Posts Tagged ‘new wave’
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.
The sleep of province produces monsters.
As repeatedly requested, here’s the manifesto of the Great Complotto (“grande conspiracy”), or: how a handful of kids from Pordenone, a well-off, outlying small town in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, North-East Italy, turned their city into the imaginary state of Naon (a republic with its own flag, money, government, football team, customs and habits – an official guide was included in the 1983 IV3SCR compilation) and managed to make it one of the capitals of international situationism and the cradle of Italian punk beside Milan, Bologna, Turin, Florence. Featuring bleeps, noises, screechings, drones, the legendary London performance by Tampax and HitlerSS – when they sent fake tour dates to “Time Out” and then went to the scheduled locations with cardboard instruments just to see what their audience could look like – and the Naon national anthem “Atoms for energy” in two different versions.
And remember: Pordenone could be London, but London can’t be Pordenone.
Here is the tracklist:
Lato A (“A side”)
01, Mess, Paraguay
02, Fhedolts, Stimolation
03, Sexy Angels, La beat
04, Andy Warhol Banana Technicolor, I’m in love with my computer
05, Mind Invaders, Individual therapy
06, 001100111100011001011101 (Cancer), 000010
07, 001100111100011001011101 (Cancer), 000001
08, Musique Mecanique, Atoms for energy
09, Musique Mecanique, Good ideas must not fall in the hands of the enemy
10, Tampax/HitlerSS, London cartoon concert
Lato I (“I side”)
11, Fhedolts, Hearthing
12, Andy Warhol Banana Technicolor, The future
13, Mess, Foolish girls
14, W.K.W., Wyatt Earp
15, Sexy Angels, Atoms for energy
16, Little Chemists, Fe2Cr 0
17, Waalt Diisneey prod., Chips dorè (I.D.Y.)
18, Waalt Diisneey prod., (I need) Action
Get it: AA. VV., Pordenone/The Great Complotto (1980)
[edit August 23rd, 2009: the all-worthy publishing house Shake Edizioni has at last made available again this record on cd, added with extra tracks, a video and a 68-pages book stuffed with pics and lyrics! Useless to say, the download link has been removed. You can get the box here.]
The album was produced by The Great Complotto, Oderso Rubini, Red Ronnie, Ado (Scaini, from Tampax) and Compact Cassette Records, and released through Italian Records Service. The cover features a postcard of Pordenone. Among the several outfits involved in the movement you can also count Futuritmi, Ice & The Iced and the amazing XX Century Zorro.
Everything you may need to know about the Complotto is here on its official website mantained by StEvE (unfortunately, in Italian only).
Punk before you were. What made Enrico Ruggeri great, at least in his early moments, was his widely displayed conceit, his haughty attitude, a feeling of being outstanding, and that everybody should have acknowledged that, before having proved anything. A third-rate, polenta-flavoured Lou Reed, sunglasses after dark and dyed hair included; a wannabe John Lydon minus the proletarian background – and the rotten teeth – but plus a job as a literature teacher at a secondary school and a real python which he used to hang around with, together with his friend and bandmate Silvio Capeccia.
Yeah, the boy had nerves. And will. He steered his way into music business with a willingness to change (not to say betray) and a ruthless eagerness to climb success ladder, through launching, joining and remodelling outfits such as Josafat, Trifoglio, the “decadent progressive” Champagne Molotov (mark I) and, eventually, Decibel. The story of this latter band has been told several times, from any given point of view: their beginnings, the 1978 self-titled debut album (which is usually regarded as the first Italian “punk” LP), the synth-driven turn with the single “Indigestione disko” (“disko indigestion”, 1979), their striking and contested participation in the 1980’s Sanremo festival with the song “Contessa” (“countess”), the successful second release Vivo da re (“i live like a king”, 1980), up to the very moment Ruggeri suddenly quit the act and signed with SIF record company to pursue a solo career, with an aftermath of personal conflicts and legal quarrels.
