Augustine is the brainchild of Sara Baggini. She is a dreamy post-wave singer-songwriter, multi-Instrumentalist, producer… between grief and desire. The new album by Augustine, Proserpine, is out for the label I Dischi Del Minollo, three years after the previous Grief And Desire. The event was previewed by the release of two singles, Pagan in January and Anemones in April, presented with the related videos directed by Francesco Biccheri.
As the title suggests, the Italian singer-songwriter symbolically puts herself in the place of the Latin goddess of the afterlife. The entire album revolves about this mythological figure and – Augustine tells – «it was born from an idea of inexorability, of reclusion, of self-exile; of a life lived watching the world from behind a window». It is about an introspective journey, a symbolic fall into Hades, a psychological death with its little rebirths.
The new sounds, dense and sombre – musically much closer to Dark Folk than to Dream Pop of the previous CD – trace the thematic contents and reflect the studio work, which is a novelty for the singer-songwriter, linked to self-production and home recording so far. In fact, the album is produced by Fabio Ripanucci, in collaboration with Daniele Rotella, at La Cura Dischi in Perugia.
The musical narration mirrors the myth, making use of some crucial symbols that define the story, such as the pomegranate. The figure of the goddess is presented in its duality of goddess of the underworld and goddess bonded to the spring and the harvest: death and rebirth, two key themes of the entire album.
The intimately suffered autobiographic cue is transcended up to touching more profound and unfathomable occult realities.
The arrangements have been augmented by iconic electric and electronic sounds (such as Moog and Rhodes), while the guitars – almost always acoustic – are sharper.On some tracks, acoustic drums replaced drum machines.
The characteristic vocal harmonic stratifications are always present, though less ethereal and dreamy, while the artist’s vocalism tends towards more visceral drifts.
Lyrics are deeply intimate, the writerpreferring clear and simple forms and rhythmic structures modulated by rhymes, which remind of lullabies, with their obsessive, prayer-like quality.
The result is a dark, lysergic and oneiric atmosphere, sometimes illuminated by a fugitive flash of light.
The concept was inspired by Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting Proserpina, which portrays the goddess in the act of watching towards a cleft suddenly opened from the palace doors of Hades.
The cover photo – work of Francesco Capponi, realized with an authentic Victorian view camera – is a sort of tableau vivant of the picture and marks a distant time, that solemn remoteness which characterizes the album.
Sara Baggini is an Italian singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. A composer since her early adolescence, she moves from Sondrio to Perugia at the age of 19, in order to attend the Academy of Fine Arts, where she gets the Painting degree at Sauro Cardinali’s course. Visual art, expressed in the attention towards image, will always play an important role also in the artist’s music career.
After her debut in 2010 with One Thin Line – and after some collaborations with electronic projects such as Alas Laikaand Other Us – she chooses the pseudonym Augustine, taken from the name of the hysteric female protagonist of Georges Didi-Huberman’s essay Invention of Hysteria, since the paradoxical condition of hysteria is assumed by the composer as paradigm of the artist’s work, especially when coupled with a complex feminine sensitivity.
In 2018 Grief and Desire, conceived as a music autobiographical novel, is released and well received by the critics despite its strongly independent character.
In 2019 the video for the song Augustine wins second prize as “best self-produced Italian video clip” at VIC – Videoclip Italia Contest.
The imaginary of her songs feeds on literature (for instance Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath) and painting (the Pre-Raphaelites and Dante Gabriel Rossetti) as well as on music.
Most of her musical influences come from the British Post-punk, Dream Pop and Dark Wave scene of the eighties (Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Siouxsie And The Banshees) but also from all the female songwriters and artists she loves (Kate Bush, Sinead O’Connor, Annie Lennox, PJ Harvey, Agnes Obel, Anna Calvi, St. Vincent, Bjork, Enya, Julianna Barwick, Meredith Monk).
Recurrent themes of her songs are illness, hypochondria, loss, mourning, absence, distance, rising and forsaken love, guilt, blame, ecstasy and fall.
Oneiric and delirium – at the edge of consciousness – are perceived as the only possible languages to generate a deeper sense.
The artist is object and subject at the same time and – like the hysteric – in the image of herself she finds her own identity: distorted, fragmented and yet the one.
Line-up on Proserpine:
Sara Baggini: vocals, guitars, bass, Rhodes, keyboards, synths, percussions, stomp-box, drum machine.
Fabio Ripanucci: additional guitars onFanny, They Killed Me and Moments of Pleasure and Joy, Rhodes, keyboards, Moog, percussions, drum machine.
Daniele Rotella: bass on Tower Stones and percussions on Pomegranate.
Massimo Margaritelli: bass on Fanny, They Killed Me and Moments of Pleasure and Joy.
Niccolò Franchi: snare on Pagan and drums on Moments of Pleasure and Joy, How to Cut Your Veins Correctly and Adonis.
Francesco Federici: toms on Pomegranate.