Monday, August 23, 2010


Premiata Forneria Marconi: Passpartù (Zoo Records, 1978)

P.F.M. are the giants of Italian prog-rock. Despite their celebrity, their records always showed some consistent flaws: the lack of a gifted singer; the poorness of the lyrics; the substantial unoriginality of their musical themes. "Passpartù" isn't generally regarded as their peak, but unquestionably solves two of the three problems above.
Though the singer - Bernardo Lanzetti from Acqua Fragile - doesn't have a versatile voice, the lyrics are brilliant and imaginative: they are a work by singer/songwriter Gianfranco Manfredi, who privileged levity above his usual causticity for the occasion. What's more, the music makes a resolved step towards the incorporation of folkloric material: the resulting sound is a hybrid of jazz-rock fusion in the vein of Weather Report and Mediterranean suggestions which remind of Area (compound meters in profusion!) but show a very personal acoustic edge.
Everything converges to a surprisingly breezy album, where the instrumental skill of the musicians doesn't suffocate the pop appeal of the music, but weaves smart woofs which enhance it with class and moderation .

"Passpartù" ninth studio release from P.F.M., and the second without their well-known violinist Mauro Pagani.  Many tracks feature Roberto Colombo on keyboards - later a key producer of Italian new wave.

  1. Viene il santo
  2. Svita la vita
  3. Se fossi cosa
  4. Le trame blu
  5. Passpartù
  6. I cavalieri del tavolo cubico
  7. Su una mosca e sui dolci
  8. Fantalità
Download (128 kbps)

Similar albums on the blog:
Gianfranco Manfredi: Zombie di tutto il mondo unitevi (Ultima spiaggia, 1977)
Alberto Fortis: omonimo (1979)

Deca: Claustrophobia (Labyrinth Records, 1989)

"Soundtracks for imaginary films". The expression is much abused, but rarely fits as much as in this case. "Claustrophobia" is a deeply atmospheric record, polarized in a gloomy cyberpunk direction which easily recalls of Gary Numan's most disquieting soundscapes. But the darkness here goes further, entering the realms  of industrial music: though the sonic palette is quite different, Kirlian Camera's evocative halo is often behind the corner.
Don't think of some dull minimal-wave record, anyway. This synth-only music always shows an admirable sonic care, much far from the stereotypical amateurish sound of the Italian 80s underground. There's a strong attention to melody and timbre, and many solutions remind of progressive artists such as Goblin or J.M. Jarre: not the kind of influence usually found in post-punk stuff. Moreover, the programming work on percussions is impressively layered: the repetive metallic patterns of the synthetizers create a hypnotic rhythmic jungle which hides secret melodies right in the beats.
Some tracks feature vocals, quite unkempt as a matter of fact. They sound as if they were the usual awfully-pronounced English of Italian darkwave, but they are just meaningless syllabes - a fake idiom the author baptised "tecnoi".

Deca's is a project of Federico De Caroli's, started in the early Eighties. "Claustrophobia" is his third album, marking the depart from a Cosmic Couriers-style composition towards a darker and more personal sound. He went on along this direction, publishing many other works and attracting a small but devoted cult following.  He's still active today.


  1. Inframorte
  2. Carnal Flowers
  3. Timewarp
  4. Private Panic
  5. Cathedral of Nightmares
  6. Liquid Animals
  7. Claustrophobia
  8. Metamorphosis
Download (192 kbps)

Saturday, August 21, 2010


La 1919: Jouer, Spielen, To Play (Materiali sonori, 1994)

Let's be sincere: free-improv stuff is usually very chaotic and/or very monotonous. It takes a fan to be fully appreciated. "Jouer, Spielen, To Play" is a bit different. Though entirely ad-libbed, it has very strong structures and dynamics. The reason is probably that its solid rhythm modules are laid by two giants of the avant-prog community: Henry Cow's Chris Cutler and This Heat's Charles Hayward.
The music, indeed, is very much in the spirit of such bands as Massacre or This Heat themselves. Kraut-rock beats (with a jazzier edge), rickety and terribly obliquous guitar lines, and that elusive air of stagnation and rot. Here, the ground-laying drums are supported by La. 1919 - Luciano Margorani (guitar, bass, loops) and Piero Chianura (sampler, synthetizer) - plus guitarist Roberto Zorzi. The tracks are much varied and definitely unmissable for every avant-prog lover.

La 1919, from Milan, published quite a lot of stuff under different names. This should be their fourth album.


