Urban And Tribal Portraits
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At the beginning of the 1980’s the composer Roberto Musci returned to Italy after a decade wondering the globe – drifting between African, Indian, and the Near & Far East, studying music, making field recordings, and collecting instruments. In 1984 this journey was culminated by the release of his first album, The Loa Of Music, a sonic distillation and near perfect encapsulation of the democratic hybridity at the heart of the Italian avant-garde. It remains one of the most important and thrilling artifacts in the entire canon of its country’s music. A short time after, Musci joined a friend, the composer Giovanni Venosta, to work on his first recorded effort, Olympic Signals, conceived as a partial response to The Loa Of Music. Once again a stunning and seminal piece of artistry emerged. In 2017, both of these albums were reissued to resounding critical praise by Soave, part of the label’s attempts to stitch a wondrous patchwork of Italian sonic ambition. Each represents an important beginning for both composers. Following Olympic Signals, for much of their respective careers, their names and ideas would exist collaboratively, side by side.
Roberto Musci and Giovanni Venosta’s Urban And Tribal Portraits is the second of their collaborative duo LPs, originally issued by ReR in 1988. The album takes the pair’s investigation, reference, and incorporation of diverse, global traditions of music, to new heights. While The Loa of Music was largely created from fragments of field recordings made during Musci’s travels, threaded with his own musical interventions, and Olympic Signals responded with a rippling world of Minimalist composition, Urban And Tribal Portraits creates a new synthesis – a hybridic, global music, standing outside of culture and geography. Part of a broad quest for a new form of sonic democracy, the result is an astounding patchwork – the music of a hypothetical, lost avant-garde tribe, so elegant, seductive, and intoxicating that, once heard, it’s hard to imagine living without it. Created on a vast range of instruments – from base elements offered by the human voice and a Jew’s Harp, to perfectly place guitar arpeggios, to visionary interventions by a myriad of synthesizers and tape experiments, it is unquestionably one of the great unheralded masterpieces from the end of the 1980’s.
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