Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

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

Archive for the ‘1985’ Category

[music:] Gustoforte, Gustoforte (1985)

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A sonic guerrilla squad featuring videomaker Roberto Giannotti (vocals, drums, keyboards, tapes), Stefano Galderisi (basses, keyboards, tapes – formerly of surf-rockers The Sentinels), Il Maestro (“the master”, later identified as the singer-songwriter Francesco Verdinelli, on guitars, keyboards and tapes) and La Donna (“the woman”, possibly actress and scriptwriter Roberta Lerici, on vocals, drum machine, percussions, tapes) started the band called Gustoforte (“strong taste”) in Rome in 1984.

This self-titled album released by Rat Race label early in 1985 with liner notes by Ado Scaini of The Great Complotto fame, which in the first 200-copies run came in a real steel cover, remains unfortunately the only evidence they left behind – a stunning, savage post-everything epic which each time brings to mind Virgin Prunes at their most demented and free-form, This Heat, The Residents, or even Claudio Rocchi’s attempts in electronics, and clangs in unison with the noises of contemporary experimental rock outfits such as, just to name one, Black Dice, or catastrophic dub suppliers of Excepter’s caliber.

The record follows the storyline suggested by an anti-utopian sci-fi plot, just like in an old-fashioned concept album: a travelling salesman visits a factory just to discover that there’s only one human worker left, contently attending 24/7 a useless assembly line, with all the time in the world to think. A robot escorting the representative in a tour of the plant explains him that unreliable workers have been completely replaced with machines. The only other humans around are dismissed trade unionists, just sitting around in a room, drinking and recalling the old days. The rep is then introduced to the factory coordinator: a powerful female supercomputer who manages to seduce him and eventually turn him into a bionic salesman working for the company.

Here is the tracklist:

01, s. Antony Chain
02, Steel Walk
03, Ventiquattro tre 84 (“twenty-four three 84”)
04, Assembly Line
05, Evry Courcouronnes
06, Factory ab absurdo
07, Ask Me Dream
08, Bionic Promotion Agent

Get it: Gustoforte, Gustoforte (1985)

Gustoforte reportedly recorded an unreleased second album, called Souvenir of Rome, before Giannotti and Verdinelli quit the band in 1994. Drummer Franco Calbi, performer Domenico Vitucci and Texan avant multi-instrumentalist and self-made instruments wizard Chris Blazen were recruited by the end of Nineties by Galderisi to keep the project alive. Anyway, the current line-up credited in their basic MySpace page features only the four original members.

[music:] Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici featuring Alexander Robotnick, GMM (1985)

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Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici (“social mechanical youngsters”, often shortened as GMM) was a multimedia collective pioneering computer art in Italy, founded in 1984 in Florence by the graphic designer Antonio “Tony” Glessi and the writer Andrea “Andy” Zingoni, whose name first appeared as the title of a computer-generated comic strip published on “Frigidaire” magazine starting from issue 42, May 1984.

Tony and Andy were soon joined by photographer Marco “Marc” Paoli and fashion designer and performer Loretta “Lore” Mugnai, and eventually by Maurizio Dami aka Alexander Robotnick – who had already released his first seminal efforts, such as the 12″ and 7″ versions of Problèmes d’amour (1983, 1984) and the LP Ce n’est qu’un debut (1984)  – taking care of sound design and soundtracks to their performances, installations and videos.

A compilation of this music, most of the times proper songs with lyrics by Glessi and Zingoni, was released on a tape called GMM by Materiali Sonori in 1984. A vinyl album of the same title came out in 1985, featuring keyboards, programming and guitars by Alexander Robotnick, vocals by Robotnick himself, Marco Paoli and friends, and some jazz musicians playing winds and piano.

These kinds of releases often denote the original, functional purpose of the sounds contained by their lack of emotional and esthetical consistency and their disregard for the sheer listening experience, their pointless sniffy attitude and their exhausting reluctance to take any risk. But we’re having something completely different here: not just a background for a performance, but a performance in itself, which applies to the music the same vision, operational mode, and passionate detachment adopted by GMM in visual and performing arts (an approach to sound issues they shared with the experimental theatrical company Magazzini Generali, even if their musical outputs were slightly different).

The record (which incidentally is pure wonder, shining in beauty, humour and melancholy) provided the field for a clash of personal creativities, a ruthless and profitable confrontation between the diverse identities making up the collective; at the same time, it set up a testing ground for Robotnick to decompose his own language, precipitating traces of Tuxedomoon, EBM and jazz, synthpop and hip-hop, italo disco and mutant disco, presentiments of Pet Shop Boys and Matt Bianco’s cartoon swing caricatures. Disparate elements which prodigiously stay in balance and define in turn tracks such as the crepuscular Au jour de la separation and Petite soeur, Back and forth – which dangerously wanders out there, in a desolate suburban fringe, at night – and the hysterically high No fear nor destination and Ghimm’Alid’l Benzin – not to mention the amazing takes on Caravan by Duke Ellington, Gato Barbieri’s theme from Ultimo tango a Parigi (“last tango in Paris”) and Gilbert Becaud’s Et maintenant.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Love supreme
02, Caravan
03, Au jour de la separation
04, Ultimo tango a Parigi (“last tango in Paris”)
05, Flashman swing
06, Back and forth
07, Don’t ask me why (also released as a 12″ b/w “Love supreme”)
08, Petite soeur
09, No fear nor destination
10, Ghimm’Alid’l Benzin (fake arab for “gimme a little benzina”, where “benzina” is the italian for “oil”)
11, Et maintenant

Get it: Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici featuring Alexander Robotnick, GMM (1985)

Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici have produced short films, theatrical performances, tv series, festivals, music videos for the likes of Teresa De Sio and Claudio Rocchi, experimenting with information technology and virtual reality, and achieving a huge success in the late Nineties with their cartoon character Gino il pollo (“Gino the chicken”, created by Andrea Zingoni and Joshua Held). Even if the collective disbanded in 1998, some of the members keep on working as Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici from time to time. For italian speakers, here is GMM’s website.

As for Maurizio Dami, in the Nineties he got more and more involved with african, Middle and Far East music, giving up his stage name and working with musicians from all over the world in acts such as Data from Africa, Music for Meditation, Govinda, and The Third Planet. He revived Alexander Robotnick in 2002, and has been releasing a bunch of new stuff since then, both as Robotnick and Italcimenti, together with his long-time friend Lapo Lombardi aka Ludus Pinski. He is currently active as a musician, dj, performer and dance music living legend. You can learn more about his past and present projects at robotnick.it