The New Italian Futurists
In the early part of the 20th century a new movement sprung to life in Italy, negating the institutionalised dogmas of the previous era and calling in the future with a social movement and artistic language that took in everything from painting, industrial design, theatre, film, textiles, literature, architecture and music. Aptly, they were named the Futurists and there in the vanguard was Luigi Russolo, a visual artist and composer seeking to provide the soundtrack to what was then a newly established industrial world.
A hundred or so years later and the spirit of the Futurists lives on, in a new, anomalous musical collective known as Stochastic Resonance. This network is driven forward by a loose constellation of artists working across a variety of media, the group functioning both as a record label and an incubator for innovative musical ideas birthed from the coupling of art and technology.
The label side of Stochastic Resonance brings the experiments of Italian composers like Kolmitt, M.K.R, Ghostphace and Agan to the wider world, serving up avant garde electronica that is at home both on the dance floor and in the gallery space. There is no requirement to strictly adhere to any predetermined sonic aesthetic within the collective, but its artists invariably end up influencing each other as various musical disciplines coalesce beneath the Stochastic Resonance banner. From the minimal, dancefloor-influenced arrangements of Kolmitt’s “Chain Session”, to the dystopian IDM of Ghostphace’s Oscillations and the unsettling, amniotic textures of Akamoi’s “Enki” there exists an underlying strain that links their work, if not always in sound, then through conceptual frameworks that seek always to innovate and excite.
Operational as a label since 2011, Stochastic Resonance have enjoyed a relatively brief existence to date – their discography numbers just 15 releases – and the ground that their network of artists has covered in that time has been vast and nebulous, yet they’ve rapidly managed to forge a coherent identity. As much a product of the times they are living through as their forebears, Stochastic Resonance are the products of a digital world in the same way the Futurists could only have been birthed by a newly mechanised one. Russolo’s noise creations were informed by the metallic grunt n’ clang of factories, but in our modern internet age Stochastic Resonance have sought out a symbiosis with a new type of ambient noise – the low burr of a laptop fan, perhaps, or the ubiquitous hum of an electric current. In the soundworld that Stochastic Resonance inhabits, organic music is spawned from electronic voices, the Futurists’ ostentatious, thrusting lust for industry thrown off for something more pensive and contemporary.
Their latest release, Agan’s Amplification of Movements, drives this idea to its most outer limits, with the artist inspired by and referencing a nature reserve in the province of Viterbo, examining it both as muse and object of study. An extensive project by the artist carried out over the course of a few years, the album features field recordings from the area, processed beyond recognition to the point where they start to assimilate with a digital, electronic world and create something utterly unique. Initially designed as a geo-locational compositional app (a course of action later abandoned for logistical reasons) Amplification of Movements is also an effective gauge of the winds of change not only in music but also the human experience of listening. Much like Russolo’s noise instruments – known collectively as Intonarumori – revolutionised ideas of what instruments could be, Stochastic Resonance strive to change our perspectives on institutionalised ideas of hearing and reception.
Stochastic Resonance’s vision of the future is one where music, visual art and technology merge to create the most innovative cultural experience for their audience. Through their approach and concepts, they continue to question the very same institutionalised dogmas that were first challenged by the Futurists. They have forged a new expressive musical language all their own, and through their releases, artistic network and performances, they’ve not just embodied the pioneer spirit of the Futurists, they have furthered it, both in Italy and beyond.