FLeUR is the Italian electroacoustic duo comprised of Enrico Dutto and Francesco Lurgo. They have announced the release of the new album called Caring Abut Something Utterly Useless which will be out on February 12th, 2021 via Bosco Rec. It was produced by Emilio Pozzolini (port-royal).
Some tracks were written for plays – think of “Narcissus’ Scream”, inspired by playwright Sarah Kane – and for live performances in other galleries; others were born in the course of improvisations and thoughts forced by the 2020 lockdown. Today we have the pleasure to share the official video of the track “The Lowest Tide (For Matteo G.)” which shows the delicacy of their music mixed with the tension and the slow explosion of the sound.
Watch it below and check our chat with the duo who detail the new album, their roots, the feelings about the current situation and much more.
“Caring About Something Utterly Useless“ is your new album. It’s a statement about the power of music and telling stories which can’t be expressed with words, right? How the collaboration with Emilio Pozzolini was born?
The title “Caring About Something Utterly Useless” came from a reflection upon the fact that instrumental music is one of the most “useless” forms of art, it does mean nothing per se, no words, no proper storytelling, no direct representation of reality, only a very faint onomatopoeic resemblance with some natural phenomena. At the same time, probably because of this abstractness, it has an amazing strength at expressing those most inner and deep sentiments that are impossible to describe with words. It is fascinating, there’s something primordial in that need for this raw sensorial stimulus, something beyond social conventions, planted deeply in our mind. The title of the track “For Pierre Brassau” (the painter monkey, whose paintings were mistaken for human by some critics) also reflects on the primordiality of the need to make art.
These two titles we would say are clearly ironic and damn serious at the same time.
We got in touch with Emilio some years ago because we loved his work with port-royal, and when I (Francesco) moved to Milan I discovered that his studio was very close to my place. So we hung out together a few times, I visited the studio and had the pleasure to appreciate some productions he had been working on, and, most importantly, discovered that he is a really nice person beside his musical skills. Therefore it came natural to hire him for this production.
At first we came to him with some raw material and discussed it, receiving some advices; then later we came back with much more advanced work and here he started to really push us out of our comfort zone by pulling the tracks in some directions voluntarily slightly off the path that we initially thought. At first it felt strange but it’s been challenging and then we found together the sweet spot between our own initial ideas and his inputs; the result is an album which is unmistakably ours and faithful to our vision but at the same time it’s full of details from his sensitivity that make a valuable plus in the final result.
This constant exchange with talented people is definitely one of the aspects in which music is NOT actually useless for us.
Today we share the premiere of the opening track “The Lowest Tide (For Matteo G.)”. Tell us more about the track and the video which you self-directed.
It may be somewhat brave to choose one of the most abstract track as the first single but it ought to be this one and also it ought to be the first in the tracklist; this is the track from where the whole project of this album started: even if it wasn’t the first to be composed, it was when we had this one that we decided to start a new production in a moment when the whole project was on temporary hiatus, and it defined the mood and the vision of the whole album: an organic sound, full of micro-variations, almost like an animal breathing, with more accent on melodic themes from guitar and keyboards and less on rhythm section in respect of what we did in the past, and with great importance given to build-ups and releases in the structures.
This track contains the extremes of our sound: starts with the maximum dilatation and ends with the maximum saturation, so it’s a perfect introduction.
It’s worth mentioning the contribution in the production by Domiziano Maselli, a young and talented Milanese musician, we loved his album “Ashes” and since he is a friend and collaborator of Emilio, he asked him to come to the studio and make some additional tweaking on this specific track. His help was important for the organicness of sound.
About the video, it was a narrative idea that we had in mind for a long time and that fitted perfectly with the build-up structure of the track. I (Francesco) do filmmaking and editing for a living and it’s great for me to put this skill at the service of our artistic work.
We don’t want to spoiler much of what happens in the video, but certainly we like to say that a human presence limited to small hints fits well with the abstractness of our music that we discussed in the first answer, and also the exploration of both city spaces and natural landscapes has certainly a relation with what influences us, like we will say later.
One of the tracks of the album is inspired by British playwright Sarah Kane. Which part of her works inspired you the most?
