Petracca, born in Germany in 1975 as a son of first generation Italian immigrants, discovered his love for electronic music production at the age of 15. On a VHS tape. It was a short sequence in the 1989 released Depeche Mode “101” concert movie, in which sound wizard Alan Wilder explained how he creates his sounds. A 3 minute moment that lead to Petracca skipping the piano lessons he was forced to take, in favor to working as a paperboy after school instead … to earn money for his first synthesizer.
This early love for electronic instruments lead to a musical vitae that couldn’t be more diverse.
Almost 30 years later, Petracca has tried nearly everything you can try out musically. From making soundtracks for erotic hotlines, thriller short films and TV advertisements, to industrial pop with like-minded artists from the other end of the world (Shane Etter of Reverb & The Verse). His music has ranged from aggressive electro punk on big stages and in small clubs (and at a time when electro punk was not at all considered being cool) with his first band Les Mercredis, to gloomy-adult pop as the duo HEARHERE, who cleverly continue what bands like Massive Attack or Portishead abandoned in the mid-2000s.
As diverse as his past projects may have been, there was always a red line connecting every single effort: the love for electronic sounds and organic soundscapes. So it might sound odd at first, that the multi-instrumentalist decided to sell his synthesizer and guitar collection in 2010. But it was a logical progression: with the money he invested in building his first modular synthesizer – long before modular synthesizers became en vogue for electronic musicians. It was the reboot for someone who had made music in every possible way. And it was the beginning of a passion that is still growing up to this day – even if keyboards and guitars meanwhile found a place back in Petracca’s studio.
“HHNOI”, the name his works are currently recorded under, culminates his love for sound and the passion for modular synthesis.
“It’s all about moments, and how they resonate once they are gone. That’s what inspires me, and that’s also what fascinates me about working with the modular. What you do is right there, it’s not a planned effort like working on computer. You have no presets, you can not save anything, and you often really don’t know what is going to happen. It just happens the way you feel it, and evolves with how you resonate. And when it feels right, you record it. Or you pull one of the countless patch cables, and the moment is gone” – Marco Petracca
HHNOI’s music is like an evolving soundtrack, with harmonies and melodies you would not expect coming out of machinery that is often being ridiculed for sounding like rather car alarm sounds than listenable music. Nevertheless, HHNOI is far from being easy. As with his former projects, Petracca likes to break with expectations, by transforming enchantingly melancholic and lush harmonies and melodies into walls of feedback noises.
That HHNOI might be categorized as ambient music, is a calculated coincidence. “The funny thing is that I’m not really a big fan of ambient or drone music. Although I highly respect some of the artists in these fields, most of the music in that genre doesn’t catch my attention” says Petracca. “I’d like to compare it with washing machine sounds. You have this constant noise, interesting in the beginning, but it gets dull, boring and repetitive after a certain period. But if you accidentally leave coins or keys into your laundry, you suddenly pay attention to the sounds. You have that element of uncontrolled repetition. Leaving coins in the laundry, that’s what I like to do with ambient music.”
For the TOROSIETE Museum, Marco Petracca has created a generative musical (and video) composition triptych, “Deus Ex Diode”. In this exhibition, Marco Petracca has created his own version of a “Krell-Patch” for his modular synthesizer.
“My approach is basically quite similar to what Barton did when he tried to rebuild the Barron’s Krell-Music: setting rules for the machine by patching logical behavior which results in a generative composition… meaning the machine is making the music, I’m just teaching her to do so by wiring her brain/modules in a certain way. The difference between my approach and Barron/Barton is, that because I’m not a big fan of Musique Concrète, I ‘cheated” by not only implementing rules on composition, but also on what notes to play in order to achive a more musically appealing result. Although the notes and scales are pre-set by me, the machine is still free to choose its own notes, tempo, modulations and events from the ‘library’ I provided.” – Marco Petracca
Visit the TOROSIETE Museum of Contemporary Art and see Marco’s exhibition “Deus Ex Diode” to learn more about the composition and the background behind it. Experience it in our Interactive Multimedia Gallery.