Sounds of the drone

In this third installment of the USG blog, I talk about some Lovecraftian sounds and  interview machine maker, sound maker and USG collaborator Nicola Locci to talk about drone sounds among other things. Enjoy!

USG News

In recent USG news, Eighth Tower Records presents a dark aural tribute to H.P.Lovecraft, the XXth century master of supernatural narrative. Lovecraft once said that ‘The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’ How convenient that the Unexplained Sounds Group, a group that is known to go head first in to the unknown, should delve deep into a soundtrack that H.P Lovecraft himself would be proud of.

Iranian Xerxes the Dark returns in full form with ‘Dagon (MMXX)’, in which he entrances the listener with a riveting and ever changing  soundscape that puts us face to face with one of the hideous, scaly, aquatic monsters from Lovecraft’s stories. With ‘The Haunter of the Dark’,  Noctiluctant manages, with simple but powerful elements such as some wind and bells, to create a spine chilling soundscape that can take the listener near the forsaken church of Lovecraft’s tale of the same name where the most occult of beings awaits….

The Head Banger blog writes of the compilation:  ‘the great vast majority of this piece is unknown to me and I’m enthralled by every one of them. So not only did we all get a tremendous display of power and love in regards to Lovecraft, we’re greeted with twelve captivating acts that show us the current state of ambient music, and it couldn’t be any more enticing.’


Nicola Locci has been making his own electronic instruments for about 8 years and has been recently focusing mostly on a mysterious type of unexplained sound: The Drone.

A. How long have you been making electronic instruments and what is your usual process?

NL: I studied electronics in school and I can say that I have always tried to apply my knowledge in this field to the music and instruments I played, starting from the electric guitar and some of its effects, but the creation of  something of my own from start to finish dates back to about 8 years ago. Usually I can think of a rare or unexplained sound and try to create something compact and portable starting from that sonic idea, which I regularly change in the design phase, but that remains more or less close to the initial idea. Many other things, however, come out when I experiment with bizarre and unusual circuits, which I still try to design based on the desired function. For example, with my project STIGMATE, where I try to use my equipment as much as possible as the sound source.

B. How did you get in to electronics?

NL: As I said, everything started through my school studies, but the passion exploded many years later, when I started producing electronic music. I started making small music software patches that I still use to this day, then one day I told myself: why not try to implement some of these as hardware versions?

C: Tell us more about the drone instrument, why is it called insecto#1- the white fly?

NL: INSECTO is a word that buzzed around me for several years. I heard it in a contemporary music show, and it immediately fascinated me. In essence, it is the same word in Italian and English that were joined together (INSECT + INSETTO). I chose it because the machine I designed is quite versatile, and some of the drones it produces can recall the sound of an insect (the white fly). I envisioned designing a trilogy of INSECTO, all three very noisy machines!

Insecto 1- The White Fly by Nicola Locci

D. How important are drone possibilities in your machines and where does this type of deep listening come from?

NL:  Basically they are essential, since currently the machines I create produce a continuous sound. They are built without a keyboard and with an envelope circuit, but I do not stop there since today it is possible to create drones in a multitude of ways, for example with electroacoustic instruments. This stems from a desire to create something that is on the one hand alternative to the classic analogue synthesizer that is now very fashionable, and on the second hand to inspire the artist to create some interesting and unheard musical timbres.

E. Do you plan to make machines based on other animals or even bacteria and fungus?

NL: As I said, I planned three generators inspired by the concept of INSECTO but bacteria and fungus seem to me two other good possibilities! Can I steal the idea?

Exadrone by Nicola Locci

F. What hopes do you have for young machine makers?

NL: Beautiful question! I hope first of all that they do not create a sort of new moog, we already have too many clones!!! I am a small experimenter, certainly not an electronic engineer working in a large company. I do it as a passion and only hope to one day be able to do this as a living, but it is the passion that also allows me to go beyond a strictly commercial concept. So my hope is for young machine makers to be carried away by passion, as in any respectable art form!

G. What is your favorite electronic music instrument ever created?

NL: I delete everything I’ve said about it in the last question: The Moog of course !! The progenitor of all musical electronic instruments .. In reality there is not only one instrument as all of its subsequent evolutions are also very important! Ever since it was discovered that it was possible to generate sound from electrical energy, I believe that an enormous world opened up, which is to this day very unexplored. it is precisely this desire for experimentation that I hope to preserve.


Written by Joseph Doumet