Twelve years have passed since the Italian band ARGINE started out. Three albums, a MCD, a live LP, an anthology and many compilations give evidence to the continuous artistic evolution of the band, through different influences but always with a strong and personal attitude. Now the circle is closed, the band is back to its roots. Let’s talk with the founder Corrado Videtta.
Chain D.L.K.: A new turning point in the ARGINE’s music, something that’s been preannounced for a long time. Was this turning point strong enough to bring you back to post-punk roots or is it rather like looking ahead for an alternative rock?
Argine: To be honest, the rock/post punk turning point so long announced, has been generated by an artistic path that took two years. When playing live we felt the need to express ourselves in a more direct way, both in music and words. “Le Luci di Hessdalen” (italian for “The Lights of Hessdalen”) represents our desire for change. The need to support our creativity is stronger than the will to be paralyzed in places we’ve already been. Post-punk music is our artistic input. Whoever knows our old demotapes can see it, and recognize that in the new album there are three songs from the first tape. I look back because it’s in my reflexive nature, but at the same time we have the pleasure of confronting with a language that is new to us in a professional sphere.
Chain D.L.K.: For years you’ve been included in the apocalyptic-folk scene. Without disowning your past, do you still feel part of this scene or are you projected towards new edges? What is the definition you think fits the band best?
Argine: I don’t like to define ARGINE as an apocalyptic folk band. ARGINE is a reality of its own, made of trips through our souls. Our music originates from the process of interiorizing the external reality, what is beauty, what makes us feel better or not, to finally explore sometimes unknown psychic fields. A research in our inmost dimension, translated into music. Our songs are like a diary of this trip. You can understand the difficulty to foresee the direction our travelling will take. This is the reason why I dislike classifications.
Chain D.L.K.: The “Le luci di Hessdalen” title features the abandon of Latin and is therefore simpler and more direct than in the past, even if it hasn’t lost the deep and poetic feelings. What’s the reason of this choice of immediacy?
Argine: Former albums refer in some way to the past, even if with different conceptual paths, not only in the concept, but as a need, like a desire to unveil our roots. The first album did it with ritualistic feelings, the second one with more epic tones. Latin was perfect for the synthesis a title must have. The new album instead, refers to something unexplored, only today studied in a scientific way, so it doesn’t require Latin. I simply thought that the phenomenon which inspired the album was the right title.
Chain D.L.K.: What are ‘the lights of Hessdalen’ to you? A symbol, a phenomenon yet to be scientifically proven, an alien presence?
Argine: The light of Hessdalen is the tangible proof that manhood is probably only at the starting point of the path through our knowledge, and today, when everything appears to be taken for granted, catalogued, used and exploited by men, this phenomenon gives us the right cognition of how Nature has still infinite resources to surprise us with. This represents a great hope for me, thinking that you can still get lost and be upset by only the thought of being in contact with worlds passing from imagination to reality. It’s really important to continue fearing darkness, the concept of infinity or unknown. With the general confusion we have today you can forget we’re just living beings, human, mortal, and this has to remind us that time is precious and we can’t waste it. The lights of Hessdalen are the symbol of this hope.
Chain D.L.K.: In the former album “Luctamina in Rebus” there were some industrial contaminations, while in the new work there are electronic influences, filtered voices and progressive keyboards, such as in “Infinito Spazio”, maybe the more pop-oriented track of the whole album. Will you continue using classical instruments (apart from violin, an integrating part of ARGINE’s sound) or will you rather use electronic and electric instruments?
Argine: I really don’t know. For now we have the will of going back to a more rock sound, hence the use of the complete drumset, of a hammond, keyboards, and filtered voices. An unusual meeting point between a post-punk concept and sort of a ’70es taste; two dimensions blending together which sometimes generate a song that is pop enough. I don’t know if ARGINE’s dimension in near future will be this one or not. I’m attracted by the idea of exploring the electronic music world. We’ll see what will happen.
Chain D.L.K.: “Coriandoli” is a really strange song, very different from the whole production of the band. It has something like a theatrical taste. How was this song born?
Argine: As a matter of fact it’s an experiment. A song that didn’t find the right place in its original version. While recording the album we’ve succeeded in radically changing the identity of the song, thanks to Cecilia who gave the idea of reciting the lyrics she wrote in a rhythmical and cadenced way. I must say the song found its identity in that arrangement right away, as it happened to other tracks while in the recording studio.
Chain D.L.K.: One of the key features of the band has always been the collaboration with different artists: poets, painters, actors or other bands’ musicians. Do you still consider yourself a “total Art” project or do you think of the new ARGINE as somethign closer to a rock band, less “intellectual”, more direct and rough?
