You may remember a couple of months back we premiered Arythmie Du Soleil, the debut single from the mysterious, South By Southwest bound, Italian musical project Halfalib. Since that stunning introduction more details have emerged surrounding the project, as has a wonderful debut album, Malamocco.
Ostensibly the solo project of Milanese musician Marco Giudici, Halfalib’s debut record Malamocco is his attempt to produce music without any pre-set boundaries, but with a distinctive musical palette, helping to create a cohesive record that maintains an unquestionable feeling of creative freedom. Although the brain child of Marco, he worked closely with others to create the albums unique sounds, harnessing their creative spirit as he allowed them the freedom to experiment and interpret his ideas as they wished.
Discussing the inspiration behind the album, Marco has suggested it’s a record that is a meditation on, “high density emotional communication, of conflicting egos and their outcomes, with the outside world and with oneself. From the extreme of feeling lost , without an anchor, alienated from all the aspect of one’s personality, to the opposite of having a strong ego, being an anchor, following the instinct”. It’s perhaps musically rather than lyrically that this theme is keenly explored, it is an album that seems to lurch from chaotic flourishes to moments of tranquil beauty. Malamocco is a record that seems to exist in multiple musical worlds, as flourishes of jazzy saxophones, aggressive squalling electronic elements, and sweet dreamy melodies compete for the listeners attention. There’s perhaps nods to the likes of Chris Cohen or Lionlimb, but ultimately Malamocco is a record that marks Halfalib out as a unique and wonderful musical luminary, a true one of a kind, and this is only his debut album.
Today Marco has been kind enough to answer some of our questions, taking in discussions on his musical influences, rediscovering a part of himself in Malamocco, and finding meaning in his own meaningless name.
FTR: For those that don’t know who/what are Halfalib?
I am a 25 years old guy, born, grown up and currently living in Milan, Italy.
FTR: Where does the name Halfalib come from?
I typed it down without thinking, it has no meaning. I liked the fact that it simply popped out of my mind.
FTR: Your debut album, Malamocco, is out now what can you tell us about recording the album?
It took two years and it’s been a lonesome, confusing work made of blind tryouts, where composition, arrangements and production, meant as equally relevant, often came at the same time. I feel it helped me having a better relationship with myself, in order to develop my own identity as a person and, after that, as a musician. This process headed me to a starting point, I have a clearer idea of myself now. Or just of the doubts about myself.
FTR: Where does the title come from?
Malamocco is a small town in Venice area, it’s one of the most ancient neighbours. My grandfather was from Venice, he used to bring me there when I was a kid, it’s an awesome place, strange colours, heavy air (it’s in between the Adriatic shore and the Lagoon), minimal and introvert, but hearty in his own way. Growing up sometimes implies detachment and refusal, so I haven’t been in touch with Malamocco for quite a long time, both mentally and physically, until last October, when I happened to be there. I realised how much Malamocco still nowadays makes part of me. It was an incredibly familiar atmosphere, I keep it in my heart. I have a deep relationship with places. And I like the word “Malamocco”.
FTR: Did you intend to write an album? Or is it just a collection of songs?
No, I’m not able to imagine a song as self sufficient. I don’t mean it as a quality, it’s just a fact. As a listener, I need to spend time to get deep inside the world you are showing me, maybe the suite formula helps to keep myself focused. Malamocco is far from being a suite, but all the songs are somehow connected, it’s meant to be listened all at once.
FTR: Have you noticed any lyrical ideas running through your music? Are lyrics important to you?
Every detail is equally relevant, and the words are one of the most subconscious aspect of music, although it could sound paradoxical, so yes, they’re important. It’s the most painful process to me, I don’t like to think when I write lyrics, so I learn lots of things about myself. It’s not always a good time, but surely it’s a quality one.
FTR: We’ve noticed there’s a lot of saxophones on the album, are you a big fan of the instrument?
Yes, it’s very expressive, lots of dynamics and timbers, it’s sand-ish, grainful. I wanted a solo instrument, and I wanted not to change it from track to track. I like to imagine a limited group of people with a limited pile of instruments, their position in the space, how they do relate each other while playing. Maybe it helps me with being more concrete, since I make pretty much everything alone in my place.
FTR: The album’s out on We Were Never Being Boring, how did you come to work with them? Are labels still important to musicians?
It depends, some need it, some don’t. I do, and I generally think they’re still important. I got in touch with WWNBB thanks to a friend, who had listened to some demos and who’s working with them as well. When I got the final mixes I sent them over.
FTR: Who are your musical influnces? What were you listening to when you made the record?
I used to like records in which you can perceive a kind of unfinished atmosphere and a strong urgency. Lots of “early” records share this feeling of need to make it as soon as possible. That’s a really romantic idea I guess. I can tell I was digging Battiato’s early works (Fetus, Sulle Corde di Aries…), post Soft Machine‘s Wyatt, plus Beach Boy’s SMiLE is one of my favourites, and it’s been unfinished for real until 2005.
FTR: What can you tell us about the music scene in Italy? Any bands we should be listening to?
Iosonouncane, Colapesce, Furtherset, Caterina Barbieri, Petit Singe, Birthh, Maurizio Abate, and many other I obviously don’t remember right now are interesting musician with a good focus. I don’t think it’s a politically correct thing to say, but I’ll say it anyway, because I think she’s goa true talent: Adele Nigro/Any Other, it’s my other project, but that’s her thing, and she somehow makes part of Halfalib as well. Special mention to the new trap scene, it’s our contemporary pop, it’s the real new thing and I feel it, there’s lot of sincere interest about them. Rkomi is my favourite, his music means a lot to me. I don’t know him personally, but we live in the same neighbourhood, and as I told before I have a deep relationship with places. He talks about the same streets which grew me up, I always get emotional.
FTR: Why do you make music?
It’s my mental place where I can be 100% me. I know it, but I don’t want to bring this out of my head. I don’t want it to be something concrete written on paper, some things need to stay hidden inside you.
FTR: What are your expectations for this record? Do you see music as a viable career?
Yes, it already is. I play with other musicians as well, I’m working as a producer and sound engineer. I’m a freelance right now and it’s not that easy. I’m not sure it will work forever, but I want to give myself a chance. I don’t have expectations about Halfalib at all though, it’s just my private area, something I want to keep alive as long as I feel I have something to say. I made a record, I’m satisfied with the result and that’s enough for me.
FTR: You’re playing at SXSW, what can people expect from the Halfalib live show?
I don’t know, anything special. The only thing I really care when I go to concerts is to see someone who is dying for what they’re doing. I just want to keep in mind how lucky am I every time I’m on stage.
FTR: What’s next for Halfalib? Live shows? Another album?
Now we’ll tour for a bit, but I’m already working on new material, that’s something I always do.