Posts Tagged ‘avant’
Since many of you requested it, possibly time has come to make available this unidentified sound object swerving between musique concrète, pop, avant-garde, beat, rock’n’roll, old-fashioned melodies, progressive rock, which we already spoke of some months ago, in the post about Ricky Gianco’s Alla mia mam…: like continuously switching over the stations of a radio tuned on the distorted brainwaves of a man fallen in a coma after a car accident, who confusingly dreams of the Inquisition, of concentration camps, of war, torture, chain work, love, sex, painfully recovering splinters of his memory. Practically, the soundtrack of a nightmare. After all, it’s not called Disco dell’angoscia (“anguish record”) by chance.
But what really makes this record haunting and creepy to such extent is perhaps an immoderate and unreasonable expenditure, a raging emptiness hardly restrained, an extraordinary taste for bad taste, a morbid irony which results, for instance, in a children choir singing a nazi song, or a gloomy samba which cites Auschwitz.
Here is the tracklist:
01, L’incidente (“the accident”)
02, Voglio vivere (“i want to live”)
03, Motivo angoscia 1 (La religione e la morte) (“anguish theme 1 (religion and death)”)
04, Canto delle streghe e del demonio (“chant of the witches and the devil”)
05, Motivo angoscia 2 (Canto nazista) (“anguish theme 2 (nazi chant)”)
06, Samba della tortura e della guerra (“samba of torture and war”)
07, Che cosa è? (“what is it?”)
08, Motivo angoscia 3 (“anguish theme 3”)
09, Rock della ricostruzione (“reconstruction rock”)
10, Davanti al nastro che corre (“in front of the conveyor belt”)
11, Motivo angoscia 4 (“anguish theme 4”)
12, Zucchero mio (“sugar of mine”)
13, Piacere e potere (“pleasure and power”)
14, Motivo angoscia 5 (“anguish theme 5”)
15, L’incidente (“the accident”)
The complete lineup counts – apart from Ricky Gianco (guitar, vocals), Gianfranco Manfredi and Ivan Cattaneo (vocals), Tullio De Piscopo and Ellade Bandini (drums) – Nanni Ricordi and Ninni Carucci on the vocals (the latter being a singer/songwriter which released an album through the label Ultima spiaggia in 1975, now a successful cartoon music author), Sergio Farina (guitar), Claudio Bonechi (keys), Hugo Heredia (sax), Gigi Cappellotto (bass).
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.
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”)
09, Canzone popolare (“folk song”)
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.
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”)
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”.
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”)
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:
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).