20 Seconds, Once a Week: No. 7, with Andrea Burelli

The Berlin-based composer and musician speaks on her new album, Sonic Mystics for Poems (of Life and Death of a Phoenix).

Welcome to another edition of 20 Seconds, Once a Week, on Substack. This week, Daniel Melfi speaks with Andrea Burelli about the release of her new album, Sonic Mystics for Poems (of Life and Death of a Phoenix).

In late 2023, Andrea Burelli self-released her second album under her given name, Sonic Mystics for Poems (of Life and Death of a Phoenix). The textural weaving of polyrhythmic vocals, sung in Italian and Spanish, stitches together a series of poems and compositions by the Berlin-based Italian artist. Enlisting the help of cellist Sophie Notte and violinist Mari Sawada of Berlin’s Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop, Burelli shapes her voice around poetic metrics, synth lines and a series of string arrangements by herself and Luca Staffiere, each circling back to an idea and sentiment of spiritual and musical rebirth. Daniel Melfi met Burelli in Berlin this month to discuss the album’s genesis, its difference from Burelli’s previous electronic output as Bodyverse and taking heed to spontaneous inspiration.

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You can purchase Burelli’s album on bandcamp here.
Photos courtesy of Andrea Burelli

Date: 12/1/24

Daniel Melfi: How did the idea of making this album come about? It’s much different than your previous albums.

Andrea Burelli: What happened in the beginning was that I was looking for a way to bring together all the arts that I practice, that have accompanied me throughout my life. I’ve been doing music all my life; I studied music as a child and so on. But I also studied plastic arts, I have always written, I like to write random things, like poems that I even lose sometimes. I'm kind of messy in that sense. I throw down ideas, and I don't publish books of poetry or do exhibitions of paintings or things like that at the moment.

I've been dedicated to music, almost exclusively, for the last ten years. I felt that I wasn't showing my whole creative world in some way. I wanted to find a way through music to express all these things because they're all part of my life. Instead of just working with synthesizers, I thought about bringing in acoustic instruments as well because I play violin, piano, tabla, etc. and about bringing rhythm into my compositions. Simple and complex rhythms, polyrhythms even, because of this influence of Hindustani classical music. Although I studied Hindustani classical music, I'm not a professional tabla player, of course.

I did study it for many years, but I don't do improvisation of Hindustani music or play concerts of Hindustani music. In that sense, I was just looking for my own, personal way of putting all this together.

The same applies to painting. Maybe I don't paint as much as before, but I used to draw every day, paint every day, whereas now I practice music every day. I don't have time to do both. So I thought I would make videos that could gather some of the symbolism of what I wanted to convey. And so, a little bit at a time, with a lot of effort and frustration, the idea of doing something with poetic lyrics came out. The pieces are not music where you find a refrain, they are simply poems set to music. That’s how the idea came about.

Then, the idea of actually doing it, I mean what pushed me to decide, “Okay, it's time,” is that I was talking to James Young from Darkstar, from Warp Records. I had won a residency at Amplify Berlin, when it still existed at ACUD here in Berlin, during Covid I met him there. He had played me “Blurred,” which is this beautiful piece, my favourite one from the album Civic Jams, which had come out that year. He played me the track before it came out and it moved me. It's simply a loop of choruses but it’s beautiful. I thought I'll make some choruses and send it to him, to see what he says. In two days I did one of the tracks on the album, which is “Ali Di Cotone.”

If you go to my Soundcloud there's a version done at Amplify. So, there are two versions of that piece. The first track done for the album is that one. Then I re-recorded it in a professional studio, with a different arrangement for the strings, keeping the structure of the piece, or not-structure of the piece; it's a rubato, in comparison to most of the other pieces it doesn't have a very tight rhythm.

Conceptually, it was a personal process and then the polyphonic choir part came about because I thought That's nice, I want to try to do a choir too. [James Young] inspired me to do that.

DM: That was almost three or four years ago?

AB: About three and a half years ago.

DM: Were you already trying, even before the Amplify residency started, to change your method of making music?

AB: Let's say I was in a comfort zone, it was very intuitive and easy to make experimental electronics.

DM: As you were doing with Bodyverse?

AB: Yeah, with Bodyverse I would go to the studio and record a bunch of improvisations and I had one of my closest friends, Andrea Porcu, founder of Rohs! Records, who was in the studio with me and would say, That’s nice, let’s release it? And I would say, You're crazy, you want to publish that? I wasn’t even thinking about it. But he would say, No, it's beautiful, we'll put it out. So I used to make the first records like that. I made records in a day, really, because they were just free improv. I was studying a lot of piano at that time, I loved it. I was studying Scriabin, Chopin, Bach, and so whatever I was practicing on the piano I would go and play on the synths; I would just let myself go with the chords. Whatever I was studying, whether harmony or continuous bass, all these kinds of things. That influenced me a lot, I would go there and practice on the key synthesizers. But it was not something that I was composing in the classical sense of the word, it was not written music. This record is written music, though it starts from improvisation. I recorded this record twice, once DIY and once in the studio with slightly different arrangements and much better quality.

DM: Did you write all the lyrics?

AB: Yes.

DM: And the music as well?

