My Cat Is An Alien


| biography |

MY CAT IS AN ALIEN (MCIAA) is the world-renowned outsider duo of radical, experimental instantaneous composers and intermedia artists formed by brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio from Torino, Italy in early 1998.
They live and work between Torino—the "Alien Studio" for audiovisual arts—and a secret location—the "Alien Zone"—in a remote region of the Western Alps.

MCIAA is a single intermedia entity that acts through music, shamanic live audiovisual performance, painting and drawing, art design, photography, “cinematic poetry” films & videos, installation, writing and poetry, phonographic art editions and artists’ books.

MCIAA have been developing a distinctive form of experimental music that is worldwide recognized as highly innovative. A performance by MY CAT IS AN ALIEN is full of tension and unpredictability, making it a proper shamanic ritual. Their huge output represents some of the most emotive and soulful improvised experimentalism in avant-garde.

Articles, interviews and extended reviews are featured on the most important international music magazines worldwide.
MCIAA's massive, poetic, phylosophical and iconoclastic body of work–claimed as “future, future, future” by critic and writer David Keenan–earned them the cover of The Wire magazine.

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 modified electronic devices ("alientronics"), as always accompanied by Roberto Opalio’s unique 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.

The visual aspect in MCIAA's music aesthetics 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: he created MCIAA’s “Alien Cat” logo, as well as the iconic figure of the "Alien".

The duo’s international debut album ‘Landscapes Of An Electric City’, dedicated to their hometown Torino and its decadent industrial scenario of abandoned factories from early 1900s, was published by Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) on his own Ecstatic Peace! label (NYC).
Summation of their instrumental early years is the
‘Cosmological Eye Trilogy’ (2003-2005), inspired by their ongoing interest and fascination towards cosmology. ‘The rest is silence’, ‘When the windmill’s whirl dies’ and ‘Greetings from the Great Void’ (Eclipse Records, USA, 2003-2007) represent another basic trilogy of works documenting the development of the duo’s iconoclastic artistic vision, following their relocation to the Western Alps and Roberto’s introduction of his idiosyncratic wordless vocalizations.

MCIAA have set up collaborations with vanguard artists like Sonic Youth, Christian Marclay, Thurston Moore,
Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke, Z'ev, Lee Ranaldo, Michael Morley (Dead C), Nels Cline, Text of Light, Loren Connors, Enore Zaffiri, Edwin Pouncey (
aka Savage Pencil), Steve Roden, Mats Gustafsson, Jean-Marc Montera among many others.

From 2004 to 2008 some of these artists collaborated to MCIAA’s special phonographic/visual 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 phonographic publications ever. Each vinyl copy came along a 30 x 30 cm acrylic painting on canvas or wooden boards, in the latter series with the addition of mounted Polaroid films. Roberto Opalio realized every split-LP volume in 100 unique exemplars.
"From the earth to the Spheres" was awarded 2004's “Avant Rock Top 10" by The Wire.

MCIAA have released over 200 records through some of the most prestigious international labels of experimental music, such as Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace! (USA), Atavistic (USA), Important (USA), Les Disques VICTO (CAN), Very Friendly/ Cargo Records (UK),  Staalplaat/ Mort Aux Vaches (NL), Eclipse Records (USA), Starlight Furniture Co./ Revolver (USA), Last Visible Dog (USA), A Silent Place (I), Time-Lag Records (USA), Ikuisuus (FIN), Discrepant (UK), Sound & Fury (AU), PseudoArcana (NZ), P.S.F. (Japan),Elliptical Noise (CAN) among many others.

Since the beginning the duo also dedicated itself to several private press releases, ultra-limited art editions and art objects on their own Opax Records imprint.

MCIAA’s live debut happened when Sonic Youth invited them to open their European tour in 1998. Since then the Opalios toured several times with the NYC historical band.
During the years the duo performed throughout the world at selected events and international festivals of experimental music and multimedia arts: 
ATP Nightmare Before Christmas Festival curated by Thurston Moore,UK; SFEMF San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, USA; Incubate Festival, Holland; KRAAK Festival, Belgium; Cafe Oto, London; La Batie festival - Victoria Hall, Geneve; CCA Center of Contemporary Arts, Glasgow; Theater Coliseum, Porto; Extrapool art space, Holland; Razzmatazz, Barcelona; Ancien Belgique, Brussels; Stimul Festival, Prague; Fondazione Antonio Mazzotta, Milan; GRIM/ GMEM, Marseille;Instants Chavirés, Paris; ZDB, Lisbon; CareOf/La Fabbrica del Vapore, Milan; Théatre Le Bourg, Lausanne; Nova Cinema, Brussels; Extra Festival, Turin; Festival Sotto Le Stelle, Ferrara; Fondazione Villa Bertelli, Forte dei Marmi, Italy; Teatro Juvarra, Turin; La Casa Encendida, Madrid; Musiques Innovatrices Festival, France; VPRO Radio&TV, Amsterdam; Nuit d’Hiver Festival, Marseille; UH Fest, Budapest; Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, Canada, among many others.
MCIAA performed live soundtracks for fashion shows for Adidas and for stylist Debora Sinibaldi (Christian Dior Couture) during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2009.

