Posts Tagged ‘cosmic’
“Ok, adesso facciamo un pezzo che si intitola “Two balls”. È dedicato a tutte le suore operaie, alle fabbriche incinte, ai negri tirolesi e a Raquel Welch.” (“ok, we’re about to play a song called “Two balls”. it’s dedicated to all working nuns, to pregnant factories, to tyrolese niggers, and to Raquel Welch.”). These are the only words you will hear in this record, the debut album by the multi-instrumentalist Pepe Maina, spoken as an introduction to a live performance captured at the centro sociale Leoncavallo in Milan, circa 1977.
A very short and apparently nonsense speech which yet synthesize an entire philosophy: a love for meaningful paradox, a taste for making contraries collide without obliterating them, a pleasure in conflict which mark the whole work of Maina. Someone whose intelligence and ruthless irony – and self-irony – have helped most of the time, especially from mid eighties on, to avoid petty new age drifts while pursuing an ideal of music as a spiritual guidance and as a means to reconcile with nature and the rythm of earthbeat, making a mess with sound influences from all over the world. More or less, you could argue the same about Julian Cope – all differences considered.
So that you can’t help but fall in love with the man, when he states that his first LP was no more than “just the right soundtrack for those years’ joints”. Actually, Il canto dell’arpa e del flauto (“the song of the harp and the flute”), released by Caterina Caselli’s label Ascolto, could easily find a place in that “Italian cosmic rock continuum” which lies at our Mutant Sounds friends’ heart, juggling with progressive folk (Maina himself cites mid-seventies Jade Warrior as a main influence, but you can add other usual names, such as Third Ear Band and, as for Italy, Aktuala), krautrock (such as in the Cluster-flavoured “Spring song” and “Two balls”, with a funny glancing quotation from the melody of “Frère Jacques”), acoustic psychedelic rips (the final segment of “Il canto dell’arpa e del flauto (Parte prima)”), ethnic explosions (the feverishly percussive “Africa”, which somehow anticipated the Ozric Tentacles at their best), early ambient traces.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Il canto dell’arpa (“the song of the harp”)
02, Il canto dell’arpa e del flauto (Parte prima) (“the song of the harp and the flute (first part)”)
03, Spring song
04, Two balls
06, Il canto dell’arpa e del flauto (Parte seconda) (“the song of the harp and the flute (second part)”)
07, San Nicola (“saint Nicholas”)
This startling album remains to date the sole example of collaboration with the hated record industry for Pepe Maina. He soon opted for self-production, launching the following year his recording studio/music label Nonsense Studio by releasing his second full-length effort, Scerizza (the name of the smalltown near Como where he lives). He has been putting out more than twenty fully diy records since then, meanwhile working for theatre, indipendent filmmakers, advertising.
Go and visit his official website (in english) for more info, music downloads and cd shopping.
[edit February 16th, 2009: that’s an interesting case of synchronicity – whatever. I just noticed that Jim at Mutant Sounds released a download link for this long-time lost record a couple of hours before I clicked the “Publish” button for this post. Check out their version too, with huge front/back cover pics, and a different rip encoding.]
Cosmic joker nel blu dipinto di blu. Or: mediterranEurock. It’s not by chance, indeed, that this time the Couriers’ spacecraft is a flying marranzano (the italian for jew’s harp) floating on the cover. After all, there aren’t much italian musicians who had the chance to work at first hand with german krautrock gurus – the only other names which come to my mind are Baffo Banfi from Biglietto per l’inferno, who had a couple of solo albums produced by Klaus Schulze between 1979 and 1981, and Gianna Nannini teaming up with Conny Plank from 1982 until the latter’s death in 1987 for a series of europewide successful records, with Jaki Liebezeit from Can as a session drummer.
In 1974, when Roberto Cacciapaglia entered the studio with Ohr Records founder and cosmic rock éminence grise Rolf Ulrich Kaiser, he was mostly known as the guy who sat behind the keyboards for Battiato’s second album Pollution. Actually, the music which resulted from these sessions – edited and released as Sonanze (“sonances”) the following year – was more or less related with Battiato’s early Seventies works, and somehow recalled the coeval explorations of major kosmische achievers such as Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream or the same Schulze; neverthless, it retained something unique and inherently personal: a peculiar upward structure, an esthetical rectitude, an almost classical composure which placed it out of the space/acid rock canon, and was likely to be an heritage of Cacciapaglia’s academic training as a composer (he graduated at Milan’s “Giuseppe Verdi” conservatory before joining the phonology research team at RAI – the italian national broadcasting system – and working with the CNR – “national resarch centre” – in Pisa).
To strengthen this impression, we’re having a complete orchestra here gliding its way into the stratosphere by drones and blows, which refer to early XX century atonal tradition, while the manipulation of processed vocals (such as in the 2nd Movement) anticipated the monomanic, mesmerizing Tail of the Tiger by Roberto Laneri’s Prima Materia, providing some gusts of high solar wind. When it comes to post-impressionistic/minimal piano patterns, then, such as in the 3rd Movement, there you find yourself effortlessy climbing a spiral staircase to the stars.
Here is the tracklist:
01, 1st Movement
02, 2nd Movement
03, 3rd Movement
04, 4th Movement
05, 5th Movement
06, 6th Movement
07, 7th Movement
08, 8th Movement
09, 9th Movement
10, 10th Movement
After the exploit of Sonanze (oddly released in Italy through PDU, the label founded by Mina and Augusto Martelli), Roberto Cacciapaglia went on experimenting with contemporary classic music and electronics, studying ancient sacred music and the non-musical power of sound and performing with the most diverse artists and in all kind of environments.
He also worked in the pop music industry as a refined and innovative arranger and producer for the model/actress/singer Ann Steel (in the legendary Ann Steel Album, 1979), Gianna Nannini (G.N., 1981), Giuni Russo (Vox, 1983), Ivan Cattaneo (Bandiera Gialla – “yellow flag” – 1983), Alice (Gioielli rubati – “stolen jewels”, a collection of Franco Battiato’s covers – 1985), and is a successful author of music for commercials.
His most recent effort is Canone degli spazi (“canon of the spaces”), recorded with the London Philarmonic Orchestra and released in January, 2009. You can visit his official website (also in english) for more detailed info.
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.