Dick’s Picks: Dick’s pick this week is the bizarro Italian post-punk curveball that is ‘Crollo Nervoso’ by Magazzini Criminali – their debut longplayer has been described as the ‘first to execute an album length work of explicit plunderphonics’……..plunder-what?
Forming in Florence Italy in 1972, this avant-garde theatre group would go through a series of name changes before settling on Magazzini Criminali (Criminal’s Warehouse). Operating on the artistic fringe, early performances were said to incorporate ‘dance and rock music, poetry and comics, television, advertisement and cinema, all marked by a strong visual impact where linear narrative was, more often than not, totally absent’ – so far, so weird.
Crollo Nervoso and Plunderphonics
The Canadian musician John Oswald devised the name ‘Plunderphonics’, in short, it’s the ‘practice of making new music out of previously existing recordings’.
By the end of the ’70, advances made in the rareified world of modern classic music had steadily filtered through to those operating in a more contemporary musical setting, ‘borrowing’ sounds created elsewhere and manipulating them into an ‘original’ composition became the new musical frontier so to speak.
Think of Brian Eno and David Byrne’s ‘My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts’ (more of which later) where elements of radio broadcasts, field recordings and more were woven into their own sonic stew, or, the American art collective ‘The Residents’ who also sprinkled liberal doses of other people’s recordings onto their own. Their ‘Third Reich & Roll’ LP featured two side-long compositions which both used recordings of classic rock and roll songs, spliced, overdubbed, and edited with new vocals, instrumentation and tape noises – questions surrounding authorship/copyright, that would be tested to the limit when sampling arrived just a few short years later, were being thrashed out here first.
What’s the album like?
As you might have inferred, it ain’t Adele! Instead you get four long pieces where disembodied voices float in and out of the sonic ether, radio interference battles with Morse-code blips, snatches of Eno & Byrne’s ‘Bush Of Ghosts’ LP (used before the Eno & Byrne album was released in fact) compete with what might just be the Beatles buried deep in the mix, all of this is topped off with the, errr, challenging vocal theatrics of Marion Damburgo, whose angry rasp throughout sounds like a Crass sonic collage going head-to-head with Yoko Ono (and that can only be a good thing right?).
Have a listen – yikes!
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