Thursday, July 16, 2009

1  

Donatella Rettore: Kamikaze Rock'n'Roll Suicide (Ariston, 1982)

Italian synth-pop's known mostly for its many electrodisco hits, but it also spawned some more "new wave"-sounding records. "Kamikaze Rock'n'Roll Suicide" is one of them, a somehow obscure concept album about the cult of honour in Japanese philosophy. Drawing on the figure of WWII suicide kamikazes, the music funnily bridges bleak oriental atmospheres, a sullen sense of resignation and the robotic aesthetics of early-80s discopunk. A bit Devo, a bit Blondie and a bit Gaznevada, the album's light, decadent, provoking and adventurous at the same time. Wonderfully pop, and slightly demented.

Donatella Rettore's career covers three decades, but she's mostly known for a couple of hits which are still absolute floorfillers at trash parties. "Kamikaze Rock'n'Roll Suicide" is her sixth album, and does contain one of those tracks: the awkward techno-ska "Lamette".


Tracklist:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

1  

Contropotere: Il seme della devianza (Skuld, 1991)

A grim, filthy, monster-heavy post-hardcore maelstrom, often on the brink of thrash metal (even doom metal at times). The songs are long, tortuous and convulsive: an everchanging flow of guitar stabs, upsetting vocal howls which reminds more of a black magic rite than of an ordinary hardcore punk record. A constant hail of blast beats, broken by apocalyptic sludge riffs and chainsaw intrusions (or offhand King Crimson quotes) even seem to mark the entrance to the chaotic realm of Today Is the Day, Neurosis or Flying Luttembachers. The frightening frame is completed by an aggressive anti-capitalist stance, a devious, cyberpunk version of the anarcho-punk attitude of Franti or The Ex.
"Il seme della devianza" isn't really an accomplished record: it's awfully recorded and the unravelling of the tracks is clumsy and unmemorable. But it's daring, utterly original, and it almost gives the shivers.

Contropotere were a band from Naples, founded in 1985 and disbanded ten years later. "Il seme della devianza" is their second LP, and it was followed just by two other EPs.


Tracklist:
  1. La chiave del tempo
  2. Templum desertii
  3. Clonazione
  4. Baghdad: la morte in diretta
  5. Urragan
  6. U.S.P. (Uniformità Sociale Precostituita)
Download (192 kbps)


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

2

Sinenomine: Spartenza (Incipit Records, 2009)

Will Italian music ever have a counterpart for Pentangle and their magical blend of floklore, jazzy fragrances and instrumental panache? Maybe not, but take Pentangle, bring in tango and fado and take out the blues, trade Celtic for Southern Italian and you get an idea of the wonderful "Spartenza".

Based on a perfectly coalescence of very polished, wonderfully orchestrated counterpoints, the album may fail to appeal to the lovers of coarse, impulsive, bristly music. It might find it a bit too clean, even unpersonal and soulless. I don't envy them: "Spartenza" is just one of the most charming, passionate and classy Italian folk albums I've ever chanced into.
Its most striking element is the subtle play of silences, pauses and rarefaction: accordion cirrus clouds, restrained acoustic guitar weavings, delicate cello caresses and double bass rustles never owerwhelm the listener, but lull him gently together with the sensuos recitation of a very mediterranean, but effervescently jazz-tinged female voice.
The album merges centuries, styles and sound-worlds, creating its unique out-of-time cocoon: comfortable, entangling and glowing in velvety crayon colours.

Sinenomine are an acoustic quintet from Rome. This is their first album.


Tracklist:
  1. Vulumbrella
  2. LeMetamorfosi
  3. Perduto
  4. Luistania
  5. Camminante
  6. Soliloquia
  7. Solaria
  8. A lu bene mie
  9. Tango de esperanza
  10. Rua de saudade
  11. Canto delle lavandaie del vomero
  12. Riturnella
  13. Spartenza
Download (320 kbps)


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Monday, July 6, 2009

3

Giorgio Moroder: E=mc² (Durion, 1979)

Technopop. Tail-swallowing synth-bass locks are its core; endless, metronomic disco grooves its foundation; programmed keyboard tangles its secret. And then, there are songs - light, inventive, adorably artifact. And refinate, despite their minimalism: "Baby Blue" resurrects the best vocal harmonies of the 60s, and most of the other conceal classical progressions and a kaleidoscope of quotations which take the robotic aesthetics of Kraftwerk to a new, playful and totally de-ideologized level.

Besides being a cornerstone of electronic music, the second ultra-electronic album by Tyrolean Giorgio Moroder is a very funny record and a collection of masterful pop tunes. More accomplished than its groundbreaking precursor "From Here to Eternity", probably. Both the records are inescapable inspirations for the Chicago house music scene and the whole electro-disco/italo-disco genres, which Moroder himself contributed to set up with his cutting-edge work on Donna Summer's "I Feel Love".


Tracklist:
  1. Baby Blue
  2. What a Night
  3. If You Weren't Afraid
  4. I Wanna Rock You
  5. In My Wildest Dreams
  6. E=mc²
  7. Love's in You Love's in Me [Bonus Track]
  8. Evolution [Bonus Track]
Download (192 kbps)


Sunday, July 5, 2009

0

La lionetta: Il gioco del diavolo (Shirak, 1981)

Traditional folk, encompassing the whole heritage of Northern Italy, with a special attention to the folklore of Occitanian valleys. Somehow akin to Planxty's celtic revisitations, "Il gioco del diavolo" merges themes and styles, crafting warm sounds and sophisticated embroideries which astonish with their richness and fullness.
The album probably isn't faithful to traditional patterns, techniques and instrumentation (hurdy-gurdy, French bagbipes, bombardes and dulcimeres are everywhere), but actually reinvents the tradition, enriching it, polishing and casting a (wonderful) counterfeit "ancient times" allure. The starting point is traditional material, but the arrival is surely something that never got so intricate, delicate and refinate for a folk band.
Though well-mannered and studied, the album never sounds austere: its breeziness and light-paced folk-dance rhythms are actually the elements that really make it stand out.

La lionetta are a traditional folk ensemble from Piedmont, born in 1977 around reed/pipe player Roberto Aversa, a longtime collaborator of Dario Fo's theatre company. This is their second record, and last one for a long time.



Tracklist:
  1. Il matto, il diavolo e il bagatto/La fiera
  2. Cecilia/Il sogno fi Cecilia
  3. Rocastalda
  4. La lionetta
  5. Muran dell'Inghilterra/Canzone della bella
  6. La monferrina di Napoleone
  7. Leandra
  8. Bourrée d'Auvergne/Valzer della montagna
  9. Povra mi/Tema della madre
Download (192 kbps) [re-up]


Friday, May 29, 2009

2

Fiorella Mannoia: Certe piccole voci (Harpo, 1999)

What a voice. Deep, warm, vivid and bittersweet. Every note is full-bodied and enormously femine - neither a Lolita nor a femme fatale fashion, but the voice of a woman, with the placid and overwhelming charm of maturity. Responsibility and everyday life which succeeded to compenetrate with love and dreams.
Some may say the music in this album isn't but ordinary cantautori stuff, not particularly intimate or intense, nor particularly original or elegant. Even a bit mannerist with regards to the sessionman-dominated sound which came to characterize the style of the foremost Italian singer/songwiters during the Nineties. And that would be true, 'cause the point in these songs and these renditions isn't innovation, fantasy or introspection, but talking discreetly to the heart of those who listen. Without changing their life, but giving them for a moment the chance to reflect upon it and dream.