Roberto Opalio and MCIAA’s multimedia works have been presented in international museums, galleries and festivals including: LiFE, St. Nazaire (France); Museion, Bolzano (Italy); Kunsthalle Dusseldorf (Germany); Malmo Konsthall (Sweden); CA2M - Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid (Spain); The Sage Gateshead, Newcastle (UK); La Casa Encendida, Madrid (Spain); Torino BIG Biannual of Young Artists (Italy); Promotrice Delle Belle Arti, Turin (Italy); GAMC Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Viareggio (Italy), CAMeC, La Spezia (Italy); CCA Centre of Contemporary Arts, Glasgow (UK), among many others.

Both brothers also make several private audiovisual solo performances in secret non-art locations of the Western Alps.

Roberto Opalio and MCIAA’s works of visual art and poetry have been commissioned by international magazines such as Studio Voice multi-media magazine, Tokyo (JAPAN); Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace Poetry Journal, NYC (USA), The Sound Projector (UK), My Favourite Magazine/ Sloow Tapes (BE), Sensational Fix Zine (NL), to name a few.
In July 2005 Roberto Opalio designed an exclusive Art T-shirt for
The Wire magazine (UK).

In February 2009, Roberto Opalio's cinematic poetry dual film 'Light_Earth_Blue_Silver' (2005-2008), with soundtrack by My Cat Is An Alien, has been published in DVD+CD format by Atavistic Worldwide (USA). The film, often accompanied by MCIAA’s live alternate soundtracks, was presented at Netwerk Center for Contemporary Art in Aalst (Belgium), Octubre CCC - Centre de Cultura Contemporània in Valencia (Spain), The Sage Gateshead in Newcastle (UK), Over the Real Festival Internazionale Videoarte in Viareggio at GAMC Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Viareggio (Italy), Netmage.10 International Live-Media Festival at Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna (Italy) among other international art spaces and multimedia festivals.
In 2014
Nova Cinema (Brussels) dedicated an entire evening to the screening of a retrospective selection of Roberto Opalio’s experimental films (2005-2014).

Tokyo’s influential Studio Voice Books awarded MCIAA 'Different Shades Of Blue' album of 2005 in the Top 40 chart "THE BEST OF AMBIENT WORKS 1969-2009".

John Szwed, awarded writer, Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, mentioned the album ‘For Alan Lomax’ in his acclaimed book "Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded The World" (Viking Press, New York, 2010).

Roberto Opalio and My Cat Is An Alien were invited by Sonic Youth to take part to "Sonic Youth etc.: Sensational Fix" touring art exhibition, scheduled in big European museums of contemporary arts between 2008 and 2010. At the opening at LiFE St-Nazaire (France) 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).
The art exhibition went on to
Museion, Bolzano (Italy), Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (Germany), Malmo Konsthall (Sweden), CA2M Madrid (Spain).
Besides the official exhibition catalog published by Walter Koenig (awarded in 2008 by L'Arbre à Lettres, Paris), curator Roland Groenenboom presented a compendium “zine” at Malmo Konsthall, featuring exclusive artworks by Roberto Opalio and MCIAA.

Roberto Opalio and MCIAA’s works have been exhibited alongside famous artists such as Christian Marclay, Mike Kelley, Gerhard Richter, Dick Higgins, Isa Genzken, Dan Graham, Matt Groening, Dara Birnbaum, George Maciunas, Paul McCarthy, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Gus Van Sant, Gerard Malanga, Tacita Dean, Vito Acconci, John Cage, William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Raymond Pettybon, Robert Smithson, Christopher Wool, Jonas Mekas, to name a few.

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", 2015.

From 2011, Elliptical Noise Records (Canada) started publishing a series of CD box sets of long out-of-print material alongside some of the duo’s most adventurous new music works. Among these, ‘What Space is Made For’ 3CD Box (2011), ‘Music For Phantoms’ 3CD Box (2012), the massive 'ALIENOLOGY: Selected Works 1998-2008' (2011), a ten disc box retrospective of MCIAA's first decade of activity.

‘Art Is A Tear Of Noise And Infinite Silence’ (2LP, Discrepant, UK, 2012) features the duo first recordings with their new self-made string and electronic instrumentation.
Some of the most peculiar expressions of recordings made with this new instrumentation are
'PSYCHO-SYSTEM' (6CD Box, 2013)—an explicit warning read that "prolonged exposure to sounds and high volume listening can cause episodes of psychotic break with reality, hallucinations, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, catatonia"—'Abstract Expressionism For The Ears' (3LP, 2014), ‘The Dance Of Oneirism’ (2LP, 2015)—that introduced the further use of minimal fragmented electronic beats.

