John Duncan & Stefano Pilia ‘Fare Forward’
Taken from the forthcoming Try Again album, released via Maple Death Records on 7th May 2021

An explorative match made in the depths of expansive space, out on the very edge of human understanding, L.A. polymath artist John Duncan and Bologna guitarist-extraordinaire, composer Stefano Pilia set out on a cerebral electroacoustic voyage together.

Both artists draw on their enviable years of experience for the new ‘human-machine interface’ collaborative album, Try Again (released via Maple Death Records on the 7th May). Duncan’s background is at the cutting edge of performance, video and installation art and experimental music (collaborating with such luminaries as Jim O’ Rourke, Z’EV and Masami Akito), whilst Pilia’s equally impressive CV includes playing lead guitar for the Malian legend Rokia Traoré and as a member of Il Sogno Del Marinaio, 3/4HadBeenEliminated and In Zaire (to name just a few).

In essence this is all channeled into a perfect counterbalance of the two’s craft and art forms, with Duncan poetically, lyrically yearning and languidly expressing himself over Pilia’s sculpted immersive soundbed of synthesized layers and processed guitar. As the notes suggest, ‘Duncan’s lyrics offer a counterpointing liberation to the machine processes in action here’; a sort of troubled soul in the machine, offering some escape from technology’s encroachment through shamanic like vocals.

The partnership creates a future that edges towards both the ominous and cosmic hymnal; an atmosphere in which time seems to stand still, whilst the duo drift untethered out into inner and outer space.

Adding their own interpretation, linear notes author and provider of the album’s photographs Matilde Piazzi propounds that the album suite is a ‘metaphor for contemporary efforts to reach the limits of knowledge and discovery, their heroic nature and their inevitable failure.’  

For a project constructed in isolation, locations apart (one in the centre of an industrial complex in Bologna, the other, several KMs outside an urban sprawl in the wilderness), Try Again is a seamless, magnetic and resonant experience. From that album, the Monolith Cocktail is delighted to premiere the deep space peregrination odyssey ‘Fare Forward’. Duncan in almost hallowed, monastic form, at first sings sonorous lulls before strung-out in the depths of an enveloping, drifted space, echoes the mournful mantra: “Direction disappeared, Companions disappeared. Fare forward anyway.” Pilia manifests an orbital seeping patter and slow scattered moody bed of metallic reverberations and gravitas. 

You can order the album via the label’s bandcamp page here…

John Duncan has operated for decades at the cutting edge of performance, video, experimental music, installation, pirate radio and television. He has played a pivotal role in the development of performance art in Los Angeles, of experimental music as a member of LAFMS, of Japanese noise and pirate radio in Tokyo. Duncan’s work in experimental music continues to have a lasting influence as his art overall continues to be honed, refined, sharpened. His audio work has been released by Allquestions, iDEAL, Vinyl-On-Demand, Fragment Factory, Tourette, Sub Rosa, Touch, Die Stadt, Trente Oiseaux and Ash International. He has collaborated on music with a wide range of musicians including Jim O’Rourke, Oren Ambarchi, Joe Talia, Masami Akita, Z’EV, Carl Michael Von Hausswolff, Elliot Sharp, Mika Vainio & Ilpo Väisänen.

Stefano Pilia is a guitar player and electro-acoustic composer based in Bologna. His work has become progressively concerned with researching the sculptural properties of sound as well as its relationship with space, memory and the suspension of time. His sound can aptly be defined ‘ecstatic’, in the purest sense of the term. His output has been released by Sedimental, Die Schachtel, Blue Chopsticks, Time-Lag, Last Visible Dog, Presto!?, Soave, Improved Sequence. Pilia is one of the founding members (alongside Valerio Tricoli and Claudio Rocchetti) of 3/4HadBeenEliminated, he has played in duo with Massimo Pupillo and with ZU, he’s a member of psychedelic quartet In Zaire and has been a focal contributor to the BGP trio, alongside David Grubbs and Andrea Belfi. Since 2009, he has been a member of Il Sogno del Marinaio, a trio made up of legendary Minutemen bassist Mike Watt and the drummer Paolo Mongardi. As well as these projects, he is lead guitarist for celebrated Malian singer Rokia Traorè and for the band Afterhours.

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