[music:] Pepe Maina, Il canto dell’arpa e del flauto (1978)
“Ok, adesso facciamo un pezzo che si intitola “Two balls”. È dedicato a tutte le suore operaie, alle fabbriche incinte, ai negri tirolesi e a Raquel Welch.” (“ok, we’re about to play a song called “Two balls”. it’s dedicated to all working nuns, to pregnant factories, to tyrolese niggers, and to Raquel Welch.”). These are the only words you will hear in this record, the debut album by the multi-instrumentalist Pepe Maina, spoken as an introduction to a live performance captured at the centro sociale Leoncavallo in Milan, circa 1977.
A very short and apparently nonsense speech which yet synthesize an entire philosophy: a love for meaningful paradox, a taste for making contraries collide without obliterating them, a pleasure in conflict which mark the whole work of Maina. Someone whose intelligence and ruthless irony – and self-irony – have helped most of the time, especially from mid eighties on, to avoid petty new age drifts while pursuing an ideal of music as a spiritual guidance and as a means to reconcile with nature and the rythm of earthbeat, making a mess with sound influences from all over the world. More or less, you could argue the same about Julian Cope – all differences considered.
So that you can’t help but fall in love with the man, when he states that his first LP was no more than “just the right soundtrack for those years’ joints”. Actually, Il canto dell’arpa e del flauto (“the song of the harp and the flute”), released by Caterina Caselli’s label Ascolto, could easily find a place in that “Italian cosmic rock continuum” which lies at our Mutant Sounds friends’ heart, juggling with progressive folk (Maina himself cites mid-seventies Jade Warrior as a main influence, but you can add other usual names, such as Third Ear Band and, as for Italy, Aktuala), krautrock (such as in the Cluster-flavoured “Spring song” and “Two balls”, with a funny glancing quotation from the melody of “Frère Jacques”), acoustic psychedelic rips (the final segment of “Il canto dell’arpa e del flauto (Parte prima)”), ethnic explosions (the feverishly percussive “Africa”, which somehow anticipated the Ozric Tentacles at their best), early ambient traces.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Il canto dell’arpa (“the song of the harp”)
02, Il canto dell’arpa e del flauto (Parte prima) (“the song of the harp and the flute (first part)”)
03, Spring song
04, Two balls
06, Il canto dell’arpa e del flauto (Parte seconda) (“the song of the harp and the flute (second part)”)
07, San Nicola (“saint Nicholas”)
This startling album remains to date the sole example of collaboration with the hated record industry for Pepe Maina. He soon opted for self-production, launching the following year his recording studio/music label Nonsense Studio by releasing his second full-length effort, Scerizza (the name of the smalltown near Como where he lives). He has been putting out more than twenty fully diy records since then, meanwhile working for theatre, indipendent filmmakers, advertising.
Go and visit his official website (in english) for more info, music downloads and cd shopping.