AB: Yes, the compositions are mine. Then I asked for feedback and help from Luca Staffiere, who is a friend of mine and a composer of Neue Musik. He's fantastic. He is finishing his Master's degree at UdK and working with some of the most interesting ensembles in Berlin. He is the one who gave me the contact of Mari Sawada, from Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop, a soloist, who is a lovely person besides being a wonderful musician. We are very close friends, Luca and I, and I won this grant from Initiative Musik, so I proposed a job to him. I told him: “I don't have time to transcribe the whole record I've already recorded, so I'll pass you the stems to transcribe what I've composed, because it's all improvised, it's all very intuitive really, and then pass them to me and I'll correct them.”

He transcribed the parts for me very quickly, which is something that would take me months to do, but he had transcribed everything for me in a week. Then I corrected some things, but overall it was super. That gave me a visual structure to see what I had really done.

DM: The relationship between things.

AB: Yes, after seeing the sheet music, I got on the piano, read it to myself, played it and changed some things. Then I asked Luca for feedback to arrange for cello, because I had never yet written for another instrument that was not my instrument. I play violin but I don't play cello. Actually, it's simply bass clef, so it's not that difficult. But I needed to be sure that what I was doing was okay. So he helped me with some counterpoint things, and we re-arranged some of the string parts.

DM: Did you play everything yourself?

AB: No, for the strings I wanted to collaborate with two musicians from the Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop: Mari Sawada for violin and Sophie Notte for cello. I sang, I did the electronics, the effects and the mix with the engineer.

DM: I would also like to talk about the fact that you sang and wrote in Italian, which is an important decision. It's quite common that musicians sing in English, even if it’s not their mother tongue. Was that something significant for you?

AB: Yes, it was a conscious decision, connected with the fact that I write poetry in Italian, I can't write poetry in English. I wouldn't know where to start. I speak fairly decent English, I speak several languages, actually, but the accent is not mine. I don't know how it sounds in English, I definitely make mistakes as a non-native English speaker.

I like to play with languages, however, we're talking about poetry, and so it's a choice in the sense it has to be a language that I’ve mastered. I can sing in Spanish, I can write poetry in Spanish. And there is a piece on the album in Spanish, which is dedicated to my friend Olivia, a dancer. She inspires me as a person because I see in her a lot of poetry, so a piece is dedicated to her; because she is Spanish, it came to me in Spanish, of course. But the rest of it is Italian, because I had written the lyrics in Italian; the poems were in Italian. I just write what comes to me and I respect that.

DM: I also listened to the album De Sidera today. I thought maybe there was an evolution in this album a little bit. It also seemed related to the confidence, or the intention, that you put into the vocal aspects on that album as well. But you also wrote in the introduction that they are not lyrics, they are sounds.

AB: Melismatic.

DM: Exactly, but on Sonic Mystics for Poems there is really a narrative. Do you see it that way?

AB: I don't know if I can make a comparison between De Sidera and this album, which is Sonic Mystics for Poems, because it's a really different creative process. De Sidera I did in two weeks and, again, it's still based on free improv. There are only two pieces that are more [defined] productions, which are the two pieces with vocals, “De Sidera” and “Cum Sidera,” actually. Everything else is instrumental. Whereas Sonic Mystics is three years of work, it's totally something else. It's the first studio album that I’ve done, it's the first album where I collaborate with other acoustic musicians, it's not just the first album where I talk or sing, because I used to do that before, but in other projects.

The first album I actually put out was with a project called Veka, which was experimental pop with some friends from Pakistan. It was released on tape, maybe in 2015, I don't remember, ten years ago almost. I had read poems in Spanish by Latin American writers, like Horacio Quiroga, that I liked at the time. I like to work with words.

Maybe in my mind there is the desire to come back towards something abstract. I don't know if now I will always make music that is with words and poetry. I also like to have the freedom to work with the voice or with sounds, so it may be that I will make something melismatic in the future, I don't know.

DM: How do you see the collaboration between these things, between the lyrics, between the written music, between the strings and the electronic music. Is there a priority for you?

AB: It all starts from the polyphonic vocal structure. I composed everything from that. But maybe the bone is really the words, it's really the lyrics, even before the music, because I wrote some of the lyrics without even knowing that I was going to use them for the record.

I wrote some of the lyrics during the making of the record but others were already there. They were poems that came to me spontaneously, as a melody that can come to me while I am asleep. I recorded it at home first, because for me it's important to hear if the melody and the harmonies work together. It’s a pretty intuitive work, and I kind of didn't give a damn about the classical structure of the music. Nowadays you do what you want in contemporary composition, the rules don't exist anymore.

There's one piece that's all parallel fifths, it's very difficult to sing. It's a mess to sing parallel fifths, with three voices, it's delirium, but I did what sounded good or fun to me. Then I structured it more, especially through rhythm, as I wanted to do pieces in three, in six, in five, in seven, and some in four. I tried to vary a lot. However, as I said, it's all based on poetic metrics.

Collaboration to me is a way to be able to materialize the ideas I have which I might not be able to complete alone. The priority is the idea, always.

DM: These are things you have to record right in the moment, or you have to write right in the moment, right? In my experiences I don't know where the inspirations come from and I just have to write them immediately. It usually happens in dreams as well. For example, I wake up during the night, I take my phone or a piece of paper and I have to write. After two weeks I might re-read them realizing I had forgotten about them.

