Gianluca Favaron ~ Variations (Fragments of Evanescent Memories)

This isn’t the first time Gianluca Favaron has shared a fascination with fragments; the word also graced his 2014 EP Fragments and Flows.  The word offers an apt summation of his music: broken pieces salvaged and turned into art, like stained glass.  One may hear a drone, a shatter, a subway announcement, all swept neatly into a sonic dustpan.  The difference is that Favaron doesn’t just dump it all into a bin; he sorts through what he has and rearranges it until it is no longer trash.

“Fragments #2” begins with a rough scraping like Job, who uses broken pottery to scratch his wounds.  If the cover is any indication, such a wound may be apparent here.  A ripped photo, torn from a magazine, portrays a woman with her facial features rubbed out, reminiscent of the scrubbing censorship of the Soviet Union.  A foreboding, unintelligible voice enters toward the end.  Is this a commentary on beauty?  On commercialism?  On a relationship?  The answer is unclear.  What is clear is that the artist is poking through the ruins.  Fortunately the birds come out on the subsequent piece, intimating a form of recovery.

A single quote accompanies the release: Arnold Schönberg’s statement that “even variation is a form of repetition.”  This somewhat dour outlook echoes Ecclesiastes, who writes that “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9).  If this is true, there’s no need to create art.  Instead of embracing this mindset, Favaron fights against it, attempting to reframe and re-contextualize a series of tape loops and field recordings.  In recovery programs, “old tapes” refer to harmful memories, ideas or attitudes that we play on infinite loop.  The physical act of splicing is akin to the psychological act of reevaluation.  

Favaron adds something to these memories as well, whether it be a brass surge, a guitar abstraction or the sound of a passing plane.  The cacophony of voices in “Fragment #4” seeks to overwhelm, but the artist tames the tumult.  He may not be able to control his memories, but he controls these sounds, and his decisions of inclusion/exclusion, placement and overlap create a new story.  The implication is that the same can be done with the mind.  One may remove the photos from a family album, dispose of the unhappy ones, rearrange what is left and create an alternate (accurate or inaccurate) history, that over time seems to become the real history.  If done properly, the practice can be therapeutic.  This brings us back to the word evanescence, the fading of memory.  These variations imply a way forward: beauty from ashes, treasure from trash, a reevaluation that leads to a new understanding.  (Richard Allen)

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