There are meetings that, despite the physical distance this particular period imposes, remain impressed by a series of affinities so strong that go beyond normal social relationships – a virtual chat can be transformed into a beautiful friendship with a common vision.
The acquaintance with Dario was born in one of those evenings spent in the Clubhouse rooms, in the last periods of the lockdown in Italy. We immediately connected, discovering on our side an extraordinary character, a professional and a great lover of music and records.
Who is Dario Piana?
We certainly don’t need to find out him, as he is one of the best DJs on the Italian music scene, in addition to being a producer, remixer and a collector of rare vinyl records.
Even before starting his profession Dario was a music lover, like all those who decide to dedicate their life to this art.
Then in the 70s there was a particular ferment around the audio world…
“There were many hi-fi shops, a real fashion in that period. There was a lot of choice among the components, for all needs.
You went to a shop and chose, letting the owner guide you, the one that was suitable for your listening: from the musical genre to the location of the system. From there, the purchase has always been divided between listening and dancefloor: since the beginning I used two different systems, for DJing and for Hi-Fi, because changing an amplifier or a pair of speakers it is enough to perceive great differences in listening.
I have met very experienced people, whom I listened to for hours, for how they lived the sound, for the sometimes fetish aspect of the lover. I still have vivid memories of the many people who inspired me. That love never leaves you.”
When we asked Dario to tell us about his system and the components that characterize it, we immediately perceived the passion behind these “objects” which are also symbols, which come into every enthusiast and bring you back to those significant moments that gave shape to the passion:
“I would never part with the McIntosh C28 pre-amp and McIntosh MC2105 power amp, the quality of the components and the sound of that series is currently recognized among the best. Then, more often than not, you would find the amplifiers in the cool clubs of the time, and seeing those blue VU meters that didn’t “give up” a second, with a crazy quality, was an image never removed from my mind, until I decided to buy them. ”
“The rest of the system consists of a Thorens TD2010 turntable, Marantz DR 700 Cd recorder, Teac V7000 cassette deck and Canton GLE 496 speakers chosen because the listening point is high and the speakers are placed at the top of the speaker.
“The turntable I loved most is the Transcriptor Hydraulic that we could admire in “A Clockwork Orange” (I love Kubrick), but unfortunately, being a very, very delicate turntable, the specimens that are found often have major problems in the hydraulic part. I also had a Michell Gyrodec for a few years, but I must say that the TD 2010 I am using now satisfies my ear but also my aesthetic taste, it is a superb object. ”
Dario, what do you mostly listen to?
“Everything I normally listen to, mostly on vinyl, belongs to black music. ”
“I’m a collector of funk, fusion, jazz, soul, bossa and rare grooves vinyls. I own over 20,000 collectible vinyls and nearly 5,000 original CDs. All of them periodically cleaned by a VPI-HW17F Record Cleaning Machine, an habit that must not be missing if you really love to safeguard your material forever.
And what’s the material you use to “test” your system?
“Normally when I want to test my system, I look for some fusion material: there are some records that already in the 80s reached crazy qualities. When I have to hear and test the frequencies and the spectrum I use songs where there are many musicians and the subdivision and space of their sounds, from the records of the Muscle Shoals Horns, to the cleaner but extremely groovy things of Grover Washington, to the alternation of riffs and sounds of many Gabor Szabo albums.”
What do you recommend to those who want to enter this world?
“I don’t consider myself a hi-end guru, I’m just a great lover of sound with an infinite passion, and certainly my opinion may not be technical compared to the most authoritative ones. But in the end, love prevails in combination with a good ear: I worked in sound design and taught this subject at university for many years, it is a thought that I carry in my heart. The triptych amplification-diffuser-acoustic treatment is the basis of my thinking. I can sacrifice and go down with the budget, but these 3 elements are fundamental for me. Then it is clear that everything revolves around the budget, but building “your” system calmly and without haste is a satisfaction and a gift of life that you then carry forever.”
We have to ask you the classic question that divides and animates endless discussions in the Hi-Fi world: Digital or Analog?
“With an important analog collection, I certainly prefer vinyl.
But I don’t consider it better or worse than digital. The vinyl conveys to me the reality, the imperfections, but also a crazy physicality, the beauty and the defect, if we want to call it that, which can be the background noise or the classic click. But it is also true that digital music is at your fingertips in every second of your life, from when you are in the car, on the train or while taking a run.
In the end, I love music and I don’t wage war between playback sources.”
