Dancing About Architecture: Vaghe Stelle Makes Futurist Techno for Manga Metropolises

Vaghe Stelle is an Italian producer who makes music sincerely influenced by the legacy of Futurism, formal and otherwise.

Previous releases have been influenced by the work of a fellow Turin-born artist, the Futurist Giacomo Balla, and the Manifesto of Futurist Musicians, Balilla Pratella’s 1910 proclamation. Among its list of actions are “The liberation of individual musical sensibility from all imitation or influence of the past” and, this critic reports with some trepidation, “To combat the venal and ignorant critics with assiduous contempt, liberating the public from the pernicious effects of their writings.”

Swipes at music hacks not withstanding, the Futurists’ adventures in music at times risked being as laughable as they were laudable: if programmatically working beyond anything created previously is brilliant in applied or fine art, or architecture, it isn’t the easiest starting point for a musician, or even the necessarily the most appealing. Happily then, Vaghe Stelle, whose music is characterized by jagged textures and free-standing arrangements, played on decidedly analogue synths, is something of an errant futurist, albeit one that at least makes a decent stab at thinking about what tomorrow could sound like.

His new work takes influence from a futurist, written with a lower-case F, closer to our time, if further from Vaghe’s hometown: Tsutomu Nihei, a Japanese manga artist whose work depicts dread cities stretching, almost organically, to the Moon and beyond. Released on fellow forward-thinker Nicholas Jaar’s Other People label, The Full Stream Ahead is playing exclusively below. Click play, and read an interview with him underneath.

How has Italian Futurism influenced your work?

Vaghe Stelle: My previous EP, Abstract Speed + Sound, was mainly inspired by Italian Futurism: I explicitly referred to Giacomo Balla, mainly because of my own fascination for speed and movement as a vehicle for moving forward. It’s still part of my cultural background but I cannot say it continues to be my main influence. I’m expanding on the main idea of the Manifesto: I’m particularly fond of the idea of breaking with the past in order to create something new. 

From many perspectives, they were very problematic: they wanted to use the war to clean the world of all the remnants of the past. I definitely don’t agree with everything they said. I instead focus my attention on their research on that has never been seen or heard before. 

Technologically, much of what concerned the futurists came true: the idea of sampling the sounds of daily life to make music, say, has existed since Schaffer’s musique concrete in the 50s, and has been part of pop since the Beatles, while a machine making music is essentially what pop has been for a decade or more. One of your weapons of choice, the Juno 106, was a part of rave music: there are now children whose grandparents met listening to Human Resource, who used the synth for their tracks. What, for you, are at the outer fringes of, if you will, futuristic music? Where will music go? And what would the futurists be obsessed with if they were here today?

Vaghe Stelle: I believe that the evolution of music is highly dependent on technological innovation. Just as Luigi Russolo, while building his Intona Rumori machines could not have imagined that 70 years later, people would record sounds with computers that could fit in their pockets, it is relatively useless to imagine what new discoveries will sound like. But in my work its always essential to use technologies that produce sounds I’ve never heard before.

I’m curious about the role of architecture and design in your work. Could you explain a little more about the designs you make, and how these play a part in your output? 

Vaghe Stelle: My favorite futurist building wasn’t ever built. It was impossible. It’s La Città Nuova, by Antonio Sant’Elia. But as I was producing this EP, a key inspiration was the intricate architectural megastructures illustrated by Tsutomu Nihei. I began to write music that could sonically represent his surreal, and seemingly impossible labyrinths of steel and concrete: I designed a mesh comprised of layers of hyper-real and post-robotic percussive sounds. The structures grow over each other, and replicate themselves, to make a sprawling city of skyscrapers.

Vaghe Stelle’s The Full Stream Ahead EP is in stores on 27 May


  • Thus Spoke Bischofberger: Artforum’s Eternally Swiss Back Cover

    An advertisement for the art gallery belonging to dealer and collector Bruno Bischofberger has occupied the back cover of every issue of Artforum since April 1987. Seen out of context and en masse, the eternally Swiss contents of these promotions at first appear idiosyncratic; upon further scrutiny, however, they seem insane.More
  • Apparel

    032c “Dark Times” Brecht T-Shirt Black

    Buy Now
  • Société de 032c: GLOBAL PREDICTIONS from Cyber Oracle SITA ABELLAN

    “The major debate everyone is avoiding is how technology will modify our society and economy,” says the model, DJ, and self-proclaimed “techno princess” in a series of dystopian prophecies. “Technology is forging our behavior and will deeply affect who we become as human beings. Avoiding discussions about the use of technology without limitations and restraints will cause major injustices.”More
  • 032c WWB Collection

    032c WWB Turtleneck Camouflage

    Buy Now
  • Apparel

    032c Classics Logo Beanie

    Buy Now
  • Salty, Litigious, Iconoclastic: DAVID SIMON on TV as discourse

    With “The Wire,” DAVID SIMON accomplished the unlikely feat of captivating both West ­Baltimore bruisers and The New Yorker subscribers for an hour a week, over the course of six years. Twenty years into television’s latest “Golden Age,” as the creative blueprint pioneered by Simon and shows like The Sopranos unfurls into an endless stream of content from Amazon and Netflix, we revisit our 2011 interview with Simon from 032c Issue 20.More
  • OG? OK! Onitsuka Tiger Unveils 70th Anniversary OK Basketball Shoes in Berlin

    At their store on Alte Schönhauserstrasse in Berlin, Japanese footwear mainstays Onitsuka Tiger held a Japan-themed mini festival to herald the arrival of the OK Basketball MT and the OK Basketball Lo: two new shoes inspired by the groundbreaking design that ignited the Onitsuka Tiger brand almost 70 years ago.More
  • CROSS-DRESSING IN THE WEHRMACHT: Unseen Practices at the German Front

    While collecting amateur photography from periods during and after the war, Berlin-based visual artist Martin Dammann would, “from time to time,” stumble upon photographs of cross-dressing soldiers. Provoked, he began to seek out more, drawn to the “kaleidoscope of emotional states” that they revealed: “Desire for women. Desire for men. To be a woman. To be elsewhere. To be someone else.” More
  • THE BIG FLAT NOW: Power, Flatness, and Nowness in the Third Millennium

    As a contemporary metaphor, flatness describes how the invention of the Internet has restructured global society. At its origin, its promise was a social revolution founded on intersectional equality and universal democracy. It is our contention that that promise may yet be fully realized.More