Saturday, March 3, 2012
Cronache dal Mondo
Struck me on viewing the Ben Rivers movie that this unrelated electronics record would make a fine alternate soundtrack for it. While they share a certain ethnographic impulse (Slow Action explores four island societies of the mind, Cronache dal Mondo appears to be about the Middle East), the movie and the record alike seem more interested in fantasy geographies than actual places. Cronache dal Mondo ("Chronicles From the World") has all the marks of a good Italian library LP: the mysterious, probably pseudonymous composer (Lamartine?), the photo montage telescoping incongruous images of deep sea exploration and military conflict, the now-it's-catchy-now-it's-avant-garde electronic music that hid in plain sight in TV idents and commercials throughout my childhood.
I suppose you can hear vaguely eastern phrasings now and again, especially in "Convegno di Sceicchi," but to my ears we are more in the territory of Cluster and Roedelius with their softly percolating drum machines, impressionistic pastoral electronics and wonky near-melodies flickering like lights in the night sky. Other parts of this remind me, weirdly, of Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan. From start to finish this is far more listenable and compelling than most library records, especially electronic ones. The sonic and visual info encoded on this LP reminds me of one of those "greetings from planet Earth" space capsules filled with souvenirs from human civilization and hurled out into the cosmos in search of intelligent life forms. A view of the Middle East not from Italy or the West so much as from the future itself.