Interview for The New Noise
Fabrizio Garau – February 2021 – (Italian version in the link below)
In the age of social media sponsorship, musicians are becoming their own PR, no longer telling it like it is and preferring to apply the mobile phone’s beauty filter to everything. Saele Valese, an Italian now living in Bern, is an exception. Since the press release remained vague, I decided to interview him some time ago, because his material seemed good and I wanted to make him known. To “exploratory” questions, he gave a series of answers that hadn’t been heard in years, saying first of all that his Noton record (not the last ones on the list) is a collection of somewhat dated material, only partially unreleased, that it is in any case the first steps in the construction of a specific identity (the really powerful stuff is still to come, he implies) and that in any case he wouldn’t know how to bring it back live or, better, revisit it, since it is improvisations. As for the visuals, rather than letting us think it was all in his head, he explained how the label had moved first, with him setting some conditions.
If anyone wants my opinion, Ivic is a good record, but – as Saele says – still ‘only’ promising. What’s in it, or what could we compare it to? Raime’s Quarter Turns Over A Living Line (and in some ways Tooth), The Bug vs Earth, Scorn, some drier Vainio, Gianluca Becuzzi’s Kinetix.
Good atmospheres and – to be precise – a language already coherent and regulated, which only needs to be spoken with a voice clearly distinguishable from the others. Consequently, this piece is my way of convincing people to mark this name down somewhere, because it could become important.
They tell little about you, but I think that’s intentional. So let’s talk about music: why is your album called IVIC?
Saele Valese: Ivic is the name of one of Jean Paul Sartre’s characters in the book “The Age of Reason”, with which I composed music between 2013 and 2018. This record on NOTON, in fact, is not really an album, because it simply brings together music written during those years. Some tracks are unreleased while others were already published on my label JSMË.
Noton focuses his presentation on the fact that you used software to make this record, but without taking advantage of the endless possibilities of revision that this offers. IVIC would have been recorded with a “good first take” philosophy. Did I get that right? Was it a kind of improvisation? If so, why?
Saele Valese: Yes, I would say that a lot of things were improvised during the recording. Sometimes, in the creative process, we feel like we are guided by our unconscious. I was waiting for those precious moments, forcing myself to then finalise and mix the project live, recording on DAT tape. In doing so, I was preserving and respecting those moments that were very important to me and impossible to replicate.
Personally I like the dry sound of the record, I listen to this kind of stuff a lot, especially in these years, I’m talking about artists who explore a region in between dub, noise and ambient. Through which roads did you reach the very cohesive “aesthetically” sound of IVIC?
Saele Valese: I can’t answer that exactly. IVIC contains some of my youthful studies of identification through sound, a sort of psychoanalysis, where I tried to construct my first artistic language. However, I think I am only now seeing the results, in the material I have been working on lately.
I put this question in relation to the previous one. The album artwork itself is very essential, and I guess you’ve had your say, although the label you’re releasing on is itself known for its very clean covers. Where does the extreme sobriety of your approach come from? Why do you like to work by subtraction?
Saele Valese: I’ve always included photographs in my previous albums and I really wanted to. NOTON has its own style and line but it respects the artist a lot. Inside the vinyl or CD, you will therefore find a photo taken by me a few years ago. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the album cover.
Still on the subject of visual choices: you collaborated with Marcus Heckmann for your videos. He, too, seems to move according to criteria of simplicity, along broad lines and with few elements. How did you meet him and what kind of discussion did you have about what to do?
Saele Valese: I didn’t meet Marcus and we didn’t collaborate. Carsten (Nicolai, aka Alva Noto, the founder of Noton, ed) commissioned him to do the work and I liked the result, especially the first single.
I don’t know Sylvia Plath except superficially. The same goes for Francesca Woodman. Since I had to do an interview, however, I tried to document myself. Even after this passage, I am still struck by the phrase “you cannot see me from where I look at myself”. It seems like a great claim to subjectivity and autonomy. Why do you feel the need to make it?
Saele Valese: It’s hard for me to talk about this album because some of the work is 7-8 years old, I don’t know exactly how I felt at the time or what I was going through. Even though Francesca Woodman was a teenage love and therefore long gone, the phrase quoted is tremendously relevant to me.
I believe that words are too weak and imprecise and that they shatter in the face of all that is irrational in man. One often feels misunderstood because of the impossibility of expressing so-called deep feelings, originated in a sacred place, where reason and morality lose their values.
