Interview with RIZOMA

RIZOMA is the project by Cagliari-based musicians Massimo Congiu and Federico Orrù. It’s a research on the sounds of tradition, their roots and meanings within a changing community.


How and when did you start RIZOMA?

RIZOMA began by chance during a jam session with other musicians at Nuovo Panificio, a venue in Cagliari. We started to improvise with traditional instruments over an electronic set. And…we liked that!


What does traditional mean for you? And, when does traditional become contemporary?

In all cultures traditional instruments always had a strong link with everyday life and needs. However, this changed over the time. For example, the launeddas originally came from a primordial human instinct and need to feel closer to the polyphonic sounds of nature. In the last centuries, this spontaneous use started to give way to a sacred one.
So, even if the launeddas will always be classified as a traditional instrument, it can embody a different role according to when and how it’s played.

What is your music background? And how does that inform your approach with the traditional instruments?

We come from two very different backgrounds: one is in radical electronic music with influences from hip-hop, noise and vanguard; the other once is in traditional music studies, specialised in launeddas as well as informed by jazz and contemporary sounds. What brings our two paths together is our enthusiasm for experimentation and willingness to explore beyond prescribed patters for traditional instruments. We both feel the urge to overcome their static folkloristic use.

How did your interest for making music with Sardinian traditional instruments such as the launeddas come about?

Only after our first experiments, we noticed that the project started to develop an audience. Some people were just curious to see how these two (only apparently) very different worlds, electronic music and traditional instruments, could come together. Some others just wanted to experience it. Each of RIZOMA’s performance is unique as it’s informed by different factors such as physical contexts, listeners and their subjective emotional interaction. This is what makes the project an ongoing and unique discourse as well as a developing research.


How much about RIZOMA is about identity?

Cultural identity and belonging are mystical acts rather than formal and identifiable ones. RIZOMA is about re-appropriating of those sounds that have always belong to us in their naked form. The project aims to get rid of that forced representation of a reality that doesn’t really exist, but it’s been told us as the truth.

How would you describe a RIZOMA’s live performances?

In this performance the launeddas interacts with an environment which, despite being apparently distant, is closely connected to the abstraction of the electronic sound. Stemming from an ancestral call, these encounters create a new path for the discovery of the world outside. The performance suggests other points of observation to the audience, going beyond a recognisable shared view.
It’s all based on dialogue. Whoever says something first paves a path which can either be followed or not. This growing process generates sonic environments where someone can decide either to stay in or to escape from.

Where can we listen to and see you?

You can listen to RIZOMA here.
You can see us here.
For updates on upcoming live performances keep an eye here.


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