Kronic web-zine, 01/2003

The Russia factor

The project of Angelo Bergamini and Elena Fossi has been one of the most interesting news of this year. A difficult work to label, that through the time it has grown, it has evolved and now from stream is becoming something of wide and powerful. The words of Angelo and Elena are pure and sincere; intelligent. Dedicated to who has no fear to enter in a trap that encloses free feelings and wild rage against a self-indulgent and tampered world.

The project Stalingrad was born some years ago, if I'm not wrong in 1997, but the first album was out only this year; meanwhile a song released in various compilations. Could you tell us about the evolution and the path that brought to current Stalingrad? Where was it born from the initial idea to create Stalingrad and how has it evolved?
Angelo - In that time someone asked us for a track to put on compilation, but I neither want to use the name of Kirlian Camera for this contribution, nor I thought to develop the track with my line-up of that time. In that moment, moreover, I rather listened to what was the musical scene of second half of '90s more dedicated to electronic contaminated with pop, jazz and other similar garbage; I did it only for the pleasure to foresee something of less static and boring than the dark-industrial area was in that precise instant. I did a conscious and a bit polemic jump in the past with "Pictures From Eternity" in '96, but now I wanted indeed to find solution that intrigue me even more... Notwithstanding all I conserved my identity, surely near to some sonority even less "glamour" (just to say, because really it's not sure that Stalingrad is more glamour than Gary Glitter and Marylin Manson...), more oriented to heavy orchestral sounds, powerful chorus, electro-industrial callings... so, not to zero my interest to such personal imaginary, I created Stalingrad just in '97, also to contaminate less KC with less amalgamable solutions to new trajectory of main project. Then just with KC was elaborated a language that before was only embryonic and risked to become static on less developed intuitions, while with Stalingrad I tried to leave free the door to all what was considered "kitsch", but however it belonged to a "noble" feeling, (in affective way). After a while that me and Ivano Bizzi - for a couple of years second half of the project - went always more toward the idea to realize an album containing mostly tracks of this last one with my production, I saw that things slacken bringing no concrete goal, then I called Elena, that meanwhile joined firmly KC line-up, and I asked her if she wish try to sing and co-produce a song for a side-project pratically new... She seemed immediately interested and so "Slavonija" was born, almost three years ago. From there, Elena began to become fond to this "unlucky creature" and to heal it as much as the other projects, till to become at least the 50% of Stalingrad and, even in my absence, to keep it alive and working. Elena has much interest toward any form of musical innovation and especially toward the most recent electronic, but I see in her a great passion for more "apocalyptic" and "dark" forms than myself could feel. Pratically, after a beginning confusion, Stalingrad was (re)born in January 2000, with new millennium.

You were always interested by Soviet history, I think to songs like "Bondarenko: The Lost Days" or projects like Uranium USSR 1972 till just to Stalingrad. Where was this interest born from? What there is in your opinion of charming in that period? And especially why did you choose a name so full of meaning?
Angelo - The "Russia factor" follows us from always. I could, I should say that it is involuntary, but then I disappoint myself to affirm only unconscious levels. The great atmosphere that I felt in the Russian cathedrals filmed by retro' movies (then done like nothing in Hollywood...), the involving chants, cosy and majestic (but often whispered) of the orthodox tradition always followed me, but I, in fact, not even understood this. In the last years I read all the books of F. Dostoevskij, I saw all the movies of Tarkovskij and it has been natural... I never noticed that all the bands founded by me and today working have Russian names: also Kirlian is a last name of that country. I don't care of Russia, all in all... but evertything brings me there. Now I'm also feeling to use Russian lyrics, with the help of "local" people. In this moment my favorite country is Slovenia, however... Many idions live there too, but, all in all, there I see them less..

The undertitle of the album "pompous, shamelessly uncool, heart felt b-music" made me curious: could you explain it?
Angelo - We are sure that in this record musical temptations of maximum compulsoriness lodge, but is surely true too that we can give a less framed contest to an operation, if we are enough analytics and self-analytics. Much music of neofolk and metal derivation was born for fun and become a sad following of bleak events, either from musical profile that human one. Nobody understands that you don't need to be an artist to do a record!!! Instead... many do records only to call themselves "artists". They don't know what the search is. Search is also honesty toward the audience and dignity toward oneself.
Elena - This record is conceited till to be "shameful", as the title says. It's so quite till it could be defined "B-series music". But that... is a certainty that derives from the consciousness to join a project with no problem of "art" or "ego". This is music for everybody, you don't need the degree to listen to Stalingrad. Who has fear to find in it a less known trap, I mean free feeling and wild rage against the world, the rage of who has really no liking for self-indulgence and for all what is "tampered" will not listened to it. In times when Amedeo Minghi considers himself a committed artist and ancient metal bands show off bad skulls in leopard-skin bodices on bodies of alcoholic fifty years-old guys that still blab of "art", Stalingrad is a bit more quite: we are here, we play the music that amuse and belong to ourselves and we want nothing of particular of all what eventually is offered to us. We want only to take the gladiators in the art galleries and the art gallery managers in the arena! We are interested in cultural exchanges...

