Huge Tip! 250 copies. A sinopia is an ancient preparatory sketch technique for a fresco. If you scrape the final work off the wall, the sketch remains; simplified and powerful in it’s starkness. Alessandra Novaga, an experimental guitarist/composer based in Milan, Italy found this historic technique resonated with an album she recently recorded with NYC-based drummer Kid Millions (aka John Colpitts of Oneida, Man Forever and many other projects). Italy’s cultural past is the often transcendent and occasionally irritating uninvited collaborator to the living Italian artist. But as this recording project developed, Novaga couldn’t shake the metaphor. A few minutes from Novaga’s apartment, is Milan’s San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, one of the oldest churches in the city and home to the legendary Hall of the Nuns frescos. Recently restored, but missing a few small sections, the sinopias, or preparatory wall sketches behind the detailed frescos, appear as ghostly previews of the work on the walls.
Novaga met Colpitts in 2015 at the Tutto Questo Sentire residency, in Capalbio Tuscany. Both felt an immediate kinship as performers and friends. For Colpitts, Novaga’s guitar syntax had no boundaries. Her playing coiled and attacked powerfully all while she left surprising, compelling silences. Colpitts responded with restraint and nuance and found himself reaching some stunning new territory. Novaga felt that Colpitts’s could handle whatever extended technique choices she threw at him. But when the residency wrapped up, they lost touch for a time. After seeing an interview with Novaga in Alan Licht’s 2021 book of musician interviews, Common Tones, Colpitts reached out and suggested they work together. Things moved quickly from there and the two musicians composed, over the course of a few months, the six pieces that make up this album.
It all started with six sinopias. Instead of operating through in-person, extemporaneous improvisations, guitarist Novaga and Colpitts recorded performances or sinopies, on which the other completed the final mosaic. Colpitts was a new father, so he would take short breaks while his baby slept to record with Lenny Monachello at his studio next door. Novaga walked ten minutes from her apartment in Milan to a film music studio above a legendary frame shop, both managed by Giovanni Isgrò. Sinopia #1’s inexorable drum battery is engulfed with a droning wave of sound. Sinopia #6's pinball machine-esque percussion is threaded by Novaga’s Walkman feedback. The album moves through sections of found sound, quietude, chaos and flurried energy - which combine to capture two virtuosos meeting on record for the first time.
Dan Schechter, an award-winning designer who’s worked on Colpitts’s album art for 20 years, interpreted the layering concept of sinopia for the cover. His design highlights the veneers beneath a crumbling fresco. On Sinopia, we hear Colpitts and Novaga finding new territories, and creating career defining music together.
Artwork e Design di Dan Schechter
Executive Producer: Fabrizio Perissinotto