MUTAZIONE-ITALIAN ELECTRONIC AND NEW WAVE UNDERGROUND 1980-1998-COMPILED BY WALLS.

MUTAZIONE-ITALIAN ELECTRONIC AND NEW WAVE UNDERGROUND 1980-1998-COMPILED BY WALLS.

While Walls haven’t released an album since the blissed out, dreamy and ethereal beauty of Coracle, released in 2010, Allessio Natalizi of Walls hasn’t been taking things easy. Not at all. Instead, Alessio has been busy compiling an eclectic and compelling compilation for Strut Records. Entitled Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988, this double-album, which will be released on 5th August 2013, features twenty-six examples of Italy’s eighties D-I-Y counter culture. Many of the tracks aren’t just rare, but almost impossible to find. 

The reason for this is that they were issued on cassette along with fanzines that were issued by political parties. Mostly, these fanzines were treated as disposable, and thrown away after they’d been read. The same was the case with the cassettes. People would have a listen, and if they liked what they heard, maybe keep them. Not many people would’ve kept them since the eighties. Factor in the unreliability of the cassette and it’s highly unlikely many cassettes survived anything up to thirty-three years. You’d think not. Thankfully, there are some musical magpies out there. They’ve kept their cherished copies of the fanzines and the cassettes that came with them. Allessio Natalizi of Walls must have been relieved. After all, if these fanzines and cassettes hadn’t been saved, there would be no Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988, which I’ll tell you about, after I’ve given you some background to what was going in Italy between 1980 and 1988.

As the eighties took shape, Italy emerged from one of the most turbulent periods in its recent political history. At long last, people thought, Italy had emerged from one of its bleakest political periods. This had started back in the early sixties. What’s referred to as Anni di Plombo, the Years of Lead, lasted right through to the early eighties. Sparking twenty years of turmoil, was an attempt to amalgamate the Italian Social Movement, a neo-fascist party, with the Christian Democrats and the Socialist Party. So controversial did this prove, that an estimated 2,000 people died. Assassinations, shootings, car-bombings and even gang warfare blighted Italy. For the two rival factions, nothing was off-limits. In 1978, the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro was murdered during this bloody, bitter feud, which saw no sign of ending. Italy during this time, wasn’t for the faint-hearted. As the seventies ended and the eighties began, a new generation of political activists would make pick up the political baton.

Two parts of Italy in particular, became hotbeds of political activism during the eighties. Tuscany in central Italy, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, famous for its art, history and wines, may seem a surprising place for the Italy’s latest generation of political activists. The other hotbed of political activism was Emilia-Romagna, the administrative capital of Northern Italy. It comprises Emilia and Romagna, and its capital is Bologna. Within these two regions of Italy, emerged bands, fanzines and political activists.

It wasn’t just left wing activists that sprung up in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. No. Both sides of the political spectrum were represented in Italian fanzine culture. Ironically, the left and right parties had two things in common…music and fanzines. Many of the fanzines and bands were rooted in a squat culture, which was inspired by punk. Soon, fanzines representing the left and right wing parties sprung up. 

The fanzines which were hand-made, were printed in limited numbers. This was an example of the D-I-Y culture and ethos of punk. So too was the idea of attaching a cassette to the fanzine. This encouraged people to buy the fanzines. Again, this was inspired by punk. Not only that, it introduced them to some of the latest Italian music, music which features on Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988

Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988 is a double album, which will be released on Strut Records, on 5th August 2013. It’s available not just in CD and MP3, but in good old fashioned vinyl. The twenty-six tracks the feature on the two discs are a truly eclectic collection of music. There’s everything from new wave and post punk, through electronica, industrial, experimental and menacing, haunting vocal tracks. As musical journeys go, Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988, is like a journey aboard Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine, with a plentiful supply of musical surprises in-store for the listener. 

DISC ONE.