Once out of the band, he needed to show everybody that he was the band, striving to fulfil the promises that Decibel, after all, had failed to keep. He recruited Luigi Schiavone from Kaos Rock as guitar player, around whom he were to build his new backing band Champagne Molotov (mark II), and started working hard with means pared to the bone night after night – Schiavone still had a regular job during daytime – eventually coming out with an explosive cocktail of wild self-assertion, performance anxiety, amphetamine-related nervousness, restrained rage, contempt and regret called, strangely enough, Champagne Molotov: camera shots of Magazine, Stranglers, Ultravox, Sparks, late seventies Roxy Music, XTC, and The Only Ones, sorted for an italo editing; sharp rock-wave blades (“Fingo di dormire”, “Sono proprio un infantile”, “Sempre giù”), edgy funk-punk numbers (“Travel cheque”, “Competitiva” ), hyperkinetic waltzes and minuets (“Con te, con me”, “Nostalgia”), minimal glam ballads (“…e sorride”, “Vecchia Europa”, “Passato, presente, futuro”); scattered hints of a refined yet unripe songwriting, influenced by Italian great classic melodists as well as french chansonniers, which would have shortly brought to flaming masterpieces such as “Polvere” (“dust”), “Nuovo swing” (“new swing”), or “Il portiere di notte” (“the night porter”).
Simply and perfectly, the record that post-punk Italy was missing.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Una fine isterica (“an hysterical ending”)
02, Con te, con me (“with you, with me”)
03, Competitiva (“competitive girl”)
04, … e sorride (“…and she smiles”)
05, Fingo di dormire (“i pretend to sleep”)
06, Vecchia Europa (“old Europe”)
07, Sono proprio un infantile (“i am really childish”)
08, Senorita (also released as a 7″ b/w “Amore isterico” (“hysterical love”), that is, “Una fine isterica” with different lyrics)
09, Travel cheque (“traveler’s cheque”)
10, Nostalgia (“homesickness”)
11, Sempre giù (“always down”)
12, Passato, presente, futuro (“past, present, future”)
Ironically, Ruggeri was not able to cash in. The album, in fact, was withdrawn from the stores during the promotion of the single “Senorita”, following a law suit by former Decibel’ label Spaghetti Records (it was reprinted only in 1984), and Enrico was forced by the court neither to record nor perform live for almost four years.
He killed time working in the backstage, like writing lyrics for the first two singles by Diana Est or shaping the concept behind the italo disco project called “Den Harrow”, and preparing his big comeback, which eventually came in 1983 with the successful Polvere.
Enrico Ruggeri has released more than twenty albums so far, winning two Sanremo festivals (1987 and 1993) and establishing himself as one of the most famous and respected pop musicians in Italy, also writing huge hits together with Luigi Schiavone for the likes of Loredana Bertè, Fiorella Mannoia, Anna Oxa. He works as a tv presenter too.
Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici (“social mechanical youngsters”, often shortened as GMM) was a multimedia collective pioneering computer art in Italy, founded in 1984 in Florence by the graphic designer Antonio “Tony” Glessi and the writer Andrea “Andy” Zingoni, whose name first appeared as the title of a computer-generated comic strip published on “Frigidaire” magazine starting from issue 42, May 1984.
Tony and Andy were soon joined by photographer Marco “Marc” Paoli and fashion designer and performer Loretta “Lore” Mugnai, and eventually by Maurizio Dami aka Alexander Robotnick – who had already released his first seminal efforts, such as the 12″ and 7″ versions of Problèmes d’amour (1983, 1984) and the LP Ce n’est qu’un debut (1984) – taking care of sound design and soundtracks to their performances, installations and videos.
A compilation of this music, most of the times proper songs with lyrics by Glessi and Zingoni, was released on a tape called GMM by Materiali Sonori in 1984. A vinyl album of the same title came out in 1985, featuring keyboards, programming and guitars by Alexander Robotnick, vocals by Robotnick himself, Marco Paoli and friends, and some jazz musicians playing winds and piano.
These kinds of releases often denote the original, functional purpose of the sounds contained by their lack of emotional and esthetical consistency and their disregard for the sheer listening experience, their pointless sniffy attitude and their exhausting reluctance to take any risk. But we’re having something completely different here: not just a background for a performance, but a performance in itself, which applies to the music the same vision, operational mode, and passionate detachment adopted by GMM in visual and performing arts (an approach to sound issues they shared with the experimental theatrical company Magazzini Generali, even if their musical outputs were slightly different).
