No explanation – An Interview with XIII

There’s always something suspicious about a gang of duck’s release when it passes through the Formant. The occult symbols that adorn the cover of every release are suspicious yet one can’t resist the invitation of their primitive design and playful nature. It calls at you, and every time they pass by, we are propelled into the music that seethes with the malicious tones of a sombre personality. NO [The relative effects of explication] is no exception and again we found ourselves drawn into the gloomy waters of GOD with this debut from XIII. “I’ve gone through a time full of anxiety and paranoia, I spent days trying to exorcise them and play music.” XIII is the moniker of Italian producer Alessio Capovilla a musician close to the Gang, who though it necessary to use the moniker for this particular project. “I chose a moniker to trace a line between my musical project and me. I will probably sign a few works as Alessio Capovilla, but they will have a different sound.“ For his debut as XIII, the music takes on a sound that embodies the repertoire of the label, or more importantly relates to the ominous significance of the number 13. “I think the number 13 can be seen in many different ways, but it’s not related to my music. To me it stands for change and uncertainty.” This uncertainty is also emphasised in the title of the album, NO [The relative effects of explication], which to Alessio Capovilla means that there’s “no explanation”.

The album relies on theses obscured ambiguities that the significance of the title and the number 13 insinuate and has brought to light in the contrasts in the music. The music is both very regimental in an IDM, machine aesthetic while the way its formed hints at a human, organic touch. The press release suggests this is a suspension “between a primitive analogue world and the depths of a cybernetic one”; something that I thought might reflect the working processes of the artists, but Alessio is quick to deflect any subjective ideas towards his working methods and their results. “We’re living in 2015 and holding on to totems such as analogue synthesis would be stupid, I see every instrument that can be used to produce music as a valid one. From bells to Supercollider, the only difference is made by the operator.” Perhaps the anxious paranoia, and how the operator manages it through expression, is more apt as the source of the contrast, but I never get an answer from Alessio when I pose this question. I get the impression some things are to remain personal for the artist, but Alessio does share with me that by ‘Frgle’ he fell on something concrete he could put in the album. “I immediately realised it was a track that was closing a circle.” This is not to say however that the title is to be taken literally as a reference to the artist’s emotional state. “To say so it’d be reductive, but it’s a part of it.” It’s clear now that NO [The relative effects of explication] personality is tied with the artist’s, something I would not have considered before speaking to the artist. It’s reflected suddenly in the subtle touches of tracks like ‘Laguna’ and the harmonic serenity of ‘wwwww’, which makes it quite interesting that the album features collaborators from the GOD catalogue. “I don’t personally know Traag, but I share his musical vision, while Sabla and Vaghe Stelle are friends and we often share thoughts, nights and music, it’s all been very spontaneous.“

Spontaneous, much like this interview. I didn’t actively seek out to interview XIII, but an auspicious email signed GOD, lead to just that. A short email exchange followed with the artist and his answers were concise, straight to the point and honest. It puts NO [The relative effects of explication] into a new perspective, one that I think might be important when you start delving deeper into the music. It’s an invested album that requires an invested listening experience. I tried to coax out more from the Italian artist but I suspect some things were to remain obscured, leaving the music to do all the talking. “I’d rather leave it like this, hope all I’ve told you is enough…”