This is the translation of an article originally published by Francesco Sorino on Fri 28 Jan 2022 on videohifi.com, the Italian online magazine co-directed by Francesco. The original article can be read here.

Nothence is a music project, independent and self-produced, started by Fabio Scagliola in 2009 as a small band, and later developed as a solo multi-instrumentalist, with intensive use of home recording.

Fabio has churned out four albums, one every two years, since 2012.

Let us analyze the evolution of this author’s discography of music “that will not be listened to.”

Portrayed by a blind painter (2012)

A big-bang – the initial spark – is painful. Lancinating. Lacerating.

And it makes noise.

Of distorted guitars.

The processing of a private, unfortunately common pain, the end of a union, of those meant to be “forever,” in 2012 prompted Fabio to lead his band and give birth to the debut album: Portrayed by a blind painter.

More than just a creative spark. It’s practically psychoanalysis. A catharsis. A descent into the underworld. One that digs deep. Grief over hurt feelings disorients, creates a turbulent magma, which stirs the muddy bottom, and brings to the surface those existential malaises buried and stratified there: loneliness, spiritual emptiness, difficulty in new relationships, nihilistic depression, social isolation (even self-inflicted).

But crisis is also a turning point, it is an opportunity, for those who make it through the discomfort. For those who, after bottoming out, crawling like a caterpillar, and enclosing themselves in a cocoon, succeed in completing the metamorphosis, piercing the envelope, and flying like a butterfly, reaching a higher evolutionary level.

The expressive style is instinctively linked to the minimalistic grunge milieu in which the author grew up. Both as a teenager, in the early 1990s, listening to and absorbing Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Dinosaur Jr. and breathing the Seattle air, first in sporadic pilgrimages as a student in love with grunge, then – repeatedly and longer – in the early 2000s, spent at the court of Microsoft (Fabio is a computer scientist who designs software).

The suggestions, however reworked, are recognizable: riffs, distorted sounds, a couple of songs in 7/4. Some critics have written that it adds little to what the “Ammerikans” had already produced twenty years earlier, and that this mountain grunge is an “aseptic, weak, and glossy” version of the DOCG, seaside grunge between the western U.S. and Canada. But it’s not that pain is only more valuable if it is sung by someone escaped from the Midwest to Greenwich Village, in a perpetual struggle (doomed to defeat) against opiate addiction!

These fourteen tracks are songs with lyrics – in English – harsh and ruthless, rough, though without strong – or forced – vocabulary provocations. I am too old to know thoroughly and love the genre, to decode its language in detail, but they seem to me to be well executed, arranged, and produced. Conceiving them and publishing them, against the grain, twenty years after the height of the grunge phenomenon, represents a courageous identity choice. The author-singer also performs multi-instrumentalism, alternating and overdubbing, between bass, guitars, and piano. In the studio he asks for help only with drums. Live also with bass and keyboards.

Although the album ends with unanswered questions (Where are you?; Who am I?), one catches flashes of optimism and hope.

Death and resurrection: the therapy worked!

But Fabio’s young son also had a hand in it, with the short naive lyrics of The sun is coming back.

Public static void (2014)

Less than two years after the exorcism of the first album, of that pain only the scar remains, which closes the wound, allows one to continue living, but which, every time we lay our eyes on it or absent-mindedly touch it with our fingers, refreshes the memory. Leaving behind pain, anger, and loneliness, one attempts to tidy up the inner mess, to reconcile with one’s world after alienation.

Pacification, however, is not easy. It is easy to be sucked into the abyss (Chasms) or to self-emarginate through incompatibility with the compromises of existence (Outcast). Suffering transcends and, from the totally introspective, private dimension, it becomes universal, an inescapable genetic characteristic of a homo sapiens who has celebrated God’s funeral, buried him (Aura), and mourns his absence. But now the vision is sharper: even in darkness, it is guided by the light of lighthouses (Lighthouses).

In Scraps and Organ, an awareness surfaces: the impossibility of getting one’s lament to others, deafened by one’s own lament and background noise, in a fate of incommunicability, but not futility, of these minor works, created almost exclusively for oneself, in an attempt to take control of one’s own destiny. Works of music that is not written to be sold (as all authentic music always is), and therefore “that will not be listened to.”

