Tuesday, December 16, 2008

3

Gino D'Eliso: Ti ricordi Vienna? (RCA, 1977)

After having released his first record for Lucio Battisti's label Numero Uno, triestinian singer/songwriter Gino d'Eliso got together a full-blown disco orchestra for his second LP.
The music of "Ti ricordi Vienna?" is a very peculiar meeting of the decadent, dandyesque approach of glam-rock, Lucio Battisti's refinate pop, the bombastic grooves of disco music and mild Balkan nuances.

Though the lyrics aren't brilliant, the songs are all strikingly sophisticated and captivating. Super-funky basslines and energic italo-prog riffs wonderfully fuse with emphatic violin strokes and theatrical Hammond organ blows to create convoluted, multi-layered, mostly upbeat tunes.
Aside from the undeniable quality of the compositions, "Ti ricordi Vienna?"'s a very interesting work for an unique merger of influences configuring it as a bridge between times and places: Italian and Mediterranean pop sounds, the American disco trend, and a more far-seeing continental spleen.

The quality of the rip is very poor, but I really couldn't manage to get a better one.


Tracklist:
  1. Bellezza normanna
  2. Kajmac Calan
  3. Il tamburello e l'eroe
  4. Non saremo angeli
  5. Fiesta messicana
  6. Ti ricordi Vienna?
  7. Tanto arriva domenica
  8. Non basta la poesia
  9. La notte di erasmo
Download (192 kbps)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

6

Art Fleury: I luoghi del potere (Italian Records, 1980)

Art Fleury were a trio from Brescia devoted to a deeply suburban and experimental progressive rock. Though obviously in debt with King Crimson, especially for the guitar style, their attitude was much closer to more radical and nihilist bands such as Faust, The Residents or This Heat. Their influence is pretty evident on all of the four tracks which compose their debut album: heavily destructured narrations of the industrial gloom, merging tape material, atonal organ or orchestral puddles and restrained arpeggios, occasionally broken by convulsive prog-rock bursts.
The band had indeed more than some contacts with the left-wing R.I.O. scene, having opened several times for Henry Cow concerts and played together with Area and bands from L'Orchestra cooperative (Stormy Six, Art Bears, Etron Fou Leloublan and many more).

"I luoghi del potere" is a fascinating work, pervaded by a dreary, disillusioned mood which constitutes a strong and well-conceived critique of industrial and Cold War alienation. Besides being a masterpiece of Italian progressive rock, it's also one of the very few ones to show a very distinct post-punk leaning: it's an important document of the late-70s transitions.



Tracklist:
  1. Uno spettro si aggira per le brigate Hans Eisler
  2. Fabbrica rosa
  3. E=mc² (la collina del timo)
  4. La morte al lavoro
Download (256 kbps)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

4

Madrigali Magri: Negarville [Wallace, 2000]

Madrigali Magri were a post-rock trio hailing from Nizza Monferrato, Piedmont. Their three LPs manifestly draw their inspiration from Slint: stripping away all of the post-hardcore elements in the stereotypical Louisville-sound formula, Madrigali Magri focus instead on destructured guitar wanderings and emptied-out landscapes, surrected by an obsessive, kraut-like drumming.
Vocals are deeply buried in the mix, often half-whispered and kept just to emphasize the murky, lazy mood of the guitar lines, which secretly cover desertic blues paths. The music of "Negarville" seems to come from the most dusty attics of the memory, and be forgotten in the very moment it is played (in a very post-rock way).
After the disbanding of Madrigali Magri, the guitarist Giambeppe Succi would team up with drummer Bruno Dorella (Wolfango, Ovo, Ronin) to form the post-rock/blues band Bachi da Pietra.


Tracklist:
  1. Entro obliquo
  2. Negarville
  3. È un giorno normale
  4. Porto dentro
  5. Non hai mai pace
  6. Un posto per un altro
  7. Giorno è notte
  8. Uomo ombra
  9. Esco obliquo
  10. Porte dell'inverno
  11. Parti non mie
Download (160 kbps)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

1  

Alberto Camerini: Cenerentola e il pane quotidiano (Cramps, 1976)

Alberto Camerini was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and he stayed there until the age of eleven, when he relocated to Milan. There he soon became involved in rock music, first teaming with Roberto Colombo, then forming the band Il Pacco with Donatella Bardi, Eugenio Finardi, Belloni and Lucio Fabbri.
While the others began recording as solo artists or got into other bands (Lucio Fabbri was to join P.F.M.), Camerini became an acclaimed sessionman thanks to his whimsical guitar playing.

As of 1976, he signed with Cramps Records and recorded his first solo album, "Cenerentola e il pane quotidiano". Musically speaking, the sound is the typical one of Cramps Records: kaleidoscopic, zippy jazz-rock combined with folk and singer/songwriter structures - very close to Area or Finardi's Cramps-era albums. Camerini merged some exquisite Brazilian nuances to the formula and his very sprightly melodic talent, creating a dynamic, easy-going style.
The lyrics aren't stunningly literate, but they're brilliantly critical: while they do not explicitly step out of the left-wing youth culture, they ironize upon its trends and irrationalities. "Pane quotidiano" laughs at the vegetarian fashion, while "La ballata dell'invasione degli extraterresti" is an illuminating picture of the hippies as "aliens":

Approfittarono del lusso della civiltà avanzata,
Si nutrivano di scarti della società privata
Riciclavano le macchine e i vestiti non usati,
Si vestivano di niente, di stracci colorati.
Vivevano in bande in case occupate,
Non avevano famiglia o tradizioni antiquate
Comunicavano tra loro con nuovi segnali,
Tu li avresti detti diversi invece erano tutti uguali.

They took advantage of the luxury of the advanced civilization,
They lived on the waste of the private society
They recycled cars and unemployed dresses,
They dressed of nothing, of coloured rags,
They lived in bands in squatted houses,
They didn't have a family or antiquated traditions
They communicated with themselves with a new kind of signals,
You'd have said they were all diverse, but they were all the same.


Tracklist:
  1. La ballata dell'invasione degli extraterrestri
  2. Maracantù F.C.
  3. Pane quotidiano
  4. Sicurezza
  5. Droga (aiutami dottore)
  6. La straordinaria storia dell'invasione della televisione
  7. TV Baby (gli eroi della televisione)
  8. Santa Marta
  9. Cenerentola
Download (192 kbps)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

1  

24 Grana: K Album (La canzonetta, 2001)

24 Grana are one of the most original Italian bands to come out of the late Nineties. Starting for their first album "Loop" back in 1997, they fused dub and trip-hop tendencies with Neapolitan language. Ska/hip-hop influences and their relation with the Centri Sociali anarco-leftist area put them near Almamegretta and 99 Posse as the main representatives of a new "Southern" trend in Italian alternative music. A mild psychedelic mood in their first albums, a decisive rock attitude and a less ideologically-charged stance contributed in distinguishing them firmly nonetheless.

Their third studio album, "K album", marked a shift towards a more lucid pop-rock formula. The sound forsook many of its reggae-drawn elements and took a far-seeing indie electronic direction probably inspired by "Kid A" and Radiohead's new course.
The songs of the album alternate Italian and Neapolitan languages and though their sound had now become very "English" their Mediterranean roots are always present in their harmonies and melodies. The frequent use of melodic minor scales higlights both their link to the Neapolitan tradition and the lead guitarist's appreciation of Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood's style.
Besides all comparisons, "K album" is an impressive collection of perfectly accomplished pop songs. Essential, though deep in their sound. Extremely varied, though always recognizable in style. Intensely inspired, nervous, urban and melancoholic.


Tracklist:
  1. Pikkola kanzone per K
  2. 'E kose ka spakkano
  3. Kanzone doce
  4. Kanzoneanarkika
  5. Kanzone su un detenuto politico
  6. Kanzone su Londra
  7. Kanzone del pisello
  8. Kevlar
  9. Kanzone del fumo
Download (192 kbps)

Monday, November 10, 2008

0

Piero Milesi: The Nuclear Observatory of Mr. Nanof (Cuneiform, 1986)

Milanese composer Piero Milesi is probably best known for his work as the arranger of Fabrizio De André albums "Le nuvole" and "Anime salve". He is in fact one of the most prominent Italian artists in the field of electronic minimalism.
After having studied cello, he graduated in experimental and electronic composition in Milan conservatory. Then he joined the Gruppo Folk Internazionale entourage and got a degree in architecture with a thesis on the relations between space and sound.

"The Nuclear Observatory of Mr. Nanof" is his first work to be published by the quintessential American avant-prog label Cuneiform Records. It's the soundtrack of the homonym experimental film directed by Paolo Rosa and produced by Studio Azzurro. The film was a surreal exploration of an enormous graffiti engraved on the outside wall of Volterra mental hospital by resident Oreste Fernando Nannetti - a self-proclaimed "Astronautic Mineral Engineer of the Mental System" who referenced to himself as NANOF11 when talking about the author of the graffiti.
Milesi's music is extremely evocative. Though very repetitive, it subtly breaks the typical staticity of minimalist compositions. Thanks to a cautius use of the melodic element, it shows a mild linear evolution, while the soggy synth sounds give the music an autumnal, moisty mood. Circularity and fluctuation are not the key sensations created by the music, which rather arouses a sense of stagnation, claustrophobic idleness.


