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Fausto Romitelli

At the centre of my composing lies the idea of considering sound as


a material into which one plunges in order to forge its physical and
perceptive characteristics: grain, thickness, porosity, luminosity,
density and elasticity. Hence it is sculpture of sound, instrumental
synthesis, anamorphosis, transformation of the spectral morphology,
and a constant drift towards unsustainable densities, distorsions and
interferences, thanks also to the assistance of electro-acoustic
technologies. And increasing importance is given to the sonorities of
non-academic derivation and to the sullied, violent sound of a
prevalently metallic origin of certain rock and techno music.

Born in Gorizia on 1 February 1963, Fausto Romitelli graduated in


composition at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi of Milan and
subsequently went on to take part in advanced courses at the
Accademia Chigiana of Siena and the Scuola Civica of Milan. In 1991
he moved to Paris to study the new technologies at the Cursus
dInformatique Musicale of Ircam, with which he also collaborated
as compositeur en recherche from 1993 to 1995.
Although his attention was directed to the principal European
musical experiences (Gyrgy Ligeti and Giacinto Scelsi, in
particular), his main inspiration was drawn from French spectral
music, in particular Hugues Dufourt and Grard Grisey, to whom he
dedicated the second piece of the cycle Domeniche alla periferia
dellImpero (1995-96, 2000). In EnTrance (1995-96) his writing
encompasses the study of the voice, using a mantra from the
Tibetan Book of the Dead: the resulting music is extremely compact,
with a hypnotic and ritualistic flow, in which the sound, like
material to be forged, is matched by a taste for technology and the
search for new acoustic horizons.
Romitelli also pursued his personal research outside the cultured
avant-garde, so his music also accommodates an expressive content
of great eloquence and a violent sonic impact of considerable formal
complexity. These qualities are featured in one of his most
significant compositions: the trilogy Professor Bad Trip (1998-2000),
based on a reading of the works written by Henri Michaux under the
influence of hallucinogenic drugs. In it, along with his taste for the
deformed and the artificial, Romitelli added the sonic research of
rock, with an electro-acoustic treatment of sound and instrumental

gestures. As in Blood on the floor, Painting 1986 (2000), which


emphasizes the violent and destructive aspect of the projection of
reality onto fiction, the trilogy is also openly inspired by the work of
Francis Bacon, particularly the series of Three Studies for SelfPortrait.
With Flowing down too slow (2001), commissioned by Art Zoyd and
Musiques Nouvelles, the compositional landscape of Romitellis
musical writing is enriched by sonic suggestions borrowed from the
experiences of artists like Aphex Twin, DJ Spooky and Scanner,
though there is always a dominance of the hypnotic and ritualistic
aspect, together with his taste for the dissimilar and the artificial.
As for his interest in the social and artistic aspects of the
contemporary world, and in particular in the means and processes
of mass communication, this spawned works like Dead City Radio.
Audiodrome (2003), the essence of which is encompassed in the
Canadian sociologist Marshall McLuhans book The Medium is the
Message. Perception of the world is created by the channels of
transmission: what we see and hear is not simply reproduced, but
elaborated and recreated by an electronic medium that overlays and
replaces the real experience (Romitelli). Dead City Radio interprets
the nightmare relationship between perception and technology and
reflects on the techniques of production and reproduction of the
electronic channels.
In his last work, An Index of Metals (2003), the musical
experimentation and literary suggestions that accompanied his realsurreal approach to compositional work were fulfilled in a grand
abstract narration. Based on the desire to create a total perceptive
experience, uniting with the musical aspect its visual double to
immerse the spectator in an incandescent, enveloping material, this
work was conceived by Romitelli as an initiatory celebration of the
metamorphosis and fusion of matter, a light show, in which an
extension of the perception of the self beyond the physical limits of
the body is provoked by means of techniques of transference and
fusion in an alien material. It is a path towards perceptive saturation
and hypnosis, one of total alteration of the habitual sensorial
parameters.
After a series of successes at various international competitions, at
Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Graz, Milan, Stockholm and Siena (first prize
at the Casella in 1989), Romitellis music was routinely played at the
main international concert venues. At festivals ranging from the
Festival Musica of Strasbourg, the Festival Prsences of Radio France

and the Ars Musica of Brussels to the Saisons of the IrcamInterContemporain, the Venice Biennale, and the Festival Milano
Musica, his works were performed by ensembles and orchestras that
included Ictus, LItinraire, Court-Circuit, InterContemporain,
Musiques Nouvelles, ensemble recherche, Alter Ego, the RAI
National Symphony Orchestra and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester
Berlin, with commissions from institutions such as the French
Ministry of Culture (Acid Dreams & Spanish Queens and Professor
Bad Trip: Lesson II), Musiques Nouvelles (Professor Bad Trip: Lesson
I), Ictus (Professor Bad Trip: Lesson III), la Musique et les Arts
(Mediterraneo), Radio France (Cupio Dissolvi), Ircam (EnTrance),
the Gulbenkian Foundation (The Nameless City), Milano Musica (The
Poppy in the Cloud), LItinraire (Blood on the Floor, Painting 1986)
and the Royaumont Foundation (Lost and An Index of Metals).
Struck down by a fatal illness, Fausto Romitelli died in Milan on 27
June 2004 at the age of 41.
Roberta Milanaccio