Tuesday, February 14, 2012


This long-lost Italian library session from 1971 may prove arguably to be the finest release of the year. Rescued by vinyl archaeologists James Pianta, Jeff Wybrow, Callum Flack and David Thrussell, this wonderfully dark and complex recording is an unrepentant collision of free jazz, avant garde sensibility and rhythmic drum patterns which will appeal to beat diggers and free improv heads alike. Recorded by the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza as a companion piece to the mythical "The Feed-Back" by The Group (a record which has recently changed hands for over $1000), the result is a profoundly disorienting music that thrives on the tension between aggressive rhythmic interplay, unsettling free form improvisation and dark mood music.

Founded in Rome in 1964 by composer Franco Evangelsiti, Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza was formed as experimental music laboratory dedicated to the exploration of new music techniques such as improvisation, noise and anti-musical systems. Comprising of soundtrack musicians working in the burgeoning Italian film and television scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the collective featured such musical luminaries as Ennio Morricone (trumpet) and Egisto Macchi (percussions) in its ranks. This release very much documents the definitive moments of this 'peaked' improvisational collective.

"Niente" opens with a deep propulsive drum groove somewhere between Clyde Stubblefield and Jaki Liebezeit. The beat is motorik, relentless and unforgiving. Dark fissures of analog synth bubble up, a twisted fuzz bass prowls around the yard, the elasticated metal of prepared piano shards incise and unhinge the groove. The beat goes on. The drummer drums, staring unblinking into the abyss. Sounds organically crack, cut, rattle and tremor but never quite unsettle the drummer's endless metronomic pulse. There is a dark hypnotic undertow to much of this music evoking a phantasmagorical landscape of insecurity, trauma and fear. Listening becomes a profoundly disquieting experience. "Bambu #2" is a nightmare factory of hazed tape music, combining abrasive fuzz, muted trumpet and giallio vocal murmurings.  "Renitenza" is beautifully hypnotic and dizzying at the same time. Constructed around complex drum phasing and daydream zoner improv, the track travels from vigorous, almost deranged percussive forays into a decayed, ghostly cave of sound. Likewise, "Padrone Delle Ferrierre" weirdly shimmers in flickering polyrhythms, scrying in the smoke until it slowly dissolves in tenebrous, blurred narcotic instantiability. Side two opens with the heavy drum skonk of "Mattatoio". The sound is wilder, freer, more animalistic, a dense and tightly woven mesh of fierce drums, hot-wired guitar skree, jazz marimba and howling horns. "Sieben" is a particular favourite, a short tight Schifrinesque drum loop, combining strummed aeolian harp, blunted harmonics and eerie chimes to chilling effect. "Natale E Detroit" is peculiarly odd, like a weird meeting point between Ligeti's "Lux Aeterna" and calypso music, just hearing this unique oddity was worth the price of admission alone. "Niente" is a truly masterful and essential release and worth your immediate attention. Do not sleep.

"Niente" by Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza is out now on Roundtable/Omni Recording Corporation in a limited run of 500.


Ben said...

This record is really, really good. Kudos to the Roundtable crew for sourcing it seemingly out of thin air.

A Sound Awareness said...

Yup Ben, they've done a great job on this one.