The best episodes in "Certe piccole voci" have this peculiar charm, and there are many of them among the 25 tracks of the double LP. The styles are very varied in terms of composition, often relying on simple structures occasionally coloured by refinate chord changes and Irish influences. The narrations are mainly based on images, but sill their design differs much from song to song. The arrangements, though, are all quite close one another in terms of sound: perfectly centered on the voice, they embellish it with crystalline-clear acoustic guitar chords ranging between delicacy and muscularity. The soundscape is completed by wet synthetizers, glossy piano sketches and jazzy drum patterns and basslines. Here and there, some guitar or saxophone solo steals the spot from the voice giving the music a more instrumental feeling (the results aren't very good, usually).

Fiorella Mannoia emerged, starting from the Eighties, as one of the most personal and classy interpreters of the cantautori repertoire. Her name is linked to such songs as Vasco Rossi's "Sally", Bubola's "Il cielo d'Irlanda", Ruggeri's "Quello che le donne non dicono", Piero Fabrizi's "Belle speranze". "Certe piccole voci" is her first live album after ten studio LPs.


Tracklist:
CD 1
  1. L'amore con l'amore si paga (I. Fossati)
  2. Sally (V. Rossi)
  3. I treni a vapore (I. Fossati)
  4. Il fiume e la nebbia (D. Silvestri)
  5. Non sono un cantautore (P. Fabrizi)
  6. Cuore di cane (F. De Gregori)
  7. Normandia (P. Fabrizi)
  8. Belle speranze (P. Fabrizi)
  9. Piano solo (D. Rea)
  10. Oh che sarà (C. B. De Hollanda - I. Fossati)
  11. Il culo del mondo (C. Veloso - A. Lamberti - P. Fabrizi)
  12. Caterina e il coraggio (P. Fabrizi)
  13. Passalento (I. Fossati)
CD 2
  1. Le notti di Maggio (I. Fossati)
  2. Sorvolando Eilat (P. Fabrizi - Mogol)
  3. Lunaspina (I. Fossati)
  4. La stagione dell'amore (F. Battiato)
  5. Il tempo non torna più (P. Fabrizi)
  6. I dubbi dell'amore (E. Ruggeri - L. Schiavone)
  7. I muscoli del capitano (F. De Gregori)
  8. Ninetto e la colonia (F. De Gregori)
  9. l cielo d'Irlanda (M. Bubola)
  10. Crazy Boy (S. Bersani)
  11. Quello che le donne non dicono (E. Ruggeri - L. Schiavone)
  12. Ascolta l'infinito (P. Fabrizi - E. Ruggeri)
Download (128 kbps)


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Saturday, May 9, 2009

8

Transgender: Sen Soj Trumàs (Snowdonia/New LM Record, 2003)

A fiercely cross-style and cross-reference record, on the brink of prog-rock, post-rock, post-punk. The music plunges into King Crimson distorted assaults, Tortoise-like angular weavings, Mr. Bungle's provincial matchings, muscolarity, rarefyings. The vocals are mostly sung in a disquieting fictitious language and the treatment is often dystopian and futurist, maybe reminding the kitsch and hypertrophic imaginary of Trans AM. Some French here and there, an excerpt declaimed by Giovanni Lindo Ferretti and nonchalantly overblown circus/fanfare episodes, noisy bursts and mellotron-soaked textures are just some of the many odd-tasting elements scattered like raisins in a panettone.

Transgender are an Emilian band. This is their second studio album after a bunch of demo CDs. "Mey Ark Vu" followed in 2006.

ps. If you have a bigger/higher definition artwork image, please give me a link!

Tracklist:
  1. Dre Oucantèlva
  2. Multìs
  3. Le dernier jour
  4. Craud
  5. Dre Foè
  6. Mavra (Sal a ruè)
  7. Mantra
  8. Spoony Geeza
  9. A Crime Memoir
  10. Dernier jour (Remix by Serial)
Download (160 kbps)


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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

4

Underground Life: Filosofia dell'aria (1987, Target/Emi)

A voluptuos new wave record, blending glam-pop transformism and slight dark/decadent atmospheres together with rock riffs and edges and some out of fashion keyboard weavings and other mid-70s arrangement techniques. The songs are refinate and complex, both from a melodic and lyrical point of view, but most of all the sound is very rich and lush: sparkling guitar jingle-jangle, pounding basslines and rubbery drumming - both with a distinct rock groove, and then mellifluous saxophone lines, harmonica, violin, jigsaw new wave interlocks and omnipresent prog/pop triumphant keyboard circles.
The album might remind anything from XTC to Litfiba, Battiato, Ultravox or cheesy mainstream Italian pop, but actually has a very unique charm.

Underground Life were a band from Monza, Milano. They formed in 1979 and disbanded in the early Nineties. "Filosofia dell'aria" is produced by the well-known guitarist Alberto Radius (of Lucio Battisti/Formula Tre fame), who plays in the record and is most probably the main responsible of the 70s nuances of the record.

Tracklist:
  1. Uccidiamo il lavoro di massa
  2. Belfagor
  3. Lady Von Masoch
  4. Il battito
  5. L'iperbole/Architettura
  6. La rivolta degli infanti
  7. Albe atomiche
  8. In inverno
Download (128 kbps)


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Thursday, April 2, 2009

11

Jovanotti: Lorenzo 1997 - L'albero (Soleluna/Mercury, 1997)

The songwriting of "L'albero" isn't elaborate, classy or witty. The structures are simple, the chords are suitable for beach strumming and the vocal lines are gawky and tone-deaf.
But a few things must be recognized. The easy-going singing, halfway between pop and hip-hop; the words, plain, frugal and optimistically third-worldist; the warm timbres of the music: everything contributes to make the album wonderfully cosy, optimistic and unpretentious.
And the arrangements, they're almost a miracle. Acoustic funky, jazzy intermissions, African music elements (choirs, rhythms and that ungraspable sense of levity) give rise to a "wooden", airy sound which is able to explore impervious hexatonic territories without losing a bit of groove.

Lorenzo Cherubini A.K.A. Jovanotti was the first to bring hip-hop to the mainstream in Italy, in the late 80s. "L'albero" is his ninth album, and one of the most succesul of his career.


Tracklist:
  1. Intro
  2. Bella
  3. La linea d'ombra
  4. Questa è la mia casa
  5. Umano
  6. Il muratore
  7. Canzone piccola
  8. Il re
  9. Per la vita che verrà
  10. L'albero
  11. Occhio non vede cuore non duole
  12. Ueikap
  13. Luna di città d'agosto
  14. Il fiore del 2000
  15. Big bang (parte 1 - parole)
  16. Big bang (parte 2 - pensieri)
  17. La ritmica
  18. Il tamburo
  19. La pace
Download (192 kbps)


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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

2

Jolly Music: Jolly Bar (Nature/Wide, 2000)

A fizzy musical cocktail: funky/house, hip-hop, old classical vinyls, a bit of minimalism and some soda water. These nineteen non-stop tracks are a breezy journey to the reign of bubbles and kitschy synthetizers. With extreme nonchalance the shiny beats of the album shift from cybernetic breakbeats to playful glitch recombinations, from lounge sambas to watery space-minimalist soundscapes; always keeping adventurous, groovy and bright.

Jolly Music are a DJ duo from Rome, previously known as MAT-101. "Jolly Bar" is their only album, and received very good reviews from the international press. One of the two, Mario Pierro, is having a very good critical response too with his solo project Raiders of the Lost Arp.

Many thanks to my friend Federico Romagnoli for suggesting me to listen to this album.