Tracklist:
  1. Mr. Nanof's Tango
  2. Tom Thumb
  3. Between the Scale and the Apple
  4. Scene of the Madmen
  5. Waiting for the Fete
  6. My Dad Had Two Mommies and Two Daddies
  7. Graffiti
  8. Towards the Tree in front of the House
  9. The Procession
  10. Three Figurations: The Braid, the Rhombus, the Star
  11. The Presence of the City
  12. Pantelleria
  13. Questa non è la mia voce
  14. Writing on the Glass
  15. In the Car with Mr. Felsen
  16. Let Ninusk Be
  17. Waterfall
Download (160 kbps)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

0

Mina: Tutto Mina (Warner, 2006)

Mina Anna Mazzini is the most famous Italian female pop singer ever. She owes her popularity to her frequent TV apparitions during the Sixties, to her stunning vocal personality and to the great songs many composers wrote for her in those years.
"Tutto Mina" is much probably the most complete collection featuring her Sixties hits. The styles range from easy-going r'n'r-inspired tracks ("Tintarella di luna", "Una zebra a pois", "Serafino campanaro", some of the first ones in Italy) to extraordinary and sophisticated love songs signed by some of the greatest Italian authors of that time ("Il cielo in una stanza" - Gino Paoli, "Stringimi forte i polsi" - Fiorenzo Carpi/Dario Fo, "Se telefonando" - Ennio Morricone/Maurizio Costanzo).
The impressing vocal performance in "Brava" - a song explicitly conceived to show Mina's thecnical ability - gives an account of the singer's personality as an interpreter. An Italian pop monument, for a good reason.

Tracklist:
CD 1:
  1. Il cielo in una stanza
  2. Tintarella di luna
  3. Nessuno
  4. Due note
  5. È vero
  6. Coriandoli
  7. Piano
  8. Una zebra a pois
  9. La notte
  10. Folle banderuola
  11. Serafino campanaro
  12. Le mille bolle blu
  13. Vorrei sapere perché
  14. Come sinfonia
  15. Cubetti di ghiaccio
  16. Sabato notte
  17. Moliendo cafè
  18. Renato
  19. Eclisse twist
  20. Prendi una matita
  21. Stringimi forte i polsi
  22. Chihuahua
  23. Stessa spiaggia stesso mare
CD 2:
  1. È l'uomo per me
  2. Un buco nella sabbia
  3. Un anno d'amore
  4. Città vuota
  5. Ora o mai più
  6. Io sono quel che sono
  7. L'ultima occasione
  8. Soli
  9. Brava
  10. Una casa in cima al mondo
  11. Ta ra ta ta
  12. Se telefonando
  13. Se tu non fossi qui
  14. Breve amore
  15. Mi sei scoppiato dentro il cuore
  16. Se piangi se ridi
  17. E se domani
  18. L'immensità
  19. Conversazione
  20. Se c'è una cosa che mi fa impazzire
  21. So che non è così
  22. Sono come tu mi vuoi
  23. La banda
Download:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Thursday, November 6, 2008

2

Musica per bambini: Nascondino coll'assassino (La mia cantina, 1998)

Musica per bambini are the two Italo-Australian twins Manuel and Tim Bongiorni. The roots of their interest in music for children can be traced back to the age of seven, when they debuted with "children" versions of synth-pop classics (Depeche Mode, Duran Duran).
After having relocated to Italy in the end of the Eighties, they began working on a higly idiosyncratic music/theatre show merging pre-recorded backing tracks, gashed nursery rhymes, effected vocals and home-made scenographies.

"Nascondino con l'assassino" is the project's first official release. It's a mini-album featuring just nine tracks. which will unavodably fail to satisfy the majority. Approximative, ostentatiously unkempt, the music couples sick pseudo-folksongs with unpolished electronic beats and punk-metal guitars. It may resemble to a terrorist, mentally ill version of Üstmamò.
Though initially quite disturbing, the record quickly reveals the lucid design of its aesthetics and the limpid levity of its melodies. A curiosity: "La pianta dei chiodi" has the same strophe of XTC's "Sacrifical Bonfire" - the two songs are probably based on the same traditional.


Tracklist:
  1. Tana per l'assassino
  2. Il bosco di biscotti
  3. Morte di una bambola di carta
  4. Il lanciatore di coltelli
  5. La pianta dei chiodi
  6. Morte di un cavallo a dondolo
  7. Betoniera
  8. Canto popolare dei sacchi di cemento
  9. Morte di un orsetto di pelouche
Download (256 kbps)

Monday, November 3, 2008

1  

Musicanova: omonimo (Philips, 1978)

This is the first time I post two albums by the same band. I won't dwell on the presentation on the band therefore, having already talked about Musicanova for the album "Festa festa".
The album I'm posting today is Musicanova's second album, an almost miraculous collection of songs composed to renew the traditional music of Campania. The vocals are all in Neapolitan language and their interpretation is stunnigly keen and lively. The arrangements are complex, layered but always focused on the traditional styles: many tracks feature flute, violin and refinate rhythm guitar figures, and the overall sound is some sort of very cultured, inspired and ancient-sounding folk music. The presence of odd meters directly links to baroque music conceived for the dance, giving the songs a very astir and physical temper.
"Pizzica minore" opens on an impetuous zampogna-violin blast followed by an impressive vocal performance by Teresa Di Sio. "A la muntagna" is an apology of brigandage. It juxtaposes a tense, pastoral metaphore about sheep, wolves, hunters and robbers with a trampling, choral 15/8+9/8 strophe which recites:

Se n'è fujuto 'o rre Burbone
e n'è venuto n'ato cchiù putente:
cagna 'o guverno, cagna 'o padrone,
sulo pe' chi stà 'a sotto nun cagna niente.

The Borbone king fled away
Another one came, more powerful:
The government changes, the master changes,
Only for the lower ones nothing changes.


Tracklist:
  1. Pizzica minore
  2. Riturnella
  3. A la muntagna
  4. Siento mò che t'aggia dì
  5. A' morte 'e Zì Frungillo
  6. Tempo di carnevale
  7. Ninna nanna per voce e mandoloncello
  8. Canto allo scugnizzo
  9. Tarantella finale
Download (~230 kbps)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

5

L'enfance rouge: Trapani - Halq al Waady (Wallace, 2008)

Italo-French band L'enfance rouge has a veteran trans-European attitude: they record their albums all around the continent and dedicate them to European cities. Both their angular, noisy rock and their European internationalism link them directly with the cult Dutch post-punk band The Ex. With their sixth album, they borrow a very strong Mediterranean influence thanks to the collaboration of the Institut Superieur de Musique of Tunisi.

The overall atmosphere has the charm of remote, millenary trade routes. It evocates the last centuries of a decadent Costantinopolis, a crucible of cultures, dangers and long-lost wealth. Ruthless noise-rock sabre blows, dreary French poetries about galleys and kalashnikovs, pachidermal, lethargic basslines hybridate the French noise-rock school (Bästard, Ulan Bator) with bewitching oud vapours and flute arabesques.
Light peeps out very rarely: just a few times Pink Floyd and Godspeed You Black Emperor! substitute Slint and Massimo Volume as guardian angels of the disillusioned, mature and extremely captivating fusion of the album.


Tracklist:
  1. Otranto
  2. Ras et Ahmar
  3. Ana Lastu Amrikyyan
  4. Tombeau pour New York
  5. Azizati
  6. Lame de fond
  7. Vendicatori
  8. Nous
  9. Hurricane Lily
  10. Terre d'élection
  11. Petite-mort
Download (192 kbps)

Monday, October 27, 2008

1  

Alberto Fortis: omonimo (1979)

The debut album by Piedmontese singer/songwriter Alberto Fortis was a good success thanks to the much debated "Milano e Vincenzo" and "A voi romani" and their anti-Rome sarcasm.
Though quite late compared to the main wave of Italian cantautori, the album shows a mature and personal style with sharp, easy-going lyrics and an idiosyncratic use of the voice (ranging from falsettos to vocalising).
The famous progressive rock band Premiata Forneria Marconi played as backing band for the LP. No distinct progressive elements can be found in the music, but the e-piano fairytalesque atmospheres and the acoustic guitar grooves give the album a strong surplus value.


