Italian jazz-rock fusion guitar ace Lelio Padovani returned in 2016 with a 20 minute CD/EP called Waves. Filled with four solid tracks of fiery jazz-rock power, Waves is the perfect showcase for Lelio and his wide-ranging, cinematic guitar concepts. What’s also impressive is that Lelio is playing all the instruments himself and it sounds like an entire band. Speaking about Waves, Lelio tells mwe3.com, “I always thought about music as architecture, so I guess the experience of writing for movies just steered my music even more towards a compositional point of view. I also love to work with sounds and I love recording and the process of layering instruments and editing. I love to write instrumental music and love electric guitars, all kinds of guitars in fact so every time, I compose I try to balance these two elements. Actually, the more guitars, the better!” All these fretboard pyrotechnics and hi-tech recording gear would be meaningless without well thought out compositional ideas and precise execution and there’s plenty of that throughout the Waves CD to which the guitarist adds, "The mission on this new CD, as with everything I release, is to write good music, where you can find new details every time and achieve the best sound quality I can... this is what I look for in the music I listen to myself." A much welcome return to form by a 21st century jazz-rock fretboard maestro, on Waves Lelio Padovani takes the electric guitar in a crossection of bold and exciting new directions.

mwe3.com presents an interview with
The WAVES Interview

: Tell us about your life in Italy. Where are you from in Italy and where do you live now? What was your early exposure to music?

Lelio Padovani: I was born and live and work in Parma, a small town in northern Italy. I grew up here, picking up the guitar in my early teens and I feel so very lucky to be still playing it! At that time I also began to tinker with bass and drums, and basically any instrument I could put my hands on. I learned to play almost every song by The Beatles on the guitar, which was a great way to learn harmony and form in a modern context. I also loved The Who, especially their concept albums Tommy and Quadrophenia. Then I started playing in local bands and writing songs… the last one I played in, called A2A, was an instrumental prog trio with keyboards and drums where I played guitar and synth guitar, and we recorded an EP/CD.

mwe3: Who are some of your favorite Italian musicians and artists and is the fusion guitar sound still popular in Italy? I remember some of the great Italian fusion bands of the late 1970s like Perigeo and Sensation’s Fix. Thank you for carrying the sound forward again with your great new album.

Lelio Padovani: And yes, there were some colossal progressive bands here in the 1970s like Il Banco, Area, Le Orme, PFM and Pooh to name but a few that in some way influenced my style and that are not mainstream anymore nowadays. Other bands that I like would include Litfiba, Negrita, Subsonica and Matia Bazar, mainly their early works until the 1990’s.

mwe3: I know you also teach guitar. So with all that going on, how did you manage to find time for such a fine CD as Waves? When and where was the music written and recorded? What was your musical mission on Waves? You said you were also influenced a lot by soundtrack music right especially on the lead off track “Time Traveler”, which sounds like a great Sci-Fi theme song. Have you done movie scores too?

Lelio Padovani: I teach guitar and music theory at L’Accademia (www.accademiaparma.it), the music school I founded in 2007 with a fellow guitar player. Managing the school and teaching is very time consuming, so I wrote all tracks at home, recording the basic demos, then adding bits and pieces at home or in the school recording studio when time allowed, evolving the basics into the finished CD.

The track “Sunday” is a good example, I had already done the writing but the track had to be completed with all guitars, so on a rare open weekend I recorded all missing guitar parts, hence the title. I always felt my instrumentals would suit well the pictures, and I had the chance to write a couple of scores in 2008 and 2010 for two Italian indie movies, then in 2014 and 2016 I scored two short silent movies from the 1910’s for a film contest in Italy. You can find some videos on my Youtube channel, but this music is not as guitar-centric as in my other works though.

“Time Traveler” could definitely be a sci-fi theme song! I guess I had in mind the 1970’s British TV series “Space:1999” when I wrote the main theme. In that song I added the lead guitar theme to an out take from a soundtrack. The mission on this new CD, as with everything I release, is to write good music, where you can find new details every time and achieve the best sound quality I can... this is what I look for in the music I listen to myself.

mwe3: I remembered your early music releases so I’m glad you brought us up to date with Waves. How would you compare it with your other recent and your early releases. What other albums have you made in recent years following Unknown Evolution and Chasing The Muse and are your early albums still in print on CD? What other albums on CD have you made since those early albums?