  1. Hanno seppellito l'uomo sbagliato
  2. Sheffield Wednesday
  3. Fate fagotto!
  4. Storie del dormiveglia
  5. Qua qua qua... Singing Ducks
  6. Donne Kamikaze
  7. Un mondo invisibile
  8. Red Wire
  9. The Drumming Talk
Download (320 kbps)

Similar albums on the blog:
Art Fleury: I luoghi del potere (Italian Records, 1980)
Tomografia Assiale Computerizzata: omonimo (Azteco, 1983)

Friday, August 20, 2010


Amari: Apotheke (OnDaNomala, 2002)

The indie-hop vogue hearlded elsewhere by the AntIcon label has never really caught on here in Italy. "Apotheke", a very early and paradigmatic of the tendency, seems anyway to indicate that the style would fit perfectly with our panorama.
Later works by Amari would lean in a more electropop direction, but here hip-hop is still the main course. A quirky kind of hip-hop, for sure: you get the beats, the scratches and the rap flow, but nothing sounds like the usual "posse" aesthetics of Italian hip-hop.

The musical background is full of fluffy electro sounds and acoustic guitars, in a perfect "indie" fashion, and lacks any aggressiveness. The voices - uncombactive and intriguingly arranged in half-sung vocal harmonies - are the ones of spoilt kids from the middle-class bourgeoisie, lazy university students with all eases and no will to remonstrate against anything.
And the lyrics, they wallow in their everyday uselessness: personal relations rifracted through fragmented metaphors just for the sake of sounding a bit cryptic.

Everything should point to a horribly pretentious and poor album, but for some miracle it's not like that. The songs are light, delicate and tuneful; the music and lyrics pleasantly mix genres and registers: hip-hop and indie-pop, youth slang and (wannabe) cultured terms.
So thumbs up for Amari - this time, at least. Starting from the following "Gamera", the band would become more and more annoying...


  1. Camogli
  2. Pianetarock
  3. Megamedio
  4. Apotheke
  5. Letter to Kafey
  6. Ottakring
  7. Folkgalore
  8. Berlino è silenziosa
  9. Whale Grotto
Download (192 kbps)

Similar albums on the blog:
Fare soldi: Sappiamo dove abiti (Riotmaker, 2008)
Artemoltobuffa: L'aria misteriosa (Aiuola, 2007)

Friday, August 6, 2010


Moggi: Tra scienza e fantascienza (Omicron, 1976)

A peculiar record, bridging bebop mannerism and electronic experimentation. Synthetizer arabesques rise over exquisite double-bass grooves and jazzy drumming. Their use is much varied: from soundtrack-like melodic themes, to minimal-tinged stagnations and proto-techno burbles. The compositions are elegant, lucid, but pleasantly devoid of the bombast of much prog-rock of those years. On the contrary, the tracks are absorbed in a gassy fluctuation, slighthly futuristic, a bit Satiesque, but most of all very light and unpretentious. The imaginative work on percussions is unfortunately spoiled by the bad audio quality.

"Moggi" is an alter ego of composer Piero Umilani's. Born in 1926, he began his career in the field of film soundtracks in the late 50s. In 1964, he founded the Omicron label to publish his quite experimental "sound library" works. They were collections of instrumental tracks, thought as repertoires of possible soundtracks for TV commercials, radio backgrounds and so on. The creation of Sound Work Shop recording studio in 1968 gave a strong push to his production, and he soon began publishing something like ten albums a year. Their dominant style was much varied: for "Tra scienza e fantascienza", the inspiration was evidently sci-fi.


  1. Cowboy spaziale
  2. Officina stellare
  3. Danza galattica
  4. Saltarello marziano
  5. Jingle N°1
  6. Automa
  7. Tarantellaccia
  8. Bric brac
  9. Soundmaker Blues
  10. Gadget
  11. Soft Key
  12. Happy Accompainment
  13. Futuristic Jam N°1
  14. Futuristic Jam N°2
  15. Killer Robot
Download (192 kbps)

Similar albums on the blog:

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Francesco Messina: Medio Occidente (Casablanca Records, 1983)

The heritage of the Cosmic Couriers, the new technologies and the beggings of synth-pop, minimalism... And the Mediterranean: the fascination for the Middle-Eastern tradition and philosophy. "Medio occidente" is on the frontier of these musical worlds, which are surprisingly close one another.
The mood reminds of a starker Vangelis, of Philip Glass, or Franco Battiato's most "ethnic" works. The latter is not a coincidence: Francesco Messina is a longtime acquantaince and collaborator of Battiato's. Most of the tracks are hypnotic instrumental wanderings, suspended in an ecstatic calm. The hushed timbres are disposed with a somehow architectural aesthetics, and the synthetic beats obey to a strictly functional logic. There's a veil of melancholy and decadence over them though, and the few tracks with vocal parts emphasize the sensation. The overall ambience is dusty and soaked with helplessness. Some retro-fashioned vocal intrusions (opera singing, craking radio excerpts) project a sense of nostalgia for the old times, probably the colonial era when Europe extended over all of the Mediterranean...

