In an unusual move, I'm writing a sequel to a review I wrote just a couple of months ago (below). In the intervening months, Dino Pacifici has been hard at work on a new release, and has granted me the privilege to be one of the first to listen to a pre-release (reference) copy of "Hallowed Ground." Pacifici was careful to tell me that the finished product may be somewhat different than what I'm writing about here, but I hope not too different, because this is some serious electro-ambient-trance music!
Fans of long, drifting, ethereal sonic works will feel right at home within the first 40 seconds of "Solace", a twenty-three minute foray into otherworldly exploration. I made the mistake (?) of turning this on while driving and listening to the Denver-Miami NFL playoff game. Twenty-three minutes later I remembered that I was only switching over during a "lull" in the game -- some lull! On the heels of this trance-inducing sojourn comes "Timeshift," a seventeen minute dive into hidden territory between the ears! Fans of Steve Roach rejoice! Pacifici has created works that are on a par with the Great One's.
I feel that I owe a debt of obligation to Dino Pacifici. At his own expense he shipped three of his CDs to me, not once but twice -- due to their being lost somewhere in transit. And oh, are they worth it!
"Random Factors" and "Urban Oasis" might best be described as falling into the "smooth jazz" category. Upbeat tempos, tightly entwined groove rhythms, slick guitar playing and professional production values make for some very listenable tunes. I first sampled these CDs while on a business trip, and was fortunate enough to have a rental car with a CD player in it. What perfect music to navigate a cross-town drive in a city away from home! The last of the three, "The Journey" is, in Dino's own words, "the one I've been itching to put out." His other works were enjoyable, but the Journey is "a very personal introspective yet, open work of self-expression."
"File Under Ambience" are the instructions on the jewel box's reverse side, and how appropriate these instructions are. While retaining the same high qualities of his other works, "The Journey" enters new territory while keeping the Pacifici signature. This is not ambient music a la Brian Eno or A Produce, rather this is smoothly flowing melodic, yet at the same time, drifting, music that one can easily "fall into" without quite being aware that this has occured. I'd be hard-pressed to choose one album over the other, however, since I'm fond of "smooth jazz" as well. Thanks to Dino, I don't have to make this choice, and neither do you. Highly recommended.
AV: When was it apparent to you that music was going to be an important aspect of your life?
DP: From a very early age. I started music lessons at five years of age (reading ,theory) and soon after , around six or seven I began studying the guitar which is my first instrument and my first love. Somehow even before this I knew I was a musician though I would not be able to explain why.
AV: Were there any particular instruments that you had an affinity for right from the very start?
DP: I did have a great love for percussion instruments, but playing the guitar was a much stronger calling than playing the drums. To this day though, I have many different types of drums and percussion instruments in my collection. They are a definitely important part of my musical family.
AV: Do you think that the electronic synthesis of many of these instruments (such as your drums) is as satisfying as the instrument itself? Why?
DP: There definitely is place for sampled sounds , if that's what you mean but, I get much more satisfaction playing a real instrument. I do use sampled sounds extensively though.
AV: Were there any musical styles that you were drawn to when you first started composing and why was this something you wanted to spend time working with?
DP: When I first started composing, in my early teens, I was writing songs in the style of James Taylor and Michael Franks. I wrote lyrics and music that would be right at home with the times, the 70's that is. So, a mix of pop, jazz and rock. I also sang on these pieces( LOL) and released my first LP in 1979 entitled aptly and mundanely enough, Become aMan. I still get a kick out of listening to that LP once in a while. :-)
I was also beginning to delve into instrumental music as well. Besides my pop, rock and jazz influences, I was listening to Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk and other artists creating more experimental music. This listening was to shape what was to come for me... An important turning point in my musical direction.
AV: You actually received a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts as part of your musical studies, how did that training affect what you were already playing and how did it shape the music you played from that point forward?
DP: My academic years had absolutely no influence at all. For me, it was a time that could have been spent much more efficiently. I went to school for my mother. She wanted me to get a degree. I'm not sorry I did it but, it means nothing to me. I was composing and writing long before this. It was fun though..
AV: Tell me about some of your initial efforts at recording and releasing your music to the public? What kind of reception did you get from some of those releases?
DP: Before releasing my first actual work , I spent many years trying to develop my music and during the 80's and early 90's is where I experimented with synths and processors with a small 4-track analog recorder. These were fun times for me. It seemed that there was no limit to what one could do. I did get some airplay here inMontreal with some of these early productions so, I figured I was on the right track( no pun intended ) I was no longer interested in "commercial music". I was now fully immersed in Electronic music.
AV: If you had to explain electronic music to someone that was not familiar with it and what it was that made this genre of music so appealing to you instead of commercial music what would your answer be?
DP: To be a little descriptive, I would compare ambient music to being in a small boat on a beautiful day floating on a calm lake with no oars. Just let the waves ( again, no pun intended) bring you where they may. Commercial music is so much more structured and decided by others. Creative freedom suffers. I still love a lot of commercial music and even dabble in it . My "other " record label is a house, dance label.
AV: When was it that you first took interest in electronic/ambient music and what was it that attracted you to this form of expression?
DP: The first time I listened to Phaedra and Rubycon. POW!! There it was all along.
AV: Tell me about some of your initial efforts in composing and recording ambient/electronic music?
DP: Well , the first long form piece I ever did was called Suite Nature on my 4-track and it lasted a whole cassette side-30 minutes.. It was never released but I did get local airplay with this piece. After composing this piece and listening back to it even in its primitive form, well, I was blown away that I could do something like this. It was a complete eye opener for me.