Tracklist:
  1. A voi romani
  2. Milano e Vincenzo
  3. Il Duomo di notte
  4. In soffitta
  5. La sedia di lillà
  6. Nuda e senza seno
  7. La pazienza
  8. Sono contento di voi
  9. L'amicizia
Download (160 kbps)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

0

Minox: Lazare (Industrie Discografiche Lacerba, 1986)

In the beginning were San Francisco and the new wave experimentators Tuxedomoon. Then Tuxedomoon relocated to Belgium and they began influencing the European scene (evetually setting the premises for the advent of English post-rock).
Minox's debut album "Lazare" was produced by Tuxedomoon leader Steven Brown and the sound evidently owes much to the Belgian-American band.

The record is sung in English, but the vocals are not central for the music. The main focus is on the suspended, rarified atmospheres evocated by thick synth layers, velvety saxophone wanderings and occasional clean guitar drops. The mood is soggy, rainy, decadent - in tune with the aesthetics of English bands Durutti Column, Dif Juz and, partly, Japan or Cocteau Twins.


Tracklist:
  1. Purgatoryo
  2. Preludio
  3. Hybrid (of a tight laugh)
  4. Lazare
  5. Psiche
Download (192 kbps)

Monday, October 20, 2008

0

Gaznevada: Sick Soundtrack (Italian Records, 1980)

I've already mentioned that I don't usually appreciate Italian music with English vocals and just a few exceptions prove the rule. Bolognese band Gaznevada are one of those and this should give an idea of the band's greatness.
Their debut LP "Sick Soundtrack" fuses prance funk-punk, scraggy no wave guitars and the modular rhythms of the so-called "mutant disco" scene (Liquid Liquid, Lizzy Mercier Descloux etc.). A nonsensical, dadaist attitude dominates the merger and its retrofuturistic electronic inserts often make the sound resemble to the one of their Devo-addicted fellows Confusional Quartet.
The English pronounciation is awful, sometimes even grotesque, but the abstracted, metropolitan grooves of the album really make the music something unique, not only from a Italo-centric outlook.


Tracklist:
  1. Going Underground
  2. Japanese Girl
  3. Shock antistatico
  4. Pordenone Ufo Attack
  5. Tij-U-Wan
  6. Oil Tubes
  7. Nightmare Telegraph
  8. Walkytalkin'
  9. Now I Want to Kill You
Download (192 kbps)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

0

Tanit: omonimo (Classico, 1992)

The multimedia project "Sonos 'e memoria" towards the rediscovery of the Sardinian cultural legacy started in 1994 and involved many of the most important musicians of the island. Jazz trumpetist Paolo Fresu was among them, but his interest in the revisitation of Sardinian traditional music had already begun some years before with the band Tanit.
A quintet born in 1987, Tanit were Paolo Fresu, Massimo Nardi (guitar), Carlo Mariani (launeddas), Gianluca Ruggeri (marimba) and Fulvio Maras (percussions). Launeddas are a typical instrument of Sardinian folklore, basically a multi-clarinet with two chanter pipes and a bass drone. Its sound may remind of a bagpipe - though the instrument has no bags, circular breathing provides a constant airflow.

The music of Tanit fuses a post-Davis jazz attitude with the complex structures of the traditional launeddas repertoire. The latter are created by a succession (iskala) of standard melodic modules (nodas) connected by an improvised passeggiu which subtly makes the patterns shift from one noda to the next one.
Tanit employ a very bright, lighter-than-air sound, keeping all the brilliance of a style originally conceived for the dance. The modular structure of the music and its fragmented time signatures make the overall result resemble, quite surprisingly, to the work of Terry Riley and other minimalist "masters of suspension", with a levity which has no equivalents in the ethno-jazz territory.

Many thanks to the Italian Folk Music blog, which first posted some months ago this otherwise unfindable record.


Tracklist:
  1. Solanas
  2. Di di do
  3. Ninna ninna
  4. Ditirambo
  5. Bacio
  6. Arrepikku strano
  7. Lime
  8. Mediana
  9. Vista Gastriti
Download (~220 kbps)

Friday, October 17, 2008

1  

C.C.C.P. Fedeli alla linea: Epica etica etnica pathos (Virgin, 1990)

The last studio album by the most influential rock band of the Italian Eighties is a transitional work, but a masterpiece nonetheless. Firmly stepping away from the iconoclast, proudly provincial post-punk of their previous releases, the band comes both in an enriched sound and an enriched line-up.
CCCP salvage the middle-eastern dystopia of their old song "Punk Islam", the squallid Emilian ballo liscio accordion remindings and the trademark psalmodies of their leader, Giovanni Lindo Ferretti. The covenant with Litfiba exiles Gianni Maroccolo, Francesco Magnelli and Ringo De Palma brings in many new flavours, which come to materialize an unpreceded concotion.
Mystical, ancient and disillusioned, scraggy and dilated, utterly provincial yet covering (almost) the whole Mediterranean area with its influences, "Epica etica etnica pathos" is a very complex work which prefigures and probably excels the world music emptyings of soon-to-be Consorzio Suonatori Indipendenti.


Tracklist:
  1. Aghia Sophia
  2. Paxo de Jerusalem
  3. Sofia
  4. Narko$ (contiene Baby Blue)
  5. Campestre
  6. Depressione caspica
  7. In occasione della festa
  8. Amandoti (sedicente cover)
  9. L'andazzo generale
  10. El ayam
  11. Appunti di un viaggiatore nella terra del socialismo reale
  12. Mozzill'o re
  13. Campestre
  14. Maciste contro tutti
  15. Annarella
Download (192 kbps)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

0

Taras Bul'ba: Incisione (Wallace, 2005)

The music of Taras Bul'ba is deeply haunting and blazing. They bridge the compound-meter constructions of math-rock, the ultra-Sabbathian grooves of stoner and sludge metal and the figurative dynamics of the soft/loud post-rock school (Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky), finally combining them with a mesmerizing psychedelic approach. Heavy, harsh and hot-tempered, their second album "Incisione" is dominated by an esoteric, Tool-like spirit propelled by overwhelming bass-drums interlocks. Though entirely instrumental, the music perfectly succeeds in creating a mind-blowing, blistering claustrophobia.


Tracklist:
  1. Moder (under Uns)
  2. Miyuki
  3. Hari
  4. Congo
  5. Imothep
  6. Mrs. Mary St. Aubin
  7. Solyaristika
  8. Der Golem
Download (224 kbps)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

0

La locanda delle fate: Forse le lucciole non si amano più (Polydor, 1977)

Often regarded as the swansong of Italian progressive, "Forse le lucciole non si amano più" is actually one of its greatest masterpieces, and surely my personal favourite.
Hailing from Asti, Piedmont, the septet recorded just one album before disbanding. Their mellow, elegant but extremely ablaze sound did take much from Genesis (Steve Hackett being the most evident reference for the guitar) but is nonetheless very mature and distinctive. Dashing keyboard/guitar/flute intertwinings, tireless drum tempo shifts and superlative vocal melodies (with apparently pretentious lyrics, actually nonsense and chosen just for their sound) are the key elements of their style, but don't give an account of the dreamlike atmosphere pervading the album.
"Forse le lucciole non si amano più" shines indeed most of all for its wonderful, magical aura: genuinely triumphant but subtly, elusively melancholic. As if the music knew it was the last act of an entire era, of an unrepeatable daydream...


Tracklist:
  1. A volte un istante di quiete
  2. Forse le lucciole non si amano più
  3. Profumo di colla bianca
  4. Cercando un nuovo confine
  5. Sogno di Estunno
  6. Non chiudere a chiave le stelle
  7. Vendesi saggezza
  8. New York [bonus track]
Donwload (320 kbps)
part 1 | part 2

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2

Tomografia Assiale Computerizzata: omonimo (Azteco, 1983)

Tomografia Assiale Computerizzata began as a one-man-band hiding the multi-instrumentist and sound engineer Simon Balestrazzi, which would later join Kino Glaz, Kirlian Camera, Bron Y Aur.
His first LP under the name T.A.C. came out in 1983 (or maybe in 1982) and features a very peculiar, Nurse With Wound-ish sound interbreeding such diverse styles as no-wave, electronic experimentation, progressive rock, radical improvisation and post-punk.
The rattling, crunchy guitar sound isn't far from Fred Frith's distinctive style in his no-wave project Massacre, and the shattered jazzy orbits it follows are quite close too. The telluric funk-punk basslines contribute creating bony, deconstructed pieces with everchanging rhythms and meters. Then come the electronic incursions of polluted radio frequencies and background buzzes, which give the music an eerie, dismantled feeling.
The lyrics are often quasi-nonsensical, but reflect the aftermath of the strong political engagement of the Seventies. Repetition and obsessive rants are the key elements of Balestrazzi's neurotic vocal style.
T.A.C. sound is completed by occasional free saxophone bursts, atonal piano figures and sparse folkloric remindings. The final result is something between Henry Cow, This Heat, The Work, with a more sinister, industrial mood.