The record (which incidentally is pure wonder, shining in beauty, humour and melancholy) provided the field for a clash of personal creativities, a ruthless and profitable confrontation between the diverse identities making up the collective; at the same time, it set up a testing ground for Robotnick to decompose his own language, precipitating traces of Tuxedomoon, EBM and jazz, synthpop and hip-hop, italo disco and mutant disco, presentiments of Pet Shop Boys and Matt Bianco’s cartoon swing caricatures. Disparate elements which prodigiously stay in balance and define in turn tracks such as the crepuscular Au jour de la separation and Petite soeur, Back and forth – which dangerously wanders out there, in a desolate suburban fringe, at night – and the hysterically high No fear nor destination and Ghimm’Alid’l Benzin – not to mention the amazing takes on Caravan by Duke Ellington, Gato Barbieri’s theme from Ultimo tango a Parigi (“last tango in Paris”) and Gilbert Becaud’s Et maintenant.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Love supreme
03, Au jour de la separation
04, Ultimo tango a Parigi (“last tango in Paris”)
05, Flashman swing
06, Back and forth
07, Don’t ask me why (also released as a 12″ b/w “Love supreme”)
08, Petite soeur
09, No fear nor destination
10, Ghimm’Alid’l Benzin (fake arab for “gimme a little benzina”, where “benzina” is the italian for “oil”)
11, Et maintenant
Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici have produced short films, theatrical performances, tv series, festivals, music videos for the likes of Teresa De Sio and Claudio Rocchi, experimenting with information technology and virtual reality, and achieving a huge success in the late Nineties with their cartoon character Gino il pollo (“Gino the chicken”, created by Andrea Zingoni and Joshua Held). Even if the collective disbanded in 1998, some of the members keep on working as Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici from time to time. For italian speakers, here is GMM’s website.
As for Maurizio Dami, in the Nineties he got more and more involved with african, Middle and Far East music, giving up his stage name and working with musicians from all over the world in acts such as Data from Africa, Music for Meditation, Govinda, and The Third Planet. He revived Alexander Robotnick in 2002, and has been releasing a bunch of new stuff since then, both as Robotnick and Italcimenti, together with his long-time friend Lapo Lombardi aka Ludus Pinski. He is currently active as a musician, dj, performer and dance music living legend. You can learn more about his past and present projects at robotnick.it
I already had a couple of chances to mention the magazine “Frigidaire” before. To put it plain and simple, in its golden years – circa 1980-1986 – “Frigidaire” has violently pushed italian culture forward by kicks and shoves, forcily dragging graphic arts, journalism, arts and arts criticism, comics, music, popular imagery into the postmodern age. Founded in 1980 by agit-prop professional Vincenzo Sparagna together with people from the “Cannibale” crew – Andrea Pazienza, Stefano Tamburini, Filippo Scozzari, Tanino Liberatore and Massimo Mattioli – it has survived the sudden and premature death of its art director and author of the successful comics character Ranxerox (Tamburini, in 1986) and its most gifted visual artist and comics rockstar (Pazienza, in 1988), and a heavy turnover of contributors, being published until 1998.
Issue number 14, January 1982, came with two new year gifts: a pin-up 1982 calendar drawn by Andrea Pazienza and a 7″, 33rpm split EP with no sleeve. The a side, Invito a cena con Monofonicorchestra (“invitation to dinner with Monofonicorchestra)” – the one with the bloody razor – featured kinda no wave-muzak for weird cocktail parties where the barman took trieline instead of gin; the b side, Invito a letto con Naif orchestra (“invitation to bed with Naif orchestra”) – the one with the nude, bald woman with the glasses – had more of an imaginary soundtrack to an avantgarde porn movie, like, say, having sex with an answering machine. Incidentally, one of the most iconing records from italian new wave.
Monofonicorchestra (sometimes also spelled as Monofonic orchestra) was basically a moniker for Maurizio Marsico, an electronic performer, piano player and dj friendly involved with the “Frigidaire” guys. He contributed to the record with a series of short instrumental tracks named after the dishes of a full course dinner. If you ever happened to listen to his Friend’s portraits, released in 1981 by Italian Records, you will recognise the same familiar cartoon soundtrack-like style, with juxtaposed blocks of music, and the distinctive use of classic and contemporary minimal piano patterns – such as in “Secondo e contorno”, which runs after the melody from “Eleanor Rigby” in an endless spiral.
Naif orchestra was the pop outfit for Bigazzi brothers (Arlo and Giampiero) from Florence. They had founded the independent label Materiali Sonori – through which this EP was released – in 1977, to put out the first record of their avant-folk band Canzoniere del Valdarno. In the eighties, the label became a kind of an italian home for the likes of Tuxedomoon, Controlled Bleeding, Roger Eno, Embryo, The Durutti Column, Minimal Compact, Jon Hassell and many others, and hosted italian acts such as Militia, Neon, Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici, Arturo Stalteri (formerly of Pierrot Lunaire), Alexander Robotnick. As for Naif orchestra, what they contribute here are four mutant-wave-electro-disco tracks with sampled woman moans and funny explicit lyrics – except the last one, written with Marsico. They also succeded in entering the history of italo-disco with their classic “Check-out five” (1984) before going on indefinite hiatus.
