Archive for the ‘1982’ Category
Ok, I’ve come to terms with the fact that – for a while, at least – I will likely not be able to provide the blog with such extended and detailed posts as I used to. And I know too well this will dramatically debase the very reason to be of this page: I remember starting “Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes” having clear in my mind that another download links warehouse like millions out there would have been meaningless. Fact is, I’ve grown affectionate with this place, you know, and I hate disappointing the hundreds of people who still pay a visit daily and those who request records.
That’s why I will keep on supplying music links anyway, with just few basic info, along with some precious guest contributions.
Just for a start, here is a rare and unexpectedly resurfaced footage originally from the tv show Mister Fantasy featuring “Marco e Monica” by Flavio Giurato, an excerpt from his Marco Polo album posted here some time ago.
I already had a couple of chances to mention the magazine “Frigidaire” before. To put it plain and simple, in its golden years – circa 1980-1986 – “Frigidaire” has violently pushed italian culture forward by kicks and shoves, forcily dragging graphic arts, journalism, arts and arts criticism, comics, music, popular imagery into the postmodern age. Founded in 1980 by agit-prop professional Vincenzo Sparagna together with people from the “Cannibale” crew – Andrea Pazienza, Stefano Tamburini, Filippo Scozzari, Tanino Liberatore and Massimo Mattioli – it has survived the sudden and premature death of its art director and author of the successful comics character Ranxerox (Tamburini, in 1986) and its most gifted visual artist and comics rockstar (Pazienza, in 1988), and a heavy turnover of contributors, being published until 1998.
Issue number 14, January 1982, came with two new year gifts: a pin-up 1982 calendar drawn by Andrea Pazienza and a 7″, 33rpm split EP with no sleeve. The a side, Invito a cena con Monofonicorchestra (“invitation to dinner with Monofonicorchestra)” – the one with the bloody razor – featured kinda no wave-muzak for weird cocktail parties where the barman took trieline instead of gin; the b side, Invito a letto con Naif orchestra (“invitation to bed with Naif orchestra”) – the one with the nude, bald woman with the glasses – had more of an imaginary soundtrack to an avantgarde porn movie, like, say, having sex with an answering machine. Incidentally, one of the most iconing records from italian new wave.
Monofonicorchestra (sometimes also spelled as Monofonic orchestra) was basically a moniker for Maurizio Marsico, an electronic performer, piano player and dj friendly involved with the “Frigidaire” guys. He contributed to the record with a series of short instrumental tracks named after the dishes of a full course dinner. If you ever happened to listen to his Friend’s portraits, released in 1981 by Italian Records, you will recognise the same familiar cartoon soundtrack-like style, with juxtaposed blocks of music, and the distinctive use of classic and contemporary minimal piano patterns – such as in “Secondo e contorno”, which runs after the melody from “Eleanor Rigby” in an endless spiral.
Naif orchestra was the pop outfit for Bigazzi brothers (Arlo and Giampiero) from Florence. They had founded the independent label Materiali Sonori – through which this EP was released – in 1977, to put out the first record of their avant-folk band Canzoniere del Valdarno. In the eighties, the label became a kind of an italian home for the likes of Tuxedomoon, Controlled Bleeding, Roger Eno, Embryo, The Durutti Column, Minimal Compact, Jon Hassell and many others, and hosted italian acts such as Militia, Neon, Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici, Arturo Stalteri (formerly of Pierrot Lunaire), Alexander Robotnick. As for Naif orchestra, what they contribute here are four mutant-wave-electro-disco tracks with sampled woman moans and funny explicit lyrics – except the last one, written with Marsico. They also succeded in entering the history of italo-disco with their classic “Check-out five” (1984) before going on indefinite hiatus.
Here is the tracklist:
Invito a cena con Monofonicorchestra
01, Aperitivo (“aperitif”)
02, Antipasto (“appetizer”)
03, Primo (“first course”)
04, Secondo e contorno (“main course and sides”)
05, Formaggio (“cheese”)
06, Frutta e frutta esotica (“fruit and exotic fruit”)
Invito a letto con Naif orchestra
08, Dis-moi tout, mon amour
09, Duro (“hard”)
10, It’s your ass that’s on the line
11, Extending guest
Maurizio Marsico continues to perform and record music, most of the times together with his long-time friend Andrea Tich; anyway, he makes his living by directing an important monthly magazine about tv serials, “Series”. Arlo and Giampiero Bigazzi are still in the music business, you can check out Materiali Sonori’s site to learn about their work and browse the label’s catalogue.
If you got interested in “Frigidaire” you can’t miss the newly published luxurious book about its history, stuffed up with images and full comics (in italian). You can also visit the imaginary republic of Frigolandia.
Christina and Maurizio. Chrisma. Krisma. Or: bite the hand that feeds you.
In 1976, Maurizio Arcieri had almost completely wasted his past fame as the lead singer of New Dada (one of the most important italian beat acts, which supported The Beatles in their 1965 italian tour), and later as a succesful solo artist. He and his recently married wife Christina Moser had just formed a new band, a duo obsessed by Velvet Underground and NY pre-punk scene, cheap electronics, rock’n’roll rhetoric, pre-war Germany aesthetics, futurism. The name was Chrisma.
The new outfit took over Maurizio’s contract with Polydor and moved to London to join Niko Papathanassiou at his brother Vangelis’ Nemo studios, where they were to record Chinese Restaurant (1977), and Hibernation (1979). English lyrics, european attitude: the farther from Italy, the better for them. Coming back from such a distance allowed them an ethnographic approach to italian culture (try listen to “Vetra Platz” on Hibernation, for instance), and eventually made a bigger and louder crash. Chrisma brought punk into tv mainstream; their stunning performances, together with their great talent for image manipulation and media hacking, established them as professional provocateurs and pop terrorists.
In 1982, they had reached a new level. Cathode Mamma (1980), released as Krisma, had been a huge success, boosted by the synthpop hit single “Many Kisses” which charted all around Europe. Their newly signed label CGD provided them with a high budget. Expectations were high, too, especially in selling terms. But Maurizio and Christina were strange beasts.
The money was spent recording a concept album about water (!…) in The Netherlands, on the Alps, and in Milan, for the magnificent artwork by Mario Convertino (and the expensive packaging as well), and shooting an entire series of promo videos in Indonesia (you can see a couple of them here and here). A coherent multimedia work was realized, at label’s expenses.
I pity people at CGD who first listened to the tapes. How could you describe this? Kraftwerk playing italo disco? A mediterranean take on Malaria!? Siouxsie and Howard Devoto singing opera to some Luciano Berio techno remix? Clandestine Anticipation was a kick in the eye to music industry. One of the most appalling masterpieces of new wave, but a commercial suicide, too. They turned their backs to mainstream success and moved on elsewhere, laughing.
Here is the tracklist:
02, Samora Club
03, Crucial Point
05, Silly Europeans
06, Wrong Island
08, Water (also released as a 7″ b/w “Samora Club”)
09, Zacdt Zacdt
Krisma are still active as a live act, tv format designers, videomakers, and agit-prop. They have worked with Arto Lindsay and Eno, and joined Franco Battiato for three tracks in his 2004 album Dieci stratagemmi.
Chinese Restaurant, Hibernation, and Cathode Mamma have been recently reprinted and are available on cd. Check out their website krismatv.net for more info.