Argine: I always wanted to collaborate with people devoted, like me, to music or to other forms of Art. I think it’s a path we’ll continue to follow. The new album features some other musicians’ collaborations (Luigi Rubino – ASHRAM, Raffaele Pisani – MISTERIUM VOCIS polyphonic choir). Compared with what we did in the past, now there are less musicians because the sound we wanted is the one of a typical rock band, with the addition of a real violin, even if distorted. ARGINE radically changed in sound but reinforced a unique and unequivocal compositive nature. In the near future I hope we’ll realize a video in collaboration with a young director. It’d be nice.
Chain D.L.K.: “I nostri Occhi” and “Spina nel Fianco” are tracks that date back to the first demotapes. Does it still mean something to speak of New Wave or Dark, even if in a new and modernized context, or do you consider these genres to be gone and replaced by the new dance music sold as gothic?
Argine: Today there’s much confusion. Stylistic barriers have fallen, new genres and subgenres have risen. I don’t know if this variety is due to a need to create something new or if music has actually changed because the world has changed. We grow old and we complain because we don’t recognize our instincts, the same ones that enlivened our adolescent dreams, when we listened to Joy Division or The Cure. Surely, the music we have inside since we were teens will follow us during our lives. Today previous generations don’t understand our generation’s sound, and what is going on today seems strange to us. I think that the artist can absorb its time better than other people by creating with the knowledge of the past while keeping an eye on what’s outside and keeping pace with it. I think that to refuse and don’t accept many things can also stimulate the creation of something new and beautiful, such as a cathartic solution. I consider this process an artistic and personal evolution. You can grow in every way, you need only to know yourself and locate the sensible point of your soul, in order to react to the external world and to adapt to it in a positive way.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the reason for placing “Lamento Funebre” in the new album, since it’s the older version of the first album’s title track “Mundana Humana Instrumentalis”?
Argine: We didn’t know if we wanted to use this song or not. At last we thought it might be interesting to let people listen to what was the origin of ARGINE’s sound, both in “Mundana Humana Instrumentalis” and “Luctamina in Rebus”. Using the track means to enrich the comparison between the new songs and compositions dated up to 12 years back. So we did and I think that the experiment succeeded perfectly: I think the sequence of the tracks is homogeneous.
Chain D.L.K.: “Rifrazioni”, the wonderful anthology released one year ago, let people discover or re-discover gems that were going to get lost in compilations (among them “Come Un Servo da Mantice”, featured on the ChainD.L.K. comp. #2) and tracks that were almost unknown to many fans. Did you release it to satisfy your public’s wishes or was it your own need?
Argine: There are many reasons why ARK Records (the labed I founded toghter with Rossana Rossi) released the anthology. First of all we wanted to let our public know what ARGINE did beyond the albums, highlighting that we’ve always worked with seriousness, even when giving songs to compilations, and this demonstrates our love for well done things. Yet, many of the compilations are difficult to find today, and the two remixes on the “Memorie” MCD are too. This way we made tracks available that up to now were just collectors’ items. We also wanted to present some tracks from “Luctamina In Rebus”, which we had rearranged or proposed in a promo version: I hope I’ll resolve the contractual controversy of “Luctamina In Rebus” as soon as possible (since it was inexplicably frozen by the labels that released it) so I that I could reissue it. Moreover, we wanted to make an anthology collecting the meaning of 10 years of life and work, before doing something new, as we did with “Le Luci di Hessdalen”.
Chain D.L.K.: Ten years have passed. In what do you think ARGINE are different now or are they the same?
Argine: I’m still the same and my motivations are even stronger. With ARGINE’s music I’ve been able to be appreciated as a musician and after 12 years I realize many people sing our songs while we play live. This is one of the reasons I continue going forward. What’s surely different from the past, is the awarness of the difficulties you have to face in the hard world of independent music, and I have to say what changes is the way I act in my work, that today also includes production and distribution of my albums, other than the purely artistic aspect. This makes me act with more responsibility.
Chain D.L.K.: Are you planning something for the future?
Argine: Maybe some collaborations with other projects. Yet, the need to explore other genres and the hard work of Ark Records will make me very busy in months to come. The first chapter of a digibook series, dedicated to bands devoted to independent music for a long time who have made and still make history, will be released in October. The first name is ATARAXIA with ARCANA ECO, a 7 tracks album with 4 unreleased and 3 rearranged songs, with a 100 pages book written by the well-known musical journalist Ferruccio Filippi. In the world of ARGINE, I want to play live, and this is something we already started to do with pleasure, and I think this year this will be our main activity. After that we’ll see.
Visit Argine on the web at:
www.argine.net and at:
[interviewed by Ferruccio "Kobal" Milanesi] [proofreading by Marc Urselli]