Fabio, with the same lineup as the first album, once again retrieves from the heart of Seattle the reverberations and sounds he grew up with. But right from the introduction, a little more than forty seconds of solo piano, a softer and more refined sound manifests itself, as well as an attempt to correct an excessive uniformity of expression that is perhaps the biggest flaw of the previous debut album. Or, at least, this is what it appears to my listening, as a non-grunge insider. Like when we venture into unfamiliar cities, and everything seems too much the same. Instead, on this record, snippets featuring piano, or even organ, pop up in several tracks, and are contrasted with scratchy vocals and electric instruments, with distortion ordinance.

Post mortem memento vivere (2016)

After another couple of years, in 2016, Fabio offers a significant shift in gear. Starting with the title of the album, in Latin, as well as that of two tracks. A classicism decidedly at odds with Anglicism, imperative for early grunge. Moreover, there is a departure from the song-form, pervasive in the past, and six of the eleven tracks are now instrumental, in a metamorphosis that will be completed with the next work, completely instrumental.

My interpretation is that the need to communicate strong feelings didactically is now paid off and creativity, having become more mature and “resolved,” can rise and sublimate in musical research.

Even the stylistic figure has changed: the grunge of adolescent reminiscences begins to give way to what the author calls a post-rock or post-metal experimentation and which I, being a few years older, instead, especially in the successful and hypnotic instrumental tracks Nihil durare potest tempore perpetuo and Atheism is not for everyone, classify as new progressive. In My grandfather used to know how to fly and in After death this prog becomes dominated by the dark colors of the organ and the effects that twist the guitar.

From the inspirational themes, the introspective anguish of the beginnings seems to have disappeared, and the more general ones of atheism (and indirectly of the consequent spiritual emptiness: Atheism is not for everyone) and of the thousands of phobias that complicate our daily lives emerge (Remember to live), starting with the mother of all fears: the fear of death (Ante mortem; Remember to live; Nihil durare potest tempore perpetuo; After death).

The confrontation with his son going through the complicated adolescent phase then shifts the focus to parental relationships (Remember to live; Son and father; Son to father; Father to son) and family ties (My grandfather used to know how to fly). In Remember to live, among other fears, the fear of being unheard comes up again: one line reads “No one ever will listen to this”.

The author takes over the production completely, playing the drums too. On a few tracks, he sets aside the distorted electric guitar to harness the acoustic as the protagonist. He gains in the variety of atmospheres he proposes, up to the dilated finale of Acceptance, which, without words, communicates a resigned overcoming of the lacerating emotional tensions of the previous albums.

Proposed tracks for unproduced movies (2018)

The most recent album completes the evolutionary process marked by the previous one. All the tracks are instrumental. The rough grunge atmospheres are abandoned to finally land on what I call a new progressive, not without contaminations of German electroacoustics, with plenty of experimentation on electronic keyboards and ambience and reverb effects.

As the author notes, the title wryly acknowledges that few will listen to this album, just as few listen to soundtracks of unproduced movies.

And we can say that this is a pity, because along with the hair and lyrics the author has lost the drama of the previous works. Having sacrificially gained a new awareness of his mature self, having gained at least an apparent liberation from tensions with reality (especially the inner one), the musician only now – paradoxically – allows himself a more accessible language, outside the clichés of grunge and its plaid flannel shirts.

What in the debut was the courageous, countercultural identity choice dictated by one’s youthful origins and experiences is finally replaced by a new identity, human as well as artistic, built on the experiences of maturity.

Fun fact: the final track, The nonce, is dedicated to an abstruse computer entity that was supposed to name Fabio’s original band project. Nothence is its anagram, randomly generated by a typographical error in the early days and thus retained.

For those who wish to shatter the author’s certainties about this music that is “not written to be sold” and “that will not be listened to,” the four albums can be purchased on CD directly from the Nothence website and they can be downloaded and streamed via the the major online music services.


Francesco Sorino,