Tracklist:
  1. Un umido
  2. I sette piani dell'esperienza
  3. Cerco lavoro
  4. Microprozessore
  5. Citocromo
  6. Onde corte
  7. Autistico
  8. Percussioni
  9. Introdotta la scrofa nel mattatoio
  10. Quasi pieno
  11. El motel electrico
  12. 49° parallelo
Download (160 kbps)

Monday, October 13, 2008

0

Zu: Igneo (Wide Records, 2002)

Roman band Zu is one of the most renown Italian bands abroad in the field of indipendent rock. They teamed up with such acclaimed artists as Damo Suzuki, Eugene Chadbourne, Mats Gustaffson, Nobukazu Takemura, Iceburn and Dälek.
"Igneo" is their second and most appreciated album, the one where their arsonist impro-rock formula really comes in focus for the first time. Bass, drums and saxophone blend the jazzcore hurly-burly of NoMeansNo, the angular, math-y constructions of Larks' Tongues-era King Crimson and John Zorn's convulsive freeform approach. Starting from this album, Zu's style has quickly become a cornerstone for the experimental rock scene.


Tracklist:
  1. The Elusive Character of Victory
  2. Arbol de la esperanza mantente
  3. Monte Zu
  4. Untitled Samba for Kat Ex
  5. Muro torto
  6. Tinkun Olam
  7. Mar Glaciale Artico
Download (192 kbps)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

3

Braen's Machine: Temi ritmici e dinamici (Liuto LRS, 1973)

Braen's Machine were sound library composers Pietro Umiliani and Alessandro Alessandroni under the monikers "Braen" and "Gisteri". "Sound libraries" were collections of musical material intended for film, television or radio commercials: the composers tried to make the music express some specific sensations and published archives of tracks with similar purposes, providing functional repositories of ready-made soundtrack music.
Being composed under no commission, the genre offered much artistic freedom and can be regarded in hindsight as a very suitable territory for almost unbounded eperimentation.

"Temi ritmici e dinamici" is the second and the last release of the Umiliani/Alessandroni combo. The two artists, among the most important in the field, focused here on jaunty, airy jazzy-proggy sketches conceived to give the idea of sport and movement. Based on keyboards, acoustic guitar and very groovy drumming, the music reminds vaguely of Goblin, without ever sounding eerie or sinister.
Post-rock band Stereolab surely learned much from the rhythm locks featured on similar albums.


Tracklist:
  1. Movimento
  2. Dinamica
  3. Competizione
  4. Attività all'aperto
  5. Ritmica sportiva
  6. Esercizi ginnici
  7. Gara
  8. Dilettanti
  9. Rinuncia
  10. Passeggiata
  11. Allenamento
  12. Aspetti grotteschi
Download (320 kbps)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

1  

Üstmamò: omonimo (Virgin, 1991)

"Üstmamò" means "right now" in the dialect of the Emilian Appennine mountains, where this very original band came from. Though they were strongly connected with the early Nineties Consorzio Produttori Indipendenti scene (C.S.I., Disciplinatha, Marlene Kuntz and so on) they had a very playful and amateurish sound which made them stand out from their crewmates.
Their first album is an explosive mix of post-punk, traditional music souvenirs, reggae/ska, rough electronic beats and who knows what else. The description fits accurately with the worst kind of Italian "alternative" anarcho-leftist stuff, but Ustmamò are really unique. They're funny, somehow natty despite their clumsy attitude: dialect, national anthems, nursery rhymes, drum machines, violin and raw guitar chords all come together to create a courageous, smart and accomplished formula which won't fail to make an impression.


Tracklist:
  1. Üstmamò
  2. Filikudi
  3. Fila filastrocca
  4. Stupito sguardo
  5. Strocca - Canzone d'accatto
  6. Vengo a voi...
  7. Amminramp
  8. Lieto evento finale
  9. Vietato vietato
  10. 100 pecore e 1 montone
  11. C'era una volta... un re
  12. Torna maggio
Download (224 kbps)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

0

Artemoltobuffa: L'aria misteriosa (Aiuola, 2007)

Artemoltobuffa is basically singer/songrwiter Alberto Muffato's nom de plume. As a band, it's composed by five elements, with Muffato carrying out the most important role: he writes the music and the lyrics, he sings, he plays the guitar and the keyboards.
The indie-pop style of the band have been portraited as something like an Italian equivalent of Eels or Sparklehorse, but the most appropriate comparisons are much probably the ones with the Canadian indie scene: Broken Social Scene, Stars and the whole Arts & Crafts entourage.

The songs composing Artemoltobuffa's second album are unpretentious pop jewels rendering sketches of everyday life and emotions in an intimate, fanciful and elegant manner. Unexceptional situations come to emanate a discreet and slightly magical aura thanks to the twinkling, stratified sound (sometimes enriched by chamber instruments), Muffato's clean and unruffled voice and his simple but very refined lyrics.
The lyrics are indeed one of the strongest points of Artemoltobuffa's formula. Muffato declines usual Italian haughtiness and concentrates on an easy-going but surprisingly sharp lexicon and narrative style which may remind of modern Italian writers such as Gianni Rodari or Italo Calvino. The result are sincere, evocative sketches which show ordinary circumstances from a different perspective, recreating the long-lost sensations of the childish sense of wonder.


Tracklist:
  1. Le rughe sulla fronte
  2. Invenzioni
  3. Estate
  4. Dove lei passa
  5. Lucciole
  6. Impiegata delle poste
  7. Tempo al tempo
  8. L'aria misteriosa
  9. Aranciata
  10. Se un giorno
Download
(192/128 kbps)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

5

Lucio Battisti: Anima latina (Numero Uno, 1975)

This is the sixth album by Italian pop colossus Lucio Battisti. It is much probably the most experimental one Battisti released while still collaborating with lyricist Mogol, who had written for him in the late Sixties some of the most successful Italian pop songs ever.
The recording of "Anima latina" (the title means "latin soul") follows a trip to South America Battisti and Mogol undertook in the beginning of 1974. Many of the sounds and lyrical themes, indeed, reflect a fascination with the music and the social contrasts of Brazil.

The final sound of the album is something unique: metamorphic pop hooks dissolved into an extremely dilated jazz-rock stream, often blessed by surprisingly lucid, anti-psychedelic world music premonitions and heavenly synthetizer suspensions. It might be called "progressive rock" perhaps, but in fact this fusion originated from a completely different route than any English or European progressive: the sound of "Anima latina" is a figment of the work of an astounding number of collabortors, the arrangements feature the most different instruments and the whole album fluctuates in an otherwordly funky groove which is very far from the prog-rock standards. The opening "Abbracciala, abbracciali, abbracciati" may even remind of later Talk Talk and their soulful, emptied-out approach!


Tracklist:
  1. Abbracciala, abbracciali, abbracciati
  2. Due mondi
  3. Anonimo
  4. Gli uomini celesti
  5. Gli uomini celesti - ripresa
  6. Due mondi - ripresa
  7. Anima latina
  8. Il salame
  9. La nuova America
  10. Macchina del tempo
  11. Separazione naturale
Download (192 kbps) [re-up]

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

0

Garbo: Scortati (EMI, 1982)

One of the main figures of the Italian new wave, Milanese artist Renato Abate gained some celebrity with the single "A Berlino... Va bene" extracted from his first album. "Scortati" is his sophomore release and improves his rich synth-pop formula, strongly influenced by David Bowie, Roxy Music and, much probably, Japan.
The album pivots around Garbo's deep, velvety voice, often half-spoken. Laid down, dressy but always very heartfelt. The sinuous, but sturdy basslines and the driving synth melodies and interlocks are the other core elements of "Scortati"'s very elegant sound. The guitars burst in here and there to dialogue with the keyboards with a red-hot, Phil Manzanera-like buzz.
The songs are extremely well conceived, both melodically and rhythmically. The album has its own, decadent allure and is surely one of the most accomplished of its era.


Tracklist:
  1. Scortati
  2. Generazione
  3. Moderni
  4. Al tuo fianco
  5. Vorrei regnare
  6. Terre bianche
  7. Dance citadine
  8. Frontiere - Auf Wiedersen
Download (192 kbps)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

0

Goblin: The Goblin Collection, 1975-1989 (DRG, 1995)

Roman prog-rock quartet Goblin is mainly known as the band who scored Dario Argento's most celebrated horror films: "Profondo Rosso" and "Suspiria". Their haunting, repetition-based style, often driven by crystalline keyboards, roaring basslines and rampant jazz-fusion drumming is a staple of soundtrack music.

This is a very good collection which gives an idea of the many allures Goblin experimented for different films throughout their long career. Many of their soundtracks are nothing less than masterpieces, but I think it's better to start with a catalogue of their variety and use it to select the specific works that seem to be more interesting for one's personal taste.


