While growing up in Paris, Lucas Cimiano didn’t have a lot of VHS tapes, but he did have a collection of Stanley Kubrick films, including The Shining, which he first watched as an eight-year-old. Since then, the musician has been fascinated with horror films and soundtracks, particularly the synthwave scores director that John Carpenter composes for his own films.
Cimiano, who's influenced by French electronica artists Jean-Michel Jarre, Kavinsky and Gesaffelstein, started making electronic music at nineteen, while he was enrolled at a jazz conservatory in Paris. A year later, he moved to the U.S. to study computer information systems at Florida Gulf Coast University. Three years ago he moved to Denver, drawn by the weather, the city's cultural boom and the nearby Stanley Hotel, which served as the model for Stephen King’s novel The Shining. A year ago, Cimiano set up a studio in Denver and began making music again.
Through his solo synthwave project Fuzz Chamber, Cimiano translates emotions from horror films into music. Fuzz Chamber’s new album, Astro, which dropped October 24, feels akin to what Stranger Things composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein do with their scores.
While some of the tracks on Astro have a horror-film vibe suggesting the feeling of being chased, the instrumental album is actually a story about his cat, Fuzz. Astro follows the journey of Fuzz, who, out of desperation because of the pandemic, leaves Earth and goes into space — a tale told through songs like “Terror,” “Tension” and “Strike.”
“Even if it’s not a horror story, there is this energy or elements to it, even with the name of the songs,” Cimiano says.
Astro’s format was inspired by Serge Gainsbourg’s 1971 concept album Histoire de Melody Nelson, which told one story through seven songs. “I like having a storyline to guide me through the album,” Cimiano says. “And that's why I follow the story of my cat, Fuzz, but with a horror vibe, using negative space and a lot of ominous sounds.”
Mostly using two Roland Juno synthesizers, models 60 and 106, for the album, Cimiano says he prefers making music with hardware instead of software-based instruments that emulate synthesizers.
“For me, there is a connection, even if those instruments are not organic,” he says. “I believe there's kind of an organic connection to them as soon as you start being the one who is the machine and turning the knobs. There is an immediacy you don't get in VSTs [virtual studio technologies]. And there is not a screen between you and what's going on.”
Cimiano says he’s inspired by setting up limitations on what instruments he uses and how.
“It's a whole different approach,” he says. “It frees you from the instrument and allows you to put your knowledge and your instruments to the service of music.”
Listen to Fuzz Chamber's Astro here.
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