My Cat Is An Alien / Valerio Cosi - "Stories From The Vacuum" split 7" (Black Horizon)

"Sweet Italian improv in a couple of very distinct flavours. The Opalio brothers (MCIAA) are in guitar/ toy/ space whisper mode here, and conjure up a swirling gust of space noise as gentle as acid rain. Valerio, meanwhile, blares spectral synthesizer smoke against roiling spools of looped saxophone. Pretty great."
(Byron Coley, March 2008, The Wire)

My Cat Is An Alien / Text of Light - "Cosmic Debris Volume I" split ART-LP (Opax Records)
My Cat Is An Alien / Steve Roden - "Cosmic Debris Volume II" split ART-LP (Opax Records)
My Cat Is An Alien / Keiji Haino - "Cosmic Debris Volume III" split ART-LP (Opax Records)

"The Italian brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio have released a huge number of recordings under their My Cat Is An Alien name in their fearless pursuit of freeform dissonance and vast, abstract space rock. On the aptly titled Cosmic Debris series, originally released as very limited editions in vinyl form, they are cast as both performers and curators, sharing each of these three discs with artists whose own pursuit of noise ranges from the artistic to the cathartic. Each volume is divided into roughly 20 minutes per artist (one side apiece on vinyl), which on the one hand is a constraint, but on the other streamlines and focuses each performance.
So on Volume I, Text of Light's "033103 Paris" seems to cut in some time after the start with a clatter of percussion and a surge of noise. Originally convened to provide live, improvised soundtracks to the films of Stan Brakhage, this ensemble, consisting of Lee Ranaldo, Alan Licht, Ulrich Krieger, Dj Olive and Tim Barnes, explode with a formidable combination of free jazz skronk, seismic percussion, tonal drone and searing guitar noise. A lone female vocal sample towards the finish drifts in as if from another world, one quite alien to this blasted terrain. The accompanying My Cat Is An Alien track begins with sparsely deployed percussion, keyboards and guitar drones then builds into an insistent, trancelike piece of chanted repetition.
Volume II showcases California's Steve Roden on guitar, whose two tracks lie somewhere between tonal experiment and Ambient minimalism. His E-bowed drones and fragile picking sound elegant and poised but come also with a sense of dreamlike detachment. The Opalios' "Everything waves like cosmic debris" rather overshadows Roden's delicacy with its near cosmic sense of vastness, like Tibetan Buddhist chanting colliding with Ligeti's "Lux Aeterna". It's an astounding display of improvised brinkmanship, teetering on total collapse but somehow staying its own umpredictable course.
Finally Keiji Haino makes himself emphatically heard on Volume III, and you can't help but wonder if the Opalio brothers have been overambitious in pairing themselves with him when he's on this kind of form. Progressing from a maelstrom of sibilant, howling electronic noise to an extraordinarily physical form of screened and barked vocals, his performance is absolutely spellbinding. After this, the final MCIAA track, "Everything crashes like cosmic debris", seems at first a bit anticlimactic, but the dense swirl of siren calls and deep reverberating noise drones builds to a satisfying finish: a bold summation of the duo at their intense best."
(Tom Ridge, March 2008, The Wire)

My Cat is an Alien - Cosmic Light of the Third Millennium CD (Important Records)
My Cat Is An Alien - The secret of the Dancing Snow CD (Ikuisuus)

"Every sound you'll hear is intentional," claimed the Opalio brothers on the sleeves of their early My Cat Is An Alien releases, but there was always something slightly dubious about the assertion. Nevertheless, on records like 1999's Landscapes Of An Electric City, the Italian duo's ability to sculpt soundscapes from a series of apparent accidents was engaging. Their lack of technical skill was compensated for by their attentive listening and willingness to allow their improvisations to follow their own logic, producing charming, occasionally fabulous results.
The ragged strengths of their early material are thankfully still present, and longtime fans will be relieved to know that they are still pushing their "no overdubs, no outtakes" policy. But there's a newfound sense of control and power to these MCIAA releases that makes for a rewarding listening experience. They have scaled back the ugly, emaciated noise and feedback that punctuated their earlier music and are aiming for a more pastoral mood.
Roberto Opalio's falsetto space whisper has become a key element of their sound, along with Maurizio's chiming guitar loops. Another welcome development is a far more affective use of percussion [..]
Also noteworthy is the presence (on Dancing Snow) of longtime ally Ramona Ponzini, laying down a bed of percussion that alternately smoothes the edges of the music and adds an element of cosmic astringency, particularly when fed through the brothers' distorting echo loops.
(Keith Molinè, October 2006, The Wire)