Here is the tracklist:
Invito a cena con Monofonicorchestra
01, Aperitivo (“aperitif”)
02, Antipasto (“appetizer”)
03, Primo (“first course”)
04, Secondo e contorno (“main course and sides”)
05, Formaggio (“cheese”)
06, Frutta e frutta esotica (“fruit and exotic fruit”)
Invito a letto con Naif orchestra
08, Dis-moi tout, mon amour
09, Duro (“hard”)
10, It’s your ass that’s on the line
11, Extending guest
Maurizio Marsico continues to perform and record music, most of the times together with his long-time friend Andrea Tich; anyway, he makes his living by directing an important monthly magazine about tv serials, “Series”. Arlo and Giampiero Bigazzi are still in the music business, you can check out Materiali Sonori’s site to learn about their work and browse the label’s catalogue.
If you got interested in “Frigidaire” you can’t miss the newly published luxurious book about its history, stuffed up with images and full comics (in italian). You can also visit the imaginary republic of Frigolandia.
Bologna 1977, “Skank Bloc Bologna”: the boiling point. Communist party as the establishment. Autonomia Operaia, Dams (the art and music faculty). The student Francesco Lorusso killed by the police. Indiani metropolitani, Radio Alice, situationism. Wrenches in the pockets. Pop culture is the weapon. Lambrusco wine and plegin. And sedatives. And heroin. Tortellini punk. The rise of post-modernism.
Traumfabrik was the name of a squatted flat in the center of the city, part house, part art studio, part club. People like Filippo Scozzari and Andrea Pazienza – members of “Cannibale” comics ‘zine’s crew and later founders of the seminal magazine “Frigidaire” – Renato De Maria, Oderso Rubini, and many others kids from the scene used to live, work, perform, or just gather there to meet people, listen to music, enjoy drugs, and have fun. Among them, the Ramones-fixated, leather-jacketed young guys who were soon to form the one-song, one-show punk sensation Centro d’urlo metropolitano (“metropolitan scream center”).
Their 25th September 1977 few minutes live appearance performing “Mamma dammi la benza” (“mommy gimme the fuel”) during a festival in Bologna, ending up in a paper balls fight between the stage and the audience, is a landmark in italian pop history, and anticipated the official breakthrough of “rock demenziale” (“demented rock”), a peculiar italian contribution to post-punk history whose most important representatives have been Skiantos, another band from the area.
Anyway, Centro d’urlo metropolitano was soon to mutate into a whole different thing. When their anthem was eventually released on the miscellaneous tape Sarabanda, the guys now known as Gaznevada (a name inspired by a Raymond Chandler’s short story) were already experimenting with sound and lyrics under the influence of acts such as Devo, Talking Heads, Pere Ubu and Contortions, evolving from their early raw and unorganized two-chords punk-rock attack towards the unique and amazing spaghetti-no wave of their masterpiece debut album Sick Soundtrack (1980).
Oderso Rubini, who had recently started his own label Harpo’s Music, taped them during their 1979 rehearsals, documenting the stunning work in progress which would have led to their first full-length effort. Gaznevada was the result of these sessions, and the seventh issue of the label. What you can find here is a band strugglin’ to find their true voice, between the disconnected upbeat of “Everybody enjoy with reggae music”, and the fascinating, sharp, lirically intriguing manifesto “Nevadagaz”, re-recorded for their legendary first 7″ in 1980. It’s the birth of a legend.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Everybody enjoy with reggae music
02, Criminale (“criminal”)
03, Donna di gomma (“rubber woman”)
04, Bestiale (“bestial”)
05, Mamma dammi la benza (“mommy gimme the fuel”)
06, Teleporno T.V. (“porn channel T.V.”)
07, Johnny (fallo per me) (“Johnny (do it for me)”)
Get it: Gaznevada, Gaznevada aka Cassetta Harpo’s (1979)
[edit March 9th, 2009: thanks to our friends at Shake Edizioni this tape is finally available on cd, with the title Mamma dammi la benza!, together with a short book about Gaznevada and the video Telepornovisione by Giampiero Huber, Renato De Maria and Emanuele Angiuli. Obviously the download link has been removed. Go and buy it at the publishing house’s website.]