Tracklist:
  1. Intro
  2. Piano
  3. Disco disco
  4. Jollyo
  5. Les figalles
  6. With Love
  7. Talco Uno
  8. Dragon
  9. Crazy Simon
  10. Talco Due
  11. Kfun
  12. Crociera
  13. La dolce vita
  14. Daddy
  15. Tape Jam
  16. Borotalco
  17. Reversi
  18. Anicafill
  19. Angel
Download (~192 kbps)


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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2

Gianfranco Manfredi: Zombie di tutto il mondo unitevi (Ultima spiaggia, 1977)

An atypical singer/songwriter album, very sarcastic about the remnants of the 68 era though manifestly bound to the left-wing contestation area. The lyrics are sharp and salacious, still quite enjoyable for their cleverness even if the themes they deal of are a bit outdated.
Musically speaking, the songs are quite elaborate, both for the arrangements and for the meandery melodies. Some slight progressive leanings, muscular string arrangements and zippy piano/drums bluesy grooves converge to an energic - though melancholic - atmosphere which wonderfully portraits the garrulous disillusionment of the lyrics.

"Zombie di tutto il mondo unitevi" (evidently a pun on Marx&Engels's adagio "Workers of the world, unite!") is Gianfranco Manfredi's third album, written with fellow singer/songwriter Ricky Gianco and performed by prog-rock celebrities Premiata Forneria Marconi. The album inspired a theatrical show, which was staged by Manfredi, Gianco and P.F.M. in 1977.
Manfredi's now a comics writer, working for Bonelli editions (Magico Vento, Volto Nascosto).


Tracklist:
  1. Dagli Appennini alle bande
  2. Un tranquillo festival pop di paura
  3. Ultimo mohicano
  4. Zombie di tutto il mondo unitevi
  5. Gatte da pelare
  6. Lamiento de amor
  7. Ogino Knaus
  8. Feto di gruppo con signora
  9. I modelli
  10. Nella diversità
Download (128 kbps)


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Monday, March 30, 2009

3

Ensemble Havadià: '81-'82 (Warner Italia, 2006)

Irriverent, jocose and dynamic, this music is one of the highest peaks of the Italian "R.I.O." scene. The songs are exuberant chamber-rock divertissements, full of mockeries, calembours and sharp eccentricities. Nevertheless, the structures are extremely lucid and complicated: ubiquitous North-Italian folklore and fanfare elements clash with flabbergasting tempo shifts and early 900 classical references - daring layerings which unexpectably manage to keep light and funny; miles away from any self-indulgent prog-rock bluster.

Ensemble Havadià was a short-lived project captained by Milanese "jew atheist" Moni Ovadia, now a well-known stage actor and comedian, and closely related to "Gruppo Folk Internazionale" and Stormy Six's label "L'orchestra". "'81-'82" collects the only two records issued by the band: the eponymous 1981 LP and the 1982 EP "Specchi".


Tracklist:
  1. Finale
  2. I benandanti
  3. Aria del serpente
  4. Il serpente burocratico
  5. Aria del serpente
  6. Gocce amare
  7. Konik
  8. Fuma el camin
  9. Sigla
  10. Apertoure
  11. L'eternità
  12. Straziato assai
  13. Rumba "An den Leser"
  14. Treno
Download (160 kbps)


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Sunday, March 29, 2009

7

Nicola Alesini, Pier Luigi Andreoni: Marco Polo (Materiali sonori, 1996)

A deeply fascinating ambient-world record, "Marco Polo" is both thick and suffused, lush and minimal, layered and discreet. Its red-heated saxophone and Fripp-like guitar velvets hover on bewitching percussion groves and space-filling synthetizer ponds, in a sultry air which sounds exotic and arcane. Gentle electronic vines crawl in with dazing gamelan-like weavings and plough a music landscape of self-intersecting arabesques. Mystery and unearthliness drip like dew from the leaves, in an oceanic expanse of reverbs and refractions.

"Marco Polo"'s a music project by saxophone player Nicola Alesini and electronic pioneer Pierluigi Andreoni. Important figures in the ambient music field collaborated to the album: Japan's David Sylvian (vocals), Pierrot Lunaire's Arturo Stalteri (bouzouki, harmonium), Roger Eno (keyboards, percussion, vocals), David Torn (guitar), Harold Budd (percussion).


Tracklist:
  1. Come Morning
  2. Quinsai, la città del cielo
  3. Yangchow
  4. The Golden Way
  5. Sumatra
  6. M. Polo
  7. Il libro dell'incessante accordo con il cielo
  8. Maya
  9. Buchara
  10. Kubilay Khan
  11. Samarca
  12. The Valley of Pamir
Download (192 kbps) [re-up]


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Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici: GMM
Minox: Lazare

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

0

Perturbazione: In circolo (Santeria, 2002)

A light, elegant and meditative pop album, "In circolo" is an autumnal record for homespent rainy days just as well as it is a collection of springtime songs for afternoons in the open air. Here are its two souls: moody, delicate songs in the vein of The Smiths or Belle and Sebastian and lively, ironic episodes with the enviable quality of sounding both optimist and slightly melancoholic.
Everything shines of very fine clean guitar arpeggios, eversurprising melodic lines and turns, posh chamber arrangements. And very smart, everyday lyrics discreetly oscillanting between pensiveness and wordplay.

Perturbazione are a Piedmontese band founded in 1988. This is their first Italian language album after their debut, "Waiting to Happen".


Tracklist:
  1. La rosa dei 20
  2. Agosto
  3. Mi piacerebbe
  4. Rocket Coffee
  5. Iceberg
  6. Arrivederci addio
  7. Senza una scusa
  8. This Ain't My Bed Anymore
  9. Il senso della vite
  10. Cuorum
  11. Fiat lux
  12. I complicati pretesti del come
Download (192 kbps)

Monday, March 23, 2009

12

Fiorenzo Carpi: Le avventure di Pinocchio (CAM, 1972)

While the passion for dusty fanfares, village two-steps and barrel organs surely connects "Le avventure di Pinocchio" to the style of Nino Rota and Nicola Piovani, the music here sounds more homely, pure and stripped-down. Most of the eighteen tracks reduce the instruments to the bare necessity, getting to a rural and sprightly style which surprisingly reminds of Yann Tiersen's work for "Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain".
The themes are airy, elegant and memorable. The slow carillon in "Fata turchina", the coupled piano-harpsicord motif of "Birichinata" or the magic, slightly psychedelic mood of "Trasformazione di Pinocchio e Lucignolo", the askance tango "Il Gatto e la Volpe": just a few of the excellent episodes giving the LP its old-fashioned countryside charm.

Fiorenzo Carpi was a Milanese composer, active since the late Fourties in the field of theater music and - later - soundtrack music. "Le avventure di Pinocchio" is a selection from his score for the celebrated 1971 TV serial by Luigi Comencini.


