Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Gai Saber: Angels, pastres, miracles (Felmay, 2010)

I'm experimenting something this time. This post and the next four ones will have a common theme: the traditional music world. With this small "cycle", I'll try to explore some of the different sides and evolutions of our traditional folk music along the last fifty years. I obviously hope you'll appreciate the venture and discover some good music in the process.

The first suggestion is the last release by Occitan band Gai Saber. It's a very rich and skippy album, which merges old-fashioned Christams Carols (all sung in Langue d'Oc!) and "new" sounds influenced by drum'n'bass, dub and "patchanka" music. I know what you're thinking about: that late-Nineties plague of generally left-wing bands which threw some second-hand "traditional" element in a slapdash way into their reggae-infused "combat rock". You'll be probably relieved by the fact that "Angels, pastres, miracles" has nothing to do with that kind of music. It's some sort of new approach to the field and the extraordinary difference is revealed by two simple elements: the richness of the sound (which encompasses hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, flutes, and electronica besides other acoustic instruments) and its extreme elegance. It's folk music played by folk musicians: that's the point. I'm sure you won't fail to get impressed by its stunning beauty.

"Angels, pastres, miracles" is the fifth album by Gai Saber. All of the other ones are very good, but I specially recommend their masterpiece "Electro Ch'oc" if you like this record.

Here's the review of "Angels, pastres, miracles" I wrote for the website (in Italian).

  1. Patres de Largentiera
  2. Lou premier miracle
  3. La camba me fai mau
  4. Micoulau Nostre Patre
  5. Venes venes
  6. San Jauze eme Mario
  7. Anuech quand lou gau cantavo
  8. Lou viage di Tres Rei
  9. Rapataplan
  10. La Caterineta
  11. Pastre de la campagno
  • Chiara Bosonetto, Rosella Pellerino, Eugenia, Costanza, Antonio Rapa: vocals
  • Elena Giordanengo: harp, galobet, vocals
  • Maurizia Giordanengo: accordion
  • Alex Rapa: acoustic guitar, digital programming, vocals, mandolin
  • Simone Lombardo: hurdy-gurdy, hornpipes, flutes
  • Lorenzo Arese: drums
  • Giorgio Boffa: double-bass
  • Massimo Baudino: backing vocals
  • Eugenia Rapa: violin
Download (~200 kbps)

Similar music on the blog:
Calicanto: Venexia (Compagnia Nuove Indye, 1997)
Sinenomine: Spartenza (Incipit Records, 2009)

Friday, March 18, 2011


Enrico Rava: Pupa o crisalide (Vista, 1975)

Enrico Rava's the one musician who's almost unanimously credited abroad to have invented Italian Jazz. As a matter of fact, he was the one who first got some important international recognization back in the early Seventies, and brought the attention of foreign jazz listeners to our rising Italian scene.

"Pupa o crisalide" isn't his most acclaimed record, but it's my favourite one. It's a good summary of the first phase of his solo career, and it contains tracks recorded with three different ensembles: an all-Italian line-up for the opener and closer - recorded in Rome, an Argentinian octet for the B-side of the lp - recorded in Buenos Aires, and finally an impressive American septet (just two names: Jack DeJohnette, John Abercrombie) for the A-side, recorded in New York.
The musical style clearly reflects the composite nature of the album. The first half is funkier, edgier and more fiery, evidently influenced by the jazz-rock/fusion tendencies that were spreading during those years. The second one is more placid and skippy, and elegantly incorporates some latin/samba elements in the alchemy.
The two halves are held together by the timbric similarity of the line-ups (which feature almost the same elements), and by Enrico Rava's renown trumpet style. Often compared to Miles Davis and Kenny Wheeler, his technique envisages rarefied notes, full of ambience, and erratic melodic lines which surprisingly do not undermine the "presence" of his trumpet sound. On the contrary, Rava's trumpet charisma seems to emerge right from this amazing equilibrium of detachedness and red-bloodedness.

Check out "Quotation Marks" too if you like this record.

