Milan-based synth duo le ROSE came on our radar last year with their excellent Isole EP and the surprisingly huge-sounding Italo anthem “Solidad” therein. Now Flavio Scutti and Andrea Noce are back with a single and video for “King of my Castle” from their new full-length Rhythms, which continues where they left off with more dark house gems. As fans of late-’90s club tracks may have guessed, “King of my Castle” is a cover of Wamdue Project’s downtempo classic of the same name. While that single gained traction with a remix by Roy Malone a couple years later, le ROSE take the original as their blueprint and mix in atmospheric soft synth tones similar to what The Knife used on Silent Shout a decade after.
Considering that Scutti and Noce are self-consciously mining sounds from the past (both recent and not-so-recent), the track’s crystalline pop sounds remarkable now. Federico Cosci‘s accompanying video, too, full of throwback imagery including the iconic Blow Up model scene, is also ultra-contemporary with glitchy psychedelia overriding well-trod touchstones (and lots of bare breasts). Perhaps that’s simply where we are in our cultural loop (The Knife just announced their first new album in five years, and ’90s nostalgia is in full effect), but, like the best futurists before them, le ROSE somehow distill the new and nostalgic into a blend of synth stabs and tom beats. Not an easy task in any decade.
le ROSE’s are still looking for a label for their upcoming album, so stay tuned!
Written by Nathan Reese
As often as Italo disco is cited as an influence, there haven’t been many actual Italians associated with the sound’s resurgence. That could change with Milan-based duo le ROSE whose members Flavio Scutti and Andrea Noce collaborate on both visual art and experimental pop music. “Soledad,” a highlight of their new EP Isole is both the most straightforward dance track on the album as well as its most powerful. With driving house synths that recall the Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer classic “I Feel Love” and vocals that take seem to take inspiration from Algerian raï-style singing, “Soledad” revels in its own melodrama. While labels like Italians Do It Better and 100% Silk have released similarly-minded analog dance music in recent years, “Soledad” shows le ROSE to be more fabulously unhinged in their approach. This is dance music as theater at its most compelling.
Isole is out now on postosegreto
Written by Nathan Reese
Live improvisation of the experimental ambient variety is captured in a new release by Russian label Full of Nothing. Featuring the collective spontaneity of UK’s Woodpecker Wooliams, psychedelic Italian act Golden Cup, and Russian duo Love Cult (Anya Kuts/Ivan Afanasyev), the album is titled In Russia because, well, why get fancy? The improbable family of auditory ecstasy creators performed in Moscow, Saransk, Saint Petersburg, and the Baltic’s in April 2011 and two of the improvs make up this set. “Saransk” and “Saint Petersburg” form a satisfyingly big picture listening experience. The improvisations utilize intuition because this music could easily have come from one composer’s mind instead of four individual, yet clearly likeminded, souls. Nary a single sound dominates, as balance is remarkably tight and controlled. Field recordings evoke eerie forests of ancient histories; electronic squeals and drones add texture, tonal dynamics, and movement to both compositions. We travel with the performers and are taken on a journey we won’t soon forget. The only question left to ask is, are there recordings from the rest of the tour?
In Russia is available on Bandcamp
Written by Jeff Daily
Magic Towers are an experimental ambient/drone duo from the Northern Italian city of Vittorio Veneto. Their new release N. 4 comes to us via NO=FI Recordings. The two sides of the cassette each present fifteen minutes of droning synths and heady atmospherics. Dissonant, remote, and often disturbing, the composition was quite fittingly recorded during All Soul’s Day of last year in Milan. The tape’s palate is stark but broad, ranging from quiet whirrs to thunderous percussion, all haunted with varying degrees of dread and decay. Side A is the less combative of the two pieces, with a simmering midsection that gives way to sustained high-frequency undulations, while side B begins with atramental tape hiss that shifts toward grating synths that are frankly pretty hard to take even at low decibels. As an exercise that aims to explore the role sound plays in perception, N. 4 succeeds, but it may leave you feeling as physically drained as mentally stimulated.
“N. 4” is out now on NO=FI
Written by Nathan Reese
Even though they are still generally being referred to as an enigmatic Balearic-lounge singer-producer duo from Greece, Keep Shelly in Athens’ run of singles, remixes and EPs these last couple of years saw them not only navigate through a diverse range of styles, but also become a highly blogged about band that cruised into North American scenes and is set to play this year in Coachella. For their latest remix, they’ve decided to take Italy’s Welcome Back Sailors’ “Stronger” into darker territories as part of the Italian band’s Love (That’s All) cassette being released through Oakland imprint Crash Symbols. And while the original track carries the same Mediterranean ecstasy Keep Shelly in Athens displayed in their older releases, the Hellenic duo’s remix gives it an unexpected turn, setting the hazy vocals in front of a downcast scenery of industrial beats and eerie synth lines.