Tracklist:
  1. Pinocchio: viaggio in groppa al tonno
  2. Geppetto: in allegria
  3. In cerca di cibo
  4. Fata Turchina
  5. Pinocchio: birichinata
  6. Geppetto: con malinconia
  7. Trasformazione di Pinocchio e Lucignolo
  8. Il Gatto e la Volpe
  9. Pinocchio: la tempesta
  10. Geppetto
  11. Pinocchio: nascita di un burattino
  12. Fata Turchina: sonatina
  13. In cerca di cibo
  14. Geppetto: il litigio
  15. Geppetto: sogni nell'Orto dei Miracoli
  16. Lucignolo
  17. In cerca di cibo: nel paese delle api industriose
  18. Geppetto: partenza per le lontane Americhe
Download (~160 kbps) [re-up]

Friday, March 20, 2009

3

Not Moving: Sinnermen (Spittle Records, 1986)

The idea behind "Sinnermen" is quite simple: Let's play some sort of new wave with loads of Morricone-like flangers'n'reverbs. The result could have sounded just as elegant and minimal as Wall of Voodoo, or as deviant and funny as Man or Astro-Man, but is actually quite dissimilar to both.
The point is that "Sinnermen" is so poorly recorded and awfully played that it sounds like nothing else. The songs are some sort of primeval cherokee-rock dirges. Organ's everywhere, the mood is rather dark and psychedelic and this would probably remind of The Stranglers (or The Doors), if only the guitars didn't desperately try to imitate The Shadows and the English pronounciation weren't so ridiculous.
So clumsy, so original and so provincial, "Sinnermen" is definitely funnier than the average Italian post-punk album. Even beautiful, here and there.

Not Moving were founded in 1981, taking their name from a DNA song. "Sinnermen" is their first LP, produced by the renown music journalist Federico Guglielmi.


Tracklist:
  1. Sinnerman
  2. Catman
  3. I Know Your Feelings
  4. The Lost Bay
  5. My Lovely Loved
  6. Pray For Your God
  7. You Really Got Me Babe
  8. A Wonderful Night to Die
  9. Land of Nothing
  10. A Life Long
  11. Sucide Temple
  12. Mr. Nothing
  13. Ice Eyes Baby
  14. In the Batland
  15. Cocksucker Blues
Download (192 kbps)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

1  

Calicanto: Venexia (Compagnia Nuove Indye, 1997)

Listening to "Venexia" is being thrown in the maze of calles, scents, voices and sounds which were the soul of Venice, the melting-pot of the Mediterranean Sea. A concept album dedicated to the bicentenary of the fall of the Serenissima, "Venexia" is a deeply charming progressive folk work, almost astonishing, even moving. Entirely acoustic, extremely rich and layered, it's as firmly rooted in the Mediterranean traditions as it is projected towards a very modern and focose attitude, close to the one of the most courageous European trad-folk ensembles (Blowzabella and Bellowhead to name a few). The music is a merger of sounds and traditions: different languages and dialects; accordions, winds, psaltery and fiery hornpipes; Italian, Arabic and Balkan rhythms and melodies meet and entwine just as they probably used to meet and entwine along the channels of Venice a few centuries ago.

Calicanto are a Venetian ensemble born in 1981 and devotely committed to an ethnomusicological approach. "Venexia" is their eighth album, conceived with the cooperation of the Venice University and the Conservatory of Rovigo.

Thanks to the Italian Folk Music blog for having published this album first.


Tracklist:
  1. Canson roversa
  2. Bealaguna
  3. Sulla via dei battipali
  4. Correnti del sud
  5. Lepanto
  6. Te speto / La croxe
  7. Oci sensa mar
  8. Corcal
  9. Adriatica
  10. Rivasse Carlo Scarpa
  11. Venessia dai
Download (192 kbps)
0

Airportman: Letters (Lizard records, 2008)

"Letters" sounds like Talk Talk's "Laughing Stock" denuded of any guise of soul or emotion. What lasts in the music? The tail-swallowing stagnation of dangling piano progressions, the soaking sense of laziness of tired accordion drones, the dampened warmth of some sullen acoustic guitar chords. Then the jazzy, emptied-out atmospheres, the chamber-like breaches, the outworldly suspension of the slow minor-key tides permeating everything.
What's unique to "Letters"? Its homely creakings - a fossil recall of a hospitality which has somehow mutated in a Tortoise-like call for abstraction, made of dub drifts and sparse, cold-blooded electronic heartbeats.

Airportman are a band from Cuneo, Piedmont. This is their seventh album.


Tracklist:
  1. trk #1
  2. trk #2
  3. trk #3
  4. trk #4
  5. trk #5
  6. trk #6
  7. trk #7
  8. trk #8
  9. trk #9
Download (320 kbps)

Monday, March 16, 2009

0

Marcello Capra: Aria mediterranea (Mu records, 1978)

"Aria mediterranea" is a lighter-than-air instrumental masterpiece, fusing European folklore, jazz and improvisation, progressive, minimalist and baroque nuances. The center of the music is a sparkling and very rich acoustic guitar style encompassing interwaved arpeggios, three-string strumming and skipping solo lines; breezy, elegant and free, it creates a sense of suspension which is unpredictably close to the unique feeling of Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks". John Fahey might be another ponderous but fitting comparison.
Vibes, flute, bass, percussion and very rare electric guitar interventions are the other few elements completing the palette for this unparalleled revisitation of the folk heritage.

Marcello Capra is a guitarist from Turin, active in the local beat/progressive rock scene since the late Sixties. "Aria mediterranea" is his first solo LP, with collaborations from some members of Arti & Mestieri and Procession (the band Capra was playing with at the time).


Tracklist:
  1. Aria mediterranea
  2. Biosfera
  3. Il ballo degli gnomi
  4. Danza russa
  5. Il sole sulla palude
  6. Merligen
  7. Dedicato ad irio
  8. Canto di mare
Download (256 kbps)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2

Lucio Battisti: Don Giovanni (Numero Uno, 1986)

The songs in "Don Giovanni" sound lopsided and aloof. They obey the synth-pop rule in a lunar, idiosincratic manner. They seem totally lifeless, artificial, made of plastic despite some sparse velvety warmth in the basslines, in the saxophone seductions and in the rainy, breathy synth tides. The melodies are quirky, meandery, undoubtably "pop" and refined but hardly catchy. The lyrics, well, the lyrics are a closed book: almost nonsensical, blatantly post-modern and sardonic, they're captivating nevertheless and - once you've partly got into them - even evocative. With its jaunty and polished synth-funky grooves and its obliterating lyrics framed into the melodies with a total disdain for the meter, "Don Giovanni" is one of the most abstract and undeciphrable works of Italian pop music.

Lucio Battisti was the most celebrated Italian pop artist of the 60s/70s. "Don Giovanni" is his first collaboration with lyricist Pasquale Panella, and a complete departure from his previous style, which had become more and more experimental but never appeared so tough and detached before.


Tracklist:
  1. Le cose che pensano
  2. Fatti un pianto
  3. Il doppio del gioco
  4. Madre pennuta
  5. Equivoci amici
  6. Don Giovanni
  7. Che vita ha fatto
  8. Il diluvio
Download (160 kbps)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

0

Gianmaria Testa: Montgolfières (Label Bleu, 1995)

"Montgolfières" shows a singer/songwriter style much in debt with Paolo Conte and later Francesco Guccini, but very personal nevertheless. The arrangements are jazzy, acoustic and old-fashioned, very warm as Gianmaria Testa's voice is (smoky, round, slightly detached); some elegant Caribbean touches make the songs extremely pleasant from a musical point of view. The lyrics are distinguished and unostentatious, poetic, though not especially literate: they're humble, metaphorical, a bit coy - always a bit Pindaric and meditative, wise and marvelled.

Gianmaria Testa was stationmaster in Cuneo, Piedmont. "Montgolfières" is his first album, first published in France, where he still one of the most popular Italian artists.


