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Topic: Kundalini Shakti Devi - 28th October 2013Posted By: Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Subject: Kundalini Shakti Devi - 28th October 2013
Date Posted: October 28 2013 at 18:47
KUNDALINI SHAKTI DEVI
- an interview by Michael H
At the beginning of the 70’s, Roberto “Paramhansa” Puddu, a professional musician playing dance music with his saxophone in various bands and clubs, began to notice that many foreign and Italian bands – notably E.L.P, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Yes, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, New Trolls, Le Orme, Garybaldi, Pholas Dactylus and many others – stopped writing `simple songs’, developing pop and rock `operas’ that went further than traditional straightforward arrangements. Feeling the need to record the more complicated melodies and harmonic structures in his head, Roberto sought to find capable and eager musicians interested in more adventurous music.
After several unsuccessful attempts, others willing and determined to experiment and realize these new ideas came together. Roberto was joined by Massimilliano Moretti (guitars, vocals), Gianni Lecchi (guitars, vocals), Claudio Capetta (bass, vocals), Enrico Radaelli (keyboards, organ), Tony Ognibene (keyboards, vocals) and Ampelio Biffi (drums, percussion), three lengthy pieces were recorded on a simple Revox recorder and mixer, but these were sadly met with disinterest from Italian music managers unwilling to take a risk.
Almost 40 years later, the self titled debut of Kundalini Shakti Devi is now released for the first time by BTF on CD and vinyl. A somewhat typical RPI work, full of passionate Italian vocals, plenty of flute and saxophone around ambitious, often jazzy arrangements, this hidden gem compliments fellow Italian bands such as Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and St Tropez, while incorporating elements of worldwide