What Lies Beneath

Francesca Bono of Ofeliadorme, the Society of Sound artists for May, explores the inspiration behind their new album Secret Fires alongside a track-by-track commentary.

Since the beginning we have passionately looked for our own experimental and evolutionary sonic path, increasingly using more electronics, trying to craft dark, ethereal, misty atmospheres where we could lay lyrics that are symbiotic with music.

During the process we met Howie B on our path, and that’s been a turning point for us. Recently, when we were discussing how uncomfortable we feel when asked to define our ‘music genre’ he even invented a new word for it: Dream Beat, and we think he has a point. We’re aware of the many influences our music has and we’re also pursuing a certain uniqueness to it.

Secret Fires is the fruit of this magic encounter with Howie, who recorded, produced and mixed the album and totally understood (and understands) us, musically and as human beings. We’re very proud of this work.

We live in a frenzied world; we never really take the time to be vulnerable with each other. That’s something I’ve been thinking about while writing these songs. I thought about human nature and felt that Fire was a fitting metaphor: it is difficult to control and demands respect, like feelings, like nature.

The recurrent themes in Secret Fires are loneliness, the lack of communication and burning passions. We’re always interested in what lies beneath the surface.

Cultural resources are many and crucial in our writing process. I’m passionate about cinema and visual arts, and while working on Secret Fires I’ve been re-watching all John Cassavetes and David Lynch movies, read books and so on. This fact somehow has had an impact on the process. Images often make me think about musical ideas.

The sound we got to create did the rest. The bass is very present but never vulgar, building slow and constant dynamics to imitate the pace of the diaphragm in the act of breathing. It pushes with grace. To get to this result we used an analog synth with panel controls to keep everything under control and therefore help the dynamics through imperceptible variations, the way we do when we play live. Higher sounds have had a more mixed origin, sometimes generated by software and then re-sampled, other times played with real synths, using both old and new generation machines. The same goes for the drums. Howie has been a master in managing to find a home for each element, working on balance and giving them the importance they deserve.

The result is a record that doesn’t scream in your face, it’s not loud, it’s delicate. It’s more like a voice whispering in your ear.

Alone With The Stars: I often wonder about the stars and the Universe, is it a ship with no living crew aboard? This song is all about solitude and lack of communication.

Body Prayer: The female aging body through films and books, a lot of inspiration for this song came from that. Our bodies change with aging and you obviously see the result in function and in appearance. It is grotesque how the female body has been objectified and stereotyped forever.

Black/Black/Black: This is one of the first songs I wrote when I bought the Roland Juno 60, and I was listening to Nils Frahm album Spaces a lot. I love the way he uses this synthesizer.

My Soldiers: Loneliness, the need to protect our vulnerability, even at our own risk. Hyper-connection has a price.

Birch: It’s loosely inspired by The Ballad of the Dark Ladie by Samuel T. Coleridge.

Visions: While writing this song I sometimes thought about Lucien Freud’s paintings, especially one, where a woman and a man lie in bed, naked. It made me think about stories I heard and stories I lived.

Feels: Mostly, I’m talking about the right to be who you are and feel what you feel. The fear and hatred of LGBTQ individuals in our society mainly derives from culturally constructed ideas of what is ‘normal’ and these ideas further reflect assumptions about what is morally ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. All this should stop right now.

Hairbrushings: While writing this song I was re-reading The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan. It somehow influenced the song a lot.

Read more about Ofeliadorme

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