Tracklist:
  1. Città lunga
  2. Le traiettorie delle mongolfiere
  3. Habanera
  4. La donna del bar
  5. Dentro la tasca di un qualunque mattino
  6. Un aeroplano a vela
  7. Come le onde del mare
  8. L'automobile
  9. Senza titolo
  10. Le donne nelle stazioni
  11. Maria
  12. Manacore
  13. La terra delle colline
  14. Città lunga (reprise)
Download (160 kbps)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

4

Uochi Toki: Libro audio (La Tempesta, 2009)

I'd be tempted to say that "Libro audio"'s by far the best Italian hip-hop ever, but as for every conceivable sentence about the album, the album itself immediately produces an incontrovertible deconstruction of it: the lyrics, the beats, the strain are so cynical and self-conscious that no sentence about it can be uttered without sounding pathetic.

(L'osservatore, l'osservatore 1)
Non mi interessano i contesti sociali da cui i gruppi musicali provengono
A meno che non si tratti di alieni, navi spaziali od antichi guerrieri più o meno medioevali
Ascolto solo i brani che ritengo evocativi
Non ascolto i gruppi solo perché mi dici che sono troppo fighi
Ho bisogno di nutrire sfere esistenziali che tu nemmeno concepisci
Cosa mi importa di sapere che questi e questi gruppi sono stati capostipiti?

(The observer, the observer 1)
I'm not interested in the social contexts of the musical groups
Unless it consists of aliens, starships or ancient - more or less medioeval - warriors
I only listen to the pieces I judge as evocative
I don't listen to bands just because you tell me they're cool
I need to feed emotional spheres you can't even conceive
Why should I care to know these and these bands are progenitors?


(Il nonno, il bisnonno)
Quattro generazioni più tardi io i suoi principi li ho conservati:
1) Quando c'è da pensare alle persone, Che Guevara va nel cestino;
2) Il fucile rivolto contro sé stessi può portare a vivere meglio

(The grandfather, the great-grandfather)
Four generations later, I've mantained his principles:
1) When you've got to think about people, Che Guevara can be thrown in the bin;
2) The rifle, aimed at yourself, can bring a better life.

You must imagine these words delivered in a metallic, conceited spoken-word style which can only marginally be labelled as "rap". It's rather some sort of ultra-wordy hip-hop free verse, throwing away any reverence for rhyme schemes to delve in a phonetic maze of bone-reduced sound/words, consonances, alliterations and dactylic stresses.
The lyrics are caustic, unreasonably literate but blazingly anti-intellectual; the beats are disharmonic, harsh and heavy, unkempt, anti-musical despite their perfect interaction with the words. "Libro audio" has nothing to do with anything else in the hip-hop field: it's individualist, misanthropist, proudly anti-metropolitan - it doesn't represent any subculture, but rather builds up lucidly characters and narrative flows in a prevailingly autobiographical way. It's a woodworm, a sore, a blister.

Uochi Toki are Napo (lyrics and vocals) and Rico (beats), from the surroundings of Alessandria. This is their fourth album.


Tracklist:
  1. Il cinico
  2. I mangiatori di patate
  3. Il nonno, il bisnonno
  4. Il ballerino
  5. Il non-illuminato
  6. L'osservatore, l'osservatore 1
  7. Il ladro
  8. Il piromane
  9. Lo spadaccino
  10. Il necromante
  11. La bestia
Download (~230 kbps)

Monday, March 9, 2009

7

Kina: Se ho vinto se ho perso (Blu bus, 1989)

"Se ho vinto se ho perso" is hardcore getting adult without losing the ingenuity of youth and, most of all, its propensity for dreams and utopias. The songs in this album are very far from the usual Italian hardcore style: there's no anger, no destructiveness, no nihilism in them; on the contrary, they deal with decisions, illusions and growing up with a constant search for lyricism and - somehow - even a subliminal sense of spirituality. Hüsker Dü being the most evident model, the music borrows triumphant melodic structures, vocal harmonies (a bit out of tune, it must be told) and guitar figures from Sixties pop (The Byrds mostly), while the instrumental interplay, if tight and impetuous, is convoluted and features slight psychedelic accents.

Kina were founded in Aosta in 1982 and this is their third LP. They disbanded in 1997, then some of the members formed the band Frontiera, which is still active.


Tracklist:
  1. Musica kaos / Sfogliando i miei giorni
  2. Camminando di notte
  3. Intermezzo / Cosa farete
  4. Improvvisando in studio
  5. Questi anni
  6. Intro
  7. Quanto vale
  8. Occhi sbarrati
  9. Occupazione (5° braccio)
  10. La forza del sogno
  11. Occhi di rana
  12. Non credere / Gong
Download (160 kbps)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

1  

La famiglia degli Ortega: self-titled (Carosello, 1973)

A wonderful, west-coast sounding progressive folk album, simple, light and optimist. The atmosphere is rather dreamy than lysergic: the songs are open to many influences (busker blues, jazz, classical music, medioeval stuff) but preserve a linear and concise structure, while the mood is gentle, pure and positive without ever sounding freaked out.

The music is based mainly on acoustic guitars, elegant piano passages and alternated male/female vocals, but there's a very strong "choral" element which adds a collective, if not subtly epic, dimension. Rainy synth carpets, percussions and some narrative intermissions contribute creating a framework for the songs - an imaginary insular setting which surprisingly doesn't weigh down the whole album.
Though the songs have a distinct utopian shade, they are never really politically concerned. They rather seem a bit disillusioned, maybe unconsciously: the choice of talking about fantasized worlds would suggest a renounciation to direct engagement in the real world.

Some infos about the band can be found on the site italianprog.
Many thanks to the female vocals blog, where the album was posted first.


Tracklist:
  1. Arcipelago
  2. John Barleycorn: John Barleycorn/Due aquile
  3. Guida la mia lancia
  4. Merryon
  5. Una vecchia corriera chiamata "Happy Way"
  6. Inversione dei fattori
  7. Sogno Parigi
  8. Awamalaia
Downaload (160 kbps)

Monday, March 2, 2009

0

El Topo: Pigiama psicoattivo (Off, 2008)

On a first glance, El Topo sound exactly like Tortoise. And also after a second listening. Jazz + electronica with an undeniable passion for kraut-rock; Ry Cooder-like guitar slides, rhythm interlocks, vibraphone... And entirely instruental - yes, El Topo do sound exactly like Tortoise. That's not something anyone is able to.
Nevertheless, a careful listening reveals some peculiarities: "Pigiama psicoattivo" is warmer, less detached and abstract, more psychedelic and freeform than anything ever published by Tortoise. It's also even jazzier, surely more electronic and many times quite close to the style of quintessential jungle/jazz beatmaker Squarepusher.

They don't sound Italian at all, that's sure, but they are from Rome. The band was founded in 2006 and "Pigiama psicoattivo" is their second studio album, published by the young Belgian label Off.


Tracklist:
  1. Tosca
  2. Sonics
  3. Seicento giri carico frontale
  4. Pigiama psicoattivo
  5. Telegraph Dakar
  6. Scelsi
  7. Errore meccanico
  8. Crew'n'c
  9. Macinino
Download (192 kbps)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

0

Uzeda: Different Section Wires (Touch and Go, 1998)

"Different Section Wires" is a roaring math-rock album in the vein of Shellac, with scratchy noise-guitar joints, tail-swallowing basslines, thunderous odd-meter drum monotonies and querulous, tuneless vocalizing.
The music is minimal and detached, its structures are always kept on the forefront, but the stop&go dynamics and the vitriolic sound add a chaotic dimension to the rigid mechanics of the tracks. Its seems like a fiery, instinctive urge acts against mathematics and deconstructs its house of cards. This contrast between the entraped immobilty of formalism and chatartic impulsiveness is the key of Uzeda's implosive sound.