In 2015 MCIAA started two new collaborative, ongoing projects: a trio with French guitar maestro Jean-Marc Montera, founder of GRIM (Groupe de Recherche et d’Improvisation Musicales) in Marseille in 1978—the live recording of their first encounter became the album ‘Union Of The Supreme Light’—and another trio with French underground female vocalist Joëlle Vinciarelli called > ETERNAL BEYOND > —the first two albums published in 2016 and 2020.

Through Divinités Irritées private press founded in 2015, MCIAA have started an ongoing series of artist’ intermedia books, accompanied by music instantaneously composed and mixed with the sound produced by the books during the process of their handmade creation.

In November 2016 MCIAA released the album
“RE-SI-STEN-ZA!”, representing a poetic, existential manifesto and summa of their musical activity, inspired and dedicated to their maternal family roots in the Western Alps.

In 2017 MCIAA opened the
57th Venice Art Biennale, invited to activate Xavier Veilhan's Studio Venezia project for the French Pavilion (co-curated by Christian Marclay and Lionel Bovier). Conceived by Veilhan as an immersive installation inspired by Bauhaus architecture and inviting people to witness the process of music creation within a proper recording studio, the entire Pavilion has been turned by MCIAA into a three-day ongoing instantaneous composition and performance-space, where visitors themselves were used as "sound sources" (voices, noises) during the three days of recording sessions. MCIAA had also the chance to play some original 1950s Structures Sonores Baschet instruments.
A big Box Set featuring many hours of music recordings is currently in the works.

On the occasion of the Venice Biennale, MCIAA’s first art catalog 'My Cat Is An Alien. The other sound of art' has been published by Edizioni Kappabit (Rome), a 150-page monograph spanning two decades of multidisciplinary activity, with a foreword by French critic and writer Philippe Robert and texts by Tony Herrington and Ken Hollings.
The catalog has been presented at solo exhibitions "My Cat Is An Alien. The other sound of art" at
Galleria CONTACT Artecontemporanea (Rome) and "My Cat Is An Alien. Oltre il libro d'artista (Beyond artist's book)" at Libreria Antiquaria Freddi-Galleria (Torino). On the latter occasion the duo made a special live performance and talk at Circolo della Stampa in the historic building Palazzo Ceriana Mayneri in Torino.

Since 2017 MCIAA's art works have been acquired by the ANS
Archivio Di Nuova Scrittura (Archive of New Writing) and deposited at Mart (Rovereto) and Museion (Bolzano) museums, alongside hundreds of futurist first editions and works by the likes of Joseph Beuys, Alighiero Boetti, George Brecht, John Cage, Paul de Vree, Marcel Duchamp, Ugo La Pietra, Piero Manzoni, Hermann Nitsch, Claudio Parmiggiani, Cy Twombly, Ben Vautier, Robert Watts, Man Ray.

In 2018 MCIAA celebrate their own 20th anniversary along
Thurston Moore’s 60th birthday releasing a collaborative private press 7” square flexi disc and art object entitled ‘PoesiaSonorAlienica’.
The same year MCIAA collaborate with Hungarian experimental poet and performer
Endre Szkarosi with a live trio performance at Festival di Poesia Parole Spalancate, Palazzo Ducale, Genoa.
On September 12, for MCIAA's birthday the duo has been joined by
Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) and Jean-Marc Montera at historical Alfa Teatro, Turin, to make a special quartet improvisation in the brothers’ hometown. The multimedia event also featured cinematic poetry films by Roberto Opalio projected on several screens, including the brand new, 70-minute dual film 'The Call of the Great Void' screened onstage during the live performance.

In 2019 MCIAA began their third decade of activity baptizing their new music and artistic phase
“SPIRITUAL NOISE”—for which Roberto wrote a poetic and aesthetics manifesto—and launched a series of releases through their new intermedia Antigravitational Records imprint set up with gallerist and editor Marco Contini from Rome. The most peculiar aspect of Antigravitational is the quite original design of the LP record jackets, featuring a proper 21 x 21 cm Artbook mounted on front cover, something never seen before in the history of discography.

‘SPIRITUAL NOISE, Vol.1’ and ‘SPIRITUAL NOISE, Vol.2’ have been accompanied by a poem appositely written and dedicated by Thurston Moore to the duo’s new phase.
MCIAA have been invited to premiere the piece 'Silver Glimpse Of Infinity' (from Vol.2) at
20th Annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival (SFEMF) in a peculiar 32-channel, spatialized version.

In December 2019 the label released
“MCIAA XX Anniversary” live double album recorded in quartet with Montera and Ranaldo, presenting exclusive art works by Ranaldo—from his “lost Highway” series—and Roberto—from his “Alien” series—in the Artbook. The quartet has been invited to perform a North America premiere at 36th FIMAV Festival in Victoriaville, Canada.



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