AV: Could you describe the kind of music that you created for Suite Nature and what instruments you used?
DP: Fun stuff. I used an old Juno 106, a DX7 and a 505 drum machine. It was more traditional new age music with the waves sounds and the birds, etc.. I'm not there anymore but, it was a start and it lead to a path of self-discovery musically speaking.
AV: Is there a mindset that goes along with composing ambient music that you wouldn't find in someone who is strictly dedicated to creating commercial music? Is this mindset something that you learn or is it something that you evolve into as you explore different sounds?
DP: I suppose the mindset of an ambient composer would be different from one who composes commercial music. Logically, one must think in terms of catchy lyrics and hooky melodies as well as a fairly strict set of rules in which to create while the other can just get in a "zone' and and "float" away with the music. How's that for slipping in a plug for the new cd? ;-)
AV: Tell me about the creation process and how it works with Dino Pacifici from when you are ready to start a project to the point when you declare the music to be as complete as you can make it. About how long would a cycle like this take and do you ever seek outside opinion while a work is in process?
DP: When I sit down in my studio and turn the gear on, I usually start with a clean slate and nowhere to go but...wherever. If I overthink , it just won't happen, I have to clear my mind and get away from myself and then something happens. I know that this is a clumsy answer but I really cannot explain where much of the music I hear after working comes from. There are times I could start and finish a piece within hours and there are times where I just let everything go and leave frustrated.
AV: What was the title of your first CD release that could be classified as ambient? Tell me about the making of this CD and at the time was it a difficult piece of music to create and record or did it come naturally to you?
DP: The first ambient recording was The Journey and it was joy to create. This one simply wrote itself.
AV: Were there any ambient/electronic musicians that you would credit as having had an influence on your style and the kinds of music that you composed?
DP: I was very influenced by TD but I don't consider myself a Berlin school graduate. Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Vangelis, Art of Noise were important teachers and a host of jazz and rock creators also influenced my sound. After all my first instrument is guitar in which I play a lot of jazz and pop presently.
AV: Tell me about Scorpio Rising Music and why it became necessary for you to form this independent label?
DP: Short and sweet. No label wants to sign you, create your own. I also love the complete control I have over my music. I own the copyrights and the publishing and that's the important part of the business.
AV: Has the internet been the make it or break it kind of medium that has allowed you to succeed in being an independent artist and distributor of your own music? What is it that you have to keep in mind as an independent artist as opposed to being under the umbrella of a huge record label? How much would you have to sacrifice in artistic integrity to be a part of a major label?
DP: The only reason in truth that we are conducting this interview is, because through the net, we found each other. The internet is very important . It is my marketplace of choice. No internet, no label , how would I get around.? It would be difficult. As for signing with a major , I'm positive that at least until I prove that I am a sellable commodity (that's what they call artists these days , I think), I would have no control over anything. Maybe one day I will be proven wrong but, I don't see ambient/spacemusic artists ever connecting with a major.
AV: Have you done many (any) collaborations with other musicians and if so what is it that you find appealing about working with another musician? If you are writing together is the process more difficult when two persons are involved with creating the music?
DP: I just played some guitar on Brannan Lane's tribute cd to his late father. It was an honor to be a part of this project. I have a lot of respect for "Bee" . Otherwise ,no, I have not been part of any collaborations.
AV: Hallowed Ground was one of your more recent releases, looking at this CD and then glancing back over what has come before, what kinds of changes do you see occurring in the way that you compose and play your music? Is this evolution something that you expect to continue in the years to come with each successive CD?
DP: I have been called a musical chameleon , a term I totally agree with. I never know what I am going to come up with next. Hallowed Ground was released in 1999, the newest CD was The Blue Velvet Lounge which was released in 2002 and more of a jazzy,chillout cd. The Float Zone now continues where Hallowed Ground left off. Who knows what's next. I don't.
AV: How much more difficult is it to be an artist and to run the business end of a company like Scorpio Rising Music as well? Does it take a lot of time away from your creative process?
DP: Well, I really don't have a problem between the two realities. I can honestly say that I do have the two ends tied together well. One does not interfere with the other.
AV: Tell me about your upcoming release The Float Zone. What will listeners find on this latest CD from you coming out towards the end of March?
DP: I am promoting it as the follow-up to Hallowed Ground because I am back into composing dark, ambient music with this CD release . I love that genre and after my foray in chillout , which I also love, I wanted to create a CD that brought back deep textures and atmospheres. Anyone who found Hallowed Ground interesting will probably find The Float Zone interesting as well.
AV: Are you working on anything for beyond The Float Zone or do you just take a breather now before you start your next project?
DP: Right now I will take a small breather concerning personal projects but, I am very busy presently with my dance music label . We are promoting an artist and some new dance tracks here in Montreal area clubs.
AV: Any final thoughts for the readers of Ambient Visions as we close out this interview?
DP: I just want everyone to know that I appreciate the support of my peers like yourself and so many others that helped me along the way. This genre of music promotes a type of friendship and mutual respect between artists, reviewers and radio people like no other genre. I also want to thank those who carry my catalog and believe in all our music. I am extremely proud to be a part of this musical community. On that note, Mike, thank you very much for offering to do an interview with me . I really enjoyed the dialogue and I wish you all the success you can handle with your web site and more! :-)
AV: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Dee and we wish you much success with your latest release The Float Zone.
buy the album here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/pacifici1