Uzeda are a band from Catania, Sicily. They were founded in 1987 and "Different Section Wires" is their fourth LP. It came out for the prestigious american label Touch and Go Records (Big Black, Shellac, Don Caballero, June of 44, Slint...) and was given very positive review from the international press. Two of Uzeda's member teamed up with Don Caballero's drummer Damon Che to form the band Bellini, which published the albums "Snowing Sun" and "Small Stones".
As of today, Uzeda are along Premiata Forneria Marconi the only Italian band to be hosted in B.B.C. studios to record a session with the celebrated John Peel.


Tracklist:
  1. Nico and His Cats
  2. Stomp
  3. Steel Man
  4. Suaviter
  5. Ten Stars
  6. The Milky Way
  7. Female
  8. Big Lies
Download (192 kbps)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

4

VV.AA.: Musica Futurista (Multhipla/Cramps, 1980)

This is the 100th post on this blog, and a few days ago was the 100th anniversary of the publication of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's "Manifesto del futurismo" on Le Figaro. So I thought I could leave my blog's usual pop-rock leanings for a moment and publish something about Futurist music. "Musica futurista" is often recognised as the best compilation in the field - a double-LP collecting many diverse works and giving a sketch of the different musical tendencies encompassed by the Futurist movement.

The music in the compilation can be divided in two classes: rather conventional (though anti-classical) compositions for piano and more experimental pieces in the direction of spoken word and musique concrète.
The piano executions, which are actually the more "musical" ones, are mainly based on easy-going, prance-gait melodies broken by percussive intermissions which give them a rather fragmentary and anti-linear mood. There are some hints at Debussy's post-tonal intuitions, but even when quite dissonant the pieces don't sound very radical or very elaborate. Some tracks (Daniele Napoletano's "Estratti musicali" over all) deliberately echo classical structures with a lightly irriverent impromptu attitude.
The other performances are perhaps the most renown examples of Futurist music, inspired by Luigi Russolo's "L'arte dei Rumori". Russolo's own "Esempi sonori" are sound events created by a custom-made device called "Intonarumori", a mechanical noise-generator portrayed on the album cover. Marinetti's "Cinque Sintesi Radiofoniche" sound like found sounds spaced out by long minutes of silence. "Risveglio di una città" is a 30-second symphony of engine-like clanks, very representative of the Futurist enthusiasm for machines and metropolis, but hardly pleasurable for the listener.

The compilation was originally printed by the Multhipla Records (a label by Gianni Sassi devoted to avantgarde music and performances) in collaboration with Gianni Sassi's own Cramps Records. It was later reprinted by Fonit Cetra in 1985, and finally by Salon Recordings in 2004 under the name "Musica Futurista - The Art of Noises".

Here are some documents, all translated to English:
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti: Manifesto futurista (1909)
Luigi Russolo: L'arte dei rumori (1913)
Francesco Balilla Pratella: Manifesto dei musicisti futuristi (1910)


Tracklist:
CD 1:
  1. Francesco Balilla Pratella: La guerra - Three Dances for Orchestra, Op 32; 1. L'aspettazione 2. La battaglia 3. La vittoria (Piano transcription)
  2. Francesco Balilla Pratella: Giorno di festa
  3. Silvio Mix: Due preludi dagli stati d'animo - Assai calmo, molto largo e drammatico
  4. Silvio Mix: Profilo sintetico-musicale di Marinetti
  5. Franco Casavola: Preludio a "Prigionieri"
  6. Franco Casavola: Danza delle scimmie
  7. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti: Cinque sintesi radiofoniche
  8. Daniele Napoletano: Estratti musicali; Marinetti I, II, III/Cangiullo II, III
CD 2:
  1. Luigi Russolo: Risveglio di una città
  2. Luigi Russolo: Esempi sonori di: A) Crepitatore B) Ululatore C) Gracidatore D) Gorgogliatore E) Ronzatore F) Arco Enarmonico
  3. Antonio Russolo: Corale/Serenata
  4. Virgilio Mortari: Fox trot del teatro della sorpresa
  5. Luigi Grandi: Aereoduello/Cavalli + acciaio
  6. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti e Aldo Giuntini: Sintesi musicali futuristiche
  7. Aldo Giuntini: The India Rubber Man (Foxtrot)
  8. Alfredo Casella: Pupazzetti
  9. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti: La battaglia di Adrianopoli
  10. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti: La definizione di futurismo
Download (192 kbps)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

1  

Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici: GMM (Materiali Sonori, 1985)

Unsettling electro-lounge music, cold and detached despite its jazzy and bossa shades. The decadent mood of these mainly instrumental tracks is a combination of breathy (but hardly human-sounding) synthetizers, programmed drumming, saxophone and subdued spoken-word roamings. There are a couple of cover versions, quite faithful as for the score, but totally transfigurated as for the final result: Duke Ellington's "Caravan", Gato Barbieri "Ultimo tango a Parigi", Gilbert Bécaud's "Et maintenant".
The most direct comparisons is easily Tuxedomoon, but "GMM" might also remind Confusional Quartet and some "mutant disco" artists (Material for example).

The music of "GMM" wasn't originally conceived to be released as an album. It's actually just a collection/reworking of the soundtracks which the multimedia art open collective Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici conceived for their installations with the support of a bunch of collaborators. Maurizio Dami (Alexander Robotnick, a renown italo-disco artist) is the man behind the mixer, synths and drum pads of "GMM" and he co-wrote all of the tracks with Andrea Zingoni and Antonio Glessi, the core members of Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici.
The collective was founded in Florence in 1984 and is still active (though it officially disbanded in 1998), mainly in the field of visual art and videoclips.

I have to thank the excellent blog laltritalia.wordpress.com for having posted this album first and making me discover it.
Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici official website reports a chronology of their works.
Their first work, a "computer strip" for the Frigidaire new wave magazine, is available on Youtube together with a "video compilation" of their oeuvre.

The computer strip: 1 | 2 |
Gmm 1984-2001: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12


Tracklist:
  1. Love Supreme
  2. Caravan
  3. Au jour de la séparation
  4. Ultimo tango a Parigi (Last Tango)
  5. Flashman Swing
  6. Back and Forth
  7. Don't Ask Me Why
  8. Petite soeur
  9. No Fear Nor Destination
  10. Ghimm' Alid'l Benzin
  11. Et maintenant
Download (128 kbps)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

1  

Grosso autunno: Almanacco (EMI, 1977)

A bucolic folk album with delicate hippie sediments, "Almanacco" portraits the intimization of Utopias, political battles and disillusionment. Music for a turning-point era, which deals with the same old themes and clichés of post-68 Italy but unknowingly gives up any social connotation, replacing it with light-hearted introversion, everyday reflections about the passing of time and dreamy atmospheres.
The songs are wordy, hilarious and somehow even touching in the ingenuous intellectualism of their lyrics. Elegant and placid acoustic arpeggios become warmly melancholic when maudlin synthetizers meander in the background giving the music a feeble progressive allure, just occasionaly enhanced by faraway flute meddlings. Some songs may remind Claudio Lolli's style for the sincerity of the voice and the resigned suspension of the melodic lines.

Grosso autunno were a singer/songwriter quintet founded in Rome; they were active during the second half of the Seventies. "Almanacco" is their second and last studio album.