My Cat Is An Alien - "Different shades of Blue" LP+7" (A Silent Place)

"My Cat Is An Alien's release schedule grinds relentlessly on. But Turin's Opalio brothers aren't cranking out products for the sake of it. Their combined musical skill and sense of adventure ensures that every release offers a different perspective on the way the two interact with each other. Here they subliminally lean in the direction of blues music, only their chosen delta runs more through Orion's belt than the muddy Mississippi river. Over the course of both sides of a blue vinyl LP and a limited accompanying 7", these Cats lock into a mesmerising loop of steadily evolving guitar shimmer, electronic echo and hovering organ. It all blurs together until the instruments become indistinguishable from one another, leaving behind a shadowy, blasted music which - like the spectral figure of the revenant that stalks many Delta blues songs - is haunting and mysterious."
(Edwin Pouncey, June 2006, The Wire)

Christian Marclay & Okkyung Lee/ My Cat Is An Alien - "From the earth to the Spheres" Vol.7 (Opax Records)

The seventh and final volume in the Turin based Opalio brothers' split series of collaborative, handcrafted LPs proves to be their most ambitious to date. Sound artist and turntablist Christian Marclay and downtown New York cello player Okkyung Lee click, bow and scratch like a couple of demented alley cats on heat against a particularly subdued UFO guitar landing from the My Cat Is An Alien team. Marclay's skittering, Kurt Schwitters-like vinyl sound collage contrasts starkly with the minimal cosmic drone groove the Cats cook up, a lone plunking of strings behind a wall of interference that is eventually shattered by the beating of amplified electric wings. A fitting finale for a series of records that has been a thrill from the very beginning.
(Edwin Pouncey, April 2006, The Wire)

Painting Petals On Planet Ghost - "s/t" LP (Time-Lag Records)

My Cat Is An Alien offshoot Painting Petals On Planet Ghost are an even more intricate affair, with vocalist Ramona Ponzini singing in Japanese while the Opalio brothers add touches of electronic and acoustic accompaniment. Performed in various different "mystic locations" in the Western Alps, the five tracks that make up "Haru" are a haunting reminder of just how industrious and versatile this group of musicians are.
(Edwin Pouncey, April 2006, The Wire)

MY CAT IS AN ALIEN "Brothers from another planet" by Tony Herrington (The Wire #251, January 2005)