Disc One of Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988 features thirteen tracks. There’s contributions from Winter Light, Victrola, Neon, La 1919, L’Ultimo Arcano and Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici. Then there’s the 2+2=5 and the wonderfully named Laxative Souls. Ranging from new wave, post punk, ambient, electronica, industrial, experimental and menacing, haunting vocal tracks Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988 is a compelling musical journey that documents Italy’s turbulent and troubled past.

For several of the artists that feature on Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988, having their music feature on cassettes attached to fanzines launched their career. This was the case with 2+2=5. Jacho’s Story featured on their 1984 debut album Into The Future. 2+2=5 comprising Nino La Loggia and Giacomo Spazio met for the first time in 1981, at Bar Concordia, Milan, which was a meeting place for the post-punk generation. Three years later, No Name Music, an imprint of Italian label Materiali Sonori, released Into The Future. A fusion of post punk, new wave, electronica and funk results in Jacho’s Story. With its references to P.I.L. and O.M.D. plus shredded guitars, drenched in feedback, and the addition of an uber funky bass, this is a genre sprawling musical journey.

Winter Light’s Always Unique (Kill Myself 2) is track from Baciamibartali and Winter Light’s eponymous album. Released in 1980, on Italy’s Sequence Records, it’s an edgy, dramatic and angst ridden combination of electronica, new wave and post punk, complete with a Bowie-inspired vocal.

Although I joked about Laxative Souls name, there’s an almost sinister sound to Niccolai. Featuring a taped conversation between Aldo Moro’s lawyer and his kidnappers, you feel like a voyeur. After all, you know the outcome and that there was no happy ending for the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro. Accompanied by a synth that adds to the tension, it’s a track that leaves you wondering whether you should feel excited, enthralled or repulsed?

Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici’s Back And Forth, is a track from his 1985 album GMM. It’s a track with surprises in-store. A fusion of ambient and experimental music when it unfolds, soon it’s all change. Drums pound and the track heads in the direction of Kraftwerk, electro and Italo disco. Add in menacing, whispered vocals and you’ve a track that’s mesmeric and hypnotic.

Carmody’s Carmody closes Disc One of Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988. It’s best described as a truly compelling fusion of musical genres and influences. Veering between atmospheric and broody to ethereal, sparkling and glistening, thanks to washes of meandering synths. Pounding drums provide a pulsating heartbeat to this amalgamation of sounds, including electronica, new wave.

Apart from the five tracks I’ve mentioned, there’s much more to discover on Disc One of Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988. I could just as easily have chosen Neon’s synth driven fusion of electronica, new wave and post punk. Then there’s the drama of the La 1919’s frenzied and menacing Senza Tregua. Or what about Gaz Nevada’s Going Underground, a lo-fi fusion of post-punk and industrial music. Truly eclectic, you hungrily await each track, wondering and pondering the musical direction the compilation is heading. It really is like a journey onboard Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine. Best of all, Scooby’s scoffed the sat-nav so Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988 proves a meander and eclectic musical journey. Nothing it seems, is ruled in, and nothing is ruled out. Having set the bar high on Disc One of Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988, let’s hope Disc Two is just as compelling and eclectic.

DISC TWO.

Just like Disc One, Disc Two of Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988 of features thirteen, genre-sprawling tracks. These tracks are what happens, when you take the musical rulebook, throw it away and rewrite it. It’s music that was made without large budgets or access to expensive recording studios. Between 1980 and 1988 in Italy, musically, anything was possible. Full of energy, emotion, angst, anger and frustration, the next generation of Italy’s political activists created another thirteen tracks, which i’ll pick my favorite five.

Tasaday’s Crisalide opens Disc Two of Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988. Described as a mixture of post-rock, industrial, tribal and experimental, it’s a strangely hypnotic, sometimes, meditative track. Chants sit behind industrial strength, thunderous drums. Influenced by Neu and Can, Tasaday released two albums and three cassettes between 1984 and 1988.

Suicide Dada were a band that emerged from the collective who printed the VM fanzine. Waiting For September featured on the 1986 compilation VM  Cinque. This was a limited edition double-album released on Produzioni. Straight away, you realize Suicide Dada are a cut above most of the bands on the compilation. Listen carefully and there’s elements of seventies Bowie, new wave, electronica and rock married with early Simple Minds and Echo and Bunnymen. Sadly, Suicide Dada neither enjoy the success nor longevity their talent deserved.

