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Andrea Belfi launches the Float label with the urgent percussive brilliance of "Lead"

09 March 2017, 12:00 | Written by Andrew Hannah

Berlin-based Italian musician Andrea Belfi is perhaps best known for his work as part of Nils Frahm's nonkeen group, but he's also a fascinating solo artist in his own right.

The percussionist is releasing his new album on Sofia Ilyas' brand new label Float and today he's unveiled the first track, "Lead".

The instrumental piece is thrilling and on-edge right from the off. Shakers and the intense hum of a Nord modular combine in urgent fashion, while Belfi batters out a circular rhythm on his Saari drumkit. As "Lead" progresses you start to pick out extra synth sounds floating out of the anchoring buzz. Twinkling moments, flatline drones, fluttering heartbeats - yet the piece never becomes crowded. Direct and beautiful, it augurs well for the rest of the Ore album.

We spoke to Belfi to find out more about the track and his forthcoming album.

What can you tell us about your new album and how it was recorded?

"The two sounds elements I used are drums and electronics. I started composing the album by recording drums over electronic patterns that I made in order to set a certain hypnotic mood. The main recording session took place at the Berlin's Funkhaus, at the Saal 3, the chamber music room of the old GDR radio station. That room has warm natural reverb, really inspiring. The sound wizard Matthias Franz Hahn provided an good amount of insanly great microphones and pre-amps, too many and too amazing to name all of them, and placed them in the room to capture the live feeling of my drumming. We set up two different drum sets in that room, one to record the aformentioned brand new material, and one to record the live solo set I've been playing during the nonkeen and Andrea Belfi 2016 European tour."

"Lead" is the first track from the album; is there a story behind it?

"It's a track I've been playing on my solo live set quite a lot within the past two years. The fact that comes from a live performance makes this piece very energetic and direct. There is a sort of a melody, but it's not exactly a theme, it's more of an element that brings into a certain mysterious mood.

You're signed to Float, how did that come about?

"I met Sofia from Float when I played drums for Nils Frahm at the Barbican centre on July 2016. She saw me playing, bought a couple of my solo records, and expressed interest in my work. When she asked me to be part of her new record label, I'd already started working on my new solo album, and somehow the whole picture started taking shape naturally."

You'll be performing at Piano Day and improvising with some other artists - can you divulge anything about that?

"At Piano Day at Union Chapel in London I will be playing together with Dead Light, who are a piano and electronics duo. It will be the first time we will play together, so I guess there will be room for improvisation. While improvising I always pay attention to what's happening around me. I listen to what the other musicians are playing, up to the point where I just let my arms and legs doing the physical work while I concentrate on the sound of the music. To me improvising means also taking risks and try to push the music to places where you wouldn't expect to go, so at times I make radical music statements, to create strong rhythmical and mood shifts."

We also spoke to label head honcho Ilyas, who explained more about Float: "After five years at Erased Tapes and working behind the scenes on many aspects of the label, I felt that with Float we could offer a fuller service on top of the PR - such as pressing a record, and being there at the beginning of an artist's journey by offering support and guidance. Andrea’s signing came about very naturally, we worked on the nonkeen album on which he appears and I saw him live at Village Underground and the Barbican and I knew I wanted to work with Andrea. Especially when Vincent and Francis in our team where so excited about his music too."

"Lead" is taken from the Ore album, out 26 May. You can pre-order here. Float is a new music, lifestyle and events label which launched with Float’s first event, Piano Day at Union Chapel on 29 March where Andrea Belfi will be performing.
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