Album label: 
Release date: 
Recording location: 
PAF, Performing Arts Forum
Recording date: 
Saturday, January 1, 2000
Artwork design: 
Executive producer: 
Mastering engineer: 
Frédéric Alstadt
Mixing engineer: 
Sandor Caron
Mixing engineer: 
Raphael Vanoli
Raphael Vanoli
Sandor Caron
Recording engineer: 
Carlos Dalla Fiore
  • 1. 99 (05:37)
  • 2. Schicht (04:17)
  • 3. Lenz (04:06)
  • 4. Sandor (05:15)
  • 5. Perrine (05:23)
  • 6. Carlos (03:14)
  • 7. Eli (03:41)
  • 8. Enzo (05:02)
  • 9. Greg (07:09)

Raphael Vanoli - electric guitar

With the new “Bibrax”, guitarist Raphael Vanoli seems committed to subvert one of the most basic premises of our interpretation of reality, the proportional sequenciality of the relations between cause and effect. The sounds we hear are affirmative, composed, sometimes even inordinate, making us imagine a physical delivery and a gestuality with dramatic, theatrical, dimension. Wrong: the modus operandi is another thing completely. The fingers only brush the strings, percuting it very slightly, with the weight of a feather (when it’s not really a feather being used), due to the circumstance that the guitar is hiper-amplified. Everything done to it, even the most diminutive intervention, results in occurrences with huge volume and also in harmonics of intrincate complexity.

Considering that the music created with this procedure is often soft and dreamy, this implies a particularly careful administration of energy, the energy applied to produce sound and the energy of the produced sound, both different and both deceitful. But that’s not all: on some of these pieces of short duration, Vanoli transforms the guitar into a… flute, by gently blowing the strings to vibrate them and explore the extreme sensivity of the instrument. This resource has wide meanings and consequences, mutating the nature of the music itself, making it breath as any real flute music would do. Here is a recording that opens doors, discover possibilities and changes everything, destined to be a milestone of the innovations in process, in a time when it seemed that any musical plausibility was already fulfilled.

Liner notes by Aaron Schuster:

To take an object, divert it from its ordinary use, and reconfigure it as something else: is this not one of the fundamental gestures of modern art? Raphael Vanoli’s atmospheric, hypnotic compositions are the outcome of his peculiar and original treatment of the electric guitar. Amplified to the max and then some (two special booster pedals further rev it up), the guitar is transformed into a hyper-sensitive conductor of sound: the slightest touch or contact produces a massive sonic effect, seemingly all out of proportion to its cause. The instrument must therefore be treated with a great delicacy and deliberateness. Normally a guitar is played by strumming and plucking, and perhaps some tapping and slapping: these are all techniques to get the strings to vibrate and the frame to resonate in a certain way and at certain frequencies. Vanoli’s super-amped instrument is manipulated with lighter, finer gestures: a mixture of breath and subtle physical contact is what gets the guitar to sing. Vanoli has effectively turned the stringed instrument into a wind instrument: the guitar is played primarily by blowing across the strings, utilizing different breathing techniques such as the flautist’s flutter. To play the guitar like a flute—such is the composer’s unlikely and daring proposition. The prepared guitar is thereby taken one giant step further. What we hear is the result of virtuosic control of a fragile, touchy medium. The strings are blown on; light contact is made by facial hair and skin; a peacock feather is used as a bow; fingernails, little stones, and metal rings are tapped on the plastic and metal components of the guitar; a metal sponge gently pressed on the strings creates electromagnetic resonance; feedback is carefully employed. Control is crucial and yet elusive. The tracks are made up of a multiplicity of small accidents and deviations: instead of precisely defined notes, or the sharp attacks typical of plucked strings, the songs consist of slow-rolling waves of sound, rich in harmonics, and airy effects. It is as if the guitar were constantly on the edge of a nervous breakdown, ready to jump and scream at the tiniest misstep. Yet with proper care, the most remarkable sounds are coaxed out of it: electro-ambient scintillations, cathedralic echoes, drifting waves, lyrical percussive effects.