Interview with Mauro Berchi, the main force behind Eibon Records and Canaan – review by Kanaan Minks
Before we start talking about Canaan, Eibon Records, which is a recording label led by yourself, released two new albums. Shape a New Start from Act Noir and Alternate Endings from Devar (NOR). Both albums are quite different from what usually Eibon Records releases. For all the new and aspiring musicians, are you widening the “spectrum” to help more bands? Also, if someone is looking for a label, can you tell us more what kind of music you are looking for?
Well, I’ve never actually cared too much about the styles – I just released (and still release, though with decreasing frequency since the tremendous lack of sales…..) records I like. That’s the only general rule I follow. As a direct consequence of this, I’m touching different genres through my releases, which is eventually misleading for those who try to “frame” my label in a way or another. I’m getting demos of different genres, and though I’m not rejecting anything (a listen is due to each and every demo I get) I’m usually moving within dark ambient/power noise/dark wave territories. Unfortunately, as mentioned, sales have dropped drastically over the past years (god bless p2p), so I’ sorry to report that the label is currently undergoing a period of “suspended animation”. I’ll try as hard as possible to keep it alive, but it’s a struggle that’s becoming harder and harder over time…..
Back to Canaan. Can you tell us more about the origin of the band’s name?
I mutuated this name from a song of AMON DUUL II (“Canaan”), to be found on their 1967 album “Phallus dei” . No hidden/secret/esoteric meaning, I’m afraid. I liked the sound, and went for it. As simple as that.
Can you give us a little bit of history about Canaan, i.e. The birth of a great and unique band?
We started the band in 1995, immediately after the split-up of RAS ALGETHI, the band we were playing into at that time. We felt we were uselessly self-confining us into a kind of music (doom metal) that wasn’t entirely representative of what we wanted to achieve, so we moved on. Canaan was initially born as a 3-members band (me, Luca and Matteo) then had some line-up changes over the years; currently (January 2011) it’s me, Matteo, Nico, Andrea and Alberto. At the moment, I feel the closest and most accurate way to describe the band is a collective of people working on music rather than a regular band. We don’t have rehearsals in the usual acception of the term. We seldom meet in our small home-recording studio to work on songs, always with reduced line-ups. We record and gather large amount of fragments, then organize them and shape them into real songs. The process takes a very long time usually, but it’s an absolutely fine working method – for us at least. It gives us all the freedom we need to experiment thing just the way we like. And having no time constraints is a blessing, as we need space to experiment different things and different composition processes, which we could never do if we hadn’t our own small studio.
So, what should we expect now from Canaan’s new album, any hints to keep the fans on their toes?
Our new album is titled “Contro.luce” and has been released in late december 2010. It comes some 5 years after “The unsaid words” and I consider it the zenith of our musical production so far. It’s a bit far from what people expected from us, not only because it’s entirely sung in italian, but also because it encompasses a wider range of sounds; ethnic music has become more and more important, and it’s now more than ever hard to frame what we do. We’re definitely satisfied with how it turned out. We’ll see how people will react to it.
The more time passes, the more Canaan’s music evolves. From the unpolished and very dark Blue Fire, to the Polished, sad but ‘not that dark’ The Unsaid Words. Does this change comes natural to the band? Or is it something that all of you sit down and think of writing something before starting playing?
We’ve always been very impulsive when it comes to writing/composing and we never (and I mean it) planned anything. We simply start playing and see what happens. This means we in no way envision things before they actually happen. This time CONTRO.LUCE has turned out different from everything else we did in the past, and we consider it as a very positive aspect; think as evolution versus involution. We feel the band is a living entity, in change, evolving; we’ll do our best not to spoil this evolution and – if, some day – should we feel we’ve said all we had to say, we’ll put an end to the project long before becoming a parody of ourselves like unfortunately we’ve seen so many times with so many bands. You see, CANAAN is not at all a project made to “entertain” nor to “make success” nor to “sell a lot” or “to reach a wide audience”; as such, we do not have any other aim than being satisfied with what we do. In the end, if Contro.luce is less dark than our previous cds, all I can say is just: it happened like this………
And what about the lyrics? Like Canaan’s music, the lyrics in the first two albums were more metaphorical, while in the last three albums are more ‘direct and straight to the point’. What causes such change, and are they a reflection of self?
The lyrics on the new cd are twisted perspectives on everyday’s life thematics such as failure, inadequacy, loss, regret, pain and joy. They reflect my points of view (which are mine, and only mine) over what surrounds me and/or happens to me. When I was younger I used to incorporate more “visionary” elements in my lyrics, but then time & life brought me on the ground and stitched my feet to reality. Not sure the direction I’ll take with the next ones.
Three members from Canaan play with Neronoia. Is this just a side project which helped you release two albums with Gianni from Colloquio, or are we assisting the birth of another new ‘permanent’ band?
Neronoia was a permanent band until it lasted. At the moment (January 2011) the project has been stopped, and we’re not sure if we’ll ever get it working again. We would like to, but certain circumstances are conjuring against this chance. Sometimes the will to do a certain thing is not enough to bring it to completion, and this is much what’s happening……
On Neronoia’s website, it states that Neronoia is a cooperation between Canaan and Colloquio, though two members from Canaan are not part of it. Any particular reason?
The two CANAAN members who are not involved in Neronoia are Luca, who is living and working quite far from us; I would dare saying we lost his traces after 2004/2005. And Nico, who estranged from the band for personal troubles after the release of 2006 “Un mondo in me”. Life, sometimes, bites hard. No other reasons, just the fact that quite often we loose contacts with people we shared our past life with. Sad but true. It simply happens, and there’s nothing you can do to fix it…..
While hoping the above interview gives you a better insight of what dedicated people are up to in the REAL music industry, we personally urge all of you out there to buy the albums they like, if they would like to listen to more interesting and new material from their favourite artists. As Mauro Berchi says “Like a white elephant or a ship sailing unknown seas, I still feel a good record MUST have a physical form, to preserve it from being just a molecule of water in the oceans of bytes out there”
by Kanaan Minks