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

Posts Tagged ‘alice

[music:] Claudio Rocchi, Suoni di frontiera (1976)

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Sometimes a failure is far more intriguing and challenging than a masterpiece. Claudio Rocchi has often cited Suoni di frontiera (“frontier sounds”) as one of his favourite albums, and me too, i’m a little obsessed by this inconclusive, naive attempt in experimental electronics which, together with his twin Rocchi (1975), attracts and swallows like a black hole the entire work of Claudio – and perhaps all the italian pop music which gravitates around it.

In 1975, Claudio Rocchi was already a well-established counterculture icon and the italian folk-psych-cosmic-out-of-his-head minstrel par excellence. Most of his listeners were hence slightly shocked when he suddenly almost completely replaced the guitars, the strings and the percussions of l miele dei pianeti le isole le api (“the honey of the planets the islands the bees”, 1974) with a cut-up of field recordings, samples, modulated soundwaves and analogic synthesizers assembled in a home studio, building with Rocchi an actual wall of sound between him and his usual audience. (Even if, from a 2008 point of view, you can catch an emotional consistency between this material and a track like “Lila” from Il miele… By the way, “Lila” was the first example of a song recorded by the same Rocchi at his place with a Revox A70 to be released on an album – a do-it-yourself solution which was soon to become an habit for him.)

Suoni di frontiera was an attempt to move further beyond, mincing the music into small, separated fragments, often based on a single electronic loop. A collection of wrong answers to an unspoken question. But, for a musician gifted with a peculiar and highly recognizable singing style as Claudio Rocchi is, the really astonishing thing was the self-injuring decision to get rid of vocals completely. It’s “the silence of words”, as the same Rocchi stated: something necessary to eliminate interferences and create actual connections between sound and energy in view of a “musica psichica” (“psychic music”), the music with a healing power he was dreaming of together with former Area guitarist Paolo Tofani and discussing with Demetrio Stratos, Elio D’Anna, Franco Battiato.

I should say the result is rather poor when compared with similar contemporary explorations in Italy and abroad, and almost ridiculous with its pretensions; but these handcrafted sounds encompass a vision, an enthusiasm, a soul which make up for their lack of originality and substantial pointlessness. Like learning from a wise child who, playing with microphones, tapes and knobs, discovers the unexpected pleasure of making noises – and remains amazed by himself.

Here is the tracklist:

01, La forza (“the strength”)
02, Il risveglio (“the awakening”)
03, Frammento (“fragment”)
04, Apertura (“opening”)
05, Oh Lyra
06, Oscillando (“oscillating”)
07, Il rame e gli armonici (“the copper and the harmonics”)
08, Tarantella
09, Canzone popolare (“folk song”)
10, Hò
11, Del r(ub)(id)are cultura (“of s(teal)(upply)ing culture”)
12, Suoni interni (“inner sounds”)
13, Dopo Arona (“beyond Arona”)
14, Acoustic seedback
15, Per antichi canali (“along ancient channels”)
16, Ritmi (“rythms”)

Get it: Claudio Rocchi, Suoni di frontiera (1976)
[edit February 10th, 2009: download link has been removed as requested from claudiorocchi.com
Check out Die Schachtel label’s website in the next few months for the record’s cd edition.]

This new direction led Claudio Rocchi in the land of soundtracks and soundscapes for art performances and theatre; and just after a show in a Milan off-theatre he was approached by Cramps’ founder Gianni Sassi. A meeting which resulted in a new record deal and a new, different level for the artist, who released in 1977 his first true “pop” effort, A fuoco (you can read it both as “focused” or “on fire”), recorded with a complete orchestra.

Claudio Rocchi and Paolo Tofani, together with their families, joined an hare krisna community in the early eighties. Claudio returned to earthly matters in 1994 with a new album, Claudio Rocchi (featuring Tofani, Alberto Camerini, Eugenio Finardi, Alice, Lucio Fabbri, Walter Calloni) and since then, among thousands of other things, he has released four records, directed a movie (Pedra Mendalza), acted in Musikanten by Franco Battiato.