AB: Yes. I really believe in this thing. I like this thing of ideas that have to be, that come like this.

DM: Maybe it's normal for poetry. I also read an interview with Patrizia Cavalli a few years ago, where she said exactly the same thing. There's only so much you can do. If you start changing a lot of small things, it becomes a different thing.

AB: That's right, absolutely. I had everything structured in the rhythm; I did that to not change stuff, to not add words. I just shaped some parts of the words to the rhythm. For example, the “la-ah-ah-ah” is the article la (the), however I structured it in a way so that it would fit in the rhythm, and so it was with many of the words. I worked with the poems in that sense, chopping and multiplying syllables.

DM: Is there a theme to this album? I have some ideas, but I don’t want to say anything.

AB: Tell me your thoughts.

DM: Rebirth.

AB: Yes, that's right.

DM: At least the processes related to a conception of a rebirth. The moments before, the moments after, the moments during that process, of the conclusion, of the emotions.

AB: When I thought about the metaphor of the phoenix I was convinced but then I felt worried, because there were various artists that worked on this idea already. But I chose it anyway and I called the record Sonic Mystics for Poems (of Life and Death of a Phoenix).

I put it in parentheses because I wanted to talk about the main thing, the poems, but at the same time I wanted to give a clear conceptual line to the record, I wanted people to understand. You know when you go to see a work in a contemporary art museum? I tried to set it up a little bit like that, the title is very important to understand the work.

Everything there is to understand about the work is in the title. All the words in that title encapsulate the conceptual parts of the record.

And as for what you said about rebirth, yes, that's exactly right. I mean, it's a musical rebirth because it's a very different record than what I did before, as you also said. But it's also something that happened on an emotional and personal level, somehow, personal choices that have to do with my private sphere.

DM: It was also a choice to release it on its own, this album, independently.

AB: Yes and no. I wanted to release it with two specific labels, I didn't want to release it with anybody else. It's also true that I won funding and they paid for this record. I actually really like working independently, so it was kind of connected to the circumstances that I found myself in.

If one of those labels that I love very much had proposed working together on it, I would have said yes right away. I chose not to collaborate with other labels I already had worked with for this particular record, given the unique sonic nature of this project, I mean, they have a different style. Even though maybe they offered me support, it didn't make a lot of sense, because it's kind of a difficult record in terms of the genre. It has to be a very free label in that sense.

At that point I decided to release it myself, and I had the opportunity to do that.

field notes | Contemporary Music in Berlin

Andrea Burelli – Sonic Mystics for Poems (of Life and Death of a Phoenix) (DIY, LP/CD/digital)

Andrea Burelli combines many different roles in one person: the Berlin-based artist is a lyricist, composer, musician and singer all rolled into one. For her self-released album »Sonic Mystics for Poems (of Life and Death of a Phoenix),« she enlisted the help of Mari Sawada (violin) and Sophie Notte (cello) from the Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop to set the musical scene for her texts. The result is as versatile as she herself: Art song meets contemporary music meets pop meets electronic sounds.

Groove Magazine


Fifteen Questions Interview with Andrea Burelli

Everything Endless

Part 1

Name: Andrea Burelli
Nationality: Italian
Occupation: Composer, multi-instrumentalist
Current release: Andrea Burelli's Sonic Mystics for Poems (of Life and Death of a Phoenix) is out via Andrea's own bandcamp store.  
Recommendations: 'Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom' was Pasolini's final film, released three weeks after his murder. Another notable work is his movie 'Il fiore delle mille e una notte,'a pinnacle of beauty.
Franco Battiato's song, 'L'ombra della luce,' is particularly captivating, especially the Arabic version performed live in Baghdad in 1992.

If you enjoyed this Andrea Burelli interview and would like to keep up to date with her music, visit her official homepage. She is also on Instagram, and Facebook.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you’re listening? Do you listen with your eyes open or closed?

The most mystical thing that happens to me in terms of perception is when, generally at Berghain, amid the kicks of techno, I sometimes hear choruses of women's voices repeating like mantras. It's hypnotic, and I can't distinguish where the actual music being played ends and where the choirs that only I am hearing begin. Sometimes, in the total chaos of the dance floor, I record myself singing in order to remember them. They are like small sacred revelations.

Whether in these moments or in almost any other listening situation, I do it with my eyes open. I observe a lot of what surrounds me, the poetry of things, which music only elevates.

What were your very first steps in music like, and how would you rate the gains made through experience - can one train/learn being an artist?

My first steps in music were childhood experiences with voice and violin, and my latest album Sonic Mystics for Poems partly honours vocals and string instruments, like a return to my origins. My musical progress has been gradual and very long, consisting of periods of studying and experimenting with various formal and aesthetic aspects of electroacoustic music and other fields of art. It's an ongoing, growing, changing, practicing, and learning experience that has lasted and will last a lifetime.

If I need expressive tools, I learn them, but this is almost purely functional. I can't tell you if being an artist has to do with what you know how to do things, but I know that it's a way you have of perceiving and representing the world.