Tracklist:
  1. Lontani
  2. Fiori
  3. Questione
  4. Da bambini
  5. Solo una storia
  6. Anonima S.P.A.
  7. Qualche ritratto
  8. Ancora
  9. Bar Edelweiss
  10. Jekyll
  11. Frutta secca
Download (~195 kbps)

Friday, February 20, 2009

0

Chiave di volta: Ritratto libero (Lizard Records, 2004)

As one of those anachronistic neo-progressive albums, "Ritratto libero" isn't one of the most celebrated releases of the last decade, at least outside the community of prog-rock aficionados. Its very balanced fusion of the most distant Italian progressive legacies - from the most melodic to the most experimental ones - would deserve some more attention though, both for the stylistic synthesis and the excellency of the six songs composing the album.
"Dietro le mura" hints at the daydream atmospheres of La locanda delle fate with enthralling and passionate melodies, mesmerizing piano/synth/flute fugues and driving drums interlocks, but it also winks at the suspended mood of Picchio dal pozzo and the daredevil intrications of Stormy Six. The latter are the most evident inspiration for the central part of the title-track, featuring an impossibly anti-tuneful, epically detached vocal melody dubbed by Fripp-like guitar playing. Then come Stravinskian joints, Genesis/Area influenced dance passages, funky basslines and laid back jazzy nuances.
The overall sound is very mellow and clean, but it does have the warmth and roundness which actually lacks from most contemporary neoprog releases.

"Ritratto libero", the debut album of the Tuscanian quintet Chiave di volta, is one of the very few gems sprung out with spaghetti-prog coming back into fashion during the last fifteen years, and shouldn't be missed by anyone interested in the genre.

Tracklist:
  1. Il viaggio
  2. Onirica mente
  3. Dietro le mura
  4. Ritratto libero
  5. Involuzioni rapide
  6. Ballo al molino
Download (256 kbps)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

0

Baraonna: self-titled (Rossodisera Records, 1994)

Baraonna are a vocal quartet revisiting the Neapolitan tradition with a swing touch. The description would account for an incredibly cheap and kitsch neo-traditional pastiche, but Baraonna's attitude is quite different from this expectation. Their clean, refined and retro-sounding style might remind the most aristocratic episodes of Matia Bazar, and the perfectly controlled sopranistic vocals are pretty close too. Moreover, they share some aspects with prog/world/pop band Avion Travel: a convoluted, but higly evocative and mediterranean melodic sense; a very genteel tendency to recitation which projects the songs in a fantasized world, suspended between heartfeltness and demiurgic detachedness.

The songs of the album stand out even more for their funambolic vocal harmonies and counterpoints, which take back directly to Swingle Singers, Manhattan Transfer or, talking of Italian models, Quartetto Cetra. Their music is virtuous, sophisticated, but extremely playful: Baraonna like out-of-context quotations and musical jokes ("Fuga in re" superimposes three children melodies: "Giro giro tondo", "Fra martino campanaro" and "Ma che bel castello") and all the songs are very light and breezy.
The album contains a couple of cover versions: Paolo Conte's "Come di" and "Palconscenico" by Mauro Castelnuovo (actually a translation itself, from Julien Clerc's "Ma preference a moi"). The quartet is accompained by swingy arrangements, Spanish guitars and ethereal keyboards, which strangely enhance the elegant soberty of their sound.

Founded in 1992 by the brothers Angela, Rosella, Serena and Vito Caporale, Baraonna participated to Sanremo Festival in 1994 and won the critique award with the song "I giardini d'Alhambra". The music and the lyrics are composed by Vito and Angela with the help of their father Fulvio, a musician himself.


Tracklist:
  1. I giardini d'Alhambra
  2. Niente swing
  3. Cola
  4. Ninna nanna d'argiento
  5. Fuite
  6. Mediterranea gente
  7. Scaramacai
  8. Comme di
  9. All'uriente
  10. Fuga in re
  11. Palcoscenico
  12. Brigante
  13. 1799
Download (192 kbps)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

0

Roberto Cacciapaglia: Sei note in logica (Philips, 1979)

After having graduated at Milan conservatory, composer Roberto Cacciapaglia soon began experimenting with computer and electronic music for C.N.R. (National Research Center) and RAI Musical Phonology Studio (founded by Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna).
He collaborated with Franco Battiato for his album "Pollution", then recorded his first album "Sonanze" with the production of German Ohr/Cosmic Couriers labelmmaster Rolf Ulrich Kaiser. "Sonanze" was recently published on the blog laltritalia.wordpress.com.

"Sei note in logica" is his second LP and features one long composition for voice, computer and orchestra. The mood is much more limpid and light than the one of "Sonanze": influence by Steve Reich and Terry Riley's take on minimalism, the work revolves around static, crystalline six-note patterns which are permuted and transmuted throughout the composition creating a heavenly sense of ecstasy. The female choir's utterings and its subtle interlock with electronic electronic elements create the album's most peculiar and captivating component.
"Sei note in logica" is a very rare and mature exemple of Italian ecstatic minimalism, less melodic-driven than the one of Arturo Stalteri and more static than most of Piero Milesi's works, but certainly more abstract and formal than both of them.


Tracklist:
  1. Sei note in logica (parte I)
  2. Sei note in logica (parte II)
Download (192 kbps)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

3

Paolo Conte: Concerti (CGD, 1985)

Though he's older than the other ones among the most prominent cantautori, Paolo Conte didn't record songs until 1974, and reached personal fame only in 1979, with the album "Un gelato al limon". Despite his longtime work as a songwriter (he's the man behind such hits as Celentano's "Azzurro" and Caterina Caselli's "Insieme a te non ci sto più"), Conte's name is mainly associated with the first Eighties.

"Concerti" is his first live album, featuring some of the most successful and indicative songs. It's a wonderful synthesis of his unique style, based on very passionate and amusing piano playing, old-fashioned jazz structures and arrangements and half-spoken, smoky vocals. Both the lyrics and the music are usually detached, reserved and even cynical at times, but they're unfailingly wise, ironic, unpretentious and somehow tender-hearted. A very cultured and poetic character, Conte often focuses on lazy and autumnal impressions, based on mixed-level nomenclatures, black-and-white atmospheres and suspended chords. Musically speaking, he's probably the most classy of all the italian singer/songwriters.
"Concerti" isn't Conte's most celebrated album, but as a live and recapitulatory album it has two main merits: it works fine as an introduction to his very personal style and his most immediate songs, and it doesn't have the same very tiresome production gloss of his studio recordings.


Tracklist:
  1. Lo zio
  2. Come di
  3. La ricostruzione del Mocambo
  4. Via con me
  5. La Topolino amaranto
  6. Alle prese con la verde milonga
  7. Parigi
  8. Diavolo rosso
  9. Hemingway
  10. Bartali
  11. Un gelato al limon
  12. Una giornata al mare
  13. Il nostro amico angiolino
  14. Onda su onda
  15. Sotto le stelle del jazz
  16. Azzurro
  17. Boogie
  18. Genova per noi
Download (~190 kbps)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

2

Casino Royale: CRX (Black Out, 1997)

Milanese band Casino Royale began in 1987 as a reggae/ska band, but progressively incorporated electronic and hip-hop influences, finally coming to a full-blown and very original hip-hop album ten years later, "CRX".
The producer is DJ Gruff, already a veteran of the Italian hip-hop scene thanks to his work in the band Sangue Misto. The style is urban and deep-sounding, evidently affected by dub and the trip-hop experimentations of Massive Attack. Subliminal basslines, jazzy samples and restrained sci-fi effects are fractured by jagged rhythm patterns and form hypnotic, subway-like backgrounds for superimpositions of detached raggamuffin rap and dissolved melodic hooks. Even more often, the voice slips under the grooves, fusing with the music in a very abstract, but very enthralling melange.
I actually don't know who are the many vocalists who collaborated to the album: surely there's the band's frontman Giuliano Palma, but there are several different rap contributions (some of them in English, too) which give "CRX" a very collective and multi-accent feeling.