Visit Claudio Rocchi’s official website for discography, projects, memorabilia, news etc.

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[music:] Juri Camisasca, La finestra dentro (1974) + 7″

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Franco Battiato is an epidemic. He massively and deeply influenced italian music in the last forty years, with both his seventies’ cosmic/avant seminal efforts and his early eighties’ art pop masterpieces. In addition, he also wrote for, played in and produced a huge number of records by artists as different as Telaio magnetico and Ombretta Colli, PFM and Giusto Pio, eventually establishing his own style as a stand alone genre. We will have many chances to speak about his work as the blog goes on.

Anyway, most of this was yet to come in 1974, when Battiato joined his friend Roberto “Juri” Camisasca (they met while serving in the army) to play VCS3 and keyboards and co-produce the latter’s debut album, La finestra dentro (“the window inside”). The result was something slightly different from early seventies’ Battiato classics like Fetus (1972) and Pollution (1972): the driving forces here are Camisasca’s excellent acid-folk songwriting and his unique, thrilling voice, which could be somehow compared to Demetrio Stratos or Claudio Rocchi, and yet sounds completely personal and sincere.

The circular, monotonous grooves and the contemporary classic elements, which are likely to be Battiato’s key contributions to arrangements, helped in creating an obsessive atmosphere that reflects the mood of the lyrics. This is just an example, from “Un galantuomo”: “Ora mi decido, prendo un martello, me lo picchio sulla testa ed ecco che i topi mi escono dal naso, i topi mi escono dalle orecchie. Ma ora me ne pento perché oramai io sono troppo vecchio. E come una pianta che perde le foglie, io perdo i capelli, io perdo le dita, io perdo le gambe, io perdo il naso, io perdo il controllo della lingua.” (“Now i decide, i take a hammer, i bang it on my head and the rats come out of my nose, the rats come out of my ears. But i repent, because by now i am too old. And like a plant losing its leaves, i lose my hair, i lose my fingers, i lose my legs, i lose my nose, i lose control of my tongue.”).

This combination of haunting lyrics and sounds from outer space landed as an unidentified object in the middle of a scene then mainly focused on progressive rock and cantautori, and Battiato’s name was not yet such a warranty brand to gain to the album the attention it deserved. As a result, La finestra dentro has been for too many years one of the best kept secret of seventies’ italian music – and a highly valued collectors item. The releasing of two singles during 1975, which coupled tracks from the album with more “easy” songs on the a-sides, did not help either.

The same Juri Camisasca became a desaparecido joining a monastery in 1976, after some minor contributions to some Battiato’s projects. He came back to music at the end of the eighties, and since then he has been writing some amazing songs for the likes of Alice, Milva and Giuni Russo and has released three solo albums: Te deum, Il Carmelo di Echt (“the echt’s carmel”), and Arcano enigma (“occult enigma”, with Bluvertigo as a backing band).

He is also a painter of orthodox icons, and has acted in the last two Battiato’s feature films as a director, Musikanten and Niente è come sembra (“nothing is as it seems”, with Alejandro Jodorowski playing a tarot reader).

Here is the tracklist:

01, Un galantuomo (“a gentleman”)
02, Ho un grande vuoto nella testa (“i’ve got a big void in my head”)
03, Metamorfosi (“metamorphosis”, also released as the b-side of “La musica muore”)
04, Scavando col badile (“digging with the shovel”)
05, John
06, Un fiume di luce (“a river of light”, also released as the b-side of “Himalaya”)
07, Il regno dell’Eden (“the realm of eden”)

The two 7″ contain:

Himalaya (1975)
a, Himalaya / b, Un fiume di luce

La musica muore (“the music dies”, 1975)
a, La musica muore / b, Metamorfosi

Get the whole package: Juri Camisasca, La finestra dentro (1974) + 7″

Check juricamisasca.it for news and stuff (in italian).

Written by alteralter

March 26, 2008 at 7:58 pm