Arigto & Nicolas Sávva Balance Order and Chaos on “Prancing on the Edge of the Abyss”

The German artists discuss their collaborative new single and forthcoming record.

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The German production duo Arigto work at the intersection of sonic extremes. Over the past few years, the enigmatic artists have developed a singular sound that sits somewhere between dark ambient, neo-classical and experimental bass music. The dynamic range of their production work is far-reaching, with tracks moving between delicate, textural atmospherics and rumbling bass implosions.

On their official debut release for NOISIA‘s DIVISION imprint, entitled “Blind Immaterialist,” Arigto introduce themselves as progressive electronica architects, blending evocative ambience with deep, post-dub and trip-hop-leaning beats. However, it is not until the release of their debut full-length, “unseen, untold, forgotten,” that Arigto reveal the full scale of their artistic vision. With contributions from Israeli vocalists Yifeat Ziv and Rotem Sherman, the duo deliver a masterful work of elevated ambient music, featuring distorted field recordings, organic instrumentation and intricate electronic production. Here, Arigto comes into their own as a powerful force within the experimental music community.

This is only elaborated further on “Prancing on the Edge of the Abyss,” their latest single in collaboration with Berlin-based sound artist and composer Nicolas Sávva. The single, accompanied by a stunning remix courtesy of the respected composer Siavash Amini, is the title track from a forthcoming full-length release. Nicolas and Arigto are a perfect match, their styles meeting in a synthesis of resonant strings, plangent piano and cavernous low-end. SBVRSV director hologryphic talked to both Arigto and Nicolas Sávva about the single, their collaborative process and forthcoming record via email exchange. Read it below.

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Who is Arigto? What is your background and how did you get into electronic production?

We went to school together and have been doing music as a duo ever since. Fortunately, we always had the same musical and artistic interests and luckily still do. Both of us have a classical background, but in our early teens, we discovered our similar interest in electronic music. Even though we initially thought about DJing back then, we got captivated with Ableton so much that we turned away from that pretty quickly to pursue music production.

Your first EP and album were released by DIVISION, the record label curated by NOISIA. Your sound is quite different from theirs, how did you connect with them?

Actually, we just submitted a track to their podcast section, which eventually got played and it went on from there. They are a label, which luckily is quite responsive, especially compared to others in the scene. Thys from Noisia seems to enjoy weirder music and was always quite supportive with us on DIVISION. But you are right, our sound quite differs from the rest of their catalogue. Still, we are thankful for their support.

Your sound straddles the boundaries between dark ambient, neo-classical and heavier forms of bass music. How did you arrive at this production style?

“At some point we had the premise to produce at least one track in every genre to build skill and be able to produce everything we want to. Therefore we switched genres probably every three months until we were satisfied with the production. However we never felt like the music we produced felt “right” on a long term basis. There was a lot of doubt involved and still is, which probably is a good thing, that keeps you going.” – Arigto

As a duo, how do you collaborate? Do you have specific roles or do you work in a free-flowing manner?

Yes, over the years specific roles have formed... or rather the ending and the beginning of the process of making music are 98% the same. One is always starting the track and the other one is always finishing the track. And It’s a back and forth between that. We mainly work over the Internet since we moved to different cities to study, but if we have the chance to meet up we often produce music in the same room too. However, we often just enjoy spending time just as friends. 

Can you talk a bit about your latest release, “Prancing on the Edge of the Abyss” and your collaborator Nicolas Sávva? 

Nicolas is the one of the nicest guys we met in the past years. We connected over our music and became good friends via the Internet quite fast. We think it is a friendship that also builds on respect and admiration for one another's work. Finally, we met in person this year. It kind of felt like a blind date though because he didn’t know what we looked like haha. We started working together early 2019. After releasing our single together, we wanted to elaborate the project and work on an EP or album together. This led to our upcoming release, in which we explore the kind of punkish classical style we quickly found back then and which defines "Prancing on the edge of the abyss."

Nicolas, what drew you to work with Arigto? As a composer and sound artist, how do you blend electronic production with instrumental arrangements and what interests you about this convergence of styles?

I think the first thing that drew me to work with Arigto was the emotional viewpoint from which they make their music. Something about it really resonated with me on a personal level and I felt incredibly drawn towards their work. I do feel that there are many similarities in what we do - our processes, our tastes and feelings towards certain sounds. Obviously, our individual songs sound quite different from one another, but if you listen carefully, there is definitely an interesting area of overlap which is where we came together to explore.  

In terms of classical meeting electronics, I never really considered myself a classical musician - it's certainly a club that I'm not really ever going to be a part of.  What interests me are the raw, beautiful sounds that some of these traditionally classical instruments can make. For me, fusing technology and electronics with this more "classical" foundation, and allowing synths to mimic and oppose these instruments is really  exciting - a blending of organic and tech, old and new.  I love how it can weave together so effortlessly.  I spend a lot of time resampling my compositions and creating ambient soundscapes from them, usually with granular synthesis, time stretching etc. It can be a long editing process to stitch all the pieces together, but it's always worth it. 

Nicolas, how does your sound line up with Arigto’s and how does it differ? Has working with them influenced your approach to composition or sound design in any way?

“The core emotions of my work and Arigto’s are foundationally the same. we are playing around with similar feelings and moods, but I am at one end of the spectrum and they are at the other.  I guess this is why we can merge together so well – two extreme opposites stemming from the same energy source. Working with them has taught me so much about my own workflow and helped me to identify alternate ways of being productive.” – Nicolas Sávva

This single features a prominent string section and feels even more classically-influenced than previous Arigto work. Is this a direction Arigto & Nicolas will continue to explore on future releases?

Nicolas: Oh definitely - this is really a common starting point for us.  I bring some kind of string or instrument arrangement and Arigto bring one of their productions - then I add a little bit more into their world, and they add a little bit more into my world.  I think what you are hearing is just "our" sound - this is what Arigto with Nicolas Sávva sounds like - so it doesn't sound like them or me - it just sounds like us as one unified artist. I can see us working like this together in the future for sure, I feel extremely connected to them. 

Siavash Amini contributed the remix of the single, what do you appreciate about his take on the original?

Nicolas: I really love the remix that Siavash created for us. As with all of his remixes, he re-worked the original source material without adding any additional sounds. The end result is a really amped up, supercharged take on our initial vision... like the song has been catapulted out into space and then slowly drifting further into the ether. The way Siavash manipulates some of the original sounds to create bellowing bass tones, sparkly high-end tinkers and wailing animal sounds is really quite impressive.

Can you speak a bit about the rest of the record, arriving next month, and what influenced its creation?

Nicolas: Our forthcoming EP is really a tribute to our creative relationship together as artists. We wanted to craft something that took the best of our individual universes and weaved those moods together- the dark and the light, the brutal and the fragile, the uncomfortable and the ever-comforting. I think in the end, we ended up with something really cohesive, even though most of these feelings are generally polar opposites. There seems to be the right balance between chaos and order - and I think in a way, that reflects a lot of who we are in trying to forever get that balance right.  It's been a strange year - and I think we are all deserving of a little comfort amongst all of the noise.

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The full-length record, “Prancing on the Edge of the Abyss” will be out next month. Stream/purchase the single here.

Artwork: Jesse Draxler.

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