Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

Music from a country on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Archive for October 2008

[requests, music:] Adriano Pappalardo, Oh! Era ora (1983)

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By request, the last studio album from one of the most underrated singers and musicians in italian pop music history.

Adriano Pappalardo, born in 1945 in Copertino, in the south of Italy, started his career as a passionate and sanguine soul/rythm’n’blues singer with Numero Uno, Lucio Battisti’s label. He left for RCA in 1975, getting his greatest hit in 1979 with “Ricominciamo” (“let’s start again”), just to join forces again with Battisti in the early eighties.

After Immersione (“immersion”, 1982), Pappalardo began to write together with Pasquale Panella aka Vanera, a poet and unconventional lyricist who had deeply impressed Battisti with his words for Enzo Carella’s albums. The songs were then produced by the same Battisti (who also played guitars, synths and bass) in the oblique technopop fashion he was soon to perfect and push to the extremes with the incredible five-records series he wrote with Panella and released between 1986 and 1994. Five records which have changed the face of italian music forever. Somehow Pappalardo, whose loud, hoarse voice is slightly out of context in this setting dominated by Fairlight and keyboards, gave up his name and his persona allowing Battisti a field to experiment and refine the new and effective language he was working on since E già, in 1982.

Anyway, the result was blessed by some kind of state of grace, especially in songs such as “Signorina”, “Caroline e l’uomo nero”, “Questa storia”, and the title track, in which the surreal lyrics, pushed by Pappalardo’s roar, float upon the melodic flows and bump into the angular arrangements. By the way, Formula 3 founder Tony Cicco plays percussions on “Puoi toccarmi tutto a me”.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Signorina (“girl”)
02, Vanessa moda gaia (“Vanessa gay fashion”)
03, Breve la vita felice (“the short happy life”)
04, Puoi toccarmi tutto a me (“you can touch me all over me”)
05, Caroline e l’uomo nero (“Caroline and the black man”)
06, Questa storia (“this story”)
07, Io chi è (“who is I”)
08, Oh! Era ora (“oh! it was time”, also released as a 7″ b/w “Signorina”)

Get it: Adriano Pappalardo, Oh! Era ora (1983)

Pappalardo has also acted in several movies during the eighties and the nineties, and became a kind of a tv star first with his villain role in the legendary mafia serial La piovra, and more recently with his controversial participation in the italian version of I’m a celebrity… get me out of here!

More info on his Wikipedia page (in italian).

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Written by alteralter

October 30, 2008 at 12:46 am

[music:] Claudio Rocchi, Suoni di frontiera (1976)

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Sometimes a failure is far more intriguing and challenging than a masterpiece. Claudio Rocchi has often cited Suoni di frontiera (“frontier sounds”) as one of his favourite albums, and me too, i’m a little obsessed by this inconclusive, naive attempt in experimental electronics which, together with his twin Rocchi (1975), attracts and swallows like a black hole the entire work of Claudio – and perhaps all the italian pop music which gravitates around it.

In 1975, Claudio Rocchi was already a well-established counterculture icon and the italian folk-psych-cosmic-out-of-his-head minstrel par excellence. Most of his listeners were hence slightly shocked when he suddenly almost completely replaced the guitars, the strings and the percussions of l miele dei pianeti le isole le api (“the honey of the planets the islands the bees”, 1974) with a cut-up of field recordings, samples, modulated soundwaves and analogic synthesizers assembled in a home studio, building with Rocchi an actual wall of sound between him and his usual audience. (Even if, from a 2008 point of view, you can catch an emotional consistency between this material and a track like “Lila” from Il miele… By the way, “Lila” was the first example of a song recorded by the same Rocchi at his place with a Revox A70 to be released on an album – a do-it-yourself solution which was soon to become an habit for him.)

Suoni di frontiera was an attempt to move further beyond, mincing the music into small, separated fragments, often based on a single electronic loop. A collection of wrong answers to an unspoken question. But, for a musician gifted with a peculiar and highly recognizable singing style as Claudio Rocchi is, the really astonishing thing was the self-injuring decision to get rid of vocals completely. It’s “the silence of words”, as the same Rocchi stated: something necessary to eliminate interferences and create actual connections between sound and energy in view of a “musica psichica” (“psychic music”), the music with a healing power he was dreaming of together with former Area guitarist Paolo Tofani and discussing with Demetrio Stratos, Elio D’Anna, Franco Battiato.

I should say the result is rather poor when compared with similar contemporary explorations in Italy and abroad, and almost ridiculous with its pretensions; but these handcrafted sounds encompass a vision, an enthusiasm, a soul which make up for their lack of originality and substantial pointlessness. Like learning from a wise child who, playing with microphones, tapes and knobs, discovers the unexpected pleasure of making noises – and remains amazed by himself.

Here is the tracklist:

01, La forza (“the strength”)
02, Il risveglio (“the awakening”)
03, Frammento (“fragment”)
04, Apertura (“opening”)
05, Oh Lyra
06, Oscillando (“oscillating”)
07, Il rame e gli armonici (“the copper and the harmonics”)
08, Tarantella
09, Canzone popolare (“folk song”)
10, Hò
11, Del r(ub)(id)are cultura (“of s(teal)(upply)ing culture”)
12, Suoni interni (“inner sounds”)
13, Dopo Arona (“beyond Arona”)
14, Acoustic seedback
15, Per antichi canali (“along ancient channels”)
16, Ritmi (“rythms”)

Get it: Claudio Rocchi, Suoni di frontiera (1976)
[edit February 10th, 2009: download link has been removed as requested from claudiorocchi.com
Check out Die Schachtel label’s website in the next few months for the record’s cd edition.]

This new direction led Claudio Rocchi in the land of soundtracks and soundscapes for art performances and theatre; and just after a show in a Milan off-theatre he was approached by Cramps’ founder Gianni Sassi. A meeting which resulted in a new record deal and a new, different level for the artist, who released in 1977 his first true “pop” effort, A fuoco (you can read it both as “focused” or “on fire”), recorded with a complete orchestra.

Claudio Rocchi and Paolo Tofani, together with their families, joined an hare krisna community in the early eighties. Claudio returned to earthly matters in 1994 with a new album, Claudio Rocchi (featuring Tofani, Alberto Camerini, Eugenio Finardi, Alice, Lucio Fabbri, Walter Calloni) and since then, among thousands of other things, he has released four records, directed a movie (Pedra Mendalza), acted in Musikanten by Franco Battiato.

Visit Claudio Rocchi’s official website for discography, projects, memorabilia, news etc.