According to scientific studies, we make our deepest and most incisive musical experiences between the ages of 13-16. What did music mean to you at that age and what’s changed since then?

At 14, I stopped studying the violin and took a break until I was 16 because I was frustrated with the instrument and the teaching method. I loved music a lot; it was important to me, but I found the instrument unrewarding. Now, however, I appreciate it a lot, and I play it regularly.

At 15, I moved to Spain, where I started studying art and soon resumed playing. When I changed countries, music, especially listening to it and singing, meant refuge and release; it was a very intimate sphere of my reality, and in this sense, nothing has changed.

Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?

The impulse comes from potentially continuous ideas and from releasing tough emotions. I feel that materialising whatever idea that comes to me, is my role in the world, as if it were my duty as a human being, and to release my feelings through music is a way to survive. There is a physical, spiritual, and psychological need that drives me to realise my projects.

Realities of the unconscious, the poetic being, are often sources of knowledge that help me in this journey. Dreams are important to me in this sense; I made a whole album called I Could Go Lucid with my old project Bodyverse, referring to the moment of lucid dreaming, and the track titles are all images of some dreams.

Sometimes I wake up with melodies in my head or with images to which I attribute sounds, but some other times the material is much more desperate and earthly.

I also derive significant inspiration from my previous experience in painting. This background empowers me to compose music by utilising my perception of dark and light contrasts, attaining balance between elements, and refining my understanding of composition.

The partner of a musician once told me that he often felt jealous of her guitar. How would you describe your own relationship with your instrument, tools or equipment – is it an extension of your self/body, a partner and companion, a creative catalyst, a challenge to be overcome, something else entirely?

I think the only instrument I am truly attached to long-term is my violin. It's an eternal challenge for me; it signifies musical practice, discipline, and patience, and it's an instrument that I curiously keep more for my private sphere.

I love synths, but I don't have a similar attachment to any of them. I see them more as wonderful creation tools that serve the sound I am seeking.

Are you acting out certain roles or parts of your personality in your music which you couldn’t or wouldn’t in your daily life? If so, which are these? If not, what, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music?

In the realm of music, I possess a strong sense of assurance when it comes to researching and achieving the desired sound. Conversely, my confidence wavers in other spheres of life.

The foundational principles guiding my approach to music are the ideas themselves, which I hold with an almost religious conviction. This philosophy resonates deeply with my reading of David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish. My creative process is at its very core, intuitive, mirroring Lynch's description. The initial idea, be it a lyric, melody, cadence, or sound, carries an inherent rightness—an instinct leading in the right direction. I trust and follow this instinct.

This belief fuels my exploration of diverse instruments and musical systems, facilitating the expression of these ideas in their optimal form. My aim is to infuse as much playfulness as possible. While other aspects of life may remain unclear, in this musical realm, I sense a profound connection. I perceive myself as a vessel for these ideas—something sacred, divine, and deserving of profound respect.

Music is a language, but like any language, it can lead to misunderstandings. In which way has your own work – or the work of artists you like or admire - been misunderstood? How do you deal with this?

Music functions as a language, demanding learning for comprehension and application, at least in my perspective. Like any language or creative discipline, it adheres to rules that can be intentionally broken to varying degrees.

I don't anticipate universal understanding of my compositional work, but I do expect it to be formally grasped by those well-versed in the musical domain. For instance, if I orchestrate a cello in 7/8 time alongside a machinedrum kick in 5/8, forming a polyrhythm of 5 against 7, I desire it to be comprehended and critiqued. However, this isn't always the case. Nevertheless, I'm not overly concerned; it hinges on the reviewer's or public’s musical and artistic comprehension, not on me. My ability to contribute is limited to the expression of things, I can’t control any further.

Formal facets of music can be intellectually explored, and by the way, the heart invariably takes precedence, underscoring the beauty of the musical language's inherent democracy. Transitioning to an emotional plane, I posit that artistic works communicate in ways beyond our complete control, and that's justifiable.

I aspire for my compositions to endeavor in evoking imagery, guided by intention, yet acknowledging the unpredictable impact on others.

Making music, in the beginning, is often playful and about discovery. How do you retain a sense of playfulness as things become more professionalized and how do you still draw surprises from equipment, instruments, approaches, and formats you may be very familiar with?

Fortunately, creating music remains a journey of exploration and playfulness for me. To compose with the freedom I seek, I believed it was necessary for me to approach music in an extremely eclectic manner. I've acquired sufficient knowledge to possess endless approaches, and I acknowledge that a single lifetime might not be enough to explore them all fully.

For instance, delving into musical systems beyond the Western tradition, having a solid grasp of harmony and rhythm, exploring various instruments, and drawing upon my practical and theoretical understanding of visual arts – all these facets enable my ideas to manifest whatever might be their form.

When it comes to the exploration of timbre, instruments become a palette offering myriad nuances, whether it's a string instrument or the realm of sound synthesis. To me, these nuances are akin to the colors I learned to discern in painting, now translated into the language of music.

In music creation, everything can be endless.

      Andrea Burelli Interview Image (c) the artist

"Materialising whatever idea that comes to me, is my role in the world - as if it were my duty as a human being."