"Already as a child I felt like an alien," announces Roberto Opalio. "At school I used to draw settings of parallel worlds and tried to communicate my theories on the existence of extra-terrestrials." In the grand tradition of hermetic, autodidactic scholarship, the origins of this esoteric knowledge were contained in an ancient text that was handed down by an elder. "When I was about 6 years old," Roberto continues, "my grandfather gave me a book on the Cosmos which belonged to my great-grandparents. This book described many historical galaxies with black and white illustrations. This fascinated me so much that I started reading and studying it as if it were a magical book of alchemy, influencing me to the point that my mind started to create an imaginary crew in the outer space." A quarter of a century later, Roberto and his brother Maurizio are the highly advanced lifeforms crewing the mysterious starship that goes by the name of My Cat Is An Alien (MCIAA), plotting a quixotic course through three millennia of cosmic music, from the celestial drones of the Pythagorean monochord onwards, to land up in the gravity-free realm of the No-mind.
"As far as music is concerned," Roberto explains, "we believe that its essence and concept belong to the Cosmos and the Spheres, and that our purpose as MCIAA is to elevate sounds and return them to their original dimension, to the pure cosmic-ether. Space is an empty area that surrounds all objects and continues outwards in all directions, without limits. So this totally fits our concept of music or art, the only thing in life that has no limits, that is total freedom."
From their base in Turin in the foothills of the Italian Alps, Roberto and Maurizio have been launching MCIAA out into the depths of the cosmic ether since 1998, charting their journeys via a series of limited edition CD-Rs and LPs issued on their own Opax label, as well as by other sympathetic imprints, including Ed Hardy's Eclipse and Thurston Moore's Ectatic Peace. Many of these comuniques are packaged in handmade artwork, just like Sun Ra's original Saturn releases, while the music describes a consistent aesthetic at work, as mystery machines emit white noise clouds to billow in the solar winds, while guitars, toy keyboards and percussion objects project phosphorescent granules into the realm of static, to spin and revolve, dim lights on a distant satellite. The mood is myth-poetic, describing a deep existential yearning, one which the brothers attribute to the immediate post-industrial decay of their home city as much as the perceived loneliness of both outer and inner space.
"Torino is a very peculiar city," Roberto contents. "We think its austere, dark and surrealist atmosphere, its autumnal early morning fog and especially its sense of romantic desolation permeate all MCIAA's works. We love watching its skyline from our balcony at sunset, when the dark shadows of the Alps surround the dead chimneys like black ghosts dancing around the last flames, just before black falls. Unfortunately, Torino started changing quickly during the last few years, and the cover photo of Landscapes Of An Electric City [Opax 1999] is now a ghost image of an abandoned factory which does not exist anymore, though it was one of the most remarkable examples of northern Italy's first industrial architecture, as well as an inestimable source of inspiration for us. In that record we also utilised some field recordings we made there, among cement, glass and metallic debris. Lately we feel as more and more urgent the call of the Western Alps, where we've recorded new material in some very atypical, mysterious and desolate locations. But Torino is a ghost you can't rid yourself of."
The bulk of MCIAA's missions are staged in a perpetual autonomous zone which they refer to as the Space Room, and which Maurizio describes as "a kind of loft which is located in one of the few still-standing industrial areas in Torino, so that you have to pass by a decadent landscape of early 1900s chimneys of abandoned iron foundries and dead end tracks which get lost in the fog. Then you enter the Space Room, MCIAA's headquarters, and you feel as if you entered a kind of parallel universe. All our music and art starts and takes shape there. We often play our improvisations in the middle of the night, when the whole area is completely deserted. Every wall inside the Space Room is covered with alien paintings. Falling from the ceiling, suspended by steel cables, are some installations which are continuously replaced. When we play our instantaneous compositions, which we always record, we like doing it in the dark, while projecting our slides or films onto a wide screen in the back of the room, often choosing to freeze one single photograph which, at that moment, can become a source of inspiration."
"In Torino we live in complete isolation," Roberto adds. "There's no music or art scene we could fit in with, so we make our works in solitude. This could sound strange, but all the people and artists we see as kindred spirits are not Italian and live abroad. Sometimes it's hard for us to feel so lonely, but we think we have to accept this: it's the price for doing our things."
Last year the brothers invited some of those kindred spirits to contribute one side apiece to a remarkable series of split LP releases issued on Opax under the title From The Earth To The Spheres. To date, three volumes have been released, pairing MCIAA's astral folk-blues with tracks by Thurston Moore, Thuja and Jackie-O Motherfucker, while future volumes will include Charalambides' Christina Carter, Glands Of External Secretion, Christian Marclay and Jim O'Rourke. "we thought of it as a way to escape from our Torino isolation," says Maurizio, "and we found that vinyl would have been a direct platform to meet people living on the other side of the ocean, so as to enlighten the darkness of the Void."
The presence of Moore and O'Rourke in the series has particular significance for the brothers, as Roberto explains: "When we both were teenagers, Sonic Youth were the first band whose music definitely opened our minds to a totally new conception of sounds and art as a whole, influencing our own approach to life and self-expression." In 1998 Maurizio sent a copy of the first MCIAA CD-R to Sonic Youth in New York, and later that year the duo were invited to support their heroes on the Italian leg of a European tour. Then, in 2002, Thurston Moore reissued Landscapes Of An Electric City as a three sided LP on Ecstatic Peace. "Life can be really strange," muses Roberto. "Now, despite the geographical big distance, we consider them as some of the most special friends and artists we ever met, and just six years ago this would have sounded like a fairy tale..."


Jim O'Rourke/ My Cat Is An Alien - "From the earth to the Spheres, vol.3" ART-LP (Opax Records)
My Cat Is An Alien - "Through The Reflex of the Rain" CD (Free Porcupine Society)
Roberto Opalio - "Chants from Isolated Ghosts" CD-R (Opax Records)

