Première: Renato Fiorito ‘Medusa’

March 29, 2023

Dominic Valvona

Renato Fiorito ‘Medusa’
Taken from the upcoming Lustra album, released on May 4th by Non Sempre Nuoce

A votive offering of gratitude and devotion to the city he calls home, Renato Fiorito’s personal vision of Naples is the subject of the upcoming symphony, Lustra.

Following on from the Neapolitan composer, sound artist, live performer and sound engineer’s site-specific sound installation ‘Straight/Wandering’, commissioned and premièred at the 2022 Le Guess Who?! festival, this new concept album pays a special sonic homage to both Naples’ rich afflatus and street musical theatre and the bustling lives of its people; merging and filtering collected field recordings from across the city with passing melodies, reverberations of fleeting song, exchanges and a production of stirring, congruous electronica.

Straddling the bay looking out towards the Gulf, a fertile fecund in part because of its precarious proximity to Mount Vesuvius, Naples has perhaps one of the most incredible histories of any important city: in fact, perhaps one of the oldest continuously inhabited legacies too, stretching back to its foundation by the Greeks in the first millennium B.C. Fought over in that time by untold invaders, part of a number of forced (and more welcome) kingdoms, the people have still maintained a strong independent identity: a unique marriage of turmoil, violence and the sublime. Fiorito calls it a “place of ashes, blood; place of flowers and wine”. Artistically and culturally ascendant whilst the undead still linger in catacombs below the streets, a busy modern society attempts to navigate an archaic metropolis.

With a saintly “voto” alter on every street corner; a shopkeeper’s aria and promenade serenade competing to be heard above the rigged mufflers of mopeds, Lustra, as its “illuminate” translation describes, lightens up Naples psychogeography, shining a lens on the daily sounds, the unplanned, uncloyed captured moments when the industrial and abstract comes into contact with the musical. This manifests as mere evaporations, mirages or vapoured airs of a time and place; mirages often suffused with the sound of the sea rolling ashore, a crackling fire or the non-musical rhythm of play, of tools working away on some project or other. Serialism woven into a fabric of engineered sine waves, refractions, ambience, metallic and minimalistic percussive beats, the familiar becomes mysterious, holy, even ominous; the ephemeral now caught and bottled for posterity.

From that album, the Monolith Cocktail is premiering the vaporous, patted-beat turn subtle circular wave ‘Medusa’. “Jellyfish” or a reference to the mythological gorgon immortalised by all the Italian greats, including Naples fleeting wanderer Caravaggio, there’s a sense of under-the-surface breathes beneath the building granular and lightly churned textures.

Released on May 4th Lustra sees Fiorito once more collaborate with his sonic partner and fellow Neapolitan Antonio Raia on the crackling fireside, faint melodic and reflective softly rasped saxophone memory ‘3694’. Fiorito and Raia previously created the similar conceived Thin Reactions soundscape during lockdown in 2021, for the same Naples boutique label Non Sempre Nuoce (a track from which we premièred). The album’s only other named guests, the notable Suonno d’Ajere trio, can be heard on the well-known transformed aria ‘Mmiez’ ‘o Ggrano’; emerging from a filtered dream like submersion, a ether of singing, wave forms and subtle beats, their signature serenade of Neapolitan song pulls focus on the city’s dignified street musician heritage.  

A new language formed from the musical history of Naples; its loves, devotions, desires and day-to-day interactions take shape in a contemporary field of ambience and downplayed electronica. You can pre order it now.


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