Archive for February 2008
Ridicule can be tragic, and tragic is often sublime. Andrea Liberovici was 18 in 1980. Son of Sergio, composer and etnomusicologist, he was kind of an infant prodigy, having released his first album Oro (“gold”) in 1978, at the age of 15.
This first effort was sort of an end-of-course essay for a precocious, brilliant child musician who had studied at two different conservatories and had a great talent for theatre as well. The work of a teenager trying to impress the world, attempting to be profound and provocative, while he mostly sounded naive, and eventually innocuous. The music is a mash up of Canterbury-like pop with rockish rushes and some avant tricks. The whole album is actually interesting, but the one track that stands out is “Risotto”, which is also a strong link, both musically and lirically, to his incredible second record.
Liberovici came out just at the beginning of what was later called riflusso (“reflow”): after more than twenty years of massive political engagement, the revolutionary movement was rapidly disbanding, and collective issues were soon replaced by individual commitment. La marcia dei quarantamila (“the march of the the forty-thousand”) is a milestone in Italy’s contemporary history. More than 40.000 employees and managers from FIAT demonstrated against trade unions power and for a “return to order” in the factories. Restoration was coming. In the meantime, heroin consumption was reaching a peak, and terroristic attacks got more and more indiscriminate and useless.
The conflict was still there, but became a private issue. Something for your analyst, if you could afford one. Or something to sing at, if you were a musician.
The album reflected this end-of-an-era climate, being hysterical, confused, disturbing. It summarized seventies’ glam, funk rock, new wave, cantautore style in a way that was already pure eighties’ postmodernism. The lyrics as well were a collection of the past decade’s alternative culture slogan and clichés: drugs, sex, new social and family relations, spirituality. Everything’s fluorescent and overilluminated; exaggerated and yet stylized.
The boy took the risk of turning himself into a comics’ character. And in a way he was a comics’ character: look at him on the cover. But the thing is, he sounded totally serious about what he was doing. Serious and intransigent as only a young man can be. It’s the same attitude that made great “Cannibale” and “Frigidaire”, two of the most important and influential italian magazines of those years, and the people from The Great Complotto (we will speak about that). Even when he dedicated to Padre Pio – now a saint – a love song which somehow reminds of “Je t’aime, moi non plus”, it was not comedy. There’s a no-way-out feeling here, a sense of loss and hate which rescues even the most embarassing moments.
In the end, i disagree completely from pals at Orrore a 33 giri. This is not a trash album. It’s a great piece of contemporary art.
Here is the tracklist:
01, L’eroe e l’eroina (“the hero and the heroine”)
02, Ammorissimo mio (“grreat love of mine”)
03, Padre Pio (“father Pio”)
04, Ciuff ciuff (“choo choo”)
05, Carino (“cute boy”)
06, Tira tira tira (“pull pull pull”)
07, Vorrei (“i would”)
08, Occhi di luna (“moon eyes”)
09, Uh caramellina uh uh (“uh little candy uh uh)
After releasing this record Liberovici abandoned pop music and founded later teatrodelsuono, an experimental theatre company together with, among others, Edoardo Sanguineti, one of the best italian minds of the century, poet and scholar of literature. More info on liberovici.it (in italian).
In 1977, the students and workers’ movement in Italy reached a peak of violence and defy. People from Autonomia Operaia, one of the most important leftist groups, used to parade with real guns in their hands; policemen not only had guns as well, but were eager to use them. As a result, many demonstrations ended up in gunfights, sometimes with dead people.
At the same time, a new and creative counterculture was rising, oddly influenced by punk, Living Theatre, french situationism, Woodstock peace-and-love philosophy, and boosted by drugs such as heroin, plegin (amphetamine-based diet pills), weed, and sedatives. Both the “regular” revolutionaries and the establishment looked suspiciously at those people, like the Indiani metropolitani (“urban red-indians”), and at what they did.
In the middle of all this, Mauro Pelosi released his third album. A masterpiece.
His first two records, La stagione per morire (“a season to die”, 1972) and Al mercato degli uomini piccoli (“at little men’s market”, 1973), released on Polydor major label, were pretty undecided between a “cantautore” style (“cantautori” were the singer/songwriters , tipically engaged and/or depressed, which many young people adored), and prog-like tentatives. Most of the lyrics were self-centered, dealing with love disappointment and suffering, and deeply introspective. Actually, there are great songs in these albums, and even some “experimental” takes which anticipate what was yet to come (like “Suicidio” on La stagione per morire), but the overall impression is that Pelosi’s vision was slightly out of focus.
After the commercial failure of his early seventies’ efforts, Mauro Pelosi took his time, preparing for the next move. He was allowed another chance by Polydor, which in the meantime released a compilation album, but he apparently gave up the opportunity, travelling to Far East and making his living by selling cheap indian jewelry in the streets of Rome, his hometown. Until one day, in 1976, he came back to his label’s offices. He was ready to record again.
It seemed he had absorbed all of the anger, the love, the sadness, the frailty, the unfulfilled dreams and the self-injuring instincts of his generation, the political discontent of the extremists and the freaky attitude of the Indiani metropolitani. And he was ready to give it back in the form of nine songs.
Everything is in its place here, even the faux pas, the naiveties, the excesses. In this self-titled LP, Pelosi simply and completely wastes himself, speaking on behalf of his generation, and no more just for himself, with relentless self-irony. It’s a sacrifice. He destroys himself, and everything else.
A morbid mood haunts the whole album, a feeling like the musicians – and the singer first, of course – could suddenly lose their heads and start eating their instruments, or kill each other. The music is kinda psychedelic pop, with some progressive and experimental hints, cabaret and child music passages, and even great orchestral moments, such in the magnificent, Bacalov-esque coda for “Ho fatto la cacca”, the final track. The backing band counts musicians such as the great Lucio Fabbri (Premiata Forneria Marconi, Demetrio Stratos, Claudio Rocchi, Eugenio Finardi…), Ricky Belloni (formerly with New Trolls), Bambi Fossati (Garybaldi), and Edoardo Bennato.
Useless to say, Mauro Pelosi sold little more than the previous two albums, and after another beautiful LP in 1979, Il signore dei gatti (“the cats’ master”), Pelosi was discharged by his label and completely disappeared from the italian music scene.
Here is the tracklist:
01, La bottiglia (“the bottle”)
02, Luna park
03, Ho trovato un posto per te (“i found a place for you”)
04, Una lecca lecca d’oro (“a golden lollipop”, also released as a 7″ b/w “L’investimento”)
05, L’investimento (“the investment”)
06, Una casa piena di stracci (“a house full of rags”)
07, Alle 4 di mattina (“at four in the morning”)
08, Claudio e Francesco (“Claudio and Francesco”)
09, Ho fatto la cacca (“i poo poo’ed”)
For those of you who can read italian, here is the artist’s self-managed site: mauropelosi.it