Alessandro Raina

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Alessandro Raina
Birth nameAlessandro Raina
Born (1977-06-29) 29 June 1977 (age 41)
Voghera, Italy
GenresSinger-songwriter, Indiepop
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, Guitar
Years active1999 – present
LabelsCane Andaluso, City Living
Associated actsGiardini di Mirò (2003–2006)
Amor Fou (since 2005)
Casador (since 2008)
WebsiteOfficial blog

Alessandro Raina (born 29 June 1977) is an Italian singer/songwriter.

Former journalist and wannabe writer, he embraced the path of songwriting by chance. In 2003, Alessandro took part in the recording sessions of a track which will be later featured in the album Punk... Not Diet! by Giardini di Mirò, one of his own favourite bands. Right after this collaboration, the band asked him to lend his voice to the whole LP, to which he contributed also as main lyricist.

His personal style features a heavy use of metaphors, twilight-intima, literary-poetic and ethical-political inspired lyrics, with mixed references – mainly in his Italian songs – to current events, classical mythology and history. Alessandro's self declared references are the acclaimed Italian singers (Tenco, Battisti, De Gregori, De André, Ciampi) spiced with love for cinema and literature of the twentieth century.

His solo projects are influenced by indie-electronic moods and artists such as Jeff Tweedy, Sufjan Stevens, Feist, Cat Power, The National, Bat for Lashes.

Biography[edit]

Possibly born in Soledad, Falkland Islands, Alessandro Raina achieved Italian citizenship as his parents desired. He grew up in Voghera but he left his parents' home around the age of 18, spending many years in London, Milan, Paris, Caen, Rapallo and Hamburg, finally settling in Italy in 2001.

He attended classical studies but dropped out of college in order to work. Throughout these years, Raina found himself involved in various job situations, working in a hospice for two years. Here, he had the chance to take care of many elderly men and people affected by neurological problems, as well as getting in touch with literati, ex gangsters and journalists who would later inspire some characters depicted in his lyrics.

From 1999 to 2003, Raina worked as a freelance journalist for some of the most relevant Italian music magazines (Blow Up,[1] Rumore, Rockstar) and for the literature magazine Pulp Libri. He even wrote some reviews for the Italian edition of the literary magazine Time Out, dealing with culture and costume.

From 2005 to 2007, Raina put his musical activities on hold in order to work for Etro fashion house in Milan, as a full-time employee. After this period, he fully committed himself to music.

Débuts[edit]

In 1998, Alessandro Raina meets Giacomo Spazio, a counterculture pioneer in Milan. The meeting gives birth to a tight collaboration, resulting in the Colonia Paradi'es release, a record featuring old pictures and tapes revealing the story of Montalto Pavese, the village where Raina grew up. Colonia Paradi'es magnetizes the interest of the avant-garde press. The British monthly The Wire labels it as one of the best débuts of 1999. Amedeo Pace from Blonde Redhead (to whom Raina pays tribute with a Girl Boy cover) in an interview refers to Raina as “the most interesting emerging Italian artist”. Still, Raina will never promote the record with live performances, except in two occasions: an exhibition opening for François-Régis Cambuzat at Tunnel and a concert along with Madrigali Magri at the social center Cox 18, both live performances held in Milan.

Giardini di Mirò[edit]

Since 2003, after leading an interview to one of his favourite bands of that time, Alessandro gets unexpectedly involved in Giardini di Mirò, lending his voice to Punk... Not Diet! (2003) and live performing in Italy, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Switzerland. This intense touring spree led Giardini di Mirò playing at prestigious festivals, such as the roving Tora! Tora! festival, the Neapolis Festival (which will even feature both R.E.M. and Patti Smith), Frequenze Disturbate (along with Beck) and a live broadcast MTV Day backing Interpol.

During the first year of collaboration with Giardini di Mirò, Raina (who's going through his first real musical experience) finds himself dealing with an already established band in the Italian alternative scene, and gets repeatedly attacked by fans who do not fancy the admission of a frontman. However, during the second phase, the whole band settles on a new balance, being widely appreciated especially in Germany, where they play side by side with Lali Puna.

Raina begins writing some lyrics for a new Giardini di Mirò record, right after recording a cover of Blood Red Bird by Smog. In this personal reworking of the song, Alessandro finds room for a quotation of Il cielo in una stanza, a song by Gino Paoli: this experiment marks Raina's first approach with singing in Italian. This period gives even birth to Broken By, which will be issued as first single from Dividing Opinions.

However, after two intense years, Raina and Giardini di Mirò are torn apart by different opinions concerning the artistic directions and leave each other in a friendly mood. Alessandro will be later featured during some Giardini di Mirò live appearances in momentary reunions.

