Archive for the ‘folk’ Category
A revolutionary avant-folk storyteller, an arte povera experimental performer, an “oggettista corpofonista” (“objectist bodyphonist”) as he defines himself, Enzo Del Re or Delre – as spelled on this album’s cover – born in 1944 in Mola di Bari, Apulia, South-East of Italy, has been one of the few italian artists, together with Francesco Currà, to apply to music, maybe unknowingly, the well-known Jean-Luc Godard’s plea: “it’s not about making political films, but rather making films politically” (I’m quoting by heart).
A restive anarchist, soon after graduating at the local conservatory he abandoned the academy to pursue a personal and unique musical language caught between roots and modernity, coherence and contradiction, folk singleness and cultured experimentalism, joined in his research by the ethnomusicologist Antonio Infantino; as a proletarian musician who merely had at his disposal his own sheer working force, his hands, his arms, his legs, Del Re chose to play only significant found objects and recycled materials, used as percussion instruments – mostly chairs, as a nonverbal and sorrowful protest against electrocution and death penalty in general, or a suitcase, as in Vittorio Franceschi’s Qui tutto bene… e così spero di te (“things are fine here… and so i hope with you”, 1971), a theatrical play about “emigration and imperialism” – and clicking his tongue and beating his own body and face. A radical, marginal sound worker, who in the Seventies used to take three shifts a day, playing two gigs for free at occupied factories, schools, universities, and getting for the last one a metal worker’s daily minimum wage. The same continuous and monotonous rythm he used as sole accompaniment to his songs seemed produced by a clapped out assembly line.
Il banditore (“the town crier”) – released in 1974 after his experiences with Dario Fo’s theatrical company Nuova scena (“new stage”) and at the legendary Derby Club in Milan with Enzo Jannacci, and following his 1973 debut album Maul (“Mola” in local dialect) – is a full and detailed report about the work of this postindustrial agit-prop cantastorie who tirelessly travelled all over the country, spreading his word and critically supporting the revolutionary movement.
The record testified his immutable and hieratic style, seemingly coming from an ancient past or from a far future, inducing a sort of ecstatic experience by iterativity; an uninterrupted stream which made live together tarantella with musique concrète, The Last Poets with his hometown fishermen’s screaming (even if Enzo’s voice tone and the way he offers lyrics remind insistently of Luigi Tenco). However, there are moments which stand out of the flow, as the title track with its comics’ onomatopoeias and the siren in the end, between an anti-aircraft alarm and a factory hooter; the ritual latin mixed with real and fake advertising claims of “Laudet et benedicitet (Infantino)”; the ironic thirdworldist namedropping of “Comico”: hints of a sadly unaccomplished mediterranean cannibalism – in the sense of the Manifesto Antropófago by Oswald de Andrade, which inspired the Tropicália movement. And, of course, the dazzling dyptich of “Lavorare con lentezza” and “Tengo ‘na voglia e fa niente”, written in an hotel room in Bologna, which represents one of the most revolutionary anti-work statements ever.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Il banditore (“the town crier”)
02, Lavorare con lentezza (“working slowly”)
03, Tengo ‘na voglia e fa niente (“i feel like doin’ nuthin'”)
04, Laudet et benedicitet (Infantino)
05, La fretta (“the hurry”)
06, La sopravvivenza (“the survival”)
07, Il superuomo (“the superman”)
08, Voglio fare il boia (“i wanna be a hangman”)
09, Scimpanzè (“chimpanzee”)
10, La 124 (“the 124”, referring to a FIAT car model)
11, Comico (“funny”)
12, La rivoluzione (“the revolution”)
Get it: Enzo Delre, Il banditore (1974)
Unbeknown to him, “Lavorare con lentezza” was used as broadcasts’ opening and closing signature tune by Radio Alice, the movement’s pirate radio in Bologna, from 1976 until March 12th, 1977, the day after the killing of the student Francesco Lorusso by a carabiniere during a streetfight, when the police burst in the studios and terminated transmissions.
In 2004, Guido Chiesa directed a movie about the story of Radio Alice, titled Lavorare con lentezza and featuring the song in its soundtrack. This led to a short-lived rediscovery of Del Re’s work, which anyway didn’t particularly affect his semi-retirement, as for the tribute that fellow musicians such as Eugenio Bennato, Daniele Sepe, and Etnoritmo paid him covering or sampling his songs.
