Name: Marco Fasoli aka Anor Londo
Occupation: Producer, drummer
Recent Release: Anor Londo's Caos & Materia EP is out via NeMu.
If you enjoyed this interview with Anor Londo, visit him on Instagram.
At its core, what is alchemy – and what, would you say, can we still today all take away from it?
When we talk about alchemy, the first misunderstanding arises from a superficial or improper approach to the subject. With its spread in Europe, many people were blinded by the possibility of obtaining some form of prestige and the whole thing was therefore polluted by selfish human careerism.
Alchemy was born from Greek-Egyptian philosophical hermeticism. It’s a discipline that includes many branches of knowledge, including Aristotelian philosophy, Platonic geometry, Pythagorean maths and the basics of modern chemistry.
Philosophical hermeticism collects the founding principles of the universe, in a very clear and deep way. It’s about mental transmutation, not about turning stuff into gold.
Self-perception and the perception of the whole - it’s a key concept in hermeticism. In the Kybalion book there are some surprisingly modern analysis about polarization art, like the vibration principle, the cause and effect principle, the correspondence principle and so on ...
The unknown terrifies people, we need knowledge to come out of the darkness and discover the truth. Plato's cave is a good metaphor about this concept.
Spirituality, creativity, science and alchemy are all disciplines which have been related to music. How would you set them apart from each other?
I don't think these attributes, you're talking about, should coexist. From my point of view, it's definitely important to have something strong to communicate, whatever it is, like concepts, poetics or imagery.
There are artists who have dived into a specific direction, great artists like Byetone, Robert Henke, Autechre and Alva Noto which have deepened the technical and mathematical strand; Bohren, Muslimgauze and Godspeed You! which have a more spiritual approach and finally Oneohtrix Point Never, Venetian Snare or Squarepusher which are really virtuous and baroque in some way.
We can say that mysticism in music gives you the possibility to live a specific context, creativity allows you to do something according to your own personal vision, eventually sciences and technology gives you a way to be free from physical constraints.
[Read our Bohren und der Club of Gore interview]
Are there examples from musical history for artists who openly described themselves as alchemists? Do you see yourself as part of a certain lineage or tradition?
I am more interested in the social and historical aspects of the subject, and I don't know if there is a trend of artists who devote themselves to these themes. There are certainly different sensitivities and there are many artists who embrace a more introspective, mystical and evocative direction.
One of the most influential records to me has been Geogaddi by Boards of Canada. This is an obvious example about a music project that puts so much details and (hidden) cultural references in their work. You only have to scratch the surface to uncover Pandora's box.
Nowadays there are several artists that I appreciate for their intellectual approach: Murcof, Deathprod, Pantha du Prince, Khymeia, Mai Mai Mai, Jan Jelinek, Cristobal Tapia de Veer, UVB76, Föllakzoid, Les Marquises, Deadbeat and Fever Ray are just a few examples. Somehow, I feel they can be similar minds to mine.
[Read our Deadbeat interview]
Alchemy is an attempt to master matter. In how far does sound fit into this?
It all starts with my instinctive and often “serendipitous” approach to art. It often happens that I start with a specific intention but through my own creative process I end up with a different and unexpected result.
In my case I am referring to the state of chaos I was into at the beginning. Then, thanks to time, experience, experimentation, and greater awareness I came to shape something totally different from what was the raw material. It is to all intents and purposes a process of sublimation.
Tell me a bit about your own path in terms of mastering the matter of sound, please. How has your creative process developed in alchemical terms?
By nature, I am a very curious person and I spend most of my time learning about techniques, studies, avant-garde, technologies in the artistic and audio-visual field. This leads me to stratify a lot of notions that often result in drafts from which something more structured evolves.
For each piece I started by generating several melodic lines and landscapes, composed with mixed techniques where randomly generated solutions are of primary importance (Phase I - Nigredo aka “The condition of the original chaos from which all creation originated”).
Then there is a moment of cleaning up, selection and distillation of the material (Phase II - Albedo aka “The purification of the shapeless mass”).
Finally, I take care of the arrangement, dynamics and refinement to a macro level of the piece, giving it a defined soul (Phase III - Rubedo aka “The culmination of the identification process”).
[A very similar process is described in our Noémi Büchi interview]
Can you describe your creative process on the basis of your latest release Caos & Materia?
You have to know that each piece is born from the discovery of an instrument, a technique, a sound or a technology. To start a new project, I always need fresh inputs that make me want to try new solutions, whatever they may be.
Caos & Materia is a reduction of a much larger production. I tried different approaches, more rhythmic solutions, others more ambient, and in the end I arrived straight to the point: cinematic landscapes, liquid structures and a massive use of polyrhythms and organic approaches.
Chaos, as the press release puts it, is “the first matter”. What does that mean, concretely, when it comes to creativity?
Yes, as I mentioned earlier, in my case it always starts from a state of inner chaos that represents your personal background to draw from. When you work in a creative field, I have noticed that solutions often come through an unconscious pathway that draws from various mazes of our mind in a non-linear way. This process is the basis of lateral thinking that allows us to break the mold.
The skill lies in guiding this flow, in creating banks for the raging river that is our creative subconscious.
You mention auto-generative and semi-generative solutions. Could you explain what these are and how you used them for the music?
In the last few years I became very interested in generative art. More and more tools and synthesizers give you the possibility to interact in a different way from the traditional one.
The random factor is of great importance and allows you to get out of your comfort zone. In writing Caos & Materia I made massive use of dynamic and random parameters, both for melodies and rhythms. This workflow makes the composition much more organic and sometimes you end up with completely unexpected outputs.
Starting from a hypothetical flow of random data, my job is to be able to guide and give defined intervals to the infinite chaotic flow of data. The most interesting part is when you make several random parameters interact with each other and they start to talk to each other, generating new solutions from their own dialogue.
You invested a lot of thought into the new material, but you also speak about creating unique codes for expression. How do you create new codes for new experiences and expressions that the listener will actually be able to de-code?
If you think about it, every kind of language is a well-defined code. To be so defined means that this code has a perimeter, it has limits. You can see it by comparing various languages, some of which have specific words to describe moods or a specific climatic condition, while others do not have this kind of depth.
Even in music, you feel the need to reach a certain depth that has not yet been decoded into a genre; this is what drives me to create codes that do not belong to clichés but try to find the peculiarity of my intent.
Caos & Materia is a multimedia project, it’s an immersive experience in my mystical world. You can feel it in visuals and sounds both. You have to let yourself be carried away by this flow.