Part 2

Sound, song, and rhythm are all around us, from animal noises to the waves of the ocean. What, if any, are some of the most moving experiences you’ve had with these non-human-made sounds? In how far would you describe them as “musical”?

Perhaps the most powerful experience I had with a natural sound was when I was in front of the Perito Moreno, a famous glacier in Argentina, which began to break from the inside as I watched its majesty.

The powerful sound of the ice, its echo, was so alive, visceral, intense that it moved me, and I cried. I would describe it as music because, for me, it was like the voice of the glacier – something I didn't know existed in the world, of incredible depth.

The ice cracked for tens, perhaps hundreds of meters in a few seconds, and with it, I shattered too.

There seems to be an increasing trend to capture music in numbers, from waveforms via recommendation algorithms up to deciphering the code of hit songs. What aspects of music do you feel can be captured through numbers, and which cannot?

Numbers form the bedrock of comprehending the world and shape its structure. Music, in all its dimensions, is inherently numerical, encompassing rhythm and pitch. Our entire system of equal temperament is meticulously constructed upon specific proportions.

However, there are realms that numbers can never illuminate - the aspects that elude rational understanding. This includes the origin of an idea, the allure of imperfections that resonate, the emotional depth, and the brilliance of some passages of musical improvisation, sometimes born from human error.

It's as if numbers have perpetually embodied the essence of things; we unravel their code, uncovering the ways to play with them. Through this interaction, we not only bring order but also create our world. Numbers serve as the foundational point, the genesis of our exploration.

How does the way you make music reflect the way you live your life? Can we learn lessons about life by understanding music on a deeper level?

The music I release typically mirrors the instruments I'm immersed in at the moment. If my focus is on the piano, I dedicate more time to key synths. Similarly, when my attention shifts to the violin, I find myself composing for strings, and so forth for each musical element. This dynamic creates a dual landscape, where there's a backdrop of continuous study and another of creative output – akin to the opposing poles of a battery.

Drawing an analogy to direct current, the negative pole, characterized by an abundance of electrons and heightened electric potential, symbolizes the introspective facets of music. This encompasses solitary listening, music exploration, and daily practice, serving as vital phases that pave the way for a subsequent surge of positive energy oriented towards outward expression.

Music, in this context, becomes a realm where I hone patience and discipline, engage in active meditation, enhance my listening skills, develop a deeper understanding of my body, and embrace the essence of the present moment.

We can surround us with sound every second of the day. The great pianist Glenn Gould even considered this the ultimate delight. How do you see that yourself, and what importance does silence hold? What role do headphones play for you in this regard?

There is no silence; there is quiet. I often need this calm space. I require it for writing, thinking, and perceiving the poetry of things. Music helps me to engage, but at times, I need to stand still and listen to something else.

When I'm outdoors, I prefer to stay connected to my surroundings, so I seldom use headphones indoors or outdoors, except for mixing.

Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

I desire that creating music could be as effortless as brewing a cup of coffee. However, the reality is that making music demands a significant investment of effort and study, and performing on stage carries a substantial weight of responsibility and energy.

Through my music, I strive to articulate the influences that shape me, incorporating diverse music styles encountered in Berlin, my cultural roots, the impressions from my travels, and the inner landscape that defines my perspective on the world.

This involves expressing not only how I see things but also how I feel about them, weaving together my unique experiences with the ideas that emerge from somewhere mysterious, and that I make an effort to honor and uphold.

Every time I listen to Albedo by Vangelis, I choke up. But the lyrics are made up of nothing but numbers and values which don’t appear to have any emotional connotation. Do you, too, have a song or piece of music that affects you in a seemingly counterintuitive way – and what, do you think, is happening here?

In this interview you are quoting some of my favourite artists ever, thanks for that.

Well, Vangelis is always warm and I think Albedo is strongly emotional, so it isn’t counterintuitive at all that you feel that way. Here Vangelis is referring to planet Earth’s light radiation. It makes you somehow vibrate with his idea for which you are a part of this light’s planet as well.

The name of this piece, which is also the name of the record, is Albedo 0.39.

On the back of the record there is this sentence:

"The reflecting power of a planet or other non-luminous body. A perfect reflector would have an Albedo of 100%. The Earth's Albedo is 39%, or 0.39”

We now know that Earth’s Albedo is actually 0.30 so even less than what they thought in ‘76. This title could metaphorically suggest that the Earth isn't bright enough, along with all the consequential thoughts that might stem from this. In my opinion, it's a criticism.

If you could make a wish for the future – what are developments in music you would like to see and hear?

I wish for all of us a safe space for freedom of expression through music, a fair market, as well as a captivating evolution in music-responsive visuals. 
I am curious to see where all the imagination and the beauty of artists will lead humanity to.

Andrea Burelli Interview Image (c) the artist

"There are realms that numbers can never illuminate - the aspects that elude rational understanding."