Tracklist:
  1. Profondo Rosso (Main Title)
  2. Death Dies - M 32 (original film version)
  3. Profondo Rosso - M 15
  4. Profondo Rosso - M 31
  5. Wampyr (finale)
  6. Chi? - Part 1
  7. Chi? - Part 2
  8. Patrick - M 32 bis
  9. Patrick - M 1
  10. Patrick - M 34/34 Bis/35
  11. Suspiria (Main Title)
  12. La Via Della Droga - M 1 IV
  13. La Via Della Droga - M 2
  14. La Via Della Droga - M 6
  15. La Via Della Droga - 31
  16. L'Alba dei Morti Viventi
  17. Buio Omega - M6
  18. Buio Omega - M25
  19. Buio Omega (Main Title)
  20. St. Helen (Love Theme)
  21. Contamination - M 3
  22. Contamination - M 8
  23. Tenebre (Main Title)
  24. Bass Theme (from Notturno)
  25. Phenomena - M 12
  26. Phenomena - M 15 (Alternate version)
  27. La Chiesa
Download:
Part 1 | Part 2

Monday, September 29, 2008

2

Fred Buscaglione: Criminalmente Fred (Sugar Music, 1992)

Ferdinando Buscaglione was one of the most known entertainers of the Italian Fifties. Both as an actor and as a singer, he played the character of a Thirties-style gangster: whisky, women and gunfights were his key clichés. From a musical perspective, he was one of the most important Italian jazz/swing players of his era. Relying on the proficient Asternovas septept (Buscaglione himself played the violin), he improved a distinctive night-club style with ironic lyrics and smoky, half-spoken vocals which would later influence many Italian artists, the most prominent being Paolo Conte.
"Criminalmente Fred" is a commemorative compilation which collects Buscaglione's most renown songs.


Tracklist:
  1. Eri piccola cosi'
  2. Che notte
  3. Il dritto di Chicago
  4. Porfirio Villarosa
  5. Teresa non sparare
  6. Sgancia e pedala
  7. Whisky facile
  8. Che bambola
  9. Le rififi
  10. Noi duri
  11. Nel cielo dei bars
  12. Che bella cosa sei
  13. A qualcuno piace Fred
  14. Ninna nanna del duro
  15. Ciao Joe
  16. Joe Castagnola
  17. Fred's scat
  18. Voglio scoprir l'America
  19. Carina
  20. Buonasera (signorina)
  21. Love in Portofino
  22. Guarda che luna
  23. Tu che ne dici
  24. Supermolleggiata
  25. Non partir
  26. Criminalmente bella
  27. Una sigaretta
  28. Mi sei rimasta negli occhi
  29. Mi sei rimasta negli occhi (stumentale)
Download:
Part 1 | Part 2

Saturday, September 27, 2008

1  

Massimo Volume: Lungo i bordi (Mescal, 1995)

Now here we have one of the greatest masterpieces of Italian rock. The second album by Bolognese quartet Massimo Volume is extraordinary both from a purely historical/stylistic point of view and emotionally.

Massimo Volume's unique style revolves around vocalist/bass player Emidio Clementi's spoken word rants. Decadent, intimate and detached, grave, literate, extremely self-conscious. Clementi surgically outlines leaden, hopeless metropolitan life sceneries. One of the few "songwriters" of his generation who can actually bear his own writing tone.
The music more than supports Clementi's recitations, but it's probably the need to secondate them that makes their noise-rock basis shapeshift into dilated, nervous noise-jazz soundtracks which may be seen as the Italian way to the Louisville sound of Slint and June of 44.

"Lungo i bordi" is practically the first Italian post-rock album, and surely one of the most original of its decade. One of the most accomplished fusions of music and words to be ever carried out by Italian rock.


Tracklist:
  1. Il primo dio
  2. Il tempo scorre lungo i bordi
  3. Inverno '85
  4. Frammento 1
  5. La notte dell'11 ottobre
  6. Fuoco fatuo
  7. Per farcela
  8. Meglio di uno specchio
  9. Pizza express
  10. Da qui
  11. Nessun ricordo
  12. Ravenna
Download (192 kbps)

Friday, September 26, 2008

0

La compagnia dell'anello: Terra di Thule (Il cerchio, 1983)

Strating from the Seventies, the expression musica alternativa spread in the neofascist political areas to indicate every kind of music born and addressed into their circuit. Paduan band La compagnia dell'anello (The Fellowship of the Ring) are one of the most prominent and longest-lived in the movement.
Their first album was released only in 1982, but the band had already a long career of concerts and direct participation to the most extremist fringes of Movimento Sociale Italiano.

Despite their political stance, "Terra di Tule" isn't much dissimilar to other prog-folk albums of the Seventies, both from a musical and from a literary point of view. Most of the songs focus on medioeval-like musical and lyric themes and many of them strongly remind of Angelo Branduardi's work.
A strongly traditionalist, conservative and antimaterialist view can be guessed only looking closely to the lyrics of songs such as "Il contadino, il monaco, il guerriero", which reflect the fascination for a society based on pecking orders and honour bonds.

Many tracks show evident Irish influences, and some of them may remind Ireland-addicted band Modena City Ramblers even from a lyrical point of view. "Sulla strada" narrates an imaginary travel around Europe and its most inspiring places. "Pensando a un amico" recalls the post-Sessantotto years with a nostalgic aftertaste which surprisingly reminds of left-wing singer/songwriter Francesco Guccini.
The only song which is incontrovertibly soaked with neofascist ideals is the accordion-driven "Il domani appartiene a noi" (Tomorrow belongs to us), which was chosen as a hymn by the Azione Giovani movement.

Though not one of the best Italian folk-rock albums from a strictly musical point of view, "Terra di Thule" deserves some curiosity as a historical document.


Tracklist:
  1. La terra di Thule
  2. Pensando ad un amico
  3. Nascita
  4. Il costume del cervo bianco
  5. Il domani appartiene a noi
  6. Ninna nanna
  7. Fiaba
  8. Il contadino, il monaco, il guerriero
  9. Sulla strada
Download (192/128 kbps)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

0

Francesco Guccini: Fra la via Emilia e il West

This is the third live album by Francesco Guccini, one of the most famous Italian cantautori (singer/songwriters). Recorded during the 1984 summer tour, it serves as a good summary of the artist's career. The double-album features some of Guccini's most renown songs, which gained him the connotation of a very "political" songwriter: "Il vecchio e il bambino", "Eskimo", "La locomotiva" reflect a leftist view, strongly linked to the Sessantotto (68) era.
But "Fra la via Emilia e il West" also collects many pensive, melancholic songs, which actually represent the vast majority of Guccini's production. A very personal reworking of decadent poets Giovanni Pascoli and Guido Gozzano and the Joycean concept of epiphany consitute the core of Guccini's poetics. "Incontro", narrating a chance encounter with an old friend which becomes a nostalgic meditation on the passing of time, ends with these verses:
E pensavo dondolato dal vagone:
Cara amica, il tempo prende, il tempo da;
Noi corriamo sempre in una direzione
Ma qual sia e che senso abbia chi lo sa.
Restano i sogni senza tempo, le impressioni di un momento
Le luci nel buio di case intraviste da un treno.
Siamo qualcosa che non resta, frasi vuote nella testa
E il cuore di simboli pieno.

And I thought, swung by train:
My dear friend, time takes, time gives;
We always run in some direction
But who knows which it is or what its sense is.
It's the timeless dreams which remain, the impressions of a moment,
The lights in the dark of the houses, glimpsed from a train.
We're something which doesn't last, empty phrases in our head
And our heart, full of symbols.
"La canzone della bambina portoghese" describes the unspeakable extasis of a child standing before the ocean:
Gli amici vicino sembravan sommersi dalla voce del mare
O sogni o visioni qualcosa la prese e si mise a pensare
Sentì che era un punto al limite di un continente
Sentì che era un niente, l'Atlantico immenso di fronte.
E in questo sentiva qualcosa di grande
Che non riusciva a capire,
Che non poteva intuire,
Che avrebbe spiegato
Se avesse saputo, lei,
Che l'Oceano è infinito.
Ma il caldo l'avvolse e si sentì svanire, e si mise a dormire.
E fu solo nel sole, come di mani future.
Restaron soltanto il mare e un bikini amaranto.


The friends near her, they seemed to be submerged by the voice of the sea
Dreams, or visions, something took her and she began thinking
She felt she was point, on the edge of the continent
She felt she was a nothing, the immense Atlantic before her.
In this she felt something grand
Something she couldn't understand
Something she couldn't grasp,
She would have explained it,
If only she knew
That the ocean's infinite.
But the heat shrouded her and she felt herself disappearing, and she began sleeping.
There lasted only these: the sea, and a purple bikini.
From a strictly musical point of view, Guccini's songs are usually long, mainly acoustic, often refrainless folk-rock ballads. The model's rather american, with frequent excursions in disguised blues harmonies. Former Il Volo keyboardist Vince Tempera, Area's bassist Ares Tavolazzi and argentinian guitarist Juan Carlos "Flaco" Biondini provide a top-notch accompainment, spoiled only by some kitsch synthetizer timbre here and there.

