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CLOTMix: -OUS presents SPIME.IM

Text by CLOT Magazine

The new mixtape comes from the hand of SPIME.IM a Turin-based media art collective formed by Marco Casolati, -Davide Tomat and  Gabriele Ottino. Their practice aims to investigate, through transmedia projects, the aesthetics and the languages derived from the affirmation of digital reality. The collective includes musicians, video makers, creative coders and engineers, with all these different backgrounds impacting their creative process when developing new works. 

Spime is a concept that defines the Internet of Things. Spimes are objects that know how to talk to each other. A concept coined and refined by Bruce Sterling, he first imagined spimes as an extension of RFID tags, where a physical organization of things could represent an intangible web of things. 

By juxtaposing Bruce Sterling’s «spime» concept with «I am», SPIME.IM wants to represent the being that is intertwined between the artificial and the natural, and their work to portray human-machine interactions in sound, moving image and generative graphics. In their audio-visual 360° live show EXALAND, the collective interweaves sound and image, letting sound parameters influence what manifests on-screen and treating the camera perspective as an instrument. 

We use technology, 3D art and electronic music to create immersive audiovisual experiences in which we explore the boundaries of identity and question what is real and what is not, what is happening around us and what our collective experience as a society could be instead.

SPIMES.IM have recently published a new album ZERO, and an extrapolation of their debut EXALAND. Glitches, hypercharged synthesisers, and some machine funk as they define their sound, providing a soundtrack for the Zero Times.

For this mix, they have combined tracks and excerpts of musical works that represent their influences and interests:  It can be interpreted as a research piece that showcases something unique (both technically and emotionally) in every track. In its totality, the mix provides an overview of what really feeds the soul and core of SPIME.IM.

On the other hand, we tried to create a narrative and personal flow with the tracks’ order by combining artists from different times and backgrounds, joined together by that emotive and experimental character that we find interesting in this art form. The final track is a tribute to the eternal maestro Ennio Morricone who unfortunately left us while I was working on the mix. To me, this version by John Zorn lays bare a sense of struggle, even more than the original version. This is something that greatly interests me: it is a reminder that real beauty, a big heart, a good idea, a smile, humanity or solidarity or whatever good will come, can still be understood, developed and handed down to successive generations.

You just launched the album ZERO, an extrapolation of your debut EXALAND; What was the artistic process behind the album composition, and what did you technically explore with it?

Davide: We were already playing some tracks on ZERO during the Exaland tour, even if some were created after the Exaland release. We perform live using the wearable controller-glove Remidi, which gives us a very unique way of “touching” the sound. During the process of developing the Exaland show, we laid out the basis for ZERO by improvising with the material, finding interesting ways of playing the material and developing new compositions. We decided to record the tracks we couldn’t fit on Exaland properly, and as it always happens when recording, it’s a more detailed process than recording for a live show. And so the tracks changed a lot, and new ideas emerged and grew into new tracks. 

We record our tracks in real-time, just like “bands” used to do, but instead of recording the audio, we record our gestures connected to midi notes and midi modulation. So after some improvisation sessions, we have midi structures connected to midi samplers and instruments, patches and thousands of automation that we can still edit, change and program until we are happy.

With ZERO, we tried to explore elements we left out during the production of Exaland: we concentrated more on resonant filters, samples of granulation processing, random patches of drum machines, modular synthesis, probability patches and chord textures, played with a lot of pitch bending gestures that we need to reach the harmonic evolution we are interested in. We also focused a lot more on the deep control and modulation of each sound used and on a more structured and balanced sound dimension in regards to the global image of each track.

How does your practice fit in the current experimental scene in Turin/Italy?

Gabriele: I don’t think we can actually talk about a full-scale scene. It is more and more, in music and life, like disjointed acts of singularities. Sometimes you find many things you have in common with others (because, in the end, we are all humans), finding ourselves in the same places and liking the same things.

Turin is very fortunate to have Club to Club Festival as a core event within the experimental electronic “scene” and many smaller satellites that rotate around this core, generating particular interest in this antipop way of expressing oneself. Suppose you hang out for a night at Isola, a cafe and bar owned by one of the Gang Of Ducks founders. In that case, you might meet our mixing engineer Maurizio Borgna, who is also a producer, speaking about a mixdown with Mana, or you might meet one of us having a drink with Beppe Magistro (aka AHAND), who also runs Martin Pas, the best modular and desktop synthesizers shop in Italy. Still, we are all more like friends enjoying life and sharing passions than reflective of a 90s era type music scene.

What is your relationship with technology nowadays? How do you cope with screen/digital technology overload?

Gabriele: Technology overload is one of the main topics we focus on in our work regarding sound and the flow of images. When we select images for our live shows or start working on one of our videos, we usually use a kind of technique similar to the compulsive media scrolling we experience every day, jumping from theme to theme in a very contemporary stream of consciousness. For example, we’ve implemented these strategies in our video clips for «ZERO19» and «Exaland V». 

Regarding musical aspects, we are trying to push the boundaries of our understanding of beauty, in a practice that subjects the body to the speed of these fragments. Technology is a tool, and we are still in a kind of dark age with it all. Humanity has not yet figured out how to implement technology as something truly useful to society regarding openness, data ownership, information and exchange, and transparency. We are still walking a fine line where technology can morph into something very harmful and degenerative to humankind. What we are trying to do in our work is to sound an alarm bell with the same violence we see implemented in today’s marketing strategies, for example, but also in capitalism in a broader sense and in non-inclusive political agendas.

M.E.S.H. – Loop Trip
Georgy Ligeti – Lontano
Mohammad Reza Mortazavi – Dancing Eleven Ritme Jaavdanegi
Vladimir Ussachevsky – Metamorphosis
Emptyset – Filament
Mica Levi – Castigo
Second Woman – 200601je6
John Cage – Imaginary Landscape N°2
Jurg Frey – Memoire, horizon
Autechre – Flep
Otto Luenin – Fantasy In Space
Vladislav Delay – Raajat
John Zorn –  Poverty (Once Upon A Time In America) Ennio Morricone

(Artwork by Stephen McLaughlin)
On Key

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