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Musician of the Month: Stefano Schiavocampo

The life of any piece of music is unpredictable. From its birth, flowing from the mind and fingers of the composer, the new-born takes delicate steps across rudimentary harmonies, revealing fragments of thoughts and emotions as it goes on. Its heart takes shape first, and then the brain. This can be sufficient.

Sometimes a piece is sufficiently enticing and inspiring to be granted a degree of permanence through the cumulative enthusiasm of listeners. This has happened to many folk songs, created somewhere, somehow in the mists of time. Hearts and brains found a passage, a vehicle, through the lungs and fingers of others besides the author, raising the majestic creature to adulthood, until that moment when the song exists, in its own right, detached from the man or woman that translated it from the cosmic tongue.

In this time of continuous noise, any musician releases their new-born with a sense of terror. How can one expose a beloved creature to this homogeneous ocean of grey matter called the Internet? Like nectar dropping into a pool of gasoline, its ripples will surely be swallowed by waves of ill-conceived music.

That was my feeling anyway, until the editor suggested using this platform to release my latest record.

Phew.

Now I feel better. I may even try to tell you guys about it.

In 2015 I left Dublin to its lunacy of multinationals. Not without regret. As a traveling musician I had found in the city a place to share, learn, and grow within myself alongside others. Under the jig-lit ceilings of pubs, the multiverse of festivals and the intimacy of tiny gigs in tiny places, I discovered a temporary oasis.

Then, enough was enough, I embarked on a new adventure.

For a long time after returning to my native Italy I felt torn and lonely. I was missing Ireland to the extent that it felt like a bereavement.

At that point I got back into the work of a writer who has helped me understand the person I was while living on the island. I began translating into Italian John Moriarty’s mighty work Dreamtime, a project that remains to be completed. It was hard but illuminating work. Delving deeper and deeper, the map of the above-ground Ireland I had walked merged in my vision with a subterranean other world.

As this happened a map of myself – displaced somehow – began to fit inside the edges of the Ireland I held in my heart, acting on it like sand-paper. Something had been released.

I began to write furiously.

The record opens with ‘Krymska’ (1), a song drawing on fragments of T.S. Eliot’s poem ‘Ash Wednesday.’

Eliot has been among my favourite poets since adolescence. I return to him every year, always finding a little more depth, and even greater sense. The affinity between him and John Moriarty is huge: the same religious impulse arising from a deeply critical view of Western society and its cold, controlled rationality; finding resolution in the spiritual awakening of a man confronting nature alone, freed from the heavy structure of Catholicism and emancipated from a dominant materialism.

These are feelings which we all have to deal with: what is our connection with the place we inhabit? What imprint am I entitled to leave on the land I walk?

I believe a new wave of spirituality offers solutions to the injustices and devastations of our times: that is to say the gross inequalities in wealth and the rape of nature. But if we are to progress as humanity, we must first progress as individuals, finding within ourselves the essence of the world we wish to walk upon, and love. If you have read Krisnamurti you will understand.

That is why I find these writers so inspiring: each traces a path towards a better Western man – someone who does not deny the mighty achievement of our society (democracy or theatre for instance), but passes them through a filter of a kind of spirituality often considered Oriental.

And what a glorious turn in history it would be to witness a globalisation of spiritual beings!

That is the main focus of my record, the title Metamorphose!, is both an invitation and an invocation to people around me and far away, and to myself too.

In ‘Minotaur’ (2), a divisive political leader discovers that the walls he once erected among people are now divisions within his own psyche, and that the monsters he jailed for their individualities are now rising up.

And now it’s your time to tell me’ (3) is a love song to John Moriarty. It’s a eulogy to a metamorphic soul who has touched many aspects of being in this world.

I love thinking of him now. Ethereal in a space of no judgment, unequivocally carnal and majestic, his spirit flies towards human consciousness helping us reach a critical departure. He softly bends a wand – like the lightest bird diving into the ocean – towards a raging humanity; a presence ultimately devoid of purpose and freed from desire. Oh what a perfect place for you to be at John.

In ‘Desert dogs’ (4) I recall a strange incident when I was attacked by starving wild dogs while journeying through the Atlas Mountain in Morocco. In the song, they eat me alive, transforming me into one of them so I can survey humanity from another point of view.

In ‘Metamorphose’ (5) I trace my family origins to discover the first seedlings of my disposition to change and capacity for adaptation to confront the abyss.

House by nowhere’ (6) is a parallel look at both the place I live in at the moment, an isolated house among Tuscan fields, and the Dublin life I led.

In its peace’ (7) is a folk tale for our troubled times. A migrant travels up towards the Mediterranean Sea, knowing it is both a place of departure and arrival, where all love ends and all love may start again.

It took me then three years to arrange and record the album, and to find the right place to publish it. It is a little present to John Moriarty and to all his loving readers, a eulogy of sorts, which, although it may not exceed its form, carries all the hope that emerges from studying the intricate patterns woven by the author.

For the full album click here:

Sincerely, Stefano

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