If you are Italian, you can read a more detailed analysis of Guccini's poetics I wrote some months ago for the site ondarock.it.

Tracklist:
CD 1:
  1. Canzone per un'amica
  2. Autogrill
  3. Il vecchio e il bambino
  4. Il pensionato
  5. L'isola non trovata
  6. Asia
  7. Canzone della bambina portoghese
  8. Canzone delle osterie di fuori porta
  9. Il frate
CD 2:
  1. Piccola città
  2. Venezia
  3. Bologna
  4. Eskimo
  5. Incontro
  6. Vedi cara
  7. Un altro giorno è andato
  8. Canzone quasi d'amore
  9. La locomotiva

Download (192 kbps)
CD 1 | CD 2

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

0

Dagada Saf: No Inzro (Rockgarage Records, 1984)

Degada Saf were an electropop quartet from Treviso, Venetia. Their first and only LP features eight tracks with nonsense Esperanto lyrics, emphatic vocals and obsessive electronic rhythms. Harsh guitar swirls, transfigurated Talking Heads architectures and synth-handclaps complete the formula. The compositions are quite simple, minimal-sounding, and the moods oscillate between cyberpunk nightmares à la Cabaret Voltaire and more jaunty, dancey grooves.
I have to thank the blog 7'' from the underground for having posted this record first.


Tracklist:
  1. La rumba de Shang Hai
  2. Riz du flues
  3. Tri-banal
  4. Loda loda
  5. Zom Africa
  6. Polisumis
  7. Om
  8. No inzro
Download (192 kbps)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

0

Ephel Duath: Pain Necessary to Know (Earache, 2005)

For the first English language album of the blog, I chose one of the few internationally praised metal albums of the Italian scene.
Here's a review I wrote two years ago for the site rateyourmusic.com. It was chosen to be put on the homepage and probably contributed substantially to the popularity of the album in the RYM community.
Such a weird album! When I got it, I thought it should have been a more polished version of the hyper-technical death-jazz of their previous album, with amazing trumpet works, clean guitar-vocals passages and so on. Then I start listening to it and I'm completely bewildered: what's that swamped guitar sound? Where have all the jazz influences gone? Is this the same group? Do these songs actually have a sense, or are they just plain noise?
It took me quite a long time to answer these questions, and even now I'm not totally sure I actually "got into" the album. The music is definitely one of the heaviest things I ever listened to. The guitar sound, which is obtained combining three amplifiers or something like that, is muddier than anything the Melvins could even imagine. Clean vocals and direct jazz influences have completely disappeared. The music is mostly instrumental, with screamed vocals appearing here and there even more disturbing than in "The Painter's Palette". Jazz has migrated from the surface to the true essence of their music: the tempo is never the same throughout the song, which have something of math rock structures-meet-jazz harmonies. I can't even say if this album is still metal or it's something completely different, but it's definitely something which deserves to be listened to. Highly recommended!

Tracklist:
  1. New Disorder
  2. Vector, Third Movement
  3. Pleonasm
  4. Few Stars, No Refrain and a Cigarette
  5. Crystalline Whirl
  6. I Killed Rebecca
  7. Vector, First Movement
  8. Vector, Second Movement
  9. Imploding
Download (~210 kbps)

Monday, September 22, 2008

0

A Short Apnea: Illu Ogod Ellat Rhagedia (Ustrainhustri) (Wallace, 2000)

Though Italo-Basque guitaris Xabier Iriondo founded A Short Apnea while still in Afterhours, no two bands could sound less akin one to the other. The the long, improvised tracks of "Illu Ogod Ellat Rhagedia" sound closer to the so-called "now wave" scene (a post-rock subcurrent based in Chicago) than to anything else.
Rickety guitar shards, processed drum screes, freeform keyboard canvases and occasional, unintelligible psalms create a deconstructed, edgy soundscape which reminds much of Gastr Del Sol, You Fantastic!, Gorge Trio (the band would eventually team up with the latter for the album "...Just Arrived"). The mood's more claustrophobic, cybernetic, but the result fears no comparison with its American inspirers or A Short Apnea's most direct Italian forerunners, Starfuckers.


Tracklist:
  1. I
  2. II
  3. III
Download (192 kbps)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

0

Stormy Six: Macchina maccheronica (L'orchestra, 1980)

One of the founding members of the Rock In Opposition movement (Henry Cow/Art Bears, Samla Mammas Manna, Etron Fou Leloublan, Stormy Six, Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, Aksak Maboul), Stormy Six had the great pop-musicologist Franco Fabbri as a guitarist. They began their career opening for the Rolling Stones concert in Milan, in 1967. After a couple of singles based on Italian cover versions of English hits, they released their first album "Le idee di oggi per la musica di domani" (Today's ideas for the music of tomorrow). Their style evolved from a Beatles/Moody Blues psych-pop into a complex and politically engaged progressive folk, strongly influenced by the neo-Partisanism of the Cantacronache movement. The peak was reached in 1975 with their fourth album "Un biglietto del tram" (A tram ticket); the nine-minute long "Stalingrado/La fabbrica" is still a classic of left-wing demonstrations.
"Cliché" collected a couple of theatre soundtracks, but the real turning point towards a more explicitly experimental attitude was "L'apprendista" (The apprentice), in 1977. With its complex Gentle Giant nestings, its chamber/folk leanings and more easy-going lyrics, it was more than just a prelude to the unique R.I.O. sound of "Macchina Maccheronica" (Macaronic machine).

Being released in 1980 - definitely late for a progressive album - "Macchina maccheronica" was overlooked in Italy, but it was praised by the German critics. Featuring ex-Henry Cow cellist Georgie Born, the LP still focuses on the elaborate inlays of the previous one, but the attitude is much more ludic: fanfare-like passages are spread everywhere, multi-style renditions of the Milanese 30s song "O mia bèla madunina" are used as track separators. The music's anyhow the most experimental ever released by the band until then: unusual scales and harmonies, complex rhythm patterns and instrumental weaves are the key elements of the longer tracks, which particularly shine for the lively wind lines and the Fripp/Frith guitar soloing of Franco Fabbri.

The band would continue their career until the mid-eighties and face some live reunions in the Nineties, but I'll probably write about these events in a second time.


Tracklist:
  1. Macchina maccheronica
  2. Le lucciole
  3. Madonina
  4. Megafono
  5. Madonina
  6. Banca
  7. Pianeta
  8. Rumbo sugli alberi
  9. Enzo
  10. Verbale
  11. Madonina
  12. Somario
  13. Madonina
  14. Macchina Maccheronica
Download (192 kbps)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

0

Bonansone Dedalus Group: Nomos Apache Alpha (BTF, 2004)

Initially a jazz-rock band featuring the now well-known jazz bass player Furio Di Castri, Piedmontese band Dedalus published two albums, in 1973 and 1974. It's probably the deconstructions, found sounds and tape experimentations of the last one, "Materiale per tre esecutori e nastro magnetico", which convinced Steve Stapleton to include them into his legendary Nurse With Wound List.

After a thirty-year hiatus, actually broken one time in 1997 with the publication of "Pia visione", keyboardist/cellist/accordionist Fiorenzo Michele Bonansone decided to start a new project and revive the spirit of Dedalus. Assisted by two classical musicians and a drummer with a thing for funky and african rhythms, he published "Nomos Apache Alpha" as Bonansone Dedalus Group.
Hailed with "Premio Darwin" as the best Italian prog-rock release of the year, the album's actually more rooted into modern classical music than rock. Reflecting a strong post-minimal vibe, the music's sometimes close to the one of Michael Nyman, specially for the frequent use of tonal material and pseudo-classical patterns which are used as melo/rhythmic modules of the compositions.
The mood's rarefied, poised but capable of tension peaks and climaxes, free episodes and more high-spirited or academic sections. Some tracks feature vocals, which seem to be sung in dialect. Piano (both acoustic and electric), flute, cello and trombone are the key elements of the album, which constitutes a stunning example of how a progressive approach can be achieved even without any rock element.


Tracklist:
  1. Nomos Apache Alpha
  2. Dal sonno
  3. Luvmin
  4. Trenosol
  5. Via di miel
  6. Rockocò
  7. Turu turu
  8. Canzon capriccio
  9. Clangclumps
    (Clangs1/Clang-cuore/Clangs3)
Download (224 kbps)

Friday, September 19, 2008

0

Celeste: Principe di un giorno (Grog, 1976)

Published in 1976, but actually composed and recorded between 1974 and 1975, "Principe di un giorno" is the first album by Sanremese band Celeste and one of the finest of the spaghetti-prog era.
The mood is prevailingly soft, fairytalesque and slightly melancholic. It certainly reminds of La Locanda delle Fate, early Pierrot Lunaire and the gentler episodes of the first King Crimson LPs.
Acoustic guitars, mellotron and so much as two flutes dominate the sound, which is occasionally enriched by saxophone, violin and very delicate cymbal touches. The synthentetizer plays apparently a secondary role (just a few melodic themes in the background, here and there) but in fact is very important to create a dreamlike, sometimes grandiose atmosphere.
Not to mention the more experimental episodes, where the synthetizer is loaded by effects, the winds shift to a non-jazzy chamberlike style and the overall sound comes quite close to Picchio dal Pozzo.

