Music Reviews

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Artist: L# Collivasone (@)
Title: Vostra Signora Del Rumore Rosa
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Furry Heart Records (@)
Rated: *****
I think we've become jaded and lazy as far as new music goes; in what we listen to, the way we listen to it, where we get it, and what we pay for it. At the risk of being called an old fart (I am, but that's beside the point) I recall a time when ever new album was a special event; something to be savored and cherished. Yeah, there was the radio, but it mostly played "songs," not complete works. It was a taste- incomplete and usually only the highlight or "hit", not the whole work. (A bit of a different situation with classical music, but that's another story.) The point is, with so many different music outlets and formats, we tend to take it for granted. Stealing music on the 'net is commonplace. Many new music artists give it away just to get known. Nearly everybody streams their stuff, so you don't have to pay anything to hear it (not to mention YouTube), just to own it. To some extent I think that cheapens the experience, and also cheats the artist. But if you can't listen to it (radio is a dead, at least here in the U.S., for most new music artists) how are you going to get it to the people who will most appreciate it? Record companies (labels) used to pave the way, grease the right palms, and obtain exposure for new artists. Now it doesn't work that way anymore, partly because the labels can't afford it, and partly because they're unwilling to do the kind of work they used to do. The whole game has changed and it's up the artists more often than not to promote their product. With so many out there doing that though, it's a cacophony of sound where one has to slog their way through so much crap to get to anything really good. This is where folks like me come in. I don't necessarily think reviewers are the arbiters of what's good and what's not, so much as guideposts pointing potential listeners in the right direction. Yes, we're all biased to some degree as no one can be completely objective when it comes to an art that is just so subjective. However, a good reviewer should be able to provide context and maybe even some nuance when it comes to description and qualification.

So why the big long preamble here? Maybe because this is a review of something so far afield from the norm that it warrants some expository treatment. When I come across unfamiliar music that purports to be "avant garde" I tend to wince because it's a genre that is often refuge to the talentless and inept, music utterly lacking in palatability or associated redeeming features. (Just because it's weird doesn't make it good.) I am most pleased to say though that L# Collivasone's 'Vostra Signora Del Rumore Rosa' (Your Lady of Pink Noise) is not that dreadful, poorly conceived and executed kind of avant garde music, but the real deal. A little background on Luca Collivasone (AKA: Doc. Luden Looksharp, Aston Baxmaq, L #, L.L.Looksharp): this Italian musical genius/savant began his artistic career as a musician at the turn of the ’80s as founder and guitarist of the band Aus Decline. He then studied classical guitar and various programs for the production of music with computers, composed soundtracks for documentaries, tv shows and advertising. He played with the Italian rockabilly band Stiletto, then later (2006-2013) established the art-punk/rock 'n' roll/retro band The Masked Marvels which toured extensively in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France. Post-Masked Marvels Luca formed the band Iarballe, playing prepared guitar and a small synthesizer accompanied by a bassist and a drummer. It was around this time that he stumbled on the concept of the "Cacophonator," the primary and only instrument (excepting Collivasone's voice) played on this album.

The Cacophonator was made from an old (1940's) Singer sewing machine he found in a junk shop, that he modified with an assortment of strange sound producing elements. To see this contraption you would have no idea that the sounds on this album would even be remotely possible from some an archaic device, but they are. It really sounds as if it was made using some hi-tech combo of sophisticated modular synthesizers and samplers. (He calls it the "Concrete Music Machine".) A bit of Collivasone's philosophy regarding this work - "Slow down. Remove technology with its sure result. A strong idea becomes the first musical instrument..." There is much more but you can chew on that for now.
So what does this sound like? Well, a wide variety of things ranging from subtle ambient to chaotic experimental electronic. Dynamics are quite varied; quiet at times, loud at others; sometimes beatless, sometimes rhythmic. The album is comprised of nine tracks all with different motifs, moods and sonic palettes. "Alpha Crucis" which open the album is low-key ambient and kind of droney. The title track features a poetic recitation by Luca (in Italian) with slow beats, twisty, contorted sounds amidst light bellish tones and the occasional moaning, groaning bass. "Tropicantor," one of the longer pieces on the album, begins with a variety of low tones, then ghostly moaning oscillators enter the picture. Also eventually some squeaky sounds in a repetitive pattern, with a slow noise as well. This piece also has a vocal recitation, a short phrase repeated like a ritual chant. Collivasone concocts a plethora of odd electro-acoustic sounds for "Everything About Her Was a Lie," backed by an off-kilter rhythm. The bizarre vocal track on this one just has to be heard. If there could ever be a hit single from this record (which is highly unlikely) this would be it. There is even some sort of stringed instrument solo (warp guitar??) but all that is coming from the cacophonator.

Moving to side 2 we begin with "Bela Bite" which uses a simple metallic rhythm over which bowed, scraped and plucked string sounds, bass and little noise elements interact. The piece grows noisier over time as the volume increases. There is a definite buzzy machine-like ambience in "Sanguisuga," also with heavier beats which begin a basic rhythm you could even dance to. In fact, this is REAL industrial dance music, but not the kind you may be used to hearing. (I'd recommend this as the B-side of the non-hit single.) "Anus Pelicanus" almost sounds like its title, but I was thinking "duck farts in a shallow bathtub". String plucks and woodwind squeals over that strange duck-farting sequence on a repeating loop with blasts of noise interspersed. My description doesn't do it justice. "Rain On Your Parade" might be as close as we get to a conventional song with Luca's spoke-sung lyrics and repeating chorus, but it's not that close. Finally, "Caramel Moon" is a musique concrete fantasia with just about everything in it including a rudimentary beat. Usually when I've listened to this much avant-garde music I've had enough for a while but this album just makes me want more. Highly recommended for its concept and execution, but you'll need some quiet time to process it all. Thanks Edwina (owner of Furry Heart Records) for sending me the vinyl rather than just a download link. Tangible product is always appreciated, and I’d recommend the vinyl over the download.



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