Actually the dedication to Sarah Kane came from the fact that the song was originally composed as a score for a dance part in a theatrical play which textually-wise was based mainly on Kane’s work. We worked for theater more than once and it’s always very stimulating for us. This time it was cool because the director (actress and playwright Giulia Maino, which also gifted us her reading voice on the last track of the record) has been present during the composition process and gave us this very simple indication: “Make it a mess, and then in the middle point make the mess clear up!”.
We definitely feel close to the art of Sarah Kane. We find it so lacerating because she really screams out about the biggest themes of human life, the ones that make you feel completely overwhelmed and out of control when you think about it. The meditation upon death which is the center of her work is certainly present in our work too, especially in this album that contains dedications also to some tragically passed friends.
Also her expressions about the rawest forms of love and sex are something that is for sure present, at least subconsciously, in the “expression of the inexpressible” (quoting the great Blonde Redhead) that we try to achieve with sound making.
I read that your music is also inspired by three great artists and bands such as Soap&Skin, Ben Frost and Bark Psychosis. Can you tell us how these three acts have inspired your way to think music?
Well, these are three amazing acts which influenced us a lot; they are very different from each other but they have something in common among them that clicks with us. One aspect that is close to us is how they approached an electronic and experimental context coming from a different background and we would say a different culture, based on works with traditional instruments, and not from club culture for instance. Frost and the project of Graham Sutton took somewhat opposite but in a way converging paths: both coming from noise rock, Bark Psychosis used the traditional rock/jazz formations to do something other, going into ambient territories (and therefore letting Simon Reynolds inventing the in-famous definition of post-rock); almost two decades after Frost brought back the rock and punk attitude and physicality into ambient. Anja Plaschg instead injected Warp sounds into the ancestral chants of Nico and the classical minimalism of Philip Glass, creating a different but equally compelling hybrid. And it’s this concept of hybridation that interests and inspires us, together with the attitude of putting strong emotion in a context that would usually be defined as cold.
Also we would say that Ben Frost and Soap&Skin in different ways unleash a certain ferine wilderness which has been impressive to the point of being actually scaring when experienced live, a life-changing experience. Bark Psychosis instead represent a somber, suspended, gentle elegance, and these are two opposite poles that we try to make coexist into our work.
You are from Turin, but you live in Milan. I’m very interested to the connection between the places we live over the years, the territorial geography of our roots and the art. How do you feel these theme connected to your music and your way to think music? What are your favorite places which inspired you the most?
Synaesthetic experiences are certainly a big deal in our kind of sonic research and we can definitely say that landscapes and cityscapes are a very important influence on the mood of what we do.
We both grew up near Turin, in the kind of small towns where you can ride your bicycle for half an hour and don’t see anything but nature around you. Moving to Turin city was great to get to know other artists and find a more open-minded environment, but somehow that sense of solitude is still present in our music, together with an awe for nature. Certainly this album is vastly inspired also by the experience of marine landscapes, as testified by the artwork and the video, even though we don’t live in that kind of place, and we think that the sense of something much bigger than ourselves is present in all of our music.
The spirit of the city of Turin is also clearly heard in our sounds, an industrial roar dampened by a somber melancholy that flows along the big river.
When I (Francesco) had to move to Milan, contrary to expectation the need to work from distance helped us improve our production, completing a process that was already started, where we shifted from a jam-based style of composing to an approach which is more focused on the global vision of a track, something closer to a true studio approach even if for the majority of the production process the studios are actually our bedrooms.
We also have to thank the city of Milan for allowing the collaboration with Emilio to happen.
How are you living these strange times and what are the main concerns?
First of all, as human beings, we are concerned for all mankind, for the physical and mental health of everyone, for the spirit of everyone, and for everyone who will end up poorer. Among them there are lots of people working with art, even people extremely close to us personally.
For us art in general and especially working on music was really important as a mental shelter, and if there is one very small good thing in the catastrophe we’re living is the time that gave us to study, create, improve. Some of the music in the record was actually composed during the first lockdown.
Ritual question. Have you seen or heard anything good recently?
We like to use this answer to mention independent artists that we admire and that we asked to help us. So, the aforementioned “Ashes” by Domiziano Maselli is a great record, and also the new work in duo by Daniele Brusaschetto and Paolo Spaccamonti, “Burnout II”. Daniele is a great friend and one of our “mentors” if you like, publishing our records on his personal label Bosco Rec.