Listening to the album I seemed to see a story narrated with the sounds. Is it my impression or there is something like a narrative path that tied the various tracks?
Elena - Really it seems to be a narrative path, but it was not intentional. The album was born like whole of songs disconnected one from each other. The union mark is the huge sense of tragedy that we feel inside and that flows almost in a cosy prayer and, at least, angry in the same time, where who officiate knows too that you can't only cry, but also hardly fight. I believe that Angelo and me are naturally inclined to a state of "warlike similar-mysticism" so strong to be dressed with comics and any kind of funny nonsenses, because within it exists a terrible spirit, that never loses. One hopes that arrives to win, because to lose, from another hand, is a guilty against oneself. To lose is "lose oneself".

Moreover the sound remembered me some atmosphere of Kieslowski, especially of "Dekalog" and "La double vie de Veronique", for that sense of gloom that you can breath in songs like "Slavonija". What do you think?
Elena - When I saw that movies, some years ago, I had the sensation to return back home. That atmosphere brought me to a imaginary satured of wrapped and warm restlessness familiar to me. After much time, reading your question, I must admit to be a little wondered of this link you do, but then I thought that maybe you could do the psychologist when you are old enough!
Angelo - I didn't watch that movies...

In "The Road On Which You'll Die" you pay homage to Morricone; this makes me think about some interest to music tied to pictures, more thinking to collaborations with various video-maker you had as Kirlian Camera. Didn't you ever think to work on opera of audiovisual/multimedial perspective all of your own?
Angelo - I believe it's not the right moment. Now we are trying to develop essentially the musical language, quite difficult exploit. We could say that we are opening the possibility to the photographic and videoamatorial picture, but with much relax and amusing. I believe that soon we will called to do a new soundtrack, however. Meanwhile, I believe that in a couple of films to be out there were put our tracks. We still don't know their titles...

The title-track is the more violent track of the album: it seems a descent in the hell. Has it a particular meaning? Could it be considered the tormented arriving point of the story that proceeds in the entire work?
Elena - Still once, the involuntary generate the necessary logical... That song is a barrier against the impossibility to mean the expression like static exercise: many asked us for the reason we used similar sounds in an album that seemed more homogeneous without that track... But "Court-Martial" was needed!!! Nobody can tell me that all the symphonies must live exclusively on "adagios" and that all folk pieces must have the accordion and guitar!!! And then, that track is clearly a development in electro-industrial way of themes with epic-dramatic origin... It's not John Cage played by a monkey!

I was impressed by the job you did on sound and voices. What equipment do you used? There are some tricks that you would suggest to our readers?
Angelo - If you knew what we used... The album was born in a kind of lumber-room of a home we rented for few months, with very few instruments. We tried to squeeze all at maximum, favouring the relationship with the instruments, the elaboration to their maximum possible levels, rather than surround ourselves of "already done effects" or "savage samples". Something, very little, we sampled, but more or less, all was out from a Yamaha workstation and from the old sampler Ensoniq EPS-16 plus...
Elena - We mostly used sounds filtering in outside, also with funny machines and little expensive. The voices were done with a microphone Shure Beta 58 and a compressore DBX. More plain than this... Maybe, in future we could like to warm more the vocal sounds, because now they are out cold and we must spit blood to soften them, with no great result...

In Leipzig you were one of the more appreciated bands. How do you succeed to make so charming the live sound? Do you use collaborators, movies or what else?
Angelo - The audience was well well prepared, to us. In Leipzig we did our best, but there was some technical problem and also our sound engineering remained a bit lost. Roberta Astolfo of Leutha gave us her important help, even if she got a bit excited... All in all, the debut was suffered, but it was able to communicate our partecipation. In future we will show a movie a bit "particular"... now we don't anticipate anything, but already since next dates we will see if our choice was good.

A curiosity: why was the album produced just by SPKR? How did you meet with one of the most extreme label of the scene?
Angelo - It's distribuited by ENDE, label we already worked with... In SPKR they seemed motivated. We didn't want to look for too much and so that offer seemed to us a good one. We were not looking for multinationals, even if something from "high zones" made hear its voice... We were interested to a cosy release, for us and a few ones... instead, maybe we are "lighter" than we expected.

The project Stalingrad will continue still after "Court-Martial"? There are news that can you reveil?
Elena - The project will continue. The second work is already began and just in these hours we are recording some vocal parts for the new path. Stalingrad has no dead-lines to be out (as well as Kirlian Camera), so we don't know a date relative to an eventual new release, but I think that this year should be right for an official release... and not even too much away in time. Stalingrad is a little source that risks to transforme in the Niagara cascades!

  • Federico Tozzi

  • Taken from:

  • English translation: Adalberto Orrigo - 16.11.2004