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)