Zibaldone by CVX

Taking their name from Giacomo Leopardi’s sprawling, voluminous notebooks––in the hope that at least a smudge of his polymathic flair might rub off––these ‘Zibaldone’ constitute a kind of audio shorthand, a musical hotchpotch, to use the most viable translation from the Italian. They are rhythmic and melodic sorties into, and salvoes from, the worlds of literature, philosophy, poetry, psychology, history, politics and so on, and so on. Impulsive recordings, studio off-cuts, brazen samples, internet rips and selected recitals braid together to swing a pendulum bob between original composition and mixtape compilation.

Zibaldone IV

Rupert Clervaux reaches the fourth edition of his ambitious Giacomo Leopardi-inspired audio diary project, splicing philosophical-political vocal snippets with haunted instrumentation, clipped rhythmic experimentation, frothed club constructions, spannered trip-hop and sozzled acid. Musically eye-opening gear from a voracious explorer.

Published posthumously in 1898, the « Zibaldone di pensieri » is a seven-part set of ideas, criticisms, notes and philosophical observations from Italian poet and essayist Giacomo Leopardi. London-based producer, composer and engineer Clervaux – who’s worked with everyone from Beatrice Dillon and Space Afrika to Spring Heel Jack and The Radiophonic Workshop – has used these influential texts as the touchpaper for a series of records that intend to make similar artistic moves. 

Unlike the first three volumes, « Zibaldone IV… » doesn’t have a particular theme, and bounds from place to place with mischievous, exploratory energy. The jagged selection of tracks – moody jazzbient opener ‘Mutual Aid’, psychedelic kick-led floor-filler ‘Simple Food for Our Simple Taste’, low-slung haunted library sizzler ‘Does Pop Culture Interest You?’ etc – are encoded with ideas that are intended to allow us to sketch our own narrative. It’s a trap though – while culture may be fixated on narrative (and even worse, text), it’s more invigorating to absorb ‘Zibaldone IV…’ like a set of images.

Each sketch feels loose enough to be constructed from impressionistic splashes of color (blues, greens and watery grays on the moody ‘Departure from England’; reds, purples and sparked yellows on ‘Chatsworth ’17 (BVCVX)’) rather than strict, gridded lattices of DAW-locked monotone. It’s refreshing to hear music approached in this way – un-precious but not unskilled, and laced with hidden messages.

Zibaldone III

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Zibaldone II

10″ dubplate housed inside a sleeve with individually hand-drawn artwork.

This second instalment of Rupert Clervaux’s ‘Zibaldone of CVX’ series unpicks a poetic thread and uses it to stitch together four musical and rhythmical meditations on the modern psychosocial condition: a midi-plucked harp sample sets the reflective tone for a recital of the late, great Geoffrey Hill’s enigmatic candour in considering the effect of stabilised serotonin levels on his prolificacy. Then repetition sets the tension as taut drum skins get pattern-cut and passed through the pitch shifter’s on/off switch; Tanzen und Denken interact as the rhythms make way for a fragment of Herbert Marcuse’s still-timely diagnosis of the beleaguered collective psyche. Repetition then reveals its eruptive force, grappling with, and ultimately reigning in, Eben Bull’s singular saxophone for a rowdy meditation on the narcotic solipsism of the cult of the self. And repetition changes tack again to reveal its hypnotic, abreactive side––excavating and closely examining a rich psychological seam in Angie Stone’s lyrical strata, as a fragment of her classic track relives its origins in the O’Jays ‘Backstabbers’.

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Zibaldone I

Here is probably the best personal thing I ever shared on the World Wide Web – you can notice I’m writing in English so it makes it even more solemn.

I am more than happy to announce that I made the artwork and a poster for Rupert Clervaux’s remarquable new release, Zibaldone I. It is out today on all the good plateforms.
Bandcamp : https://lauraliesin.bandcamp.com/album/zibaldone-i-of-cvx
Bleep: https://bleep.com/release/78368-cvx-zibaldone-i-of-cvx
Juno : http://www.juno.co.uk/products/zibaldone-i-of-cvx/636493-01/
Boomkat : https://boomkat.com/products/zibaldone-i-of-cvx

Rupert has been inspired by Giacomo Leopardi’s voluminous notebooks called ‘Zibaldone’ and by a wide wide range of other poetic and philosophical inductions to constitute his rhythmic hotchpotch, his weird melodic waterzooi. One can feel the contribution of Hölderlin, German thinker, Goethe’s and Kant’s disciple, Derek Walcott, Saint Lucia poet and Nobel prize receiver, Silvina Ocampo, Argentine poet and short-fiction writer, drummers Hamid Drake and Joey Baron… There is a little bit of everyone in it.
It was by far the most intellectually exciting work I’ve ever done – sorry ULB. I LOVED every step of it.

Zibaldone also brings a reflexion on influence and authorship. « Impulsive recordings, studio off-cuts, brazen samples, internet rips and selected recitals braid together to swing a pendulum bob between original composition and mixtape compilation. The blurred line between authorship and usage is open to view. In fact, originality itself is called into question––is it, as one 18th century belletrist suggested, simply ‘judicious plagiarism’ anyway ? »

We have been working on it for months, there has been unpredictable delays, twists and micro-tragedies but HERE. WE. ARE.

Special thanks to my friends and to the Internet. These two always brought good things to me – and sometimes one brought the other, and the other way around. I am very lucky.
I’m drawing for quite a while and I never ever thought it could lead to something like this. I’m the happiest human being on Earth today 🙂

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