Roberto Musci / Giovanni Venosta - Urban And Tribal Portraits LP
And so, steadily, Roberto Musci’s works are being made available for our listening pleasure. Soave’s edition of ‘the complete sessions’ of The Loa of Music, Musci’s debut album from 1984, is now flanked by Urban and Tribal Portraits, another milestone from 1988, a key collaboration with fellow sidereal world traveler Giovanni Venosta, whose essential and amazing debut album Olympic Signals was also recently repressed. While a number of the recordings that comprise this particular work have been (relatively) available this is indeed the first time one can listen to this fundamental work as it was meant to be heard. Not a minor detail for a work that was obviously conceptually and narratively rigorously conceived by Musci and Venosta.
And what a listen it is.
Like much Italian experimental music from that magical decade of the 80s this is not your dad’s fourth world music, with all of its ambiguous aestheticism of ‘unifying’ some not so well defined primitivism of ‘world ethnic styles’ with the futuristic sounds of whatever ‘advanced electronic techniques’ were the platter du jour. In this sound the 8-bits of the E-Mu Emax is as primitive as the Jews Harp while the electronically treated Pygmy chants turn out to be as futuristic as the multi-timbral capacities of the OB-8.
From the funk ostinatos of “El Lamento de Los Ayatollah” where Venosta showcases his straight piano playing to the rarefied queer guitar arpeggios in “Tamatave”, the peaceful ripples in “Dialogue Between a Dreamer and Others”, the playfulness of “Starfish & Kangaroos” or the post-punkish This Heat/Cabaret Voltaire aggression in “The Fear of a Soldier” this is destabilization as praxis, a shifting of the ground. The new cover image, that replaces the ethno patchwork of the original sleeve (beautiful as it was) is indeed more to the point: Sven Hedkin’s photograph of early 20thcentury Tibetan death masks is at once urban and tribal, surrealist in its uncanniness. Just like in surrealist praxis these sounds offer some kind of redemption: sounds used in alternative ways, distinct from their usual connections, deconstructed. A DIY bricolage: a destructuring of everyday sound objects towards new uses fed by local ecosituated experiences, transformative of performance and listening. Surrealist ‘musicking’ indeed.
A1 Lilongwe 29/2/52 Radio Concert Hall
A3 The Fear Of A Soldier
A4 Dialogue Between A Dreamer And Others
A5 Batida De Coca
A6 Rackrailway To...
B1 The Ups & Downs Of Chewing Gum
B2 Tower Of Silence
B3 El Lamento De Los Ayatollah
B4 Starfishes & Kangaroos
B5 Djakarta Blues
B6 Lullabies ... Mother Sings ... Father Plays ...