. Gigli creates incredible anticipation throughout the track with intricate sound programming as well as additional shifts in rhythmic patterns. A more assertive kick provides momentum from around 8 minutes with the military assistance of cutting hats. The bassline gradually subsides as the track comes to a conclusive end, its structure dissolving into the silence of nothingness. Some will balk at the sight of a 13 minute piece but those that listen attentively throughout will be much rewarded. This masterpiece appears on an EP called Skulking In The Shadow (cat:ZOOLOFT00E) which includes the tracks Memory Shadow – a more lively roller, and Elsewhere – a suitable epilogue to the preceding tracks. The EP was released in 2010 and is signed to Zooloft, a project of Gigli’s that is co-founded by Obtane, also from Italy. Interestingly it is the only solo release from Gigli on the label, the rest are collaborations.
As is with a lot of labels, Zooloft was the product of a mutual perspective between the two producers. As Gigli admits himself, the label is expressive of “an imaginary world created through sound” and aims to present descriptive narratives through music. This sentiment is very clearly evident when looking at the titles given to the releases, some more abstract than others, but equally evocative of some purposely defined narrative. However it doesn’t stop there, the concept for the label, Gigli feels, goes further than simply a musical concept. The label’s maxim is “Use your power and influence to help other people. Never try to gain power for your own pleasure or supremacy. Decepticons are everywhere but together we can defeat them.” a wise and reaching sentiment that has ensured that this project is rooted in well-grounded ideals that seeks to challenge and to provoke its listeners. Many have used music as a vessel for good, for social and cultural unity among ‘disparaging’ factions, as a means to communicate, express, and connect regardless of any barriers. The link between music and it’s mirror image with society, economy, politics, and culture has been well documented and perhaps this is a contemporary example for a 21st century Earth that is steeped in social inequality and confused ideals and values. In such a disorientating world we must look inwards first, before the external begins to then change.
The label features almost exclusively Gigli and Obtane, though a couple of other artists do appear among its discography – namely Tin Man, who appears on the Analysis Of A Nihilist Who Wants To Become Famous EP, another excellent release (now you know what I mean about release titles…). This 3 track EP begins with a track called Social Deconstruction – a quietly idle number that ticks along purposefully, the synth hook bouncing menacingly in the foreground, while the hi-hat purveys order over this darkness. The second track Ghost Of Techno is hauntingly spacious, the rattling drums and hard reverb take us into abandoned territory, cavernous warehouses and desolate factories. Ominous sirens cry out distantly over the texture, a blitzkrieg warning to an already deserted, long forgotten city. The final track Individual Submission To The System is both intimidating and resolute. There is no escape, as the rhythmically percussive footsteps at the beginning – merely a gear to the machine – yield to the overpowering acid bassline. Powerful and onerous, this track feels much longer than 4m54s. Though he’s been around for almost a decade Tin Man has kept a fairly low profile and is only now beginning to make a bit of a name for himself, well worth checking out for the acid purists out there. Earlier this year saw a release from Tin Man on Absurd Recordings, a fairly little-known label that has put out releases for the likes of Pépé Bradock (famous for his modern classic Deep Burnt) and Recondite (for those that need to be acquainted, check out this banger).
Further highlights of the Zooloft imprint include the gem Patterns Of Behaviour (watch below), another collaboration between Gigli and Obtane. This is 5 minutes of utter beauty, absent of any four to the floor activity, supplemented only by drifting drones of the cosmos and the isolation of deep, penetrating thought. The next track on the EP, Theory Of Radical Structures, seems to ponder upon the incomprehensible – whole planets, universes. From the beginning schizophrenic voices plague the mind as a pounding kick drum drives relentlessly in search for answers, only to be met with more questions and dead-ends. There is an urgent sense of hopelessness and degeneracy, while seething hisses intermittently edge toward the listener, only to disappear again. They are still chasing, don’t stop running… The final track on the EP is a brilliant remix by Orphx of the previous track, which you can listen to here.
Zooloft like to boast a (predominantly) vinyl-only policy and take great care in presenting their releases as something very personal and sentimental. Each release is a collector’s item and packaging is completely hand-made. On top of this, pressings are limited to around 400 copies (no represses) and are individually hand-numbered. It’s no wonder masterpieces like the Sulking In The Shadow EP are already going for £83.
Taking a retrospective look at Gigli’s output it is interesting to listen to some of his earlier releases. Less refined tracks such as Kill My Groove (actually his first ever release back in 2003) are noticeably more ‘obvious’ and put into perspective the way Gigli has matured and developed as a producer. Moving on swiftly, by 2006 Gigli was already exploring greater archetypes within his pieces, making his way steadily into the realms of drone/minimal techno with releases such as the Geometric Shapes EP and the Direct To The Brain EP. Gigli’s style largely came to maturity and full realisation by 2009 with the advent of Zooloft and his Unvulnerable Prototype release. Another two years later sees Gigli forming the duo Endless with esteemed London techno producer Perc (Stroboscopic Artefacs/Drumcode/CLR among others), signing their first EP together on Speedy J‘s Electric Deluxe imprint. This cross-pollination of talent cannot be a bad thing and seems to be offering Gigli ample opportunity to push his sound further forward. Gigli’s relationship with Electric Deluxe will see him to a set at the revered Amsterdam Dance Event this coming Autumn, alongside the likes of DVS1, Lucy, and ROD – promising to be a party not to be missed. A recent guest mix on Chris Liebing‘s CLR podcast further solidifies the Italian at the forefront of the global techno scene. Additionally, Gigli put out a strong release on the Electric Deluxe label earlier this year, entitled Inside. The second track, Rational Understanding is particularly good. Listen below:
Gigli and associated colleagues have aided in somewhat of a renaissance that techno has been experiencing over the last couple of years, and can be noted for their particularly dark, often melancholic aesthetic. Largely inspired by film-noir and the avant-garde this movement has in some places been coined tech-noir – and it’s easy to see why; simply listening to the music illustrates just how evocative this genre is.
The beauty of techno is that it is not immediately accessible to everyone – as is with any sort of music, it’s about a state of mind. This keeps the music pure, and the audience true. Techno is a party, but it is also a meditation, a drawing within. Techno is a dance, but is also an exploration of the mind, a glimpse into the ineffable… Techno is, and it isn’t. Techno is just techno.