Track By Track Guide: Maddalena Ghezzi – Opal

Hailing from Milan, Italy, Maddalena Ghezzi is a London-based singer, composer and improviser. 

In 2020 Maddalena started her series Minerals, a series of collaborations with musicians she loves with the aim of taking snapshots of varied collaborations in the present moment and to build, through the years, a compilation of meaningful exchanges.

Opal, the third release of the series Minerals, is a collaboration with Milan-based guitarist, composer, improviser and singer Francesca Naibo. It sprouted from both musicians’ interests in composing for each other’s instruments, experimenting sonically and exploring the use of voice and language. Opal was recorded at Nitön Lab, a sonic exploration lab in Northern Italy.

Opal, inspired by the qualities attributed to the mineral of the same name, is a sonic journey in search for internal clarity.

1. Abyss is an improvised immersion in the depth of sound. It makes me think about the depth of the ocean. We have rehearsed this idea in a room full of bright light in Milan and recorded it on a darker day. I feel this track is our way to establish a deep place of commonality. The place in which we have encountered as musicians and as humans. It is like slowly turning the lights down or slowly immersing oneself in sounds and our universe.

2. Meadow is an enriching solitary moment. We set each other the task to write one piece each for guitar and two voices. Meadow was composed by me. The desire to compose for each other and each other’s instruments came from a set of workshops, lead by Sara Serpa, that we both attended focusing on composition and its processes. I started writing this track thinking practically, note by note. Does this melody fit? Where should I add the harmony? etc…The more I wrote the more a picture grew in my mind: I was alone in a meadow surrounded by wild flowers on a spring day. This image made me feel tranquil. 

3. Instabile is the struggle for certainty. For this track we started from the words. We set a timer for a minute and both wrote down as many words as possible, whatever came to our mind. We compared the words and realised we both had written words related to instability. We joined words to create this phrase: “Vorrei un attimo di instabile certezza, ma non posso.” (ENGLISH: I would like a moment of unstable certainty, but I can’t [find it]. ) We moved around the space and improvised the lyrics. Once in the studio, Nitön Lab, we recorded using a head with binaural stereo microphone handmade by musician and sound engineer Enrico Mangione. The use of this microphone really gave other dimensions to the piece and enhanced the sense of instability. You can see us recording in this video.

4. Confluence is bright crystalline light. This track was composed by Francesca and, like Meadow, was born out of the desire to write for each other’s instruments. When we decided the order of the tracks for the EP it was clear to both of us that Confluence was the apex, the arrival of our journey to find a sense of clarity and calm. Francesca was inspired by the idea of waterways and their currents, their movement and the changes of speed in their courses: confluences, glimpses, still water, crystalline bubbles. The end of Confluence is darker, hinting at the beginning of the journey the depth of Abyss. 

There will be will be an IG live next week explaining the process behind the EP. To stay updated follow here and here.

CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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