He still plays concerts occasionally, where his self-produced tapes or cd-r’s are available to buy. You can happen to meet him around his hometown’s port, where he usually sits with old fishermen speaking, drinking, and playing cards.
Every revolution needs a soundtrack. Pino Masi, born in Palermo, Sicily, and grown up in Pisa, Tuscany (his father’s hometown), has supplied italian extraparlamentary leftist opposition with protest anthems – mainly acoustic ballads – from late sixties up to mid-seventies such as a local Phil Ochs, becoming a kind of an official songwriter first for Potere Operaio (“workers power”), and then for Lotta Continua (“continuous fight”), two of the biggest and most active communist organizations of those years.
Masi founded in 1966 Canzoniere pisano (“pisan songbook”), a collective of young musicians devoted to developing a new form of political folk song; in 1967 he joined Nuovo canzoniere italiano (“new italian songbook”) – a similar group which gathered singer/songwriters from all over the country, which could be somehow compared to cuban Grupo de Experimentación Sonora – playing with the likes of Giovanna Marini, Giovanna Daffini, Enzo Delre, Ivan Della Mea.
During the hot decade between 1967 and 1977 he worked, among others, with psychiatrist Franco Basaglia, jazz musician Giorgio Gaslini, Nobel prize winner Dario Fo, Julien Beck’s Living Theatre, managing festivals and happenings, co-authoring and writing the score for the documentary 12 dicembre (“december 12th”) by Pier Paolo Pasolini about the 1969 fascist bomb attack in piazza Fontana, Milan (a turning point in italian contemporary history), and releasing a bunch of songs – often instant classics – for the movement, such as La violenza (“the violence”), L’ora del fucile (“the shotgun hour”), La ballata del Pinelli (“the ballad of Pinelli”), never giving up actual militancy.
The peak of this phase came in 1976, with the transitory album Compagno sembra ieri (“comrade, it seems yesterday”) and his legendary nude performance on the main stage at the Parco Lambro alternative music festival in Milan (you can see an excerpt here). But a new level was coming. His friendship with Ornette Coleman and Steve Lacy, met at concerts in Pisa, opened him to the free jazz scene; meanwhile, he had started a personal process of discovering of the mediterranean roots of italian folk, studying south-italian, north-african and middle-eastern musical structures.
Alla ricerca della madre mediterranea (“in search of the mediterranean mother”), released on Cramps in 1978, is the result of these diverse and seemingly incompatible influences: a destructured six-movements free folk simphony echoing Moroccan and Arabian hymnodies, shattered by feverish rythm patterns and broken with experimental inserts, with Masi and his all-star backing band featuring Donald “Rafael” Garrett – formerly bass and wind player with Coltrane, Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders, Coleman himself – experimental jazz bassist Roberto Della Grotta, and Lucio Fabbri on the violin, grappling with upset traditionals such as Su patriotu sardu a sos feudatarios (a sardinian protest song from the Eighteenth century, on which is based Procurate moderare), and Abballati abballati, an obsessive tarantella from Sicily.
It’s the dark side of the Mediterranean. Music which comes from an unknown time and space between Luciano Cilio, Area, early Claudio Rocchi and avant folksters such as Aktuala, Canzoniere del Lazio or Carnascialia. Full of mistery, rage and joy of life, just as traditional music manages to be in its highest moments.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Un giorno a Tangeri (“one day in Tangier”)
02, Festa al campo profughi (“feast at the refugee camp”)
03, Procurate moderare (“provide to moderate”)
04, Terrasini perché (“Terrasini because”)
05, Abballati abballati (“dance dance”)
06, Marrakech insieme (“Marrakech together”)
In 1986 Pino Masi moved to Sicily to work as a painter, helping his friend Mauro Rostagno with his rehab community Saman, until the latter’s murder by the hands of mafia killers in 1988. He acted as a human shield in the first Iraqi war in 1991, then working as a cooperant with UN in children’s defense and recovery. He now lives in the countryside around Pisa with his family. You can happen to meet him in the town’s taverns, where he sometimes pops up to play old songs as a busker.
His current musical project is the “transmediterranean theatrical-musical company” called Tribal Karma Ensemble. He has also played gigs and recorded with the combat folksters Folkabbestia! from Bari.