Kirlian Camera were one of just a few new wave artists who landed a deal with a major label. They were pioneers, who lead the way for future generations of musicians. Edges featured on Kirlian’s 1983 album It Doesn’t Matter, which was released on the A.T.G. label. Edges was also released as a single in 1984. It’s an edgy fusion of electro, new wave and dark wave. This was the start of a long career for Kirlian Camera, who released an album Black Summer Choirs earlier in 2013.

La Maison’s Critical Situation is an intriguing track. There’s an almost sinister sound to the track. A fusion of a speech from a politician and synths combine, as this moody and broody track meanders along. Bursts of excitable politicians are combined with bubbling, buzzing synths and sound effects. Together, they create a dramatic, nearly discordant combination. Despite this, you can’t tear yourself away from the track. As you wonder what’s about to unfold, you’re like a rabbit in the headlights startled and surprised by the music of La Maison.

My final choice from Disc Two of Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988 is Doris Norton’s Norton Apple Software. This experimental, dramatic and strangely melodic track was taken from a 1984 compilation sponsored by a nascent computer company called Apple. Wonder what happened to them? Combining elements of prog rock, electronica and experimental music, the result is a hypnotic, futuristic genre-melting dance track.

There was no let up in the standard of music on Disc Two of Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988. Apart from the five tracks I’ve mentioned, I could just as easily have mentioned the soulful and ethereal sound of La Bambola Del Dr Caligari’s Deep Skanner. Then there was Spirocheta Pergoli’s Romero’s Living Dead, where free jazz, feed-back, experimental and industrial music unite. The Tapes’ Nervous Breakdown with its cartoon vocals, was another fusion of experimental and industrial music. Enthralling describes  A.T.R.O.X’s Against The Odds, which closed Disc Two of Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988. One minute it’s a laid-back, mellow soundscape with ethereal harmonies, the next dramatic drums, quivering synths and vocoders gatecrashed the party with a few friends in tow. Overall, Disc Two of Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988 was just as compelling and captivating as Disc One. 

Allessio Natalizi of Walls deserves credit for creating what is, one of the most intriguing compilations of 2013. Compiling a compilation of music like Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988 is brave and bold. Documenting the end of one of the most turbulent periods in Italian politics wasn’t easy. It was made easier by the new generation of political activists who launched their own fanzines and bands. Twenty-six tracks released between 1980 and 1988 feature on Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988, a double-album which will be released on 5th August 2013.. 

This was music that epitomized the D-I-Y culture of punk. Spurred on by the punk generation, this was music made without large budgets or access to expensive recording studios. For an eight-year period, in Italy, musically, anything was possible. Full of energy, emotion, angst, anger and frustration, the next generation of Italy’s political activists created genre-sprawling music. Attached to a fanzine, this wasn’t meant to be music that stood the test of time. Most people thought this was music that would be listened to once, probably when the fanzine was read. After that, it would be thrown away. Luckily for Allessio Natalizi, that wasn’t the case. Otherwise there would be no Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988, which provides the musical soundtrack to one of the most turbulent times in Italy’s political history. 

With everything from ambient, electro, electronic, experimental, free-jazz, funk, industrial, Italo Disco, new wave, post punk and rock, eclectic and genre-sprawling describes Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988. Truly, this is an ambitious, challenging, compelling and captivating album. It’s a musical journey where nothing is off-limits. Eclectic best describes Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988. Indeed, when you look in the dictionary for the definition of eclectic, it should read Mutazione-Italian Electronic and New Wave Underground 1980-1988. Standout Tracks: Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici Back And Forth, Carmody Carmody, Suicide Dada Waiting For September and Doris Norton Norton Apple Software.

MUTAZIONE-ITALIAN ELECTRONIC AND NEW WAVE UNDERGROUND 1980-1998-COMPILED BY WALLS.

 

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