The Italian Opalio brothers' ongoing series of limited edition LPs pairing side-long works from the likes of Jackie-O Motherfucker and Thurston Moore with all-new broadcasts from their own particular zone, just keeps getting better. Much more than simply a piggy-back to the stars, these high profile face-offs have forced the brothers to raise their game, with the result that the series stands as an archive of some of their boldest moves yet committed to wax.
The latest volume might be the best yet. O'Rourke's side really ups the ante, with a newly exhumed recording drawn from his early work with tabletop guitar. The recording affords a very low pass through the mechanics of the instrument itself, with a set-up that foregrounds the unamplified snap of the various strategies that he applies to excite the strings, setting the sound as transmuted by the speakers a little further off. It feels like having your ear wedged between the pickup and strings. O'Rourke starts out with a dense, milling drone that's as alive with microtonal activity as the hurdy-gurdy conceptions of Keiji Haino - from here he moves to a dance of taut single notes that almost sounds like a spontaneous, post-Industrial rethink of traditional gamelan. Despite its all-improvised genesis, the whole piece feels solidly plotted.
My Cat Is An Alien's side starts off with a flickering loop of pure vocal murk from Roberto Opalio. His new vocal form is one of the central highlights of this latest batch, a wordless stile that has a disturbing, pre-articulate quality to it. At points it sounds like Basil Kirchin's tape work with autistic children. From the flurry of vocal dementia that opens the side, the group moves into more guitar based territories, with a single, pulsing bassline illuminated by strands of lonesome notes in a way that mirrors Christina and Tom Carter's work with Charalambides. But the Opalio brothers push it all the way to catharsis, with electric strings slowly dissolving into a shrill bombast of cymbals. In a way, "Through the reflex of the rain" feels like a continuation of the strategies initiated on the split LP, moving from a rainforest of electricity worthy of David Tudor through to more levitational cymbal work. "Chants from isolated ghosts" is the real wildcard here, and one of the best releases from the Opax stable to date, with Roberto clearing enough space to really explore his new vocal approach. The results are extraordinary, with strafing alarm tones and deep fields of hallucinogenic environmental sound eerily illuminated by the unearthly light beaming from his lungs.
(David Keenan, 2005, The Wire magazine)


Christina Carter / My Cat Is An Alien - "From the Earth to the Spheres, Vol. 5" split ART-LP (Opax Records)/ CD (Very Friendly/Cargo UK)
My Cat Is An Alien - "When The Windmill's Whirls Dies" LP (Eclipse Records)

The creative concept behind the Opalio brothers' ongoing "From the earth to the Spheres" series of dual recordings featuring guest artists is somewhat reminiscent of the ESP-Disk mantra, which claimed "The artist alone decides what you will hear". Christina Carter (of Charalambides/ Scorses fame) and Andrew (Gown) MacGregor's contribution, "We Know When We Are Thinking About Each Other", is a pleasant and distinctive enough prelude, but there is nothing beyond the cracked harmonising and listless guitar stroking that has not already surfaced on previous efforts. The effect is somewhat similar to listening to the muted gasps of a pair of oversized koi-carp struggling for oxygen in a tiny fishbowl.
Carter & MacGregor's side does, however, provide the perfect build up to MCIAA's distinctly heavy "The Circle Of Life And Death", which lifts their interplanetary sound into another dimension, a storm of cicadas that gradually escalates into a stunning chorus of luminescent alien guitar throb and angry electronic motor surge. "When The Windmill's Whirl Dies", which sounds like it was recorded in the control room of some outdated power station, is alive with buzz, hum and whispered threat (together with an opening spoken sequence from Roberto, which sets the tone for the entire record), and is a further example of the evolution of this duo.
(Edwin Pouncey, 2005, The Wire magazine)


Jackie-O Motherfucker/ My Cat Is An Alien – “From the earth to the Spheres” vol.3 LP (Opax Records)

The latest instalment in My Cat Is An Alien’s ongoing split LP series sees the Italian Opalio brothers hooking up with Portland, Oregon’s Jackie-O Motherfucker for two sides of all-improvised rock that serves both to buttress the form and expand the reach of its tongues. While both of the previous collaborations with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Jewelled Antler associates Thuja featured fine standalone tracks, there was little to suggest any attempt at thematic unity. On Volume 3, both sides seem more directly related, with Jackie-O Motherfucker completely upping roots in order to more fully engage with My Cat Is An Alien’s translucent soundforms.
The Jackie-O track is titled “Breaking” and sounds like little else in their back catalogue, an implosion of enervated stellar shortwave, frail, wordless vocals, displaced environmental sound and forlorn piano arranged according to the obtuse narrative logic of an aleatoric radio play. Although at points the wow and flutter of the electronics is mixed so high that it overwhelms the rest of the track to fairly kitsch effect, it’s the middle section that’s the most transporting. It moves from a web of crossed wires generated by recordings of phone calls built around endless Warholian non sequiturs through to some dub-damaged digital space that parallels New York groups like Excepter and Gang Gang Dance’s circuit-bending experiments with echo.
Over on the flip, My Cat Is An Alien present a 20 minute improvisation recorded live at their Turin “Space Room” in July 2004. It’s one of their most beautiful conceptions to date, with guitar and xylophone combining in subtle bell tones while huge harmonic cogs wheel slowly through the background. As with the rest of the series, the LP comes in a special “Space Art” edition of only 100 copies complete an original 12” x 12” wood-mounted painting by Roberto Opalio. Any interested humans not in the group’s immediate family can rest easy in the knowledge that UK label Very Friendly are reissuing the entire series on CD.
(David Keenan, Jan 2005, The Wire)