Francesco Messina was born in 1951 in Sicily, but moved to Milan tu study design. There he became involved with Franco Battiato's artistic entourage. This is his second solo album, after a lot of collaborations (both musical and graphical). He is now married with singer Alice, and he is a university professor in the field of graphic design.

(I could not find a bigger image, sorry)
  1. Marcia di Kioto
  2. Harem
  3. Uffici del 126° piano
  4. Russian tea room
  5. Plaza tonal
  6. Fine novecento
  7. Club Mediterranée
  8. Comunicazioni interne
Download (210 kbps)

Similar albums on the blog:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Subsonica: Microchip emozionale (Mescal, 1999)

On the confluence of the Italian electro-dub tradition of the 90s and the new sounds coming from the UK (trip-hop, d'n'b), Subsonica hail from Turin with a very personal dance-rock formula. Based on the metallic voice of lead singer Samuel and the hi-tech beats of drummer Ninja, both trippy and driving, their music portays metropolitan sensations and paranoias in a typically late-Nineties cyberpunk fashion. But their music is not just pure dystopia: the dub/upbeat structures fill the music with open spaces. They are readily colonised by the the ultradeep and sinuous basslines, but also by more optimistic (yet very edgy) disco guitars and catchy melodies.
Quite surprisingly, most of the tracks have a (mainly implicit, but sometimes outspoken) languid allure, enhanced by the dewy synth carpets and sonic details. Another striking element is the technical complexity and precision of the weavings, rare for those years and that genre, and somehow closer to the sophistication of the most refined acts of the prog era. The ungraspable 7/8 beat of "Discolabirinto" (a dancefloor hit!) firmly points in this direction.

Subsonica were founded in 1996 in Turin. They were - and are - a quintet: voice, guitar, keyboards, bass and drums. Besides the classical rock instrumentation, their music relies heavily on programmed beats and sounds. This is their second LP.


  1. Buncia
  2. Sonde
  3. Colpo di pistola
  4. Aurora sogna
  5. Lasciati
  6. Tutti i miei sbagli
  7. Liberi tutti
  8. Strade
  9. Discolabirinto
  10. Il mio DJ
  11. Il cielo su Torino
  12. Albe meccaniche
  13. Depre
  14. Perfezione
Download (240 kbps)

Giorgio Moroder: E=mc² (Durion, 1979)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


La quiete: La fine non è la fine (Heroine, 2004)

Convulsive, hot-blooded, this album is internationally regarded as the masterpiece of Italian screamo. For those who are not acquainted to the term, "screamo" designates a very fiery branch of post-hardcore, which evolved from emocore starting from the mid-Nineties. Its defining traits: frantic hardcore drumming, chaotic and coarse guitar swirls, prominent soft/loud dynamics quite close to post-rock and, most of all, harshly shouted vocals - often almost unintelligible.
La quiete gained a devoted cult following thanks to their relentless live activity and their curiously ironic attitude - mostly showcased by their surreal, or even nonsensical, lyrics. Their songs are quick and tense, and their sound is just as impetuous and scratchy. Despite the chaotic feeling of their music, there is a very clever attention to structures, with an enormous density of tempo shifts and a wise ability to balance the impulsiveness with more dilated sections. These latter episodes contribute to make the album somehow dreamy and optimist despite its strongly existentialist/expressionist character: letting the everpresent melodic lines tower above the rest, they momentarily illuminate the angry desolation of the music, creating an "epiphanic" melancholy which is much similar to the one familiar to GYBE! or Explosions in the Sky fans.

La quiete was formed in 2000 in Forlì. This is their first and only album up to now.

  1. Raid aereo sul paese delle farfalle
  2. Metempsicosi del fine ultimo: nevrastenica oscillazione fra poli estremi
  3. Notte dei cristalli a Rue des Trois-Freres
  4. Ciò che non siamo, ciò che non vogliamo
  5. Il destino di un ombrello
  6. Merce Cunningham
  7. Super Omega
  8. Uncaged
  9. La fine non è la fine
Download (192 kbps)

Similar albums on the blog:
Contropotere: Il seme della devianza (Skuld, 1991)
Kina: Se ho vinto se ho perso (Blu bus, 1989)