Amon – Interview

int_amon_headerAndrea Maruttii is responsible for the pillar of Black Ambient that is AMON. Grandiose, unearthly darkness, horrifying stillness and his strangely resonant minimalism have given AMON a vigor that transcends the Dark Ambient genre to become something almost super-natural. Beyond AMON Andrea is also responsible for the catacombal NEVER KNOWN whose environmental soundscapes sit securely among some of the genre’s very best. – Scott – (Taken From Worm Gear #9) 

You have been involved in music for a long time in one way or another, what sort of material were you doing early on and how did it eventually evolve into what you’re doing now ?

I started with music some fifteen years ago, when I decided to set up a cover band with some schoolmates of mine. We used to play some metal or hard-rock stuff such as Deep Purple, AC/DC, Kiss and so on. I was the singer. Later I got tired of singing other people’s songs, and I began to write my own lyrics. Even if the line-up was changing again and again, I never missed a meeting. Then I left school and I lost the contacts with the other band members. Some years later I started attending a new school and I put together another band. We were into some kind of melodic rock with Italian lyrics. Keyboard lines were very important, and the keyboard player had a great influence on me. We played together for a long time and even if this took us nowhere, it was OK for me. We had a real good time and we are still good friends. In 1991 I got my first job and so I had money enough to buy a portable cassette recorder. This completely changed my way of thinking about music. For some weeks I searched the house for interesting sounds, and when nothing more was to be found, I stepped outside and kept searching and recording. Somehow I could tell you that I’m still searching today… only with different tools. Anyway, my Never Known project was born just from and with these early recordings. By the end of 1994 I bought some synths and when I could use them properly the Amon project was born.

Never Known was the first to evolve of the current projects, correct ? The foundation for this work is primarily environmental recordings from what I’ve read, what sorts of things do you look for when doing field recordings and how much are the sources manipulated once you start assembling them into tracks?

Never Known was my first project to take shape, and especially in the beginning, I used a lot of environmental recordings. This was mostly dictated by the fact that I didn’t have any true instruments then. So I recorded all those tapes with the portable recorder and then with another recorder equipped with a speed control I slowed them down or sped them up. I used to make two copies of the same tape and then with a third recorder and a small mixer I produced longer loops, but as the mixage was not perfect, they were very dynamic. Then I slowed them down again, or I used to overlap them, or again, I played the same sounds at different speeds. Sometimes when I needed more sound sources I also used a videotape recorder. All stuff like that… Nowadays I don’t use many environmental recordings in my tracks as I used to, but sometimes I still enjoy myself taking such recordings with a portable dat machine. Last summer I recorded some 2-3 hours of forest, waters and insects sounds and so on, but I still haven’t found out time to work on them. I will maybe use some of these recordings on the next Never Known CD. Anyway, now I prefer to synthesize sounds and sample things. It is a faster way of working, and you can’t even imagine how many hours I spent to put together my first Never Known tracks in 1992. Since 1994 I use a computer for sequencing tracks, but only this year I started to work with audio softwares. There’s a brand new world to explore!”

Never Known’s “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” is steeped in cavernous atmosphere, were you intentionally seeking that subterranean feel and if so what appeals to you about the world below the surface?

Yes, I agree with you when you describe the disc as “subterranean”. I have always been fascinated by caves, and I think that stalactites and stalagmites are real Earth wonders. Moreover, caves were the first shelter of prehistoric men… I don’t know, but when I enter a cave, it is like taking a big jump in the past. It makes me feel primitive and curious… And then when I was a child and people used to ask me “What would you like to do when you’re grown-up ?” well I used to answer “I will be an arcaeologist” or… a spelaeologist for sure!” And perhaps I was successful in some way or the other… Anyway, “Twilight’s last Gleaming” grew very spontaneously and all of the tracks were originally mixed together and recorded in the same order they were published. My only intentional act was to fluidify as much as possible the passage from one track to the other, in order to obtain a long sonic continuum. So that subterranean feeling has probably more to do with something that is hidden inside me and that sometimes re-appears on the surface, who knows?

The title “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” is taken from a William Burroughs book, how has literature impacted your work and who else beyond Burroughs has really affected you ?