The work of art, however, possesses a metaphysical language that overrides all logic, so it is sometimes possible to perceive it but impossible to think it.
A man with a certain sensitivity, when he comes into contact with a masterpiece, feels a profound attraction in which lies something inhuman that will shock him. He will not be able to describe those moments of enchantment, but he will understand that he has discovered something more about himself.
You have lived in different places. Are these choices related to music? Is it necessary to live in certain places to play what you play, to do it well and to “grow”? We are so “dematerialised” now, but does it still count for anything to be in Berlin instead of some “marginal” region?
Saele Valese: No, and I sincerely hope that this myth will soon collapse once and for all. I don’t think where I live influences the music I make, some places can facilitate the process, others obstruct it. Living in countries other than your own is a unique and personal experience, but if we wanted to talk about artistic growth, the work to be done is internal, not external.
So I think solitude is essential, in life as in creativity, and we should learn to love it. I am not talking about being lonely, but about spending a lot of time with yourself. By reducing stimuli, you begin to listen to your world and develop your imagination, which is often discouraged by reality.
So I would like to advise young talents to desist from moving to a new city solely for the hunger for success. Instead, escape from your daily slumber: read the classics of literature and philosophy, watch the great cinema, admire works of art.
There is more genius in Kafka’s ‘The Castle’ than in any club of Berlin.
Your album is coming out soon. What are your expectations? Do you hope to take it on the road when possible?
Saele Valese: No expectations, I mean it seriously. I have an album almost ready, I would like to release it in the autumn and have the chance to play it live. I have no interest in proposing or revisiting Ivic’s material, also because, to tell the truth, all I have left are the DAT tapes.
Saele Valese – Ivic
The Wire – Francis Gooding – Febuary 2021 (Issue 444)
Saele Valese – You Cannot See Me From Where I Look At Myself 1
Video by Markus Heckmann
Saele Valese – Ivic
Rockerilla 483 – Luca Pagani – Nov 2020
Saele Valese – You Cannot See Me From Where I Look At Myself 4
Video by Markus Heckmann
NOTON is glad to announce the signing of sound-artist and producer Saele Valese and his upcoming debut album IVIC [N+001] .
Resident Advisor – Brian Kolada – Jun 2016
It’s a wonderful thing to watch an artist carve out his or her own niche; Saele Valese, a former Berliner who recently moved to Turin, has accomplished just that in two records. In Your Rosary, his debut 12-inch that surfaced at Hard Wax in late 2014, comprised a pair of deep, droning techno cuts that stood apart for their restraint and nuance. (Notably, it grabbed the attention of Alva Noto, Felix K and Svreca.) His next effort, the four-track You Cannot See Me From Where I Look At Myself EP, is also released by his JSMЁ label, and is further refined in all the right ways.
Like In Your Rosary, the tracks here are untitled—the only visual cues are the EP’s name and Valese’s striking self-portrait. Dark, slowly shifting drones and reverberations cast a thicker pall, while the percussive footprint is lighter and more elaborate. The A1 extends the tendrils of its increasingly ominous atmosphere over a sparse and skewed broken beat, while the A2, propelled by minimal 4/4 drums, locks into a taut, dungeon-ready groove. The B1 is a dark-ambient cleanse, its low blasts of noise suggesting the collapse of some far-off industrial infrastructure. You Cannot See Me‘s finest moment is the B2, its subdued percussive pulse and beautifully wilting pads making for a comedown that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s easy to feel a strong sense of purpose in Valese’s work, however esoteric it might be, as if the best is yet come.
Resident Advisor – Brian Kolada – Apr 2015
JSMЁ is a new label project from Saele Valese, a low-key Berlin-based artist who draws inspiration from the works of the American photographer Francesca Woodman. Its first record, In Your Rosary, comes from Valese by way of the alias Ivic, and was initially snuck out through Hard Wax back in November before this wider release.
In Your Rosary offers two compelling, unfussy cuts of droning, introspective techno, both untitled, that approach sound and sequencing in a similar way. You’ll find syncopated kicks and a sliver of hi-hat in each, along with a heady mixture of long tones, random ticks and thick reverb. It all feels uncomplicated, and its careful sense of restraint stands out. The A-side is a melancholy effort, thanks to some gently descending minor-key synths. The B-side is a little more expansive, and its tambura-like tones are perfect for zoned-out situations. Valese plans to grow JSMЁ slowly, with releases from a couple other artists later in the year, but for now In Your Rosary is a promising start.