Stochastic Resonance – In the spirit of the collective

Stochastic Resonance: “A phenomenon where a signal that is normally too weak to be detected by a sensor, can be boosted by adding white noise to the signal, which contains a wide spectrum of frequencies.” As a concept on which to base a label, Stochastic Resonance is interpreted as the individual artist being “part of a bigger project, involving different medias and people”, according to Lorenzo Ciciana. Performing under the name Scual, or Special Cures for Uncurable Anesthetised Lovers, he is one of the founding members of the collective known as Stochastic Resonance. “The term that we like to use, and which I think is the one that actually best describes SR, is ‘Network of artists’.” This network works across many disciplines with the aim to amplify art by allowing the various artists, working over different platforms to resonate freely within an initial concept. For the most part during the early life of SR, the concept’s final product would be in the form of a performance according to Lorenzo. “The label proper came only in a second moment. The need to make things tangible and permanent in time, as well as increasing demand, pushed us to publish what, for us, was none other than the soundtrack of our performances. Later it expanded to some releases focused on music alone, still we do prefer producing music which comes from a bigger context.” It is through these releases that the Rome-based collective have started reaching an audience outside of the Italian city in its fourth year with works from, M.K.R. (Mirko Iobbi), Kolmitt (Daniele Sergio, Federico Scettri and Roberto Begini), Ghostphace (Matteo Silvestri), Akamoi (Franceschina Pascucci), BinaryCodedBrain (Carlo Ciffarelli), Matteo Di Giamberardino, Hatori Yumi (Fabio R. Lattuca), Kenta Kamiyama, Ynaktera (Dario Colozza) and Scual, with the Scual, Ghostphace and Ynaktera the core original members of the group.

It was through Kolmitt and the hauntingly magnificent Chain Sessions that the Formant was introduced to the label and its ideal of collaboration behind the artistic network. Floating somewhere in between dub-techno and cinematic atmospheres, Chain Sessions instils in the listener an experimentalist aptitude behind the music while working in a minimal landscape. The minimalist arrangements of the music and the way they are moulded into distinct compositions thwarts the dominance of an individual personality in favour of the collective artistic pursuit. This collective ideal and experimentalist nature of the artists involved is the foundation of the sound that can be heard as a single thread running through the releases, and it’s something that perhaps has its roots in Rome.

Rome’s influence has been a contrasting one for Lorenzo and SR. “Rome has a very particular experimental scene: On the one hand there is a large group of artists with different styles that are doing very interesting things, recognised nationally and internationally (i.e. Franz Rosati, Plaster, Luca Spagnoletti, Enrico Cosimi, Angelina Yershova, Quiet Ensemble); on the other hand you have an audience which is a bit redundant – even if passionate – and institutions that are distant.” SR’s unique position within this paradigm stands testament to their appeal. While other institutions dealing in similar sonic principles have fallen to the wayside, Stochastic Resonance remains, a beacon of hope for anyone that floats in the margins of experimental electronic music, regardless of your location. Even in the disparity of the city’s influence on the label however, it has an undeniable impact on the artists within its network. “The city itself which feeds and haunts us all, it’s deeply inspiring, and thus continues to produce artists and make a formidable impact on their production. It has an undeniable charm. If it enchants tourists, it does deeply affect those who live in it. Its beauty and its contradictions challenge you and put you in discussion continually.”

It’s in this spirit of discussion that collaboration inevitably follows and it’s here where SR stakes is claim confidently. M.K.R’s last album Unfolding Spaces – and coincidently the last release from the label – is nothing if not the work of a collective. Mirko Lobbi the man behind M.K.R. explains that Unfolding Spaces is an album that started with a concept: “The sharable multi-properties in the multi-personalities of the individual, for which the concepts produced by an individual are actually a continuous exchange between different personalities of the artist.” The concept sees the Italian composer – currently studying classical composition at the conservatory – find many different artistic personalities through the album and incorporating remixes from other artists within the collective was a natural impulse for M.K.R. on Unfolding Spaces. “This reflects my unfolding between different streams of music in general and electronic music in particular. For this reason the selection of remixers I chose was based on the styles that I liked the most, which were different from each other.“ Different yet, there’s something that really ties the sound of the artists that feature on the label together. For Mirko, it’s the working methods he employs as his “twin brother” M.K.R. “It’s that part of me in which all my personalities are found.” He doesn’t use presets and this comes through in the remixes too as the other artists pick out the best portions to sample, but for the most part he suggests its something inherent in the artists working within the SR network. “We work towards shared artistic solutions. When I produce music, I always strive for the concrete sound in my head. The remixers gave their point of view, using my sounds to produce something different, giving the music a new dimension, yet always within the wide parameters of SR’s aesthetic boundaries.”

Aesthetics is an interesting choice of words here. We use it often to describe a style of sound, since there is nothing in our vocabulary that can relay that idea concretely. In the context of SR however it also suggests something about the focus on the visual aspect of the network, something that has been present since their early existence in the contexts of their performances, but also something that has continued to garner focus within the collective according to Mirko. “l am currently developing the visual part for my live performance with Scual. He’s been curating the graphics for the Unfolding Spaces release. We worked through the whole developing process together, tying together sounds and graphics. The videos will continue on that visual path.” Stochastic Resonance doesn’t opt for the vinyl format like so many of their contemporaries, but rather go for a sleeker more refined package in the form of compact discs. Like the music, this is something that is concurrent through all SR releases. “There is a background of shared aesthetics”; according to Lorenzo. “It can be partially insert into James Bridle’s New Aesthetic Movement, as our imaginary result is born out of the digital and Internet technologies and thus shaped around the blending of virtual- and physical  boundaries.” Unfolding Spaces is a very sleek black package that does well to relay the music you’ll find within, while Kolmitt’s 3D square for Chain Sessions looks like it was drawn by the same hand, yet a little different. Lorenzo has designed most of the releases. “I’ve tried to push myself into new directions every time, always aiming to be influenced by, and to influence, the music (or more generally the project), in a reciprocal and continuous exchange of impressions.”

And yet it returns again to the collective approach of Stochastic Resonance. Everything is tied in with the ideal of the collective artistic pursuit and the multiple participants that form part of the network amplifying the individual voice. At its most extreme it gave rise to a truly collaborative project Unfolding Spaces, but as we’ve learnt from Lorenzo and Mirko through an exchange in emails, it seeps into everything they do; from the initial concept to the final product. Ghostphace is set to make the next impression on the discography with Oscillations, and I can already tell you that it continues the legacy set forth by Stochastic Resonance’s past releases. In a recent radio broadcast he performs some of the songs that are on the new LP live and one can discern that minimalist experimentalist attitude all the way through.

Avk and Agan are also on the books for releases and Agan’s release is especially interesting. “We are developing a whole multimedia project, which will involve, music, videos, and a geo-localised app for smartphones and tablets.” Stochastic Resonance will continue to push boundaries in everything from composition to reception it seems, truly bringing innovation to electronic music, with all those artistic voices supporting each other to get heard over the mêlée of everyday. We’ve only dipped a toe into the flowing waters of Stochastic Resonance thus far. There is much more to come from the Italian network of artists and much to catch up on from their past. The artists and their music is one of particular design, a single voice running through a string of releases accompanied by a chorus singing in monotone and we’ll keep our ears tuned in to their Stochastic Resonances.