Written by Pierre Lestruhaut
Taking a step back from the vibrant, sequencer-driven energy of the remix, we find the velvety swells of Welcome Back Sailors’ original “Stronger.” This tasty piece of semi-psychedelic pop is alternately flush in wistful atmospherics and the same beseeching intensity that forms the root of KSIA’s remix. The track begins the track with gentle synth oscillations and vocal flourishes, with a gently swaggering beat leading the way to the first chorus. Even as the infusion of tropical percussion lends the track a new energy, it erodes away, only to return with a fresh swagger moments later. It’s a slippery structure that suites the full-bodied melange of guitar and synth arpeggios that always seem to be either subbing in for or flitting in between each other. Add in some shrewd knob twisting and you have yourself a highly textured song that not only bears but blossoms after repeat listening.
Written by Luke Carrell
Welcome Back Sailors’ Love (That’s All) is now available for pre-order from Crash Symbols. The release also includes another original track, an accompanying remix, and a cover of “Stronger” by His Clancyness
Given the current musical climate, in which weirdo synth mages of the past are constantly being rediscovered and reappraised, it is perhaps surprising that there hasn’t been more attention paid to Italy’s Doris Norton. Her music career started in the Italian progressive/psychedelic scene of the late ’60s, collaborating with her husband Antonio Bartocetti, firstly in Milan’s Jacula and since the late ’70s as Antonius Rex. As the ’80s began, Doris became involved with the cutting edge of computer music, receiving sponsorship from Apple and even working as a consultant for IBM (one of the albums she recorded during this period has previously been posted on the excellent Mutant Sounds blog). “Psychoraptus” comes from one of her earliest computer music albums, and the first to be reissued in the 21st Century. The track combines pulsating sequencers, squealing synth leads and Doris’s icy neo-classical vocals, accompanied by a video whose neon New Wave cyber-cabaret stylings suit the music down to the ground.
“Psychoraptus” is available on the 30th Anniversary Edition of the album Raptus, reissued by Black Widow Records
Written by Christopher Greenberg
Full Of Nothing, the tiny cassette imprint that is run by Ivan Afanasyev and Anya Kuts out of Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Russian Republic of Karelia, has made a name for itself with constantly unearthing the most obscure and hidden gems in psychedelic, drone and noise from all over the planet, in particular from places in Europe where you probably wouldn’t even have started looking for amazing experimental music. The label’s latest batch of tapes includes the tape Lady Hate by the Italian psychedelic trio Suburban Howl, an outfit that’s been around since 2008 and that has quite a remarkable back catalog of cassette releases on all kinds of small underground imprints. The title track is a sprawling trip into deep and dark realms of cacophonous noise, building up an immense wall of sound that’s somehow faintly reminiscent of folk yet, without putting too much emphasis on clearly recognizable structure, an exercise in ritualistic improv that manages to remain astoundingly captivating over the whole course of its seven minutes.
Get Lady Hate directly via Full Of Nothing.
Written by Henning Lahmann
Velvet Underground covers and reinterpretations are never exactly thin on the ground, but if nothing else, the ever-increasing range of re-workings serves to highlight the infinitely versatile and universal quality of Lou Reed’s early compositions. This track by Treviso, Italy’s Father Murphy, is “somehow inspired by The Velvet Underground’s Jesus” and far removed as possible from Glen Campbell’s 2008 version, whilst still being recognisably based on the same song. The band specialises in tension and awe, and these are the elements they bring to the fore here. A cobwebbed, sepulchral atmosphere is created ,with droning organ and harmonium, narcoleptic percussion, ominous thunder-crashes, and static interference. All of this foregrounds some eerily liturgical chanting and the hymn book vocals of co-lead singer Chiara Lee. All in all, the perfect soundtrack for anyone who happens to find themselves the unwilling, but drugged and helpless victim of some arcane midnight ritual.
Father Murphy’s split 7” with How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? is now available as a joint release by Avant!, Boring Machines, Aagoo Records, Brigadisco, La dèlirante and Madcap Collective
Written by Christopher Greenberg
Get out your JX-8Ps and DX7s, there are some excellent, super cheezy songs on this cassette. A true mix of Italo: vocals sung with intense conviction by people who have little or no idea what they’re saying. So delicious!
A1 Little Russia – Mr. Ziwago
A2 You Are The One – Marriter
A3 Ciao Amore – Joe Party
A4 Banderia La Playa Del Sol
A5 Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – King Kong
A6 Don’t Go Away – Roger Meno
A7 Who’s That Girl (Excerpt) – Marylin Cara
B1 Johnny Johnny (Excerpt) – La La
B2 Love Of My Life – Radiorama
B3 Dolce Vita – Ryan Paris
B4 Holiday Love Affair – On T.V.
B5 Those Were The Days – The Sunshine Crew
B6 Cupid – Tia
B7 Let’s Get In Touch – Rendez Vous