Alessio Natalizia is a busy man at the moment. Alongside his harmonious dream-pop day band Banjo or Freakout, he also records with Sam Willis as electronic outfit Walls – and has recently started a record label with Willis, Ecstatic. How he has found any space for his new project, Not Waving, is beyond me.
Eschewing the pop of Banjo or Freakout and the modern electronica of Walls, Not Waving makes electronic music that’s inspired as much by post-punk as it is by late 70s and early-80s digital music. On the debut album Umwelt waves of synths pulse and flow like a blissed-out Suicide, while the gleaming production has more than a nod towards Italo disco about it.
There’s also a serious intensity to this music: the record is a dark and claustrophobic experience, perhaps coming from the interest Natalizia took in the concept of Remote Viewing whilst recording the tracks that would form Umwelt. It’s a battle between rationality and a belief in the paranormal that takes place over the album’s tracks, as Natalizia questions the concept of extra-sensory perception. We caught up with the London based Italian recently to find out more about remote viewing and, of course, the music of Not Waving.
First of all, does the name come from the Stevie Smith poem, and does it fit the music you’re making as Not Waving?
The name Not Waving primarily comes from the title of a This Heat song but when I decided to go with it I did think the Stevie Smith poem would fit very well with what I had in mind. It is such a powerful poem – a drowning person whose distress in the water is mistaken for waving. Wow. That is a pretty strong image… so powerful and raw but also simple and open to a multitude of interpretations about peace, death, fear, suicide, sense of abandonment and a possible cry for help all together.
What made you want to make new music away from Walls and Banjo or Freakout? Was it simply the case that the ideas you had didn’t fit either act’s sound?
It was not a “proper” decision. I had bought some new equipment and started to record a few sketches to learn how to use the new gear and Not Waving was born that way. It was a new way for me to work on music. I always tend to work on a big amount of songs and then pick the ones I like the most and work better but with Not Waving I gave myself limitation in terms of the direction I wanted to go and I wouldn’t work on a song for more than a day.
I wanted to treat a different set of emotions I had been dealing different to what I’d done before; I wanted Not Waving to be raw and dark, more intense, less emotional/sweet and adult but at the same time also more spontaneous.
It’s an electronic record, obviously, but it’s a rather “old” sounding one, harking back to the 70s and 80s – were there any artists or records that influenced the sound?
I hope you mean “old” in a good way and not just that I am an old man! I certainly am not interested in sounding “old” or “new”. I want to make music that has no time. I went back and listened to a lot of post-punk records I used to love when I was younger like the This Heat album that I mentioned before and lots of Italian electronic records that were released in the early 80s, just in between the end of the punk days and the beginning of the Italo disco boom; they are a huge font of inspiration to me.
The album title, Umwelt, refers to the theory of a “self-centred world”. How does this translate to the music of Not Waving – do we interpret our Umwelt (environment) through the music on the record, thus affecting our perception of your world and our own?
That is not exactly what I was intending but I do really like this idea. Listening to music in order to explore your own world but that is something you can do listening to any record that will make something click into your “umwelt”; so if that is going to happen with my record that is great. Music is one of the strongest ways to investigate your inner world and I am interested in making music that will demand some time from the listener who will be in some way affected by it.
Does this idea also flow through the interest in remote viewing? Can you, via this theory, imagine places you’ve never been to and then write music about them?
That is what the remote viewers say they are able to do. Doing a record about the remote viewing theories and the idea of “remote listening” doesn’t mean I 100% believe in it. I was attracted by the fact that something so doubtful could be possible. Something so unlikely can quickly become believable. It is the magical element of paranormal techniques… even if your rationality is telling you what to believe, there is another part of your mind that keeps wondering and you are never completely sure about what they are going to find out.
The more I would research about the remote viewing theories, files, tests and drawings the more I would get fascinated by how imaginative and fantastical all of them could be.