  1. Pupa o crisalide
  2. C.T.'s Dance
  3. Tsakwe
  4. El Samba Graciela
  5. Revisione del processo n. 6
  6. Lingua franca
  7. Giromondo (per piccoli feddayn, terzi bimbi e altri mutanti)
Tracks 1, 7:
  • Giovanni Tommaso (bass)
  • Bruno Biriaco (drums)
  • Michele Ascolese (guitar)
  • Mandrake (percussion)
  • Franco D'Andrea (piano)
  • Tommaso Vittorini (tenor saxophone)
Tracks 2, 3:
  • Herb Bushler (bass)
  • Jack DeJohnette (drums)
  • John Abercrombie (electric guitar)
  • Ray Armando, Warren Smith (percussion)
  • David Horowitz (piano, electric piano, synthesizer)
Tracks 4, 5, 6:
  • Rodolfo Mederos (bandeon)
  • "El Negro" Gonzales (double bass)
  • Nestor Astarita (drums)
  • Ricardo Lew (electric guitar)
  • "El Chino" Rossi (percussion)
  • Finito Ginbert (tenor saxophone, flute)
  • Matias Pizzarro (piano)
All tracks:
  • Enrico Rava (composer,  trumpet)
Download (192 kbps)

Similar music on the blog:
Tanit: omonimo (Classico, 1992)
Spirale: omonimo (King, 1974)

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Kind of Cthulhu: Wadjĭwĭng' (Azteco, 1987)

"Obscure"'s the best term to describe this record. It's obscure in a musical sense, for its sound and atmospheres, and in a documentary sense: to be short, almost no information about it can be found on the web.
Let's focus on music first. Wadjĭwĭng' is a quite surprising "progressive" blossom of mid-Eighthies industrial music experimentation. While the mood and approach decidedly reflect the taste for decadence, vagueness and approximation which is a defining trait of some industrial music circles, the musical form and the sound of the tracks are much closer to early-Seventies "dark" psychedelia (long instrumental tracks and digressions, organ, choirs...) and, most amazingly, to full-fledged progressive music. There are sombre, percussive sections reminding of Magma and eerie keyboard ostinatos not far from Goblin stuff. Then chamber-music sketches (Julverne? Maybe even Aksak Maboul), exoteric folk allures (Comus!), airy flute passages and soft openings which even seem to hint at the dreamiest episodes of Italian progressive (Pierrot Lunaire?).
Many comparisons can be traced, but none seems to grasp the essence and singularity of this album, basically a fish out of water, a progressive album made with strictly post-punk sounds, recording techniques, instrumental skills, and mentality. In some sense, is an utterly imprecise work; on the other hand, though, this clumsiness's necessary for its uniqueness and charm.

The few data that are known about the album help to guess its context, but don't enframe it exactly. Kind of Cthulhu was a project based in Parma and signed to the short-lived label Azteco Records, active between 1983 and 1988 and linked to the band T.A.C. (Tomografia Assiale Computerizzata) and its related post-industrial community. Two records were published under the evidently Lovecrafian moniker Kind of Cthulhu: an ep in 1986, and this lp. All of the two featured contributions by T.A.C. founder Simon Balestrazzi (later of Kirlian Camera) and credit a steady core of musicians, which were most probably the members of the band: Andrea Ascenso, Antonio ("Franz"?) Menozzi, Marco Cattabiani, Mario Mascitelli.

  1. Liutelio
  2. Overload
  3. What's This Kind of Cthulhu?
  4. A Believer
  5. Red Wine
  6. Wadjĭwĭng'
  7. Next Spring
  8. Thrust of Love
  9. Misk Cjezscjesz
  • Marco Cattabiani: bass, keyboards, harmonica, vocals, effects 
  • Patrizia Mattioli: clarinet
  • Andrea Azzali: double bass
  • Mario Mascitelli: drums, percussion, bass, vocals, indian flute
  • Franz Menozzi: guitar, flute, keyboards, percussion, vocals
  • Andrea Ascenso: lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, bass, drums
  • Massimo Colonna: saxophone
  • Paola Sartori: violin
  • Patrizia Mattioli, Simon Balestrazzi: vocals
  • Ivano Bizzi: Engineer
Any additional information about the band and the record is welcome, of course!