Andrea Burelli - Sonic Mystics for Poems (of Life and Death of a Phoenix)

Publié le 29 Décembre 2023

  Compositrice de musique électronique expérimentale née à Venise, Andrea Burelli a quitté l'Italie à l'âge de quinze ans, mais y revient mentalement ou physiquement pour retrouver les chemins de sa poésie. Voilant la dimension autobiographique des textes sous le symbolisme du voyage imaginaire d'un phénix, elle a rassemblé quinze courts poèmes aux images colorées inspirées par les cultures méditerranéennes du Sud de l'Europe, du Moyen-Orient ou de l'Afrique du Nord, et par son ancienne pratique de peintre ou les œuvres d'Odilon Redon. Ce monde mystique à mi-chemin du rêve évoque les cycles et changements sans fin, la possibilité d'une transformation spirituelle, amenant une renaissance plus forte transcendant souffrances et limites. Ces quinze compositions constituent un cycle contemporain de lieder, avec Andrea Burelli à la voix et à l'électronique, Mari Sawada au violon, et Sophie Notte au violoncelle, deux musiciennes membres du Solistenensemble Kaleidoscope.

Instants de lumière avant le néant

    Tout commence par un "Chant", celui des deux instruments à cordes joués aux limites de l'aigu et du souffle pur, puis le violoncelle chante en contrepoint du violon resté dans les nuées à s'envoler et à pleuvoir des étoiles filantes. Avec "Fiori strappati", le cycle s'inscrit entre polyphonie traditionnelle (sarde notamment) et musique de chambre contemporaine. Une petite fille dévale des escaliers, sourit au Sud, entend un ange l'appeler par son nom, l'Italie la regarde de ses yeux verts... "Petto Rotto", quelle danse étourdissante !
« Turcs et femmes s'inclinant
devant le chant soufiCartes de rues poussiéreuseset diseuses de bonne aventure Un feu dans le néant au-dessus de nous, Une couverture d'étoiles et de poussière sonore du sud Dansecheveux et lèvres Je confonds l'odeur avec le souffle des rochers Un œil sublimelimites de peau J'implore un rayonde sève de réalité  Les tempêtes balancentun plaisir aigu, une conscience inhumaineici sur mes mains  Je ne suis qu'un écho épais, un pacte lâche, Je suis une poitrine briséequi fait voler un cerf-volant  »  
  "Benu" est une délicieuse berceuse alanguie sur une mélodie au parfum de Renaissance, auquel répond en diptyque un poème en espagnol, "Cielo Azul", nimbé d'une mélancolie extatique. "Nido" a une allure plus orientale et médiévale à la fois, chant poignant accompagné d'un dramatique pizzicato puis de suaves harmonies des cordes. Les pièces suivantes sont aussi réussies, de petits chefs d'œuvre de concision délicate autour de la voix légère et haut perchée d'Andrea Burelli, souvent démultipliée en une polyphonie populaire et raffinée. L'électronique est discrète, au service des deux instruments à cordes, magnifiquement joués.

  "Benu" est une délicieuse berceuse alanguie sur une mélodie au parfum de Renaissance, auquel répond en diptyque un poème en espagnol, "Cielo Azul", nimbé d'une mélancolie extatique. "Nido" a une allure plus orientale et médiévale à la fois, chant poignant accompagné d'un dramatique pizzicato puis de suaves harmonies des cordes. Les pièces suivantes sont aussi réussies, de petits chefs d'œuvre de concision délicate autour de la voix légère et haut perchée d'Andrea Burelli, souvent démultipliée en une polyphonie populaire et raffinée. L'électronique est discrète, au service des deux instruments à cordes, magnifiquement joués. L'album culmine à nouveau (cesse-t-il de culminer ?) avec deux des plus longues pièces (chacune autour de trois minutes...), "Ali di Fuoco" et "L'Ultimo Giorno", la première d'un sublime hors du temps, la seconde passant d'un chant sarcastique  dramatisé par des ralentis à une coda majestueuse, celle du Dernier jour : « Le dernier jour / Nous regardons autour de nous / La nuit s'illumine / La vie cesse sans le savoir. ». "Sogno Diurno" dit le passage du rêve nocturne au rêve diurne dans un chant en boucle soutenu par un bourdon, avant "Ocre", conclusion a capella sur le presque rien qu'est toute vie, presque rien d'où surgissent cependant lumière et amour...

  Un cycle de mélodies d'une magnifique pureté sur de très beaux textes sensibles.

The New Noise 

Andrea Burelli suona a me come novità stupenda, lieve e intensa: questo suo disco, autoprodotto, ha in sé il germe della meraviglia. Voci, poesie, suoni di archi e corde, polpa sonora che si sposa con una cadenza entusiasmante e algida. Del tutto fuori dal tempo, sembra giocare in un’atmosfera completamente personale e sacra, che ci strappa dal presente e dal nostro ambiente per ghermirci con sé. Il gusto negli arrangiamenti minimali e la forza vocale mi fanno a tratti pensare ad una Mara Redenghieri in una scuola d’arte del 1800. Ad un tratto dall’italiano passa allo spagnolo per “Cielo Azul”, aggiungendo un’ulteriore sfumatura a un languore stupefacente. Ricordi a tratti di Mabe Fratti, sentori di Aperture, Andrea sembra elaborare una personale via alla musica nella quale il ridondante e l’orpello sono lasciati a lato con leggiadria e viene elevato il necessario in maniera elegante. Come certa musica sacra, dove l’intensità travalica credenze e fedi facendosi universali, così i brani di Sonic Mystics For Poems (Of Life And Death Of A Phoenix) ci avvolge completamente. Pezzi fatati e squillanti, poesie che si trasformano in brani che suonano come proclami nei quali l’austerità e la personalità si avvolgono come serpenti bizzosi. Andrea crea un folclore partendo da ciò che batte nel petto, da una voce e dalla magica capacità di fermare quanto succedde intorno a lei. Il finale di quest’opera è quasi un sollievo perché permette di tornare a respirare, chiedendoci cosa sia successo negli ultimi 35 minuti e perché siamo ancora in questo felice stordimento.