Noorda[edit]

Alessandro is featured as singer in some tracks listed in Noorda's second album, To The Antipole (2005). This project was given birth by Cesare Malfatti (La Crus, The Dining Rooms) and Gionata Bettini. Raina is soon elected as main vocalist, but live performances are extremely rare and climax into the sound score to Darren Aronofsky's π, played live within the Santarcangelo dei Teatri International Festival held in Santarcangelo di Romagna.

Nema Fictzione[edit]

December 2006 marks the release of Nema Fictzione, a musical/literary effort issued in the form of a book. The release was co-signed by Alessandro's mentor Giacomo Spazio, as well as by the instrumentalist Pierluigi Petris.

Most of the songs featured on the record, mixing music with pictures and portraying notable people of the Italian 20th century, were composed before Raina's contribution to Giardini di Mirò. The sound moves on towards country and indietronica, with solo piano and post-rock instrumental compositions. Due to favourable reviews gained[2] Raina ventures in an Italian tour, either with a solo or a three piece line-up (with Leziero Rescigno and Giuliano Dottori replacing Petris in live appearances). In this period, collaborations with Giacomo Spazio come to the end.

During this phase, Raina gets widely attacked on blogs and websites again, being even criticized for his working experiences in the fashion industry as well as for his dandy look. An open letter to the Inkiostro blog[3] was later sent as a reply to all the aforementioned critics, arising many intense debates.

In December 2007 Raina becomes the first Italian artist to perform at the prestigious art gallery Debruille-Zlotogora in Paris, located in the heart of the legendary district of Saint-Germain des Prés.

Amor Fou[edit]

After the experience with Noorda, Cesare Malfatti pushes Raina to write some songs in Italian, involving Leziero Rescigno (from Soul Mio and La Crus) and Luca Saporiti (from La Crus) as well. This period is notable due to the birth of a strong professional partnership between Alessandro and Leziero who, sharing their own musical and cinematic imagery, gave life to Amor Fou, composing all of the songs for this new project.

Amor Fou's début, La Stagione del Cannibale, gets published by Homesleep Music (the very same label Giardini di Mirò relied on). The whole album is influenced by and portrays the personal story of a couple of former lovers, who left each other the day of Piazza Fontana bombing, embracing over forty years of Italian news reports and spacing between pop, rock and passionate songwriting. The result is a critically acclaimed album that grants itself a respectable place among the best expressions of the new Italian songwriting era.

Despite La Stagione del Cannibale gets lukewarm reviews by specialized press at the very start, Amor Fou gradually conquered the attention of critics and listeners, thanks to sixty live performances in only ten months of activity. They took part in the television show Scalo 76[4][5] broadcast by Rai Due, where the band also performed a live cover of Città Vuota by Mina. The band also proposed a theatrical adaptation of their début album that culminated in a double show hosted by Piccolo Teatro Campo d'Arte in Rome, a performance attended even by the daughter of one of the characters Ragazzi di vita by Pier Paolo Pasolini.

In late 2008, after Cesare Malfatti has long since deserted live performances and Luca Saporito has been full-time working with Marlene Kuntz, Amor Fou decide to part from the two musicians, later replaced by Giuliano Dottori (guitars) and Paolo Perego (bass, guitar, noises).

In June 2009 Amor Fou released Filemone e Bauci, a self-produced EP containing three tracks which marked a significant departure in sounds and vocals. The EP contains countless references to the songwriting (Battisti, Fossati), to movie scores (J. Barry, Piccioni, Morricone) and a cover of Ultima occasione, brought to success by Mina. At the same time, deepening the themes tackled in this EP, Raina writes and produces, along with some video-artist (Elisa Fabris, Ilenia Corti) Venti giorni di vita di una donna famosa vista da vicino, a short documentary about love, the city and the beauty, set in Milan and inspired by the works of Godard, Pasolini and Silvano Agosti.

København Store[edit]

In February 2008 Alessandro Raina makes a guest appearance on Action, Please!, début album for post-rock band København Store, lending his voice and lyricist skills to the single We Came Down From The North.

Casador[edit]

In 2008, Alessandro Raina released a self-produced EP containing three songs in English, under the moniker Casador (in homage to the famous character from Totò in Poverty and Nobility). The Puritans EP, originally available on the website of the record label Homesleep Music as a free download, has garnered much attention and collected numerous reviews on international and influential blogs revolving around the indie scene, such as Alistair Fitchett's Unpopular,[6] Russell's Reviews,[7] Sweeping The Nation, The Hype Machine, and many others.[8][9][10] For the song The Puritans, Elisa Fabris directed the first Casador videoclip, based on the idea of a diary of a journey from Djerba to the mountains of Friuli. Performing just with guitar and vocals, enriched by sporadic electronic noises, Casador collected numerous live appearances, among which the opening concerts of Elvis Perkins, Micah P. Hinson, Piano Magic, Ra Ra Riot, Shannon Wright, Wilco, spacing from Italy to Germany and Luxembourg.