Download  (320 kbps)

Similar music on the blog:
Tomografia Assiale Computerizzata: omonimo (Azteco, 1983)
Goblin: The Goblin Collection, 1975-1989 (DRG, 1995)

Friday, March 11, 2011


Three Second Kiss: Everyday-Everyman (Wide Records, 1998)

Good ol' noise-rock, in the mid-Nineties style heralded by Steve Albini's Shellac. Which means sharp edges, raw and rattling guitar slashes, disassembled/reassembled grooves. In a word: math-rock.
Engineered by Chicago-punk veteran Iain Burgess (the man behind Big Black's "Atomizer"), "Everyday-Everyman" has a memorably corrosive sound: the guitars emit a rasping, wrecked jingle-jangle, the drums are dry and convulsive, and the bass is as metallic as rust, as thundering as a roar. Two opposites define the album: a psychotic obsession for hyper-cerebral intrication and aseptic structures, and a feeling of total clumsiness and lack of precision.
The compositions aren't that important after all: all they have to do is provide the sound a constant stream of harsh and contorted guitar riffs, uneven stop'n'go dynamics and metronomic bass patterns. They serve quite well for the purpose, and that's all about them.

Three Second Kiss are a guitar-bass-drums "power trio" from Bologna. They're among the most celebrated artists of the Italian math-rock scene, which is quite renown abroad. This is their second lp out of four, and it features the guest appearance on vocals of Uzeda's singer Giovanna Cacciola (for the very short track "Pipeline").

  1. Operation Dragon
  2. Everyday-Everyman
  3. Wolf
  4. Pipeline
  5. I Cried, You Didn't Listen!
  6. Rope
  7. The First Fire
  8. Speak, It's So Dark
Download (192 kbps)

Similar music on the blog:
Uzeda: Different Section Wires (Touch and Go, 1998)
Taras Bul'ba: Incisione (Wallace, 2005)

Monday, March 7, 2011


Andrea Sartori: Il tagliacode (Persona, 2007)

Stravinskian techno. Doesn't sound very zippy, huh?! But you'll change your mind after just a few notes, if you happen to listen to "Il tagliacode". The album's one of those jazzy, abstract, broken-beat-based acoustic/electronic hybrids which often go under the name "intelligent dance music"; unlike most of the music in the genre, though, crebrality's not the first trait emerging from its complexity. On the contrary, the main impression is lightness - which doesn't mean silliness: the music still sounds very classy, even "aristocratic", and the evident complexity of its rhythms clearly cuts out any connection with italo-disco's flippancy; instead of trampling the listener with mind-blowing rhythm discharges, though, the tracks catch him in carefully-built tech-house grooves, abstract-yet-airy lounge tunes mixing live instrumentation, glitchy exotica/soundtrack suggestions and acid electro basslines. It almost sounds like a 21st Century reworking of the old "library music" concept. You could imagine the result as some sort of Amon Tobin/Akufen meeting point, but much less ostentatiously "intellectual" than both. The best thing you can do's anyway checking out a couple of tracks ("Uova di gatto" and "Vodkatronic" for instance).

Andrea Sartori was born in Bologna in 1978. He graduated in Informatics and started making electronic music about the 90s, under the name Deepalso. Later, he met fellow Italian techno artist Touane, who introduced him to the guys of Berlin-based label Persona. "Il tagliacode"'s his only album up to now, and features eleven electronic tunes based on some manipulations of jazz-music reharsals recorded in Foligno.

  1. Supertele
  2. Uova di gatto
  3. Santa Chimera
  4. Il tagliacode
  5. Rompicapo
  6. Ehi amigo, serve un'autoradio
  7. Horror vacui
  8. Oltre il profondo
  9. Prima le signore
  10. Vodkatronic
  11. Outro
Download (~160 kbps)

Similar music on the blog:
Touane: Figura (Persona, 2008)
Jolly Music: Jolly Bar (Nature/Wide, 2000)