I regret to report, for those of you who have not already seen the news on Facebook, the Hypnos Forum, or the email@example.com listserv, that Gianluigi Gasparetti, best known as Oöphoi, founder of the magazine Deep Listenings, and also founder of the Umbra & Penumbra labels, has passed away at age 55.
You will find many people sharing memories and photos HERE, on the Hypnos Forum.
Some of my very earliest memories as an ambient musician and label owner involve Gigi, as his friends called him. I first knew him as a magazine publisher and writer, and was delighted to find this Italian-language magazine devoted to ambient music had given rave reviews to the first few CDs released by Hypnos.
Gigi transitioned from ambient music fan to practitioner, and while the majority of those who attempt this move never create music that amounts to much, he became as Oöphoi truly one of the most noteworthy artists in the scene from the late 90s onward.
We communicated on many subjects over the years, and I had the pleasure of releasing four CDs of his music, with others in various stages of planning or potential discussion. The four already released include the following:
Oöphoi – Athlit
Athlit was the first Hypnos first release by Oöphoi, and ended up being his only solo work we released. There were many discussions of doing other solo releases, but sometimes Gigi was impatient. It often seemed that if two labels were interested in releasing some of his work, he went with whichever label wanted to release it soonest.
Paul Vnuk Jr. & Oöphoi – Distance to Zero
Distance to Zero was an album we considered somewhat overlooked. It found a modest listenership, but not the acclaim it deserved. Perhaps time will look more favorably upon it, and it will rise in the estimation of the ambient music scene in general.
Nebulæ – The Path of White Clouds
The Path of White Clouds was a reissue of an out-of-print album by Nebula, a sort of ambient music “supergroup.” Due to some concerns about the several other recording artists releasing work under the name Nebula, the decision was made to alter the name slightly to Nebulæ for the reissue. Group member Klaus Wiese passed away during the time we were preparing this reissue.
Seren Ffordd & Oöphoi – The Martian Chronicles
Another Oöphoi collaboration, this time with Seren Ffordd, an ambient artist from Wales whose work Gigi had introduced to the world on his Umbra & Penumbra labels. He also encouraged me to release some Seren Ffordd work on Hypnos, which has led to the strong ongoing relationship between us. Seren Ffordd & Oöphoi had such a successful collaboration, they completed a second CD worth of material around the same time. We originally discussed the idea of making the release a double CD, but the two discs were of such different sonic quality from one another, we settled on releasing them as related but separate albums.
We are currently working on The Dreaming Waters, the second album by Seren Ffordd & Oöphoi, which will come out on Hypnos in 2013. Fans of Oöphoi’s music are fortunate to have such a large body of work available, with perhaps a few more items like this one still to be released.
I personally (that is, Hypnos founder Mike Griffin) had worked intermittently on a collaborative project with Gigi. We created about two CDs worth of music, some of it very fine, but somehow we were both so busy with other things that we never quite got around to finishing it. Perhaps I’ll find a way to edit and finalize those tracks some day, and release them in tribute to Gigi. He was so friendly, and in touch with so many recording artists around the world, that I have no doubt other collaborative projects exist in semi-finished states. I hope we will hear more of these in the future.
Though we’ve lost our friend, he has left us many soundworlds to explore.