An expansive yet intimate project that includes an EP, a series of films from videographer Michele Foti, a publication from graphic designer Sarah Parsons and a room scent from olfactory artist Klara Ravat.
For her latest multimedia project, Tales of Another Felt Sense of Self, sound artist, vocalist and composer Mara Miccichè, better known as IOKOI, embarks on an expansive yet intimate investigation of the essence of being by activating our senses. “To get physical through all the senses and to embrace the other is needed now more than ever,” she explains. “This is the feeling I wanted to translate into sound: raw, intimate, transitional, cleansing and moving. Breathing, embracing and releasing life in all of its facets – imperfect, impermanent, incomplete.” The result is an ambitious, multi-sensory triptych that spirals outwards from five experimental compositions to include a publication, a room scent and a series of three films, each centring on different aspect of being.
Working closely with graphic designer Sarah Parsons, olfactory artist Klara Ravat and filmmaker Michele Foti, IOKOI layers new sites of reflection onto the work, extending the project beyond the normal confines of a digital and physical release – realised by -OUS, co-founded by Miccichè herself. “Tales of Another Felt Sense of Self is the result of a three-year process alongside three creatives from various fields, shaped by the decomposition of self and its recomposition into new forms of expression,” she says. “Composing in relation to other bodies of work and their vision was extremely enriching. I like to see it as a shared stream of consciousness; very precious, still ongoing and hopefully ever evolving.”
Moving through experimental pop textures, evocative spoken word, ghostly field recordings and passages of tactile sound design, IOKOI manifests the connections, contradictions, and reflections between different notions of the self and the other. Flitting between arresting and unpredictable instances of audio anomaly and more structured moments of cinematic synthesis, the tracks are connected with a constant search for self-definition in relation to the ‘Structures’, ‘Movement’ and ‘Growth’ around her, themes reflected in the accompanying visuals from Michele Foti. In Episode One, which features the track ‘Stainless-Still’, she snarls: “My heart is screaming / Of that I’m sure”, an urgent cry of internal anguish seething under the surface, demarcated by deep synthetic surges. This embodied frustration then finds emotional release in Episode Two, as the driving arpeggios of ‘Flexstatic Extended’ build to an endorphin-inducing, sensorial climax.
We close out the triptych having exited the body, with recordings of bird song and plaintive, avant-jazz piano set against handheld footage of images of nature: leaves, branches and berries. “I float in space,” intones Miccichè, “space undefined, like an undefined self, disembodied.” With this track, ‘Bloody Life’, it’s as though the artist’s internal angst has been emptied out into her external presence, the multi-sensory scope of her project giving the emotional substance of her consciousness a new vessel, allowing it to assume a different shape. “I tip myself into you, into me, into space,” she breathes sensuously.
It is at this point that Tales of Another Felt Sense of Self itself extends out into the physical world, with Sarah Parsons expanding stills from Foti’s films and fragments of Miccichè’s lyrics into a 208-page booklet, described by -OUS as “a visual exploration in search of this material’s manifold nuances & defining essence.” Klara Ravat extends the project even further into physical space with a room scent designed to question how we perceive space around us. “To be applied while listening to the music,” explains the label, “the scent triggers different sensations as Tales of Another Felt Sense of Self evolves, finally leaving an afterglow when the work ends and ambient noise reclaims the room. Both the booklet and the scent are available via the IOKOI Bandcamp.