Yes, the disc title is very very similar to the one of an early William S. Burroughs short story, but this story has nothing to do with the disc contents. These are strictly connected with the meaning of the words themselves: the sun is setting, the shades of evening invade the Earth and darkness is coming. Anyway, I often draw my inspiration from books, and Burroughs is one of my favourite writers. I like James G. Ballard too and his book “Concrete Island” is the one I like most. But I’m expected to talk about my influences here, and I can’t help mentioning Peter Kolosimo. Since my childhood I have been deeply fascinated by his space-archaeology books. His writing style is very simple and divulgative, and his books, written between the Sixties and the Seventies, when such topics were not so fashionable as now, aimed to relate ancient civilizations (i.e. the Egyptians) with people coming from outer space. Along with his forerunner Desiderius Papp, another writer dealing with the same topics, Peter Kolosimo is the real and constant influence behind my works as Amon and Never Known. I was lucky to find two of Papp books published in the Thirties. All the works he wrote are no longer on the market, and therefore are extremely rare to be found…int_amon_pic

Amon is significantly more minimal than the Never Known material, what do you see as the effectiveness of minimalism over denser more animated compositions? And what sonic elements do you focus on when creating Amon tracks to flood them with such stirring energy despite the relative stillness of the tracks?

I think that Amon minimalism is just an appearance. I know how my tracks are put together, and I can tell you that both Amon and Never Known music is made of a similar number of parts. Sometimes in Amon tracks you can hear only a couple of sounds, but under the more exposed and easily distinguishable layers, there is something more: many sounds fusing themselves together creating that energy you talk about. For Never Known I use a larger palette of sounds, and when they are juxtaposed, you get the impression of something richer in content; while with Amon is more a matter of finding a particular flow which I don’t like to interrupt or disturb, except in a very few cases. Is quite difficult to explain how I create a track, because it doesn’t always happen in the same way… The most important thing is to find out a sonic continuum of great impact that can undergo a medium-long duration, so that I can create some miniatures and subdle micro-variations around it, and keep everything “in motion”, a “static movement”, paradoxically. The careful use of certain freaquencies is very important in the economy of the Amon sound too.

Is the minimalism something that you maintain when doing live shows or does the live atmosphere and adrenaline of the performance encourage more aggressive explorations?

Until today, in the few concerts I played here in Italy, I always performed tracks from my previous or forthcoming CD releases, adding parts that were not present on the original versions, or improvising on them. Sometimes I have mixed together parts taken from different tracks with interesting results. I like to play live very much, but I often encountered a great lack of respect for me and my instruments. For example, once I had a serious problem with the backing tape machine, and I had to improvise an harsher set with one single synthesizer. I am very satisfied about the way I faced the situation, but the public didn’t react much good… The tracks on the new Amon CD were born 90% from improvisations that I manipulated with my computer and effects, and they are absolutely not reproducible in a live situation, so I can’t easily predict the future of my live activities.

I read something from you saying that Amon was influenced in part by the theory that humans perhaps originated from aliens? Can you explain how the concept inspires your work, and what other ideological elements you incorporate into your projects?

Well, this is true in part, but I wouldn’t describe it as an “ideological element”, it has more to do with a personal interest that I drew from the books that I told you before. Let’s go back for a while to the Egyptians and to the other ancient civilizations all… There are still a lot of unanswered questions, i.e.: “How could the Egyptians manage to build the Pyramids ?”, or “What the hell is the ‘Palenque Astronaut’ doing ?” and “What about the Nazca Lines ? How was it possible to draw them ?” then magically we are in 1999 again, and unexplainable things still happen: Crop Circles. Who creates them ? And why ? For sure I have no answers to these questions, but maybe others do. Although I recognize that many people show an excessive enthusiasm when dealing with such topics, I can’t help thinking that somebody is hiding a very uncomfortable truth. However, in my opinion, humanity does not originate from aliens, but an external alien presence has always influenced the destiny of the Earth supplying us with knowledge and with technology. To show you the strong link between these theories and some of my music, it’s easier for me to give you an example: in one of the tracks on the new Amon CD (The Legacy II: Machinery) I imagined alien machineries are building the so called “Face on Mars”. I know that I may be seen as a visionary, or as a presumptuos, but if the “Face” is not a natural phenomenon, but an artificial construction, you can bet that was the sound that could be heard during its building… So we can say that my creative process goes more or less like this: I read/learn something, I imagine something else, the idea for the title/concept is born, I create a track with that in mind.