Gaznevada released four albums before breaking up in 1988, progressively shifting towards italo disco and synthpop. They joined Edoardo Bennato for his 1980’s Uffà uffà, and played gigs with the likes of DNA, Chrome, Lounge Lizards, Bauhaus. Their 1983 hit “I.C. Love Affair” is a club classic and has been recently remixed by Munk for the Confuzed Disco compilation (2006). Former guitarist Ciro Pagano (aka E. Robert Squibb) is a founding member of the successful italo-house outfit Datura.
Harpo’s Music would have soon become Italian Records – together with IRA from Florence THE italian new wave label, hosting the likes of Gaznevada, Skiantos, Windopen, Sorella maldestra, Luti Chroma, Confusional Quartet, The Stupid Set, Kirlian Camera, Johnson Righeira, Monofonic Orchestra, N.O.I.A., Art Fleury, A.I.M., Neon, Hi-Fi Bros, etc. Gems from Italian’s back catalogue (such as Gaznevada’s Sick Soundtrack) are being reprinted by Oderso Rubini’s new label Astroman.
It’s hard to explain to a worldwide audience the importance of mr. Fausto Rossi (aka Faust’o) for italian pop music. Possibly the simplest way to introduce him is saying that, even if practically unknown to a greater public, as often told for the Velvet Underground almost everyone who bought his albums later formed a band. Generations of musicians and songwriters have been inspired and influenced by his work, from Garbo to Bluvertigo and beyond.
Faust’o debuted in 1978 as one of the young artists signed by Caterina Caselli for her label Ascolto, a CGD subsidiary. Caselli had been one of the most succesful female pop singer in the sixties (if you know Nanni Moretti’s movies you will sure remember the scene in the car in his Palme d’Or winning La stanza del figlio – The Son’s Room – in which the whole family sings together one of Caselli’s biggest hits, “Insieme a te non ci sto più”). In the seventies, she had started a new career as an A&R at CGD, and obtained to manage a sublabel of her own to release records by her friend Pierangelo Bertoli (a talented singer/songwriter) and to scout new artists from the alternative scene, helped by a small group of trusted people, like the songwriter Oscar Avogadro. They came up recruiting, among others, this 23 years old worringly skinny guy born in Sacile, Friuli, but living and working in Milan, named Fausto Rossi.
He teamed up with Avogadro, as a producer, and former Formula 3 guitarist Alberto Radius to record his first full-length effort, Suicidio (“suicide”, 1978): a stylized glam-wave manifesto which mainly stroke its listeners with its angry, explicit yet poetic lyrics, and gained him the definition of “italian David Bowie” – even if he disowned the album saying that it had suffered too much from label’s pressure.
Coming back to the studio, he was actually claiming more control on the recording process and the artistic choices, and was allowed to produce himself the new songs, helped again by Avogadro and Radius. The result, Poco zucchero (“a little sugar”, 1979), stands as a cornerstone for the then-rising italian new wave scene.
The cold wave/art glam/minimal funk takes driven by Faust’o synths and Radius’ nervous guitar lines served perfectly as a canvas for his tales of urban, contemporary spleen, love, hate, discomfort and discontent as in “Kleenex”, “Il lungo addio” or the magnificent “Funerale a Praga” (which has been sampled by Baustelle in the opening track for their major debut La malavita, released in 2005). His sharp, theatrical voice sounded more original than ever, and became a landmark for italian rock singers in the eighties. In a word, this album was seminal. The definitive anti-cantautore – and the best interpreter of the post-engagement era – was officially invested.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Vincent Price
02, Cosa rimane (“what’s left”)
03, Attori malinconici (“melancholic actors”)
04, Oh! Oh! Oh! (also released as a 7″ b/w “Vincent Price”)
05, In tua assenza (“when you’re away”)
07, Il lungo addio (“the long goodbye”)
08, Funerale a Praga (“funeral in Prague”)
Get it: Faust’o, Poco zucchero (1979)
[edit April 8th, 2009: download link has been removed as requested by faustorossi.net
Go visit the website for further info about Fausto Rossi’s new album, Becoming visible, and to listen to his previous records.]
Faust’o has released four other great LPs under his stage name until 1985. Since 1992 he has been recording and performing as Fausto Rossi releasing four albums, the last being Becoming visible (2009), and produced Lungo i bordi (“along the borders”) by Massimo volume in 1995.
Find more info, pics and stuff at Fausto Rossi’s official site (in italian).