Tracklist:
  1. CRX
  2. Benvenuto in mia casa
  3. The Future
  4. Ora solo io ora
  5. Oltre
  6. Là dov'è la fine
  7. Specchio
  8. In picchiata
  9. Homeboy
  10. Hi-fi
  11. Là sopra qualcuno ti ama
Download (128 kbps)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

0

Radiodervish: In acustico (Cosmasola, 2001)

A duo composed by Ligurian multi-instrumentist Michele Lobaccaro and Palestinian-born singer Nabil Salameh, Radiodervish were formed (originally as Al Darwish) in the late Eighties in Bari and took their name from the one of Sufi Muslim ascetics.
"In acustico" is their first live album, with songs taken from their first three LPs. While the studio works relied on electronica and quasi trip-hop atmospheres, the same songs are here stripped down to their acoustic roots. All of the tracks are intimate, suspended ballads with a dreamlike pop vein and very strong Mediterranean nuances reflecting both on the harmonies and the melodic style - the latter alternating Italian and Arabian language vocals with wordless melisms. Minimal piano and string arrangements and coruscating acoustic strumming make the mood even more delicate, charming and melancholic.


Tracklist:
  1. Bahia
  2. Taci, il nemico ti ascolta
  3. Radiodervish
  4. Gaza
  5. Rosa di Turi
  6. New Partisan
  7. Due Soli
  8. Belzebù
Download (192 kbps)

Monday, February 2, 2009

2

Yu Kung: Pietre della mia gente (I dischi dello zodiaco, 1976)

Milanese band Yu Kung didn't go down in the history of Italian folk-rock, but their music is surely one of the most mature and representative exemples of the left-wing branch of 70s folk revival.
Relying strongly on acoustic instrumentation (double acoustic guitar, flute, percussions) and bringing in the discreet energy of the electric bass, their style couples country dance motifs from all the Italian peninsula and hieratic vocals singing about the themes of emigration, protest, antifascism, rediscovery of traditions and the discomfort of the weaker classes.
The songs are often lively and choral, with "Piazza Fontana" strongly condemning both the terrorist attack of 1969 and the state reaction to it. Most of them sound perfect for arousing people during strikes and many a passage distinctly remind of Stalingrado-era Stormy Six. As a matter of fact, the album was first published by Stormy Six's own label "L'orchestra", and reprinted one year later by I dischi dello zodiaco.


Tracklist:
  1. Povera gente/Piccolo paese
  2. La mia gente
  3. Valigie di cartone
  4. Il popolo è forte
  5. Mineros
  6. Festa in paese
  7. L'emigrato
  8. Zip e zip
  9. Piazza Fontana
Download (224 kbps)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

5

Viridanse: Mediterranea (Contempo, 1985)

I don't know much about the new wave band Viridanse. They were from Alessandria, Piedmont, and "Mediterranea" is their second release, just after the EP "Benvenuto Cellini".
Their guitar-based darkwave style owes much to Joy Division, though it turns down the band's trademark funeral feeling into a more voluptuous sound delving on Meditterranean influences and melodic arabesques. The singer's emphatic vocals, very typical of Italian darkwave, and the wannabe cerebral lyrics may sound quite disturbing, but the mood of the album is original and peculiar, slightly resembling to a Mediterranean version of Japan's "Tin Drum". Apart from the forced comparisons, Viridanse's convoluted basslines were much probably influenced by Mick Karn's legendary style. Most tracks are dominated by the fine and sharp-sounding intrications of the two guitars and all of them are pervaded by a hedonistic, decadent mood which is, as a matter of fact, the album's most accomplished element.


Tracklist:
  1. Frontiere
  2. Notte chiara
  3. Sheherazade
  4. Corinna
  5. Dolce vita
  6. Mediterranea
  7. Sulla strada
  8. Desiderio di me
  9. Terra di sempre
  10. Déjà vu
Download (~170 kbps)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

0

Corleone: Wei Wu Wei (Etnagigante / V2 Records Italia, 2005)

Trumpeter Roy Paci is one of the most ubiquitous protagonists of the contemporary Italian music scene. Though he's known mainly for his ska/jazz band Aretuska and his work with many artists in the left-field area of Italian pop music, he's also very active in the experimentation on traditional music and quite renown abroad for his collaboration with such diverse artists as Peter Gabriel, Manu Chao, the Flying Luttenbachers and some Senegalese and South American world music ensembles.

Corleone is a jazzcore band chiefly in the vein of John Zorn's most genre-grinding projects. Prodigal jazz soloing, askew rhythm interlockings and occasional electronic meddlings meet ever-present references to Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota soundtrack styles, African music forays, hip-hop assaults, Southern Italian folklore and more atmospheric episodes. Fantômas's well-known vocal terrorist Mike Patton, jazz accordion player Antonello Salis and noir bookwriter Carlo Lucarelli have some guest apparitions which contribute to enrich the style kaleidoscope of the record.

Though fiercely chaotic, "Wei Wu Wei"'s rich of complex structures and intrications and the classy musicianship of the Corleone crew often gives the album a much more refined (and really jazzy - they often sound actually more Tim Berne than John Zorn) taste than the one of most other iconoclast jazzcore bands. Most of all, Corleone don't take themselves seriously and every track is a very light, fancyful and hilarious surprise.


Tracklist:
  1. Come si chiama?
  2. Skit#1 "Emigrant Song"
  3. Doverosi sballi
  4. Skit#2 "Clarimachine"
  5. Come Live Your Life With Me
  6. Skit#3 "_"
  7. Meglio un bombardino oggi, che un bombardino domani
  8. Skit#4 "Ghost Ship"
  9. 'U Riavulicchiu E I Ciancianedi
  10. Skit#5 "Asterisco"
  11. Armoniaca
  12. Skit#6 "Pattern 21"
  13. Tutto Diventerà Rosso
  14. Skit#7 "T77"
  15. Tromba L'oEil
Download (192 kbps)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

0

Croma: Discromatopsia (Harlock, 1999)

Croma were a chamber-rock band from Bolzano whose members came from the most diverse experiences (hardcore punk, conservatory, visual arts). "Discromatopsia" is their only official recording and consists in a very personal take on minimalism, inspired by the most melodic works of Steve Reich, Philip Glass or Wim Mertens's Soft Verdict.
Though the melodic vein is always very prominent and the drums, the bass and the piano contribute to give the songs a consistent rhythm texture, Croma's music is as hieratic, soft and geometric as the one of the great masters of minimalism. The frequent pairing of oboe and soprano voice even emphasize the usual aura of ecstasy and abstractness of the genre.
As for the vocals, most of them are recited in a way that will surely recall Massimo Volume, even if the lyrical style is quite different. One of the songs, "P.g.m.g." is a readaptation of The Smiths' "Pretty Girls Make Graves".
The CD release is completed with two electronic remixes following a 5-minute track of silence.

Tracklist:
  1. Bisettrice spazio-temporale
  2. Butterflies' battery
  3. P.g.m.g
  4. Discromatopsia
  5. Out of Control
  6. Cenotaphé à Newton
  7. -273,6°
  8. [silenzio]
  9. -273,6° [Remix]
  10. Cenotaphé à Newton [Remix]
Download (320 kbps)