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

1  

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)