Lelio Padovani: After Chasing The Muse I wrote the soundtracks we were talking about earlier. Some songs were left out of the first movie soundtrack, so I released them on a six-track CD titled Electronic, which is still in print. In between that and Waves there’s also an acoustic instrumental cover of “Inverse Midas”, a song by the English band Mansun from their fantastic pop/progressive album Six, released on a covers compilation CD for their first fans convention, and you can find it on my Soundcloud page. I think Waves is my best work so far, even though the best album will always be the next one. It is an ever-evolving process... Every new recording gets a little better… I can’t wait to begin recording again! I just love it.

mwe3: Did Waves set out to be very melodic and more compositional as opposed to straight riffing or shredding? It sounds like you gave the content of these tracks a lot of thought. Tell us about the title track “Waves” as you mention in the liner notes that it’s experimental and that it was inspired by Rhys Chatham. What else can you tell us about Rhys and how you approached the title track? What other composers are among your favorites?

Lelio Padovani: I always thought about music as architecture, so I guess the experience of writing for pictures just steered my music even more towards a compositional point of view. I also love to work with sounds and I love recording and the process of layering instruments and editing. So, yes, I always put much effort into writing and arranging every track. The first 97 percent is always relatively easy, it’s that final 3 percent that requires the most effort!

I love to write instrumental music and love electric guitars, all kinds of guitars in fact, so every time I compose I try to balance these two elements. Actually, the more guitars, the better! Rhys Chatham is a contemporary composer who uses electric guitars like string instruments in a classical orchestra, grouping them in sections where the guitars are restrung, usually with several strings tuned in unisons. I played in one of his concertos in Milan some time ago performing An angel moves too fast to see, one of his symphonies written for 100 guitars, drums and bass, and I was most fascinated with that sound, which I can only describe as an electric wave of sound. You see, composing and guitars! I knew sooner or later I had to incorporate it into my music.

So, on “Waves” the accompaniment is made with “just” 30 guitars playing together, and all guitars were tuned to a single note and played one by one. It was also my first project to feature more than 100 recorded tracks. You can listen to the “Wave” in the song coda, while there were “just” two guitars playing the lead parts in the main themes. I thought this experiment could be the title of the entire project, as it could also refer to the electromagnetic waves and of course sound waves we live into.

Other composers that influence my music, but may not be recognized, are Philip Glass, the minimalist composer I discovered on his soundtrack for the beautiful movie Koyaanisqatsi by Godfrey Reggio, Glenn Branca, who also works with electric guitars and Jean-Michel Jarre for his use of synthesizers. Then there’s J.S. Bach, who I love for his approach to composition, which I find architectural, revealing a strong structure. Of course I draw inspiration from a number of artists, bands and guitar players. My fave shredders are George Lynch, Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson. There would be hundreds more from my ever growing collection… in general guitar driven music always catches my ear. A couple of current bands I enjoy are Cymbals Eat Guitars and St. Vincent.

mwe3: Tell us about your work teaching music at L’Accademia and how do you balance your role teaching with that of guitarist and composer? Do you also play other sessions or concerts with other musicians? Seems like there’s a number of fine musicians on the musical directors of your school. Is that like the Berklee of Italy?

Lelio Padovani: Teaching is a fantastic job in nurturing the new generations of players and giving them my experience, and working with young people keeps things fresh. Teaching also means I have to be an example for my students so I always try to be up to date with the new players, techniques and equipment and have practice time as often as I can. Time is always tight, though! It’s hard to maintain a resemblance of a social life sometimes.

As a session player I occasionally do studio work and played live with some local artists and bands. This is another part of my job I find very rewarding in the exchange of ideas with the artists and producers and is a nice relief from being in control of everything.

When me and my guitar pal Nicola Denti founded the school we were, of course, inspired by the great international schools. We are now actually partners with ICMP, a big music school in London, and in a network with a series of schools worldwide and we always try to adopt their best practices to be able to offer the best education to our students. The size of Italy and our town means that our size and numbers are way smaller… So Berklee, at least for now, remains an inspiration. Our teachers are all professionals and, most importantly, working musicians, so we wanted to have the best ones around here.

mwe3: You list the guitars you recorded Waves with in the excellent CD packaging so what else is new for you in the guitar and gear world? Did you have a one go-to guitar on Waves? The guitar sound on Waves is heavily processed, which is amazing so tell us about your favorite effects, synths and amps you use on the CD and in other settings? Were different guitars mixed together on the same track? I love the synth sound on Waves too… For example on “Sunday”, how did you mix the guitars? It’s one of the great fusion tracks of the year.

