Flavia Massimo is an Italian cellist, sound designer and event curator who trained, and sits, between contemporary classical, avant-garde and electronic music.
She has composed for exhibitions, audio-guides, dance and theatre performances as well as interactive art installations. Massimo has also worked as a sound designer with the CRM music research center in Rome. On top of that, she is the artistic director of Paesaggi Sonori, an unusual festival of cultural events in exceptional naturalistic locations.
Glitch is Massimo's first solo release, and is quite a fascinating one. Halfway between mistreatment and loving devotion; the Italian composer creates a work that is singular and difficult to classify, yet mesmerising and intriguing.
While Massimo is a cellist, the first observation which strikes the listener with “Gagaku” is the approach that the composer has. The piece is highly modern, layered, textural and almost three dimensional. The instrument is developed into an orchestra of its own and in the first few moments of the album only, one can hear several musical facets. While it is acoustic, it is also highly electronic. In just a few notes, Massimo creates an entire audio experience. “Steps” is based on an organised set of rhythmic noises, which then lend to a pizzicato cello, which in its turn provides the looped canvas for field noises and extra-musical sounds. In “Data Transfer” Massimo illustrates the electronic process through processing her own instrument; reversing it, inverting it, filtering it, expanding and reducing it until it sounds like a new entity — In Glitch, the musician creates her own laboratory of experiences and the cello is her subject. “Oxygen” is almost the most traditional — if that word can apply to Massimo's work at all — of the pieces of Glitch. Its aggressive, beating cello leaves space to an almost ethereal pulsated musical work. “Bit Pass” is another piece which superimposes a weeping cello against an urban filtered roaming patch which slowly fades into electrical noises and disturbances. Finally, and splendidly, “Chromosome XX” is a compendium of the album, featuring all of the extensive techniques and electronic devices that Massimo has used throughout the futuristic voyage.
Massimo’s approach to the cello is quite unique; in addition to extended techniques, she complements and merges voice, synth, field recordings, loops and electronics — all this in order to create one singular augmented instrument. It is thanks to this approach that Glitch is so expressive, and so well illustrated. Through this ultra-modern approach, the cello is transformed into a new processed system in itself.
A glitch is an error in the system; something which did not go right. It is often related to technology and electronics, and the connection with Massimo’s music is evident here. By making the cello sound wrong, Massimo gets it right!