Sicilian Skrima writes about growing up in his Italian home, fascinated by the far-off, sometimes muffled sounds that would find their way into his bedroom. He recorded those sounds with a number of devices (of varying quality), and then applied modifications to his indoor field recordings. For years, this was a kind of passion project he kept to himself.
“This was my secret passion,” he writes. “I called this kind of work, with those old tapes, ‘the sound from next door or the neighbour’s sounds.’”
Skrima’s now ready to share this mysterious, beautiful music with the rest of us. He’s layered in defective low-end synthesizers, a semi-acoustic bass, an old analogue multi-effect Eko Multitone and a variety of post-production techniques.
The six pieces coming out the other end of all that are distorted, muffled and weirdly displaced. Still, they feel true to the original source materials.
At a time when post-production techniques represent the height of modernist creativity, Skrima has managed to produce something uniquely engaging.
Each piece has a backstory too. “Diva” is named after a 1981 film that serves as the track’s inspiration. Skrima took a recording of an opera singer, and then “treated” the tape with a cotton swab wrapped in sandpaper.
“Tune Casio” is a tribute to old, noisy appliances. “My favourite sound was a Bosch refrigerator from the 1960s, subject to electrical surges that created irregular and minimal rhythms,” writes Skrima. The title also references the broken keyboard used in the piece.
“Tick Soul” is based on buzzing Christmas lights.
The final three pieces, “Iddu,” “Eetnaa” and “Vacuum” feature recordings off microphones placed in the crevices of volcanic rocks and urban soundscapes. While the disc’s first half explores indoor sounds, this second half takes us outside.
The project dates back to 1981, when Skrima completed his first tape recordings. After collecting two years’ worth, these six pieces were recorded between 1983 and 1986.
It would be another 13 years before Skrima would pull them back out for a reworking. Still, it remained a personal project until the final mastering was completed earlier this year.