Exposé Online banner

In recent years several Italian musicians hit the big time in the electronic scene. Most of them use a pen name: Gianluigi Gasparetti, a.k.a. Oöphoi, is a case in point. This Rome-born artist is an all-around musician: a player and a composer, he was also the editor of Deep Listenings, a magazine devoted to a wide-ranging choice of non-commercial music. He has released some 20 CDs for many international labels, and he currently runs his own, Umbra, devoted to new Italian ambient artists.

by Alessandro Michelucci, Published 2005-09-01

Oöphoi in the KivaHow did you become involved in music?

I started listening to music in my earliest years. It looked like something magical, coming from a faraway world. In the early 60s you could not choose and buy records, you could only listen to the radio; media coverage was poor. I grew up listening to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, the rock of the 70s, jazz, German progressive music, and minimalism: this was my turning point. I always devoted most of my spare time to music. Also, I have been a record collector until recently. I have focused on electronic music for over 25 years. In 1992 I founded a magazine, Deep Listenings, which was a pioneering publication indeed, being aimed at people looking for really new musics. As far as composition is concerned, I wrote my first works in 1995 by using a sampler and a synthesizer. I just wanted to try to "stand on the other side" and explore the world of sound.

Why did you choose the name Oöphoi?

Oöphoi is a term I liked, both as a symbol and as a sound. It is the mythological Egg of Creation, i.e. the very spring of the Universe. This symbol can be found in many ancient legends: the Cosmic Egg whose blast gave birth to the Universe, with a sound/vibration igniting material life. Many scientists argue that sound — OM — can still be listened to as the sound of the universe.

What do you mean to express with your music?

The mysteries of our lives, the sound behind everything, that sound we can no longer perceive, since we are distracted by this civilization of noise and unawareness, by self-destructing speed, by inner nothingness. I make music to retrieve a kind of silence we lost, to retrieve my inner center. In ancient civilizations music was linked to rituals and sacred events, it was a way to attain altered states of conscience or to get in touch with parallel realities. As time went by this got lost: music was depleted of her ritual power. Some kinds of today’s ambient music is going back to the roots, to the core of sound, and is tightly linked to a ritual dimension.

Three Lights at the End of the World coverDo you collaborate with other Italian or foreign musicians?

You know, my field of action is ambient music, so I am in touch with like-minded musicians. In other words, composers which are not part of the music business. My magazine has the same goal. Ambient music is a little community of people sharing the same ideals. My first album, Three Lights at the End of the World, composed in 1995, has been released in 1996 by Italian ambient artist Alio Die’s own label, Hic Sunt Leones. In 2002 I founded the Nebula ensemble with Mauro Malgrande, Klaus Wiese, Lorenzo Pierobon, and Enrico Cosimi (a.k.a. Tau Ceti). It’s an open ensemble: more musicians are always welcome. Our first CD, Genesis, is a symbolic representation of the creation of the universe based on ancient Tibetan and Mayan religions. The work is a suite divided in several parts, from the Big Bang to the birth of man. In 2003 we recorded our second CD, The Path of White Clouds, inspired by a book by Lama Anagarika Govinda: the music is a symbolic expression of a spiritual search, from Consciousness to Illumination. Two new members had joined the group in between: German ambient artist Mathias Grassow on synths and Flemish Geert Verbeke, playing Himalayan bowls. I forged the sound in my studio, whilst Alessandra [Clini, Oöphoi’s wife] takes inspiration for her artwork directly from the music. Every Nebula musician contributes freely to the music but none knows the final result, which is entrusted by me. Another musician I am linked to is Russian Eduard Artemiev. Bardo was released in 2002 for his label, Electroshock, which is trying to promote electronic music in Russia.

Oöphoi and Louisa John-KrolCan you tell us anything concerning your projects?

Well, I have just released three CDs of archival works for a series called Frammenti di Tempo (Fragments of Time). Also, two works of mine may be issued in the United States and in the Czech Republic. Another one is the outcome of a collaboration with Australian singer Louisa John-Krol, which should be issued by a French label, Prikosnovenie. Lastly, next fall I’ll be in the Netherlands for a concert.

Can you tell me anything about your magazine, Deep Listenings?

Deep Listenings is a real alternative magazine, dealing with non-commercial music defying labels. Or I’d better say it was, because it recently stopped. It had much in common with Exposé, I should say. My journal aimed at highlighting real musicians that are forgotten by the mainstream. Actually, I wanted to offer something totally different from the music you can find on radio and TV. It was really ahead of his time – maybe even too much for the times we are living.


Filed under: Interviews, Issue 32

Related artist(s): Edward Artemiev, Oöphoi (Gianluigi Gasparetti), Tau Ceti (Enrico Cosimi)

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Frágil - Sorpresa del Tiempo – While they are relatively unknown in most of the world, Frágil must be quite popular in their homeland of Peru. Case in point: this live reunion CD from a concert in 1999, recorded with a...  (2002) » Read more

Faithful Breath - Fading Beauty – Faithful Breath, who later became a German heavy metal band in the 80s, began as a symphonic progressive band releasing two LPs in the 70s: Fading Beauty and Back on My Hill. Their 1974 debut LP...  (2011) » Read more

Doctor Nerve - Skin – Are you nauseated from the seemingly endless abundance of new releases in tired old predictable styles? Do you welcome the next whiny overstylized singer fronting a band of wannabe clones like the...  (1995) » Read more

Present - Live! – What a treat this was — to hear a live recording by the enigmatic Present. Led by Roger Trigaux, this band has unfortunately dwelt in the shadow of his alma mater, Univers Zero. With only three...  (1997) » Read more

Strawbs - Halcyon Days – Perhaps Strawbs is one of the most widely misunderstood bands that ever confused and confounded fans for not conforming to preconceived (and often wildly inaccurate) expectations. When Yes fans heard...  (1998) » Read more