Discography[edit]

Alessandro Raina[edit]

LPs[edit]

  • 1999 - Colonia Paradi’es (Cane Andaluso Records)
  • 2006 - Nema Fictźione (City Living)

Author[edit]

  • 2007 - Giardini di Mirò - Dividing Opinions (co-author in Broken by)
  • 2012 - Malika Ayane - Ricreazione (co-author in 'Tre cose)
  • 2013 - Emma - Schiena (co-author in In ogni angolo di me)
  • 2013 - Wolther Goes Stranger - Love Can't Talk (co-author in I'm sorry)
  • 2014 - Club Dogo - Non siamo più quelli di Mi fist (co-author in Fragili)
  • 2014 - Deborah Iurato - Deborah Iurato (co-author in I primi sessanta secondi del mondo and L'oro di cui siamo fatti)
  • 2014 - Emma Morton - Daddy blues (co-author in Daddy blues)
  • 2015 - Gué Pequeno - Vero (co-author in Equilibrio)
  • 2015 - Luca Carboni - Pop up (co-author in Bologna è una regola)
  • 2015 - Marco Mengoni - Parole in circolo (co-author in Se sei come sei)

Collaborations[edit]

  • 2005 - nOOrda - To The Antipole (Homesleep Music)
  • 2008 - København Store - We Came Down from the North (42 Records)
  • 2012 - Colapesce - Un meraviglioso declino (vox in I barbari) (42 Records)
  • 2014 - Kaufman - Le tempeste che abbiamo (co-arranger, co-author, producer) (IRMA Records)

Compilations[edit]

  • 2005 - VV.AA. - Shadowanimals Winter Collection 2005 (vox in Nuccini! - Vocal Booth Part 2) (Subversiv Records)
  • 2008 - VV.AA. - Deviazioni (Un Omaggio a Vasco Rossi) (Lele Battista e Alessandro Raina - Ogni volta) (Il mucchio selvaggio)

Videoclips[edit]

Amor Fou[edit]

LPs[edit]

  • 2007 - La stagione del cannibale (Homesleep Music)
  • 2010 - I moralisti (EMI)
  • 2012 - Cento giorni da oggi (Universal)

EPs[edit]

  • 2009 - Filemone e Bauci (self-released)

Compilations[edit]

  • 2010 - Il ticinese in La leva cantautorale degli anni zero (Ala Bianca)
  • 2012 - Come mai (Pregando per un synth) feat. AntiteQ in Con due deca - La prima compilation di cover degli 883 (Rockit)[11]

Videoclips[edit]

Casador[edit]

EPs[edit]

  • 2008 - The Puritans EP (self-released)

Videoclips[edit]

Giardini di Mirò[edit]

LPs[edit]

  • 2003 - Punk... Not Diet! (Homesleep Music)

Singles[edit]

  • 2003 - Revolution on your pins (Homesleep Music\2nd Rec )

Videoclips[edit]

  • 2003 - Given ground (oops… revolution on your pins) (directed by Francesco Fei)

Covers[edit]

Alessandro Raina often performs reworked versions of other bands' songs during his concerts. Among the most played covers, with Giardini di Mirò, Heroes by David Bowie and Blood Red Bird by Smog; as Casador, Insensatez by Antônio Carlos Jobim, I still remember by Bloc Party, Intuition by Feist, Place to be by Nick Drake, These days by Nico, Let down by Radiohead, Fences of pale by Shannon Wright, Brother by The Organ; with Amor Fou, Prospettiva Nevskij by Franco Battiato, Città vuota and L'ultima occasione by Mina, Ragazzo triste by Patty Pravo, Let down by Radiohead, This must be the place by Talking Heads, Please, please, please let me get what I want by The Smiths; as Alessandro Raina, I still remember and Out of time by Blur, Un giorno di festa by Colapesce, Zuffa by Cosmetic, Summer on a solitary beach by Franco Battiato, Scappo di casa by Ivan Graziani, Tempi bui by Ministri, Valvonauta by Verdena.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Interview (full version), Blow Up n.134/135". July 2008. Archived from the original on 6 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  2. ^ Giorello, Sandro (November 2006). "Nema Fictzione reviewed by Rockit". Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  3. ^ "Alessandro Raina's open letter to Inkiostro". July 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  4. ^ "Amor Fou live at Scalo 76: Il Periodo Ipotetico". February 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  5. ^ "Amor Fou live at Scalo 76: Città vuota". February 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  6. ^ Fitchett, Alistair (December 2008). "The Puritans EP review at Unpopular". Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  7. ^ "The Puritans EP review at Russell's Reviews". December 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  8. ^ "The Puritans EP review at Rock Sellout". January 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  9. ^ "The Puritans EP review at Speed of Dark". January 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-01-22. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  10. ^ Rockit, "Con due deca - La prima compilation di cover degli 883", Rockit, http://www.rockit.it/883-max-pezzali-cover-compilation-con-due-dec[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]