Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

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

Posts Tagged ‘paolo tofani

[music:] AA. VV., Rock ’80 (1980)

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Given its commitment for a musica totale (“total music”) and its endeavours to establish a new urban rock form supporting artists such as Eugenio Finardi, Alberto Camerini, Andrea Tich, the same Claudio Rocchi, it made somehow perfectly sense that in the late Seventies Cramps Records directed its attention to the then rising italian punk scene, releasing already in 1978 “Karabigniere blues/Io sono un autonomo”, a single by Skiantos, the “demented rock” band which I already mentioned in the post about Gaznevada’s tape, and then their LPs MONOtono (“MONOtone”, 1978 ) and Kinotto (1979).

Following these first steps, in 1980, during the difficult times after the death of Demetrio Stratos, in the middle of “riflusso” and when its founder Gianni Sassi was increasingly losing interest in the label’s events, a new series of coloured-vynil 7″ by seven (post)punk acts from Central-Northern Italy was launched, under the name of “Rock ’80”. The songs from these singles (with the exception of Skiantos’ b-side “Mi piaccion le sbarbine” and Kaos Rock’s “Oh! Caro amore/Policeman”) were then collected in the same name album, curated and mixed by Paolo Tofani. A record which I consider the most meaningful epitath for this daring, clumsy, glorious independent record company.

Bologna led off the dance with two bands which had debuted on Harpo’s tapes series: just Skiantos, with a bowel-moving delirious funky about beans (“i fagioli son la mia anfetamina, i fagioli saran la mia rovina”: “beans are my amphetamine, beans will ruin me”…) and street rockers Windopen, with their anthem “Sei in banana dura” and the sleazy “La testa”. Skiantos ended up being one of the most influential and long-lived outfits in italian rock history. They’re alive and kicking, and a new album, Dio ci deve delle spiegazioni (“god owes us some explanations”) has been recently released. Windopen founder Roberto Terzani later joined Litfiba as a bass player when Gianni Maroccolo left the band, in 1990.

The Stranglers/2-Tone-oriented Take Four Doses from Rome – featuring Stefano Pistolini, now a well-known journalist and writer – wheezing introduced the Milan contributions: Kaos Rock were Gianni Muciaccia’s band with Luigi Schiavone on the guitars, who later joined Enrico Ruggeri in his successful solo career. Their a-side “Basta, basta” was already included as the opening track in the live tribute to Demetrio Stratos 1979 Il concerto (“1979 the concert”, 1979), but not in their sole album WW3 (1980). Wavey-garage X-Rated also appeared in the legendary Gathered (1982) compilation, together with Diaframma, Pankow, Not Moving, Death SS, Victrola, and others, before disappearing. As for Kandeggina Gang, you can check out my post about Jo Squillo Eletrix’s Girl senza paura, which featured a different version of their b-side “Orrore”.

Dirty Actions from Genoa completed the line-up with their prodigious ironic, messy clang’n’roll (“siamo figli del demonio, vi spacchiamo le vetrine, vi bruciamo le officine, vi alziamo le cantine, vi traviamo le bambine, vi vuotiamo le piscine, vi turbiamo le vecchine”, “we are sons of the devil, we smash your shop-windows, we burn your garages, we lift up your cellars, we corrupt your baby girls, we empty your swimming pools, we upset your little old ladies”). Their song “Bandana boys” was later included in Gathered as well. They seem still active; you can learn more about them on their web page.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Skiantos, Fagioli (“beans”)
02, Windopen, Sei in banana dura (“you’re in a hard banana”, street slang referring to a drug-related state of confusion)
03, Windopen, La testa (“the head”)
04, Take Four Doses, Vita di strada (“street life”)
05, Take Four Doses, La notte che inventarono gli eroi (“the night they invented heroes”)
06, Kaos Rock, Basta, basta (“that’s enough, that’s enough”)
07, Kaos Rock, La rapina (“the robbery”)
08, X-Rated, Blockhead dance
09, X-Rated, Routine
10, Kandeggina Gang, Sono cattiva (“i’m bad”)
11, Kandeggina Gang, Orrore (“horror”)
12, Dirty Actions, Rosa shocking (“shocking pink”)
13, Dirty Actions, Figli del demonio (Dirty Actions S-Ha) (“sons of the devil (dirty actions s-ha)”)

Get it: AA. VV., Rock ’80 (1980)

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Written by alteralter

February 10, 2009 at 3:17 pm

[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.