The arrangements are elegant and balanced, the melodies weightless and memorable. The album has the power to charme and entangle the listener: it won't easily be left aside.


Tracklist:
  1. Principe di un giorno
  2. Favole antiche
  3. Eftus
  4. Giochi nella notte
  5. La grande isola
  6. La danza del fato
  7. L'imbroglio
Download (192 kbps)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

0

Arpaderba: L'aleph (In-Contro, 1981)

An almost unknown band lead by Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno and Samadhi's guitarist Gianni Civitenga, Arpaderba issued only one album, "L'aleph", which is now very rare.
The style is a very personal blend of progressive, folk dance and minimalism. Entirely instrumental, the album reminds as much of Terry Riley as of French prog-folk bands such as Malicorne or Minimum Vital. Though the celtic influences are very strong, most of the tracks appear to be rooted in a more mediterranean repertoire: the result is surprisingly close to the one achieved by Paolo Fresu with his Sardinian folk-jazz band, Tanit.
Repetition, odd meters and gleeful synthetizer soarings are the core elements of Arpaderba's unique formula, which is often enriched by violin, e-piano, marimba, accordion and well-rounded, groovy basslines.
The album's deeply charming and captivating, its quiet but overwhelming pace never take a moment for rest.


Tracklist:
  1. Danza
  2. L'aleph
  3. Ritmi di luna
  4. Labirinto
  5. Ballo dei satiri
  6. Cantata di primavera
  7. Tarentilla
Download (224 kbps)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

1  

Franco Battiato: Giubbe Rosse (EMI, 1989)

Franco Battiato's one of the most prominent Italian artists. His critically acclaimed production began in the seventies with some experimental albums which embodied a very personal progressive/kosmische musik formula with slight ethnic allures. The album "L'Egitto prima delle Sabbie" won the international Stockhausen prize as best piano composition.
Right after that, at the end of the decade, he began shifting towards a more pop attitude. "La voce del padrone" (1981) was the first Italian album to sell a million copies and definitively marked the style transition. Battiato's music was still very innovative: now blending synth-pop, mediterranean suggestions and a nonsense/citationist approach to the lyrics, his new recipe sounded groundbreaking and had a distinct influence on many Italian artists of the Eighties.

"Giubbe Rosse" is his first live record. A double album collecting songs from three 1988 performances in theatres around Europe (Paris, Milan, Madrid). The tracks span over all of his career, thus including both mainly instrumentally-focused synthetizer compositions and his most famous pop songs. Some of the latter were originally written by Battiato for other Italian singers: "Lettera al governatore della Libia", brought to success by Giuni Russo, was never released by Battiato before this album.


Tracklist:
  1. Giubbe Rosse
  2. Alexander Platz
  3. Lettera al governatore della Libia
  4. Mesopotamia
  5. L'era del cinghiale bianco
  6. Un'altra vita
  7. Voglio vederti danzare
  8. Oceano di silenzio
  9. Sequenze e frequenze
  10. Aria di Rivoluzione
  11. No U turn
  12. Summer on a solitary Beach
  13. Cuccurucucu
  14. Centro di gravità permanente
  15. Gli Uccelli
  16. E ti vengo a Cercare
Download (160 kbps)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

0

Gomma Workshop: Almanacco moderno sul linguaggio dei gatti (Madcap collective, 2004)

Gomma Workshop is an imaginary sextet, reworking the music of many imaginary artists using an imaginary 150-track recorder from 1977, called "E. Sapphire". In fact, Gomma Workshop's basically just multi-instrumentist Vittorio Demarin and a lot of toy instruments, found sounds and pseudo-folk leftovers.
"Almanacco moderno sul linguaggio dei gatti" ("Modern almanac about the language of cats") is a peculiar work mixing tape experimentation, musique concrète and indietronic leanings, dusty folkloric mullings, Italian lounge and soundtrack music (specially Nino Rota). The result could be compared to anything from Aksak Maboul to Four Tet, from Jim O' Rourke to Pascal Comelade.
The album actually seems to come out directly from the Nurse With Wound List. Despite its uncohesive attitude, though, it manifests a very strong compositional lucidity and never fails to be evocative and entertaining, sprightly, imaginative and impalpable.


Tracklist:
  1. Gertrud
  2. My Heart the Spoon
  3. Bruitages Cubik
  4. Ernesto Sapphire Lost Tapes
  5. Lauraborg
  6. 500 metri di torte
  7. Nuovi algoritmi sovietici
  8. Ink Q.B.
  9. Mangiabimbi
  10. Print
  11. Peter Sellers in the Swamp
  12. Soap Soup
Download (224 kbps)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2

Equipe 84: Stereoequipe (Ricordi, 1968)

Often dubbed as "The Italian Sgt. Pepper's", "Stereoequipe" is the third and best known album of Modenese beat quartet Equipe 84. The twelve tracks collect all the 45" released by the band in 1967/68 and include four Italian renditions of English hits and two of the most successful Italian singles of the Sixties, "Nel cuore, nell'anima" and "29 Settembre". All of them, together with the remaining tracks, are arranged in a typical Beatles-like fashion: "Nel cuore, nell'anima" wonderfully recreates the string quartet miracle of "Eleanor Rigby", while "29 Settembre" is notable for the pioneering use of radio news excerpts to give the song a topical feeling. Many other refined gimmicks are employed throuought the album: horns, winds, tablas, sitar, wind effects... The result is still impressive today and particularly shines for its bright melodies and adventurous sound (with great piano and bass guitar performances). It's certainly a masterpiece of Italian beat.

Four songs are signed by the Battisti/Mogol duo and were released by Equipe 84 before Battisti's solo success. Some others ("È dall'amore che nasce l'uomo", "Per un attimo di tempo") were written by Francesco Guccini (which would later become one of the best known Italian singer/songwriters) but credited to Equipe's singer Maurizio Vandelli, just because Guccini was not a member of SIAE, Italian musical copyright society.
"Stereoequipe" ows its name to the fact that it was the first Italian album to be released only in its stereophonic version.


Tracklist:
  1. Nel cuore, nell'anima
  2. Ladro
  3. È dall'amore che nasce l'uomo
  4. Nel ristorante di Alice
  5. 29 Settembre
  6. Un anno (No Face, No Name, No Number - Traffic)
  7. Un angelo blu (I Can't Let Maggie Go - Honeybus)
  8. Tutto è solo colore (Every Little Bit Hurts - The Small Faces)
  9. Hey ragazzo
  10. Per un attimo di tempo
  11. Intermission riff
  12. Nella terra dei sogni (Land of Make Believe - Easybeats)
Download (224 kbps)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

1  

Spirale: omonimo (King, 1974)

Spirale were a jazz-rock band, which would be known later as "Folk Magic Band" and quite renown for their participation to international jazz festivals. Their first and only LP with the original bandname is now very rare and could be compared in style to ethno-prog band such as Maad (Italy) or Embryo (Germany).
E-piano, bass and drums provide a light, groovy carpet of obstinatos for the lyric excursions of trumpet, saxophone and flute. The mood is breezy and absorbing, the rhythms are often veined of South-American or Indian suggestions. The shadow of Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" towers specially over the longest track, "Paparoncino" and its compound meters. Its southern-Italian folkloric accents and the funambolic violin solo contribute in making it a very accomplished piece.


Tracklist:
  1. Rising
  2. Cabral, anno 1
  3. Una ballata per Yanes
  4. Peperoncino (Cose vecchie, cose nuove)
Download (256 kbps)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

0

miles_gurtu: omonimo (Shakti, 2004)

Italo-swiss producer Robert Miles (born Roberto Concina) is mainly renown as the mastermind of the so-called dream-house season which spanned over the mid-Nineties. His more recent work is nevertheless very far from the Oldfield-inspired piano cavalcades of "Children" and "Fable": "Organik" (2001) and "miles_gurtu" lean towards a smoky, warm trip-hop style with strong chill-out and jazzy elements.
"miles_gurtu", particularly, is a collaboration with quintessential jazz drummer Trilok Gurtu and steeps deeply into experimental, rhythm-based electroacoustic ambiences. A wide range of acoustic instruments (double-bass, guitar, cello, trumpet) are often played with unconventional techniques and combine with field recordings and electronic manipulation to create nocturnal, nebulous soundscapes which might remind the mood of early Four Tet works.
Minimoog eerie landscapes, theremin and Rhodes e-piano are under the responsibility of prog-blues legend Mike Patto (Patto, Centipede, Spooky Tooth) and many electric guitar/drums interlocks show something more than a resemblance to King Crimson.
The production is astounding: the beats are fractured, refined, while the overall sound is warm, organic, steamy and tridimensional. miles_gurtu is an extremely elegant and well-crafted album, coupling experimentation and a cathy pleasantness.