È profondamente composito l’universo creativo di Andrea Burelli, immaginario di volta in volta definito da suoni, immagini e parole. Italiana trapiantata a Berlino, è innanzitutto musicista, ma anche autrice di versi e pittrice, a testimonianza di un’attività trasversale interamente votata al gesto artistico.
La dimensione aurale di questo vasto territorio crossmediale – l’unica ad essere destinata ad una fruizione pubblica – si è fin qui nutrita soprattutto di frequenze sintetiche, formulazioni ambient modulate in presa diretta e pubblicate sotto lo pseudonimo Bodyverse.  Il precedente De Sidera (2020, American Dreams) – primo lavoro firmato a proprio nome – pur mantenendosi in tale scia evidenziava un parziale sviluppo lessicale, non a caso connesso ad un lungo soggiorno in patria, non nella natale Venezia ma in Sardegna.

Ben diversa è la svolta stilistica che sottende Sonic Mystics for Poems (of Life and Death of a Phoenix).
Ciò che la Burelli mette qui in scena è la fusione dei linguaggi a lei congeniali ed un ritorno alla dimensione acustica che coniuga tutta la sua formazione musicale di violinista, pianista e cantante. Le parole che guidano la narrazione sono poesie da lei composte, il simbolismo alla base della sua pittura confluisce nei video a corredo di alcune delle tracce, il suono è frutto di un’attenta composizione condivisa in parte con Luca Staffiere. Ad affiancarla nell’esecuzione due musiciste dell’ensemble berlinese Solistenensemble Kaleidosko, Mari Sawada al violino e Sophie Notte al violoncello, con l’elettronica relegata sullo sfondo ad interpolare le parti con somma misura.

Il risultato di un simile processo è un viaggio in bilico tra autobiografia e mito, un punto di ripartenza che mette al centro la voce e il ritmo, componenti pressoché nuove nella discografia della musicista veneziana. La metrica dei versi funge da matrice di intrecci poliritmici sostenuti perfettamente dalle trame essenziali degli archi, l’atmosfera è magica, austera come un flusso atemporale in cui tradizione, musica da camera e sperimentazione vocale si fondono alla perfezione. Nei canti concisi che compongono l’album si ritrova il magnetismo arcaico di Daniela Pes e il pop avveniristico di Marina Herlop, l’incanto del folclore che narra delle tribolazioni del vivere sotto forma di inni palpitanti (Petto Rotto, Luna d’autunno) e liriche asciutte quanto toccanti (Benu).
Tra virtuosismi ed essenzialità quello che prende forma è uno scenario fortemente evocativo, che travalica i generi con consapevolezza per offrire un ambiente d’ascolto immaginifico ad alto tasso emozionale.

Bad Alchemy

African Paper

Sonic Mystics for Poems: Neues Album von Andrea Burelli

Mitte November erscheint das neue Album der in Berlin lebenden italienischen Komponistin und Klangkünstlerin Andrea Burelli unter dem Titel “Sonic Mystics for Poems (of Life and Death of a Phoenix)”. Laut Begleittext “a highly autobiographical work whose sonic and conceptual world, metaphorically rooted in myth”, bietet der Longplayer einen mystischen Blick auf die Welt, “while maintaining strong ties to the tangible fabric of a vulnerable and fragile human existence”. Im Zentrum des Geschehens stehen u.a. die oft bekenntnishaften Texte der Künstlerin, die mit Licht und Schatten, mit den leichten und den schweren Seiten des Lebens auf Tuchfühlung gehen. “Burelli sings of landscapes lost in the sands of time and memory, captivating sunsets, the infinity of the sea, imaginary lands filled with magic, the end of the world, and love”. In musikalischer Hinsicht beeindruckt

besonders die fast selbstverständliche Kohärenz, die aus dem Zusammenspiel recht unterschiedlicher Einflüsse – Klassische und Neue Musik aus verschiedenen Teilen der Welr, experimentelle Elektronik, europäische Folklore aus verschiedenen Ländern – entsteht. “This collection, with its intricate rhythmic and harmonic structures, finds its place in contemporary music composition without confining itself to a defined genre”, heißt es dazu. Neben dem polyphonen Gesang Burellis und dem einsatz von Synthies spielen Streicherpassagen eine wichtige Rolle, als Gäste fungieren die aus dem Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop bekannten Musikerinnen Mari Sawada (Violine) und Sophie Notte (Cello). Viele dieser Zutaten finden sich in dem bereits digital veröffentlichten Stück “Fiori Strappati”. Das Album erscheint auf LP und CD im Selbstverlag in Kooperation mit Rohs! Records.

