An interview with the producer Antonio Arena.
When did you come across Terre Differenti for
the first time?
The first contact, with Fabio Armani,
founder and soul of Terre Differenti, was in 1997, during
the mixing of the Advena Avis ensemble's album "Da
terre lontane". Fabio was the leader of the band
and came to mix the CD in my recording studio. I liked
the Advena Avis project from the start: it was a mix of
middle age and ethnic themes with sophisticated electronic
sonorities. The style was something between Dead Can Dance
and Loreena Mc Kennith. We worked for a month in incredible
harmony and the CD we produced reflected this enthusiastic
After that, we lost sight of each other.
I continued composing soundtrack music, and in the meantime
set up the independent label Opensound with Silvio Piersanti
and Augusto Arena. Fabio continued with his musical projects,
expanding his interests and contacts with artists of different
cultures and experiences until he established the multi
ethnic ensemble Terre Differenti. With this band he produced
the first world fusion album in the year 2000.
How did you come to produce "Cities of Dreams"?
When with OPENSOUND we decided to make
a production music library, I realized that Fabio Armani
could certainainly contribute. His music, naturally evokes
an emotional involvement which is particularly well-suited
to being linked to images. So I asked him if he had something
we could use and Fabio proposed a few things he was composing
with Terre Differenti. The music I listened to left me
so enthusiast that I decided that we should produce the
second "Terre Differenti" CD together.
Which elements of the work are you enthusiastic
That will be easy to understand when
you listen to the CD. Both music and lyrics have an incredible
emotional intensity. The musicians involved in this project
have been committed both artistically and technically,
and it shows. The artistic references of the music reminds
me a lot of my own passions, such as Peter Gabriel, King
Crimson and Japan (progressive rock) or some contemporary
jazz productions of the ECM label, such as Jan Garbarek
or Ralph Towner's Oregon. For example, when I listened
to the demo of "Dance for the Moon" I was struck
by the voices of Yasemin Sannino and Houcine Ata and by
the sax of Marco Conti. I soon spoke with my partners
and they too accepted the project with the same enthusiasm..
How did you engineer the CD?
It wasn’t an easy job, due to the
complexity of the musical material itself. First of all,
we started by selecting the tracks to include in the CD.
Then we developed the arrangements so as to best express
both the lyrics and the wonderful potential of the musicians.
The pre production phase was very long
and with a great attention for detail. Finally we entered
the studio to start the recording sessions. The tracking
of the electronics was completed in Fabio’s project
studio. After that, we worked in our Open Studio. The
over recordings and the mix required several months work,
with some of the pieces having more than one hundred tracks.
So it was no joke to complete!
We worked with a Pro Tools HD3 system
that allowed us to manage all the complexity in the best
possible way. Anyway, we soon decided to take all the
time we needed to work without stress, allowing us to
explore different mixing options and to decide for the
final one only when we were completely persuaded.
How many musicians played during the sessions?
Lots: Four singers (five including Maria
Pia Ionata, a soprano that sings in "Lost
in her World"), a drummer, a percussionist,
two bass players, two guitarists, a saxophone player,
two violinists and of course Fabio at keyboards and piano.
It was amazing to work with artists of different cultures,
each with his own sensibility. We tried to make it easy
for everyone , even working in "non standard"
ways. For example, during the sessions with the Egyptian
percussionist, Abdullah Mohamed, we let him play with
the widest freedom of expression. In this way he could
create, with his instruments and skill, the rhythm and
the atmosphere of his native land. You can feel this mood
in "God of Thunder" or in "Beyond
the Dunes". It's been a great experience,
both artistically and personally, to work with these wonderful
You talked about “feeling” established
with the musicians. Tell us more.
Well, for example, it's been exciting
to work with the drummer, Alessandro D'Aloia. He uses
a drum set that includes, among the standard instruments,
some percussions that he plays with added pedals. Other
percussions are placed between the toms. This set gives
a variety of colours and timbres that enriches the rhythmic
patterns with amazing ethnic suggestions, such as in "Kam
ma Kam" or in "Cities of Dreams". Another
great experience has been the genesis of the vocals of
"Splinters of Reality". In this song, Fabio
and I "forced" Elisabetta Antonini (a singer
which comes from a jazz background) to work with a different
style, rhythmic and nervous, with a "lyric"
break only on the phrase "...dreaming of being alive
again...". Elisabetta has really been creative and...
patient! and in the end she found a way of singing that
perfectly fitted the lyrics.
The lyrics. You said something about their evocative
strength. Tell us more...
The CD, in spite of a variety of styles
and cultures, is really a concept album. This is a consequence
of the poetry of the lyrics. The CD talks about dualism,
essentially human, between dream and reality. There is
a cohabitation, in every human being and in mankind in
general, of material concreteness and oniric vision. “City
of Dreams” is a symbolic place, which is both inside
and outside us, it is the essence of our anxiety and of
our hopes, and in the CD it is often connected to the
desert. The desert is the original earth, ancestral "humus"
from which the babelic stream of languages and cultures
grows with the richness of human experience. This is why
the intro and the end of the CD are composed of voices
that speak different languages, from Urdu to Finnish,
from Arabic to Chinese, from Spanish to Swahili. These
voices blend together to become an indistinct whole from
which sound takes form.
At the end, what should happen while listening
to "Cities of Dreams"?
We hope that listening to the CD, you’ll
imagine a journey through different lands, which could
be suggestions of concrete realities but also of human
feelings, known or unexplored. In the end, the uttermost
sense of the journey is the journey itself, and not the