Italy has been kicking some major arse as of lately with the amount of great emerging prog artists. Emanuele Bodo is yet another of great Italian guitarists and composers who released his debut album ‘Unsafe Places‘ back in March. The instrumental, seven-song release is filled to the brim with excellent arrangements and interplay between Bodo and rest of the band.
In an interview for Prog Sphere, Bodo speaks about the project, working on the album, and more.
Define the mission of your project.
The mission of this work is to create new music with unique and personal characteristics that best represent my moods and my creative vein. Then there is obviously the desire to be known in the wide progressive panorama that is having an interesting flowering in the recent years.
Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut album “Unsafe Places.”
I started composing the songs of ‘Unsafe Places’ about four years ago starting from some ideas I had developed over the years. Initially not thought that it would become such a long and ambitious job; but along the way I started dedicating more and more time to composing the songs and, as the results seemed interesting to me, I started to propose the drafts ideas to the other musicians who then recorded the album.
Although “Unsafe Places” is an instrumental release, is there a certain message you are trying to give with it?
Of course, my vision of instrumental music is full of messages and content. We can imagine the tracks that make up “Unsafe Places” like seven journeys in real and imaginary places, where we immerse ourselves in dark environments, rich in mystery, sometimes dramatic or romantic. The global message is that, through music and more generally, through art, we can make journeys towards what most attracts us in that specific moment.
How did you document the music while it was being formulated?
I normally compose my music via computer and in this case I meticulously wrote the parts of all the instruments, even though I knew that they would then be re-interpreted by the musicians during the recordings. Even the guitar parts, being often very articulate, I wrote them on the computer before recording them. Then I relied a lot on memorizing playing, already in the composition phase, the parts in order to make them as fluid and smooth as possible, despite the continuous rhythmic plots. In rare cases I have recorded some ideas on the fly that I developed later.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?
Yes, absolutely. it was a very meticulous work because each track tells a particular real or imaginary story, so the music follows these events step by step.
To give a very significant example I will briefly talk about the last track of the album: “Chernobyl”. To compose this piece I have documented myself on the dramatic story for a long time. Then I retraced the sequence of events that led to the dramatic end we all know. Listening to the song, you can perceive all the moods and atmospheres before and immediately after the catastrophe.
Describe the approach to recording the album.
I took care of all the pre-production of the album in my personal studio and after that, we recorded all the drum tracks in the Æ nima recordings studios by Mattia Garimanno who did an exceptional job both from the point of view of the execution and the recordings.
Once the drums were finished, I recorded all the rhythm guitars and then it was the time for Carlo Ferri on bass and in the meantime I added almost all the guitar solo parts. The final part of the recordings fell to Davide Cristofoli, who gave a really remarkable touch both in terms of orchestrations and in the choice of synth sounds.
Finally we completed the work with the sound effects and the environment noise that are an important part of the songs.
Apart from the ‘vst’ used for the sounds of keyboards and orchestra, I want to say that all the other instruments were recorded in the old fashioned way, therefore with real amplifiers and acoustic drums. Thanks to this aspect I find that the result is less cold and with a beautiful natural and homogeneous sound.
How long “Unsafe Places” was in the making?
As for the compositional part it was quite long… About four years! Instead the recording process was quite smooth, and lasted about a week for each instrument and about two months for the guitars (yes, I am very demanding with myself in the studio and prefer to redo hundreds of times rather than edit later!). this is thanks to the fact that I have painstakingly taken care of the pre-production, making sure that all the compositions functioned properly before starting the final registrations.
Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?
In naming some of my influences, I would start with Dream Theater, probably my biggest source of inspiration but also Planet X and Angra, some more extreme bands like Meshuggah and Opeth, then the virtuosos of the six-string of eighties and nineties including Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman and Mattias Eklundh in rock and metal genre; while in the more jazz-fusion area I can mention Bireli Lagrene, Frank Gambale, Greg Howe, Guthrie Govan and the incomparable Allan Holdsworth… Finally the artists of recent years like Intervals, Plini and Periphery.
What is your view on technology in music?
Absolutely in a positive way, I always try to stay up to date on technological developments that can greatly benefit music. I think we should always try to keep up with the times and know how to benefit from the technological innovations we have available. This does not mean accepting everything that is modern and technological with eyes closed. I give an example: if I can use a very innovative and performing guitars compared to others, perhaps more historical but obviously obsolete, from the technological point of view why not do it?
Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?
Well, I think that for those who composes his music it’s always something that goes further the simple song. In my case, every track is inextricably linked to particular moments of life or states of mind that inevitably resurface when I listen or talk about them. The aim I would say is that it goes beyond music and is to make the listener, at least for an hour, free to travel in particular and unusual settings taking only some inspiration from the music itself and letting oneself be transported by something wider and more global.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m working with the other band members on Errant Shadow’s second album, which will see me busy for the next few months. Then I’d like to start bringing my album live from the autumn and finally I plan to use some extracts from ‘Unsafe Places’ to create educational material that can be stimulating for creativity as I deal with music education every day.
I’d also like to do a second edition of the album, maybe with a bonus track and some special guests, but the time available is always limited unfortunately…
Unsafe Places is out now and is available from Bandcamp.