Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

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

Archive for the ‘industrial’ 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.

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[music:] Francesco Currà, Rapsodia meccanica (1977)

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When you say industrial music, some pioneers’ names come immediately to your head: Monte Cazazza, Boyd Rice, Throbbing Gristle, and so on. Martial rythms, tape loops, distorted noises, buzzing electronics… ok, but what the music of a real factory would have sounded like? One of the possible answers lies in this record.

The new social and cultural framework created in Italy by the great workers’ fights which started in 1967, and the permanent revolutionary mobilization which lasted until the end of the seventies, allowed a new kind of radical, proletarian artists coming from the factories and the urban suburbia to express themselves and find their way into “official” culture. People like the worker-writer Tommaso Di Ciaula, the incredible folk/experimental musician Enzo Delre, and Alfa Romeo workers’ band Gruppo operaio ‘e zezi could now release their books and records, drawing the attention of a broader audience than anybody could ever image a few years before.

Francesco Currà – born in Calabria, in the deep south of Italy – used to work at a milling machine at the Ansaldo, a huge heavy metal industry in Genoa. Actually you can see his pay sheet for october 1976 on the cover. He was a poet, too. He was 29 when he was granted by independent label Ultima spiaggia the opportunity to team up with Roberto Colombo, Flaviano Cuffari and other great musicians to realize Rapsodia Meccanica (“mechanical rhapsody”): not simply a concept album about life in a factory, but a kind of a fantastic voyage through the alienated mind of a chain worker.

The music was based on the same Currà’s field recordings of the Ansaldo’s machines (his co-workers are credited as musicians), turned into gloomy drones and obsessive rythm patterns with the help of Roberto Colombo, under whose artistic direction some acoustic and electronic instrumental contributions were also added.

On top of this sounds layers, Currà screamed his expressionistic yet iperrealistic verses of rage, contempt, fear and sorrow. We’re not having here a middle class kid giving his interpretation of a worker’s life and nonsense talking about alienation. This is first-hand experience, and sounds far more dramatic, disturbing, and politically uncorrect than anything else recorded in those years. Currà’s peculiar singing style basically reminded of “cantastorie” (south Italy folk story-tellers) litanies, with some curious hints of Domenico Modugno; at the same time he anticipated the declamatory spoken-word style by Giovanni Lindo Ferretti from the seminal post-punk band CCCP – Fedeli alla linea, namely in tracks such as “Quanto dura il mio minuto?”, “Preferirei piuttosto” and “La massa della miseria”.

Each “song” in here is a highlight, from the proto-drum’n’bass of “Non mi parlare di rivoluzione” to “L’alunno dell’ultimo banco” and the thrilling “Tavola ansaldina”, which embeds what seems to be an excerpt from a traditional folk love song from Calabria.

Here is the tracklist:

01, 16 giugno (“june 16th”)
02, Non mi parlare di rivoluzione (“don’t you tell me about revolution”)
03, Incubo (“nightmare”)
04, Quanto dura il mio minuto? (“how long does my minute last?”)
05, Preferirei piuttosto (“i’d rather than”)
06, Tra cespugli di ginestre (“in brooms’ bushes”)
07, La rovina del porto è il marinaio (“it’s the sailor which spoils the port”)
08, Hanno sputato sui vetri (“someone has spitted on the glasses”)
09, L’alunno dell’ultimo banco (“last desk’s pupil”)
10, La massa della miseria (“the mass of misery”)
11, Tavola ansaldina (“ansaldinian stele”)
12, Son le puttane le donne migliori (“the whores are the best women”)

Get it: Francesco Currà, Rapsodia meccanica (1977)

Francesco Currà has recorded another album in 1979, Flussi e riflussi (“flows and reflows”), now apparently lost, and has published two poetry books: Rapsodia meccanica. Poesia in fabbrica con le canzoni del disco dell’Ultima spiaggia (“mechanical rhapsody. poetry in the factory with Ultima spiaggia record’s songs”, 1978), and Le eruzioni dell’eros e del male (“the eruptions of eros and evil”, 2004).

Check out the interesting Mutant sounds’ post about Rapsodia meccanica, which places Francesco Currà in the “as-yet-unnamed Italian trajectory that includes Franco Battiato, Pierrot Lunaire, Franco Leprino, Arturo Stalteri and a handful of other like-minded cosmonauts”.