At what time of day do you listen to music and what arouses the most emotions in you?
“The time to listen to music in the day? I don’t have one, my house “stinks” of music everywhere and depending on the moment. I often abandon everything i’m doing and put myself in the hands of the music. It often happens to me to listen to the same album at different times of the day, because I get shades of verse. It is the magic of music, the difference.
I collect emotions from music almost everywhere. I love hearing vinyl in a hi-end shop, comfortably seated in an armchair, in a perfect setting, but I also love hearing the low frequencies of subs when you’re in a club. But even when the volume of the concert speakers gets into your flesh or when you turn the volume to the maximum in the car in broad daylight when your favorite song passes by.”
Tell us about the relationship with our brand and what you love about our products.
“I had known the brand for years, for the quality of the products and I knew the story of the Company. Then I met Gaetano by chance, in an evening on ClubHouse where we talked about hi-fi, and a splendid friendship was born. My whole system is housed in a beautiful S3 Series Solidsteel rack (an S3-5 in particular), a component that many often underestimate, but at this level it has the same importance as any other “piece” of a high-level system.”
“Solidsteel quality is contained in its name. The quality of the materials, selected in a maniacal way, combined with a great aesthetic impact, makes it unique. No vibration, no resonance, the modularity, of adding or removing with extreme ease, are fundamental requirements for me, and I have often found myself over time changing components, having to abandon furniture because it cannot be modulated.”
Impossible at this point not to ask for some musical suggestions.
“In the interviews, this is the question that most troubles every collector because usually each of us loves every single copy and knows the song, its why, or the story, or where we found it. With a lot of effort, I bring out 3 albums that I love:
Cal Tjader, one of my favorite authors, Latin jazz of the highest level, he is a vibraphonist: I love one of his songs intensely, it’s called “Speak Low“, the original is by Kurt Weill, if I remember correctly from 1943, played by many artists, including Mina or Sarah Vaughan, for example. The touch of him in this song is crazy, there are variations and evolutions, always with the sound of Tjader, which make him unapproachable. On Concord Jazz Picante, 1980, the album is titled “La Onda Va Bien”
“Then I would say, not in order of importance, an album by Hank Crawford, “I Hear a Symphony“, year 1975, on Kudu records, distributed by Motown. Arranged by the great David Matthews, funk-fusion album of the highest level, in addition to this great saxophonist there are guests such as Steve Gadd, Fred Wesley, Eric Gale, Bernard Purdie, Patti Austin and many others. Chosen track: the incredible “Sugar Free”… pure excellence in the groove.”
“Last one, a masterpiece by MFSB, ergo Mother Father Sister Brother, homonymous album on Philly Sound, 1973. Reference album not only for Philly, but for all lovers of the funk-blaxploitation-original soundtrack genre. Each song is crazy. But their instrumental version of “Freddie’s Dead”, a song by the great Curtis Mayfield from the OST Superfly, stands out above the rest. Strings, awesome bass line, jazz, funk, with many variations, a masterpiece song. A must-have.”
Thanks to Dario Piana for his availability and for sharing his passion for the Hi-Fi world with us.
Since 1979 Dario Piana has worked in several hundred clubs in Italy and in Europe, always offering a very eclectic and rhythmic House-style DJ set with Deep, Afro, Latin, Soulful, Jazz contaminations… always paying close attention to groove.
As a DJ, he is the Italian testimonial of Ableton Live (Backline), Allen & Heath mixers, Zoom digital recorders (Mogar), D16 Group and Nugen Audio plug-ins.
Many are his productions, most of them for his label Bluenoises Records. He is planning the fourth EP with Daniele Baldelli in the coming months, but he also collaborates with other labels, such as Leng Records, Tropical Animals, Editorial, Hot Digits, Spa in Disco, Deep Sense and many more.
Many companies and many brands have used his live and DJ sets, for example: AC Milan, Diesel, Red Bull, Cadey / Bilboa, Bmg, Gq, Dom Ruinart, Philarmonica, Motor Show, Tiscali…
Currently Dario collaborates with Art of Music, web radio, with a program called Soulpleasure, every day from 20 to 21, with downtempo & cosmic sounds.
From the 4th July 2021, and therefore every Sunday at 9:30 pm, we will be able to listen to him in an exclusive program on Radio Milano International, called “Underskin”: a musical journey through Deep, Soulful, Afro, Jazz & Latin House.
(All photos by Michele Biglioli)