THUJA/ MY CAT IS AN ALIEN – “From the earth to the Spheres” vol.2 LP (Opax)

The second of Italian experimental rock duo My Cat Is An Alien’s collaborations for their ongoing limited edition From the earth to the Spheres LP series couples them with the Jewelled Antler Collective trio Thuja. Made up of pianist Rob Reger, sound manipulator Loren Chasse and guitarist Glenn Donaldson, Thuja’s approach to MCIAA’s suggested titular voyage into deep space is to gently orbit more than predictably blast off. Their offering “The Magma Is The Brother Of The Stone” is a perfectly paced and intricately orchestrated mood piece that allows only a shadow of its presence to pervade the listener’s concentration. In stark contrast MCIAA’s effects laden “When The Earth Whispered Your Name” immediately sets the controls for the hearth of the sun and heads for psychedelic meltdown. Although nowhere near as subtle as Thuja, Cat brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio still manage to impress by utilising a vast array of drones and repeated fingerpicking exercises over what sounds like a car alarm going off in the street outside. The results are convincingly and engagingly cosmic.
(Edwin Pouncey, November 2004, The Wire magazine)


MY CAT IS AN ALIEN – “The rest is silence” 2xLP (Eclipse Records)

The latest set from the Italian duo of Maurizio and Roberto Opalio follows a bucketload of cross-format releases that have seen them pare down their initials cartoon overload of electronics into something more stately and sublimely affecting. Over four sides housed in a stricking full-colour gatefold sleeve, The Rest Is Silence (a title taken from the last words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet) circles through minimal unemotive guitar parts where notes drip like slow faucets plumbed to the brain of Taku Sugimoto before dissolving into gorgeous denouements of electronics. The double format suits them well, with plenty of space to roam, as any notion of conventional technique is sublimated to more inquisitive, exploratory demands, sailing out on slow films of single notes towards an ever retreating horizon.
(David Keenan, July 2004, The Wire magazine)


MY CAT IS AN ALIEN – “The First flame of tomorrow” CD-R (Opax) - “The Cosmological Eye Trilogy” part two CD-R (Opax)

Refreshing Improv that stems from a tradition of space rock, psychedelic jamming and the lo-fi explorations of groups like The Dead C. The music of the Turin based Opalio brothers has an untutored, instinctive charm that has been championed in the past by Sonic Youth and Blonde Redhead.
These two albums length jams (the former recorded in concert, the latter in their “Space Room”) are far looser and dreamier than the work of their mentors. Both pieces describe patient , slow moving parabolas, rising from amplifier hiss and hum, to more urgent dialogues of percussions and guitar feedback, finally following long arcs into silence. However, there’s tension in these albums, the distant yet edgy sound of reverberating, violent chaos, which prevents them from sinking into stoned tedium. While both of these records are interesting, The Cosmological Eye Trilogy is the better demonstration of their ragged prowess.
(Keith Molinè, May 2004, The Wire magazine)


MY CAT IS AN ALIEN – “Out of the Blue___Into the White” 3xCD-R (Opax) - “The Cosmological Eye Trilogy” part one CD-R (Opax)

Italian DIY space rockers My Cat Is An Alien’s rampant release schedule continues with a triple CD-R set and the first part of a new recording project that, by its title, is attempting to attract Sun Ra worshippers to their cause. Out Of The Blue___Into The White is an enormous sprawl of space guitar warbling, Tony Conrad-concocted violin scrape and flailing drum and cymbal work. Most of it is shambolic and shapeless, but not without a certain naïve charm. “PLAY IT LOUD!” they demand on the slip of paper that passes for a cover, but even at low volume MCIAA manage to get their message through. More structured is the first part of their Cosmological Eye Trilogy where deep cosmic drones radiate out and simplistic guitar chord structures are randomly dropped in to create a sense of aural hypnosis. Complete with hand painted hardboard art cover and Xeroxed insert, the production takes on the mantle of a release from Saturn.
(Edwin Pouncey, June 2003, The Wire Magazine)