Lelio Padovani: Santa gave me a nice Fender Telecaster Elite guitar, which I’m playing often to get to know it better, and plan to record it soon! I love all guitars I own. I regret having to keep them in their cases and not playing them enough as they are all like old friends… each with their own personality.

The amp rig is rack mounted: I have a MESA/Boogie Triaxis which I love for its versatility, a Digitech multi-effects unit and a Rocktron Velocity power amp. Cabinets are either a Brunetti 2x12 with Jensen speakers or the classic Marshall 4x12 with Celestions. I know rack-mounted equipment is definitely out of fashion in guitar-land but I just like the sounds and I’ve used this equipment for a long time both live and in the studio without a glitch.

On the CD I also used the Ik Multimedia Amplitube 3 software, which recreates digitally amps and pedals, which I used for mixing live/real guitars with “fake”/electronic ones.

Electric bass was a Yamaha BB 605 5-string. I always have a good time playing bass though it’s not my main instrument! This was recorded direct through a Radial J48 DI, then re-amped to add some grit to the sound.

All keyboards were soft synths, recreating in software some great keyboards from the past. I used in particular the Roland 8.v by Arturia, impOSCar by GForce and PPG by Waldorf, often mixed with Logic’s EXS sampler. Instead of using a single keyboard and manipulating with it equalization, I usually layered many different keyboards, split by octaves, with slightly different sounds to achieve a bigger overall tone. For example on “Sunday” I recorded the accompaniment with 9 soft synths playing simultaneously in various combinations: a cello sample for the lowest octave, three instances of EXS sampler for the mids, and three instances of GForce String Machine plus two EXS for the highs. I’m giving away a secret here!

Guitars on “Sunday” are the main lead and a couple ones more playing in harmony in small spots. In the mix, I tried to convey the feeling of a lazy, sleepy afternoon. The issue with mixing instrumentals is to keep the main leads forward without overpowering the rest of the arrangement. What I do is add some delay to the leads to make them “sit” better in the mix, and try to have a consistent volume throughout.

mwe3: What was your recording setup like and how did you get such a clean sound on the Waves CD? Tell us who else helped you with the mixing, the sound, mastering and the album artwork, which is also excellent. It’s so great sounding it’s hard to believe it’s all you! How did you record and mix in the drum sound?

Lelio Padovani: My recording setup was pretty basic, centered around a 2008 MacBook pro running Logic 9 and an Apogee Duet interface, which I like for its transparency. Basically, on every track I tried to keep the lowest noise floor going to the converters to get the recording as clean as I could even from my simple setup. I recorded and mixed the album myself using Logic and Universal Audio plug ins. The mastering was done by Fausto Tinello at Studio Tartini5 (www.tartini5.it), the school recording studio, and the artwork was done by Andrea Scarfone, (www.skarfo.com), with pictures by Samuel Alexander Acevedo.

The drums are actually samples by this Swedish company called Toontrack. For budgetary and time reasons I could not record a real drummer as much as I would have liked it. I find the samples and ambiences to be very good sounding. The programming takes time of course to achieve a convincing drumming performance out of a machine but my experience on the drums helps a lot on that. I used some reverbs from Universal Audio, especially the 224 reverb.

mwe3: Waves really left me wanting to hear more of your new music so what else are you planning in 2017? I hope there’s a full length in the works and what kind of style and sound are looking for next? Waves Pt.2?

Lelio Padovani: Well I always record new ideas, so I’d like to have a full length new album out in a couple of years. I would like to expand on the idea of using multiple guitars instead of keyboards for the accompaniment, and recording more acoustic guitars in my works. I also would like to explore the Roland GR guitar synth that I have lying in a corner of my studio. It’s a very powerful machine I played both live and in the studio with A2A. I would like to collaborate with a singer, maybe form an instrumental band… I am never short of ideas and plans! I’ll definitely keep you updated.


Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by mwe3.com
Send to
: MWE3.com Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein
2351 West Atlantic Blvd. #667754
Pompano Beach, Florida 33066

E-mail: mwe3nyc@gmail.com
New York address (for legal matters only)
P.O. Box 222151, Great Neck, N.Y. 11022-2151

CD Reviews Feature Reviews & Features Archive Photo Archive Contact MWE3 Home


Copyright 1999-2017
MWE3.com - All Rights Reserved