MY CAT IS AN ALIEN (MCIAA) is the avant-garde duo of radical instantaneous composers and outsider audiovisual artists formed by brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio in late 1997. They started their activity in Torino, Italy, before moving in a remote, secret region of the Western Alps.
MCIAA's music and visual art is the result of a primordial howl as the most futurible form of expression.
Multi-instrumentalists, since the beginning they privileged the use of electric guitars, percussion, various toy instruments including Roberto Opalio's well known "space toys" filtered throught his guitar. In 2012 they re-shaped their sound with self-made string instruments and reassembled electronic devices, as always accompanied by Roberto Opalio’s distinctive wordless vocalizations.
Most of MCIAA's live performances become even more unique events thanks to instant polaroids shot on stage by Roberto Opalio, photos often turned into proper art installations and album covers.
MCIAA's work range over many artistic activities: musical performance, films and videos, audiovisual installations, photography, poetry, drawings and paintings.
The visual aspect in MCIAA's esthetics is of primary importance; all cover artworks are curated by Roberto Opalio himself, whose distinctive artistic stamp gives a strong style to all their works.
MCIAA have set up multimedia collaborations with vanguards such as Sonic Youth, Christian Marclay, Thurston Moore, Keiji Haino, Lee Ranaldo, Jim O'Rourke, Michael Morley (Dead C), Loren Mazzacane Connors, Jackie-O Motherfucker, Nels Cline (Wilco), Text of Light, Steve Roden, Savage Pencil, Christina Carter (Charalambides), Okkyung Lee, Mats Gustafsson and many more.
From 2004 to 2008 some of these artists collaborated to MCIAA’s special phonographic project launched in the form of two series of split Art LPs (later re-issued on CD) entitled From the earth to the Spheres (7 volumes) and Cosmic Debris (5 volumes), acclaimed as some of the most original publications ever. Each vinyl copy came along a 30x30 cm acrylic painting on canvas or wood panels, in the latter series with the addition of mounted Polaroid films. Roberto Opalio realized every volume in 100 unique exemplars. From the earth to the Spheres was awarded 2004's “Avant Rock Top 10" by The Wire.
MCIAA have licensed more than 100 albums to prestigious international labels such as Thurston Moore's (Sonic Youth) Ecstatic Peace!, Atavistic (USA), Important Records (USA), Les Disques VICTO (CAN), Very Friendly/ Cargo (UK), PSF (Japan), Staalplaat/ Mort Aux Vaches (NL), Eclipse Records (USA), Starlight Furniture Co./ Revolver (USA), Last Visible Dog (USA), Time-Lag Records (USA), PseudoArcana (NZ), Sloow Tapes (B), Ikuisuus (FIN), Digitalis (USA), Discrepant (UK), Elliptical Noise (CAN) among others.
Since the beginning the duo also dedicated to several private and ultra-limited art editions.
Since MCIAA formed, they toured several times in Europe with Sonic Youth.
Also, the duo have performed at selected events and international festivals of experimental music and multimedia arts:
ATP Nightmare Before Christmas (curated by Thurston Moore, 2006 UK), State-X festival (Den Haag, NL), K-raa-k Festival (Hasselt, BE), Music Lovers' Field Companion festival c/o The Sage Gateshead (Newcastle, UK), Instants Chavirés (Paris, FR), Cafe Oto (London, UK), La Batie festival - Victoria Hall (Geneve, CH), CCA Center of Contemporary Arts (Glasgow, UK), Feedback Festival (Dijon, FR), Theater Coliseum (Porto, PT), Razzmatazz (Barcelona, ES), Ancien Belgique (Brussels, BE), Stimul Festival (Prague, CZ), Fondazione Mazzotta (Milano, IT), Kulturbunker Mulheim (Cologne, DE), VPRO radio&tv (Amsterdam, NL), ZDB (Lisbon, PT), Netmage Festival (Bologna, IT), La Casa Encendida (Madrid, ES), Extra Festival (Torino, IT), Teatro Juvarra (Torino, IT), Festival Sotto Le Stelle (Ferrara, IT), Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (CAN), Incubate festival (Tilburg, NL), Musiques Innovatrices (St-Etienne, FR)
In 2005 Roberto Opalio was invited to contribute an original painting for one of The Wire magazine's exclusive art t-shirts.
Tokyo’s Studio Voice magazine and book publications awarded 'Different Shades Of Blue' album of 2005 in the Top chart "THE BEST OF AMBIENT WORKS 1969-2009". Besides extended articles and interviews, Studio Voice also commissioned Roberto Opalio to create an exclusive full-page colour illustration.
John Szwed, awarded writer, Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, mentioned MCIAA's album ‘For Alan Lomax’ in his acclaimed book "Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded The World" (Viking, 2010).
Roberto Opalio and My Cat Is An Alien took part to "Sonic Youth etc.: Sensational Fix" touring exhibition, scheduled in big European museums of contemporary arts between 2008 and 2010. At the opening at LiFE museum (F) in June 2008, MCIAA set up a live performance collaboration with Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) and Michael Morley (Dead C), published by Starlight Furniture Co. (USA, 2009).
A new album of this collaborative project with Lee Ranaldo was published in 2010 by Atavistic (USA).
Besides the official exhibition catalog published by Walter Koenig (awarded in 2008 by L'Arbre à Lettres, Paris), curator Roland Groenenboom presented a spin-off limited compendium magazine at Malmo Konsthall, featuring exclusive artworks by Roberto Opalio and MCIAA.
Nova Cinema in Brussels dedicated an entire evening to the screening of Roberto Opalio’s experimental films from 2005 to 2014. This retrospective culminated in MCIAA’s live soundtrack to Roberto Opalio’s dual film “Light_Earth_Blue_Silver” (published on DVD by Atavistic, USA).
MCIAA's articles, interviews and extended reviews are featured on the most important international music magazines like The Wire (UK), Mojo (USA), The Sound Projector (UK), Dream Magazine (USA), Arthur Magazine (USA), The Ptolemaic Terrascope (UK), Brokenface (SWE), Dusted Magazine (USA), Foxy Digitalis (USA), Stylus Magazine (USA), Noiseweek (USA), Brainwashed (USA), Kwadratuur (BE), Blow Up (IT), Gaz-Eta (PL), His Voice (CZ), Rumore Magazine (IT) and many more.
In 2011, Elliptical Noise records (CAN) published 'ALIENOLOGY: Selected Works 1998-2008', a ten disc box retrospective of MCIAA's first decade of activity.
MCIAA contributed soundtrack to the movie "Lowlife" by Seth Smith, Winner at Atlantic Film Festival 2012 (DVD published by Brinkvision in 2014).
Another soundtrack contribution is made for Jack James' movie "Malady", due in 2015.
In late 2013 MCIAA have finalized their most extreme work to date: 'PSYCHO-SYSTEM', a 6 CD Box set (Elliptical Noise, CAN), that represents the most advanced expression of their current creative method of composition through the brothers' brand new self-made strings and electronic instrumentation. An explicit warning reads that "prolonged exposure to sounds and high volume listening can cause episodes of psychotic break with reality, hallucinations, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, catatonia."
In 2014 MCIAA spent a residency in Brussels to collaborate with Belgian electronic composer Cédric Stevens; for the first time the brothers played an old upright piano during the recording sessions. This proper new project created by the trio led to the release of the triple album My Cat Is An Alien & Cédric Stevens ‘Abstract Expressionism For The Ears’, released in November 2014.
My Cat Is An Alien have been the cover stars of The Wire magazine (issue #331, 2011).