Tracklist:
  1. Golden Rust
  2. Soul Driven
  3. Wearing Masks
  4. Tragedy : Comedy (stream it!)
  5. Omen
  6. Loom
  7. Languages of Conscious Thought
  8. Without a Doubt
  9. Small World
  10. Small World (reprise)
  11. Inductive
  12. The Big Picture
  13. Xenon
Download (~200 kbps)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

3

Ennio Morricone: Crime and Dissonance (Ipecac, 2005)

This monumental 2-CD compilation was drawn up by metal buffoon and Morricone fanatic Mike Patton as a way to rediscover the most experimental episodes of Morricone's career as a film music composer. The tracks included are not in the vein of Morricone's most melodic and renown work: the selection's mainly devoted to ill-sounding, disturbing pieces, tension-tinged hustles or chaotic murder scenes from half-forgotten Italian B-movies. Dissonance, unusual instrumental techniques and the radical avantgarde leanings of Morricone's Gruppo di improvvisazione nuova consonanza merge with classical music, electric jazz and experimental rock elements to create a kaleidoscopic range of tones which still today preserve both their original charm and innovative charge.

Liner notes are available on the Ipecac Records website.


Tracklist:
CD1:
  1. Giorno di notte
  2. Astratto 3
  3. Corsa sui tetti
  4. Ric Happening
  5. Memento
  6. Ricreazione divertita
  7. Studio di colore
  8. Forza G (Quella donna)
  9. Placcaggio
  10. Seguita
  11. Postludio alla terza moglie
  12. L'uccello con le piume di cristallo (Titoli)
  13. Il buio
  14. Rapimento in campo aperto
  15. Le fotografie
  16. Spiriti
  17. Ninna nanna per adulteri
  18. Astrazione
CD 2:
  1. Trafelato
  2. Sensi
  3. Gil intoccabili
  4. Fondate paure
  5. L'attentato [Alternate Version 1]
  6. Fumeria d'oppio
  7. 1970
  8. Esplicitamente sospeso
  9. Sequenza 10 (stream it!)
  10. Paura e aggressione [Short Version]
  11. Folle folle
  12. Un uomo da rispettare (Titoli)

Download:
Part 1 | Part 2 (192 kbps)

Monday, July 7, 2008

1  

Splatterpink: #3 (Audioglobe, 2001)

Splatterpink were a Bolognese jazzcore quartet and this is (obviously?) their third album . The music contained is some of the most fiery in the whole genre, even compared to foreign bands. Coarse funk-blues shards, based on crunching, Primus-like basslines and tarry baritone sax bursts. Throaty vocals, often delving in growl and expressionist roars, cynical, crude lyrics and frantic odd-meter tempo shifts are other core elements of Splatterpink's arsonist formula. A scorching, reckless record which bears some resemblances to Anatrofobia, Zu and even King Crimson at times, but with an even more jolting attitude.


Tracklist:
  1. Bologna
  2. Linfa grezza (stream it!)
  3. Di religione isterica
  4. Speedball
  5. Tutto idealizzato
  6. Regina di seghe
  7. Ritardato
  8. Spesso sogno il mare
  9. Tu?
Download (128 kbps)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

2

Area: Maledetti (Cramps, 1976)

"Maledetti" is my favourite album of one of my very favourite bands ever. I think it's their definitive masterpiece. "Arbeit Macht Frei" is surely a great album but this is way more deep, self-conscious and accomplished.
It is a concept album based on a socio-political fiction hypotesis: what if "historical memory" were a fluid preserved in some Swiss bank and it suddenly evaporated ("Evaporazione") leaving civilization without memory of its past? Area go through three scenaries: power to the old ("Gerontocrazia"), power to the women ("Scum") and power to the children ("Giro Giro Tondo").
The albums starts with the buzz of an electric razor and the heraldic announcement of singer Demetrio Stratos: "We've lost the memory of XV Century". It's the beginning of the evaporation of historical memory. As the memory keeps fading, Stratos begins to permute and decline the words of his message leaving it with no sense at all. A terrorized scream leads into the funky synth and bass interplay of "Diforisma Urbano": the historical fluid is flowing out of its safe and is spreading around accelerating its own evaporation. It's one of the jazzier episodes in Area's career, a frantic jazz-fusion magma scorched by terrific bass shreds and balcanic synth ostinatos.

"Gerontocrazia" is the first hypotical society explored: a petrifying greek lullaby supported by a mesmerizing txalaparta (something close to a xylophone) work illustrates the social paralysis induced by an oligarchy which thinks the only usefulness of children is to become man.

Sleep, that take children away, take away this one too.
I've brought him to you when he was so small, bring him back to me just when he's grown up.
Big as a mountain, tall as a cypress, he will dominate from East to West.


Then the music shifts to a 5/4 double-bass rhythmic pattern and Stratos starts singing with his usual emphatic abstractism:

With the power of things I can control your life: this is called "freedom".
The daily experience of terror leaves you no one but me.
The violence consumed in love pushes you towards me.
If you look to the past you'll find everything planned: this is called "truth".
No more history nor memory, let me write your steps for you.
Live your life in peace, don't think, but dream of happiness.
Look at the past, you'll find everything planned: it's called "freedom".
No more history nor memory, let me write your steps for you.
Live your life in peace, don't think, but dream of happiness.


The central instrumental section indulges on the main theme, accentuating its Balkanic roots with call-and-response synth riffing. A great bassline leads into a jazzier 7/8 sequence, always on a Balkanic theme exposed by the synth. It's one of the thickest episodes in Area's carreer, terrificly groovy and both rhythmically and melodically enthralling.

"Scum" starts with a fragmented 9/8 sequence of piano chords, broken by isolated drums and bass incursions, then gradually builds a furious free-jazz piano solo, cut by more melodic hammond passages. Stratos recites in a very expressionist way a feminist manifesto by Valerie Solanas:

Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.

No separation between "Scum" and the classical parenthesis "Il massacro di Brandeburgo numero 3 in sol maggiore", a desacrating revisitation of J.S. Bach's "Brandenbrurg Concerto #3 in G major" performed by Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli's string quartet. The liner notes say:

Demolition of the musical corporativism through the progressive cancellation of the most important parts for Bach's counterpoint developpement in the first 46 bars. The attack to J.S. Back has nothing to do with personal aspects of the composer or about him: it's a critic to classical music in general. Bach pays for all the other ones. Any Kubrickian reading of this attitude should be avoided.

The piece starts as the original one but gradually skips passages and ends with the most forbidden cadence, the tritone. Apart from that, this is not enough to spoil the beauty of Bach's music, and the track is really pleasant and enjoiable.

"Giro Giro Tondo" means "ring-a-ring-o'roses". The song explores the consequences of giving power to the children. The absence of responsibility, of self-control and the unknowing of the concept of "death" gives no limit to the child's individualism. During a concert Demetrio said about this song:

Children are seen in a different way in our music: the child fries his father for breakfast because he was a pain in the ass.

I play, I play with your world
I can dominate you.
I turn, i turn
forever in circles
I can control you.
I look, I look
Down to the bottom
I can subdue you.
I laugh, I laugh
of your time
I must grind you.

The introductive freeform lagoon of Stratos vocal experiments and spar Tcherepnin synthetizer squeals rapidly switch to a 6/8 balkan jazz-rock which is one of the albums most straightforward moments, with its driving bass/drums dynamics and e-piano soloing.

The last track is (again) a bit different. "Caos (parte seconda)" is a performance of structured improvisation with special guests Paul Lytton and Steve Lacy, inspired by an idea of John Cage's, who was once asked by by some free-jazzers how he thought they could be more free: he answered that they shouldn't listen one each other while playing.
"Caos (parte seconda)" is composed of distinct sequences of a fixed lenght (30 seconds) during which the musicians had express a basic emotion written on a small card randomly chosen at the beginning of the sequence. The basic emotions available were irony, sex, hypnosis, violence, silence. The performers were supposed to improvise their part without listening to what the other ones were doing.
The episode would lately be repeated for the occupation of the University of Milan (the recording is published under the name Event 79). That time it extended for about half an hour, and the duration of the sequences was set to three minutes instead of 30 seconds. The interviews made during the break are available as a bonus track in "Maledetti" and show that the public was largely unsatisfied. Both Area and Steve Lacy would remember the concert as one of the most exciting moments of their career, though.


Tracklist:
  1. Evaporazione
  2. Diforisma urbano
  3. Gerontocrazia
  4. Scum
  5. Massacro di Brandeburgo numero tre in sol maggiore
  6. Giro giro tondo
  7. Caos (parte seconda)
  8. # Extra tracks [bonus track]

Download (192 kbps)