Few acts manage to remain so unrestrained in their explorations of electronic music as Italian duo Retina.it. Comprised of Lino Monaco & Nicola Buono, the pair have spent over two decades mastering the capabilities of their bewildering array of hardware, producing music which touches on drone, ambient, glitch, house and techno in equal measure.
Having released one of our standout EPs of the year, the brooding, dubbed-out ‘Ops-ci’ tape, we decided to invite the Pompeii based duo to provide the final ‘That Time When’ of 2014, discussing five of their most memorable live music experiences.
Me and three of my old friends decided to go and see Sister’s Of Mercy in Rome, where we knew we’d be transported into another dimension quite different from our day-life. There wasn’t much to do in our area and not much music on offer, so we have to travel a lot to attend shows. Sister’s atmospheres and synthetic drumming totally caught us. The show was held in a Roman theatre with the mood of a batcave - I was totally submerged into the new-wave era sounds.
This was an unforgettable experience for me. More than twenty years ago I decided to spend a vacation with my art curator uncle in Milan. I was by myself and didn’t know anyone around there. I kew that in Treviso, not far from Milan, there would be an Einsturzende Neubauten show, so I decided to start my trip.
I travelled by train and arrived early in the afternoon. I asked around but people seemed not to know about the gig, someone told me that there were maybe two places used for concerts. I didn’t know how to reach the venue by bus so I started my long march. While I was walking a guy in a car asked me if i was searching for the venue too, so I joined him for the journey. Finally we found it. In punk-style leather jackets and military shoes we were dissolving in an afternoon’s hot sun, when we watched the EN guys get out from a van and start to move their huge industrial instruments. We were there astonished! Then one of them - I guess he was Alexander Hacke, looked at us and said “you guys come inside”.
Watching the gig was so emotional… After the concert I slept in the train station and only realised the day after that it wasn’t just a dream.
I think Zen Paradox was the first gig that inspired our passion for analogue equipment. It was the first time I saw them all together; an Arp Odyssey, a TB-303 and a TR-808 - all modified, they had a MIDI sync!
After several DJ sets, Zen arrived on the stage behind his machines. He started playing, letting the machines communicate with one another. At that time it was difficult to see a hybrid set between analogue and digital equipment. The MIDI protocol was new, and in ‘96 very few were producing MIDI/CV interfaces. It was an hour of pure and intense trance music that let me fly across ancestral soundscapes… we had a dear old time!
We went to Rome, to see Pan Sonic play alongside F.M Einheit. Inevitably I was close to the stage, and it was a devastating mix of sounds. I knew how good Pan Sonic sound, because I’ve been familiar with their music in the past. The relationship between them and one of industrial music’s fathers, F.M. Einheit was incredibly intriguing.
With his set of industrial machines - drills, springs and bricks, he crafted sounds that interweaved with the futuristic vision of Pan Sonic. The amazing thing was seeing him smash the bricks on a large metal plate and each piece that fell off the table seemed perfectly synchronised with the steady, geometric beats of the Finnish duo.
A few years ago we started a project called “Resina” with our friend, Neapolitan musician Mark Messina. He is the founder of the historic Italian band 99 Posse. After the release of our Resina LP Opinio Omnium, we were invited to open a concert for Kraftwerk, and what better opportunity could there be to attend such a show? The performance was at the Arena Flegrea in Naples, a venue created in the Art Deco style - the long symmetrical lines and white stone seemed perfect for a show as rigorous as that of Kraftwerk.
After our performance we were about to move our equipment from the wings, when in the corner of my eye I saw Ralf Hütter approach Nicola extending his hand, and he was astonished. It was amazing, and the fact that we’d performed as part of a historic Neapolitan event with one of the groups that have been key in the evolution of electronic music, made our experience metaphysical.