Cyclic Selects: Eugene Ughetti


Eugene Ughetti is a percussionist and the founding artist director of Speak Percussion, a forward thinking new music ensemble. He has worked with the likes of Pierre Boulez, Liza Lim, Steve Reich and John Zorn and has presented his work at Darmstadt (Germany), Roulette (New York), SONICA (UK), Ruhrtriennale (Germany), Mona Foma (Hobart), Arts Centre Melbourne, Transart (Italy), Lucerne Festival (Switzerland)amongst numerous others. He has composed works for The Australian Ballet, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, ABC and Bionics Institute. He also has a new solo album Agglomeration Of Measurement due out shortly on Room40, which features collaborations with Liza Lim, Robin Fox, Alex Garsden, James Rushford and Anthony Pateras. It’s quite a fascinating and eclectic listen, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to ask about the music that has influenced him over the years.

Grupa ” Lira ” Bitola – muzički koktel vo živo

Growing up in the inner west of Melbourne, my neighbourhood was filled with Eastern European migrant families. I’m indebted to my Macedonian neighbour ‘George’ who was a truly virtuosic whistler, I’m sure he had hundreds of songs in his repertoire and to them all I was exposed from across our fence. My father, of Italian birth, played in reception bands throughout my childhood and he was my first music teacher. His bands had a cosmopolitan repertoire of music from mainly around the Mediterranean.

Listening to this music brings me straight back, and I’m still so impressed not only by the music and the vibe of it but also how common electronic drums, synths and heavy delays were.

Maurice Ravel – Dafnes et Chloé Suite No. 2

My first serious encounter with Classical Music was as a fourteen year old when I joined the Melbourne Youth Orchestra. This was a baptism by fire, in my very first concert we performed Ravel’s Dafnes et Chloe Suite No. 2. I remember being sucked in by this work, it’s magic and orchestrational perfection. This was the first moment I fully understood that music offered a lifetime of exploration.

Oncle Jazz – Men I Trust

During the COVID-19 lockdown I’ve gotten into a little Friday night ritual with my wife of cooking a special meal and opening a nice bottle of wine. This is usually accompanied by listening to some new music reflective of the need to bathe in the achievement of having gotten to the end of the week.

Oncle Jazz is pretty much the perfect fit…..

Karlheinz Stockhausen – Kontakte

This piece is particularly important to me as it was a work I experienced live as a teenager and I remember it sparking a bunch of very heated lunchtime conversations with my music-nerd friends at school. It was probably the first multi-channel performance work I’d heard and affirmed my path along the journey of the avant-garde.

Coincidentally, all of the artists performing and presenting Kontakte, as well as many people in the audience that night would years later become close collaborators and colleagues.

Grooverider – Starbase 23

During high school in the late 90’s, running in parallel with my burgeoning love for new and experimental music, was the golden age of jungle and drum ‘n’ bass. My earliest club experiences and my taste in dance music was utterly defined by these genres. It was the sheer tempo and grit of the music combined of course with the undeniably precious raw ingredients of the ‘Amen break’ and the timbral innovations in electronic music production of that time. I was lucky enough to see all the greats live.

I chose Starbase 23 from Grooverider’s Mysteries of Funk because it was one of the more ambitious tracks of its time in terms of form. Necessary to listen with at least a sub or good headphones, the bass line doesn’t really drop until halfway through.

Steve Reich – Sextet(3rd, 4th & 5th movement)

Some of my favourite formative experiences as a musician came in the form of learning and performing the percussion works of American composer Steve Reich. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to perform almost his complete percussion oeuvre and perhaps the high point was performing a duo with him in his classic minimalist piece of 1972 Clapping Music.

I chose Sextet because in my opinion it’s one of his best works and representative of the peak of American 20th century percussion music.

Pierre Boulez – Notations for Orchestra (2nd movement)
Pierre Boulez has been an inspirational figure to me, he was the first conductor I admired and his uncompromising, almost scientific approach to music seemed to imbue it with a new level of rigour and intellectual clout. I was fortunate enough to work with him in percussion, chamber and orchestral settings and including in performing this work of his, Notations for Orchestra. I learned a lot from him in terms of curation and musical legacies.

Liza Lim – Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus
One of my all-time-favourite composers is Australia’s Liza Lim. Her musical language is filled with layers of meaning, detail and an extraordinary hyper-expressivity. I’m proud to have a work of hers on the Agglomeration of Measurement album and am very pleased to introduce here another remarkable recent release of hers on the Kairos label, Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus.

Agglomeration Of Measurement is due out on the 31st of July on Room40. You can find it here.


About Author

Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.