Chris Ianuzzi’s Mastery of Sound
The essence of music, particularly that which is recorded, revisited, and recapitulated every time it’s played in the form of a recording, was and always will be sound itself.
The vast pastiche of sonic endowments to support the artistic endeavors of a particular tune, commercial, film score, etc., includes a range of qualities from ultra clean to grungy, big to vivacious. Musicians, even accomplished ones, there are aplenty.
Yet the propensity to take the music and make it sound right, coming out in a way that its individual and collective elements hit the precise chord in the listener they were designed to hit, that’s the task of the select, the elite, the sagacious, even.
“I give all the credit for that to [Ciani Musica production house founder] Suzanne [Ciani], for having the opportunity to come into all of that,” Ianuzzi remarked. “She was all about that. You couldn’t exist like that now, what we did. Everything was a luxury. It was like you’d take a day to do a commercial. Now, it’s done in half an hour. We made an attempt to make things sound perfect.”
What Ianuzzi learned from all of the sonic wizardry surrounding him daily as he labored at one of New York’s most acclaimed production centers for electronic music, at the pivotal epoch in which elements of disco were transitioning into funk and hip hop, is well displayed on his latest release. It’s not just in the free form sounds that are unmistakably electronic.
But it’s in his perfection of groove, and in the rectitude of the presentation of his drums, the sounds, how they’ve been manipulated (although the proper jargon for that is “freaked”) to come across so presumptuous that even if you happen to not like the tune, you can’t do anything else but respect the sonic mastery on display for much of the project.
Ianuzzi isn’t just conscious of what it takes to produce such effects, which transcends merely equalizing sounds or dosing them in the right amount of effects. As a keyboardist by vocation, initially, he can readily rattle off the specific names of synthesizers since the very inception of this influential instrument that has become all but synonymous with electronic music—if not music in general, these days.
He also knows his production programs and a thing or two about the esoteric influence of sound for a sonic paragon.
Literally, that is.
“With this album, Maze, and Planetaria too, I worked with a guy at mastering, Tim Boyce of The Sound Design, here in New York,” Ianuzzi divulged. “He’s got the old [type of] EQ, compressors… Not digital. Even though he’s got digital stuff, analog adds a thing to it that with the other—you just don’t get it otherwise.”
All one needs to do is get a dose of “Lonesome Highway Superstar”, which Ianuzzi is planning to release as the next video from the album, to understand exactly what he’s talking about.
One fortuitous day, Chris Ianuzzi met Christopher Sluka. In New York. The latter handed the latter the former a cassette, as so many other musicians, producers, and instrumentalists have done before.
“When I met him, I gave him some music, and I wasn’t going to attempt to sing them,” Ianuzzi recollected. “And, I said, ‘come up with some vocal ideas’. That ended up leading to the band that we had.”
Actually, it led to way more than just the formation of the band Sluka. Sluka’s vocals over Ianuzzi’s music resulted in the creation of the band’s debut single, “Sunday’s Child”, that was released on Japanese powerhouse MELDAC, then one of the major recording industry labels in the world. Additional songs that Ianuzzi delivered the music for populated the debut album of the band, which was released on the same major label that backed the group for a second album, as well.
In his late 20’s and early 30’s at the time, Ianuzzi found himself with a major label recording contract, living the high life as a successful young man in Tokyo.
In hindsight, that Ianuzzi’s music launched the successful career of an entire cadre of musicians and vocalists makes perfect sense. This is, after all, the same dude who spent months hanging around Tokyo, recording the unique sounds of the city at work, at play, and at sleep, even, simply to have more fodder to manipulate for his aural concoctions.
That same penchant for transmuting sounds to songs and rudiments to rhythms is what enabled him to get on so famously at his gig with Ciani, for whom he not only played music on her label, but for whom he also performed numerous instances of writing and recording music for commercials, jingles, and other non-song placements.
Moreover, it would initially launch his own solo career as an electronic music recording artist, which has helped him to embrace singing and vocalizing his own cuts, now.
“Where I was in my 20s with the Ciani thing, I was involved with the studio musicians and the studio singers that were the best in the world,” Ianuzzi rationalized. “I could not be compared to that. I could not hold a pitch to save my life and I could not do it the way they did it. People tried to get me to do that and that didn’t work: I couldn’t be a perfect singer. And, I just think me doing what I could do finally worked out.”