01 December 2021 12:25
Foam like the soft material of the padding of the cushions. OR Foam rubber like Giorgio Poi’s third album, out on December 3rd. Because? “I wanted his songs to have a soft and light atmosphere, therefore welcoming, warm”, says on the phone the musician, who is one of the most interesting names of the new Italian pop who started in the cellar and arrived – with rapid incubation times – to replace the traditional one, in the wake of Calcutta and TheGiornalisti. He only started solo in 2017, but already in 2020 he signed the original soundtrack of Summertime, the Netflix series-colossus that in the meantime has announced a third season.
Merit “of work and dedication”, of an audience changed in tastes and references. But Giorgio Poi has never been one of the many younger sons of it-pop. The biography is enough: he is from Novara, he studied jazz at the conservatory in London, he was in Berlin and then, five years ago, seized by nostalgia for Italy, he returned home. He left Rome and now lives in Bologna. He absorbed what he could. And he jokes about it: “I missed hating summer, longing for the cold. In northern Europe, winter is a perennial season. Indeed The afternoons, which is the first single from Foam rubber, also speaks of this “. Beyond the climate, the experience abroad was essential for his training as a musician, especially in sonority.
Giorgio Then in reality his surname is Poti. He is described as an introvert who hates to go out and travel, but on the phone he seems serene and radiant is the most international and nerdy of the new names. In 2017, at the time of the debut album It doesn’t matter, critics called him “the Italian Mac DeMarco”. A little because his songs too, like those on the album 2 by DeMarco himself, they were born on the sofa, and in particular for the ability to build miniatures that combined the roundness of pop with psychedelia. A matter of tastes, shortcomings, distances: the album was conceived in Germany after having discovered our music of the seventies at a distance, and held together the acid distortions of Tame Impala and the melody of Lucio Battisti version Mogol. A little old-fashioned hallucination, which has settled and flattened in the following and more traditional one Smog (2019), where Mina’s echo could also be heard.
E Foam rubber how does it sound? “It is a synthesis between the two”, he reflects, “but with many new elements for my world”. For example the song that opens it, Rococò, to an imaginary – I quote from the text – of “film with Totò” and “lemon granite” he adds an acoustic guitar similar to that of Method by Lucio Dalla and a string quartet, which will then return in the rest of the album. “Compared to the past I have reduced the electronics, the synthesizers. It is a fairly acoustic work and the son of the rediscovery of jazz, by John Coltrane and Bill Evans. During my studies I had denied it, but in the last two years I have listened to almost only jazz, moving away from Italian music and in general from the sung one. But the real novelty, for me, is the use of the quartet. In the beginning it was a fixed violin chord, created on the computer just for Rococò. Then I began to modify it note by note, to study its dynamics and composition. Until I called real musicians to play ”.
As in previous albums, here too title-track and a short instrumental episode that clarifies the coordinates of the work: “I like there every time a piece that contains the meaning of the whole by giving it the title, but it seems limiting to entrust this role to a sung piece. We would focus only on the words. Instead the common theme, here as before, is the arrangement, in this case soft, floating “. And that holds together different episodes such as the ballad for piano and effects Supermarket, all shelves and melancholy, the scale dream pop of Moai O The afternoons, which is a delicate, vintage killer-pop of shadows on the walls and nostalgia for the future (“We will never go back,” he sings in the chorus). “The right sound comes with an intuition,” explains the musician. “From there, I work backwards on the songs I have ready for the record, and review them according to the new arrangements”.
For the rest, in Foam rubber there are only two collaborations, both distant from the world of Poi but for opposite reasons. The first is with the cartoonist ZUZU, author of the graphic novel Happy days to which the homonymous song of the disc acts as a “soundtrack”. The book speaks above all of sentimental education. Here? “They are superimposable works. She made me read the first part when it was yet to come out; I realized that I was writing a song on the same theme, but I was stuck. It helped to unlock me ”. After all, he is one of his “fans”, although he reads more “classics like Andrea Pazienza and the universe of Frigidaire, let’s hope Dylan Dog”. And in any case, “comics and music are similar: hybrid disciplines because they combine words and drawings and words and notes respectively; you have to be able to mix the two, not be the best in individual subjects “.
The second guest is Elisa, with whom she duets in Bloody Mary, a kind of pop-drama for two voices and in the Italian style. “She taught me humility, the desire to get involved despite a great career,” says Poi. Who admits: “By now the barriers between traditional and alternative pop have disappeared, and I’m happy. If one is sincere with himself he does not need to set limits. The piece is mine: we felt to work together, I looked for a new middle ground for both of us ”.
So, the lyrics. Rococò begins with a phrase like “ahead of us are razor-sharp days.” Moai, the last, is a dedication “to those who live in apnea, waiting for this high tide to pass”. “The reference”, he explains, “is to the pandemic, in fact the album was born between March 2020 and July 2021. For me the creative process is never simple, indeed it is frustrating. I invest many hours of the day in it, I proceed by trial and error. And every time I close a piece it’s a relief, it’s like jumping a ditch. Here, in lockdown it was worse because it was difficult to exist in general. But I am happy with this result, because it is the result of a unique moment “.
And in summary: the welcoming and soft arrangements, the delicate voice, the nuanced words glued to reality. What are you trying to tell us, Giorgio Poi? “That Foam rubber it is a refuge, a self-therapy in primis for me. It is an album about personal and world frailties during the pandemic, to be exorcised and shared in music. In the sounds, even before the lyrics. I just wanted to get better when I wrote it. And if anyone ever reflects on it, listening to it, fine: that’s what the records are for ”.