Daily Bandcamp Best Ambient Music on Bandcamp, October 2020

“Under her Bodyverse moniker, the Berlin-based composer Andrée Burelli makes what she calls “involuntary music,” a term meant to represent the subconscious and spontaneous nature of her compositions. In that improvisational approach, she combines elements of chance and randomness with a core understanding of music theory and song structure. The more formally composed De Sidera, released under her given name, is a departure in many ways from the sparser, more esoteric nature of her improvised work—the title track layers an almost Krautrock bassline beneath wordless vocalizations; “Ultimi Raggi” builds a dense soundscape with processed piano and droning synths. Even songs that share looping techniques with previous releases do so in service of warmer, lusher tones. The album is inspired in part by the nature Burelli experienced while recording in Sardinia, off the coast of her native Italy, and the tactile piano progressions on looped tracks like “Mediterraneo” convey the drama of its coastal terrain.”


Spatial Sound Institute, 2020

“In ‘Lyra’, Burelli’s voice becomes a search and is explored in connection to deep prolongations of sound as a strong but delicate current. She projects that to align oneself, some form of somatic activity should be taken up and the body should be strengthened; as well as the mind in will, initiative and self-expression.

The lucid imaginary portal she evokes is bereft of human influence on nature; revealing such a world that has given up on its native species, she reflects on proclivities of our psychological stability, emotional contentment and individual soul work.

In doing so, Burelli confronts our human potential to harmonize and pierce through the veil of ignorance by yielding energy to the hidden side of life and the psyche.”


Amplify Berlin June 2020

June 2020

S: How did your relationship to music begin?

AB: I feel my relationship to music has always existed, I always felt curiosity and connection towards sound. Singing has been my very first approach at a very young age, then came violin and later more instruments as piano, tabla and synthesizers. The pieces I am composing at Amplify Berlin are somehow linked to my very first approach to music practice, as they are all based on vocals. I am currently recording polyphonic compositions with my voice, accompanied by layers of violin and kicks that are like heartbeats to me. In this creative process with James Young I got to look inside myself, I got back where it all started, I feel like a phoenix, it’s like flying after dying. This really feels like a new beginning.

S: Is there any key message or value that lies at the centre of the music you make?

AB: Every record I released had a message, they were all concept albums, about illusions, freedom, spirituality, nature, magic, dreams. Most of my music has been instrumental but now that I am using my voice I am including words. I think artists communicate what they truly are, and beside being a musician I’m a poet. The lyrics of my current pieces, which I write in Italian and Spanish, can describe impressions of a moment, they can be abstractions or fictions, but I guess that they are all finally rooted into a very spiritual way of perceiving the beauty of this world, and maybe this is what I am trying to communicate.

S: How has the current crisis changed or influenced the things that you make?

AB: If you refer to Covid-19, well, I honestly think we are living in a constant crisis anyway. It had been weird to me at some point because when lockdown happened I was recording music for a short fiction I had written called “How to survive difficult times”. I speculated on a fictional world in which, due to hostile environmental conditions, outdoor life could no longer be considered, and mankind would miss nature as we know it today. Little did I know in those days that we would soon find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic. I think it’s pretty clear to me that we are already aware of the problematic our general behaviour or habits can cause. During lockdown I got blocked in Sardinia, Italy, and restrictions were very tough, so my mind escaped into creativity; I wrote a second chapter and recorded a very minimalistic album about meditation. I found a lot of calm into mediation practices, and so I started to perceive a certain kind of utopia within this dystopic time of confinement. Within limitation I tried to relate to growth.


“Eine weitere direkt der Covid-19 Isolation zu verdankende Klangschönheit ist How To Survive Difficult Times Vol.1 I (Rohs Records/Lontano Series) von Andrée Burelli, die man eher als Modularsynthsizer-Göttin Bodyverse oder als Andy Mintaka kennt denn unter ihrem Eigennamen. Das Album, das auf schnell folgende weitere Teile hoffen lässt, bewegt sich im schweren cinematischen Ambient himmlisch leicht und gibt Hoffnung, wenn es je welche gab.” 


“Wie zuletzt Kali Malone lotet die italienisch-berliner Künstlerin Andy Mintaka a.k.a. Bodyverse auf Beyond (Lontano Series) die orgeligen Aspekte der Klangsynthese aus. Ihre Spezialität sind dabei täuschend einfache, tief hypnotische flächig-statische Stücke, die von aufschwellendem Glissando, vom einmal quer über die Tasten rutschen oder die Katze darüber laufen lassen, wieder disruptiv gebrochen werden. (...) Alles daran ist großartig.” 


“Bodyverse is the aforementioned Andy Mintaka, who helps Porcu with the label’s graphic design. Her collection I Could Go Lucid is gorgeous; opener “Pink Sunsets Were Very Calm” establishes the atmosphere early, with a soft passage of ascending notes, before adding a continuous stream of harmonious layers. Mintaka alludes to the importance and allure of lucid dreaming in her description of the album—the lack of inhibition in her dream world pairs with her internal lexicon to form a profound, personal universe of sound. This idea carries over to her compositional process, improvising while keeping the structural integrity of each work. Nothing for the recordings was planned and there was no post-production. “I became an explorer, or a traveller with an uncertain destination,” she writes.”


More press 2020