New Criticals

Perhaps it goes without saying that this is not the safe radio-friendly sound of Italo disco. The music is visceral and searing. This is apocalyptic, avant-garde, dead can dance music. This is radical Italian art from the fringes, made by artists who had a by any means necessary attitude in creating. Bands like Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle and Public Image Ltd. are obvious references on the music included. The instrumentation comes from keyboards, tape loops, field recordings, digital drums and some guitars sprinkled throughout.

Most of the lyrics are sung in English save for a few in Italian, or some wordless sound/noise collage experiments (“1984-1985” by L’ultimo Arcano or “Critical Situation” by La Maison). The vocals are mostly whispered, hushed as if to suggest the transferences of messages across tapped phone lines. In contrast, others are obscured by distortion creating the effect of voices carried via megaphones at union rallies.

At times, vocals are defiant, repetitive mantras like on Die Form’s opener “Are You Before” or on Plath’s “I am Strange Now”. Other vocalists sound disaffected or monotone like on Gaznevada’s “Going Underground - 2” or Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici’s “Back and Forth”, communicating a kind of fatigue or cool isolation that contrasts with the busy rhythmic backing tracks.

In terms of genre, songs like “Edges – Dance Version” (Kirlian Camera), “Waiting for September” (Suicide Dada) and “Maritime Tatami” (Victrola) are catchy new wave dance records. Songs like “Crisalide” by Tasaday, “Senza Tregua” by LA 1919 and “Auschwitz” by Maurizio Bianchi however, exist in the world of industrial noise and drone (varying sub-movements like dark wave, no wave and minimalism creep up on the comp as well).