Album Review

Mutazione: Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground 1980-88 [coll] – [Strut]

Thurston Hunger   12/22/2013   12-inch, A Library

Double disc choosing dirt over disco in 80’s Italy. Culled
with care by Alessio Natalizia (of the Walls project on
Kompakt) and thorough liner notes in English translation.
They are worth peruuing for all the This Heat and Tuxedomoon
references. Like those translated notes, much of the singing
on this is done in English, with an eye to the US/UK, but
certainly their own ear. No need to get an interpreter for the
omnipresent angst on these cuts. Guitar and synth are often
employed with no battle, but equal parts stark squalor.
Lots of whispery vox on tracks, that sense of conspiracy
which to me intimated the 90’s rock concrete of the Starfuckers.
All of side A is so very good, an adrenalin jag from the very
first lurches of Die Form with spazzy sax in it as well and a
killer version of Gaznevada’s “Going Underground” Side B
still has that dark feel of being recorded in an abandoned
subway but the synth slides in a bit more. And by the end
of side C, female voices from Rats and La Bambola Del Dr
Caligari add a sultriness, but it’s just a tempting trap.
Arguably the most “mutated” track leads off Side D, with
Spirocheta Pergoli choked vocals and a stolen TV screen
sputtering and splattering music The liner notes mention
Maurizio Bianchi, whom KFJC has many recordings and
colors from in the same breath as Doris Norton, who makes
her KFJC debut 30 years later here. Homegrown software
sounds from her. A lot of room for various DJ’s to get into
this, tunnels from punk, industrial dance and experimental.
Hopefully more revival work from these Italians scenes
to be unearthed as well. Swank job by the Strut folks
and Natalizia! -Thurston Hunger

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