Infinite Isolation: a playlist by Stromboli

Stromboli Promo Shot 2 – by Giulia Mazza

Experimental Bologna-based musician & multi-instrumentalist Nico Pasquini aka Stromboli compiles a playlist of ‘deep, healing’ isolationist sounds, in the wake of his impressive latest album ‘Drang’, taking us through inspiring masterworks by the likes of Throbbing Gristle, Ike Yard, Pan Sonic, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Alex Zhang Hungtai, Laurel Halo & more.

Stromboli, the project of Bologna-based musician & multi-instrumentalist Nico Pasquini, is the namesake of an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, situated off the north coast of Sicily, home to one of the most active volcanoes in the world. With 2000+ years of sustained volcanic activity, the type of continual eruptions that spew forth on Mt. Stromboli have even been given their own scientific classification; ‘Strombolian’, eruptions often recognized for their longevity. Moving from the geological to the existential, Roberto Rossellini’s 1950 film, set on Stromboli and named after the island, stars an alienated Ingrid Bergman, and forms part of Rossellini’s so called ‘Solitude Trilogy’.

The Stromboli project can certainly be aligned with such potent associations, as a vehicle for ambient soundscapes, granular noise, and fulminating industrial music imbued with the tension and turbulence of elemental landscapes and dramatic interior worlds. Since Pasquini’s entry point in 2015, with the neo-noir noise of his self-titled debut (the second ever release on the cult label Maple Death Records), Stromboli has moved from the tape machine experiments and insomniac electronics of ‘Volume Uno’ to the scintillating industrial spectres of ‘Ghosting’, and into the melancholic modular synth movements of ‘Exiles’, an EP released in 2021. Forceful and hypnotic, blistering and dreamlike, unremittingly dark yet often radiant and transcendent, the output of Stromboli makes for rewarding listening, a sound signature as volatile yet well-defined as the volcanic summit with which the moniker shares its name.

Stromboli Promo Shot 3 – by Giulia Mazza

On the latest Stromboli album ‘Drang’, Pasquini addresses ideas centred on posthumanism, making entrancing electronic music that falls somewhere between the sub-zero asceticism of Mika Vainio / Pan Sonic, the programmed punk reductionism of Martin Rev / Suicide and Ike Yard, the sleek and splintered techno of Karl O’Connor aka Regis / Downwards (Pasquini’s home studio also shares its name with O’Connor’s influential label), and the oblique rhythms and evanescing ambient mirages of Actress and Pendant / Huerco S.

Given the continued distinction of the project, and the high calibre of what the Stromboli project conjures on ‘Drang’, we thought we’d check in with Nico to see what sounds inspire his work under the pseudonym, and in response, he’s furnished us with a playlist of music for an infinite, atemporal cosmos, where isolation is the abiding theme. Nothing too heavy then.

Describing these tracks as influential to him during the recording of ‘Drang’, Nico expands on the coordinates of his playlist, defining what he’s compiled as a soundtrack for moments of ‘deep, healing isolation’. Consider these ‘Strombolian’ sounds that have a timeless glow to them, not for the tortured soul-searching solitude of a Rossellini protagonist, but for when seclusion proves restorative. In space no one can hear your ennui, and in this case, that’s golden.

Check out ‘Tropico caustico’, one of the many highlights from ‘Drang’, then dive into the playlist below.

Photos by Giulia Mazza

Biosphere - Proem

From the soundtrack album for the 1993 Norwegian film ‘Insomnia’, directed by Erik Skjoldbjearg, ‘Proem’ is a tonally dark ambient piece interspersed with deep electronic pulsation. The layers of ambient noise lead me into a hypnotic state that feels warm and enveloping.

  • Biosphere - Proem

    From the soundtrack album for the 1993 Norwegian film ‘Insomnia’, directed by Erik Skjoldbjearg, ‘Proem’ is a tonally dark ambient piece interspersed with deep electronic pulsation. The layers of ambient noise lead me into a hypnotic state that feels warm and enveloping.

  • Hype Williams - Untitled

    A mysterious art and music collective consisting of Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland. The first track from their 2010 album takes me on a twilit journey through a tropical forest. Lo-fi drum machine beats and melodic sequences lead to tribal movements that trace a vivid path. I imagine a forest full of exotic animals.

  • Thom Willems - In the middle somewhat elevated

    A piece composed for William Forsythe’s eponymous ballet. The composition is based on urban sounds punctuated by suspensions and complex variations. Time expands between one variation and another, outlining a choreography with a group of dancers that gradually increase in number. The atmosphere, full of percussive sounds, delineates an almost tangible space.

  • Throbbing Gristle - AB / 7A

    An essential track of sequential, melodically rich experimentation, simultaneously rooted in industrial music and krautrock. Artful, impactful, and pioneering, it still sounds fresh and revolutionary to me today. An imaginative tune that transports me to a positive and hopeful future that is still unwritten.


  • Ike Yard - NCR

    Going back in time to the New York no wave scene. For me this track is unsurpassed, a perfect instance of minimalist, embryonic techno. The rhythmic figure transforms through micro variations that persist bar after bar. The electronic dynamics feel organic, mixed with the calm, reassuring, whispered voice in your ear.

  • Pan Sonic - 4’35

    The name of the record is ‘Oksasuts’, the Finnish word for the process of grafting and cultivating plants. This record is one of my favourite live performance albums. It was performed in Kyiv on June 6, 2009. And this track represents for me the perfect balance between metallic industrial rhythms, glitches, and distorted frequencies. A deep, harmonious conception of noise for our tumultuous present.

  • Ron Morelli - Disappearer

    The title track of this record flows with a sense of dark, abstract knowledge. Evoking a 90s sound, the uncompromising techno beat forces the listener into bouts of profound self-awareness accompanied by a continuous sense of emotional conflict. A modern classic. I recommend listening to this song at a very high volume.

  • Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Circles

    This song sounds to me like waking up from anaesthesia but still feeling numb from the narcotic effect. A mind-blowing form of ambient melancholia characterized by a perfect mix of style and sensation, as expressed through the track’s textures, noises and it’s downpitched percussion. With every listen I discover fresh nuances. My ideal of avant-garde music.

  • Aho Ssan - Fermeture

    A production which focuses on the voice of Kenyan singer Nyokabi Kariũki. Streams of lysergic voices and contemporary classical composition come together to create a dizzying climax until everything dissolves completely. The listening experience brings out its potently cinematic, imaginative character.


  • Alex Zhang Hungtai - Pierrot

    In this song you can hear the breath of undulating movements. Alex exudes an intense approach to performance and his chosen instrumentation. He takes you into a meditative state, exploring our deepest and most hidden emotions. This track is so intense, evoking very particular sensations, it’s like you can feel the warm breath of the wind.

  • Dylan Henner – I Was Reading The News But I Felt So Sad I Had To Stop.

    A dreamy landscape introduced by the sound of millions of cicadas, followed by an almost lyrical, downpitched intonation.
    An imaginary fusion is evoked, combining seventeenth century opera and contemporary electronic music, a union defined by warm, melodic sequences. The track produces specific imagery for me, represented by a dizzying yet serene spiral, despite the title of the song which feels more relevant than ever.

  • Laurel Halo - Abandon

    Abandonment is exactly what I feel when I listen to this song. Not in its negative sense but in abandoning oneself to emotional flow without resistance. The soft texture of the ambient layers gives me a feeling of comfort and confidence until I lose myself to a feeling of ecstasy. The journey continues……