The new record “The Legacy” is due out shortly, and may even be out by the time this goes to press, how has the Amon sound developed from “El Khela” and the Drone 7″, and what does the title of the new record refer to?

I think that the new disc is different from my previous Amon CDs. It sounds harsher, and almost all the tracks were edited from longer improvisations. I didn’t use a lot of synthesized sounds this time, and I preferred to experiment with some of the possibilities offered by sampling. Finally, the tracks were massively treated with effects and PC editing. I also used some sounds I found on a Dat tape, and truly, I don’t know where they come from… I didn’t want the new disc to sound exactly like my previous releases, but only similar to them, and that’s why it took me a long time to release a new CD after “El Khela”. I hope I succeeded in re-creating the usual atmosphere in a different way and that no-one will be disappointed by “The Legacy”. Reactions are very positive at the moment! “The Legacy” mentioned in the title is strictly connected with some of the topics explained in my previous answer.

Let’s talk about the Egyptians: they left us impressive monuments, such as the Sphinx and the Pyramids… Well, in 1976 the Viking Orbiter 1 took many pictures of the Cydonia region on the planet Mars surface. Among the photos that NASA showed us, the most famous is the one showing the “Face on Mars”. This face looks very much like the Sphinx… and they also took pictures of some giant Pyramids near the Face ! I guess that some entities have intentionally builded these constructions to give us, and to other planets people, an evidence of their passage. This is what “The Legacy” means to me.

With a new Amon record finished will you be turning your attention back to Never Known, or are you looking to do something entirely different?

In addition to the new Amon album there will be soon two more limited edition releases (one on my label and one on Blade Records), and two exclusive tracks will appear on compilations in Italy (Octagon Records) and U.S.A. (Live Bait). Anyway, the next “official” release will be the new Never Known album: Mauro of Eibon Records cares a lot about my Never Known project too, and he will release for sure the new CD. At the moment only some tracks are ready, but I think I will finish the work in a short time. If the Amon sound got harsher with time, Never Known went in the opposite direction, and therefore the next CD could perhaps be “softer” than the previous one.

Aside from the music you also operate a small record label specializing in a lot of limited edition releases, what are some of the things you’ve done and what do you have upcoming with that? Do you want to eventually make it a full scale label or do you like just doing the limited releases?

Well, I make music also under other aliases, and this kind of production is not necessarily similar to Amon’s or Never Known’s. It is mainly dance and “easy” stuff, but this side is as important to me as my experimental one. Talking about my label, it all started because I wanted to supply with my music my best friends and people interested in my musical projects. I used to record 10-20 copies of each tape and to give them away as a present. So that the label name AFE (Another Friendly Edition) itself derives from this old habit of mine. Later, a lot of friends of mine started making electronic music too, and I have published their tapes, created their artworks and stuff like that. I enjoyed myself very much doing that sort of things. Anyway, these productions all, will be available on CD-R for anyone interested. It’s just a question of time: many of them are already available, and many others will be soon. Among the music I published, I mention the re-issues of the early Never Known tapes, all re-mastered and with the addition of many extra tracks, and the recording of the very first concert I played in Milan in April 1997. These re-issues are packaged in some hand-made cardboard digipacks and they look very professional. I’m very satisfied with them. I also published many CD-Rs of my other main project, Lips Vago. In the near future there will be a limited edition Amon CD-R with a very special package and an Amon / Never Known live VHS. At the moment I don’t want to expand this activity and become a full scale label, but I will keep on producing CDRs and stuff in limited edition and special package. … and about that: I am ready to begin a “LTD50” limited edition CD-Rs series, and if any electronic music makers out there (no matter what genre) want to be in, they can find more details on the AFE web site.

I guess that is about all I have I’m very much looking forward to the new record, is there anything else that you’d like to add?

I wish to thank you for the space you’re giving me in your magazine and for the sincere interest you’re showing towards my musical work. If anyone would like to get in touch with me, my e-mail address is the following:
andrea.marutti@tiscalinet.itFor any other detail or information about my musical activities:
For the complete AFE catalogue and the “LTD50” serie details:
Via Villoresi 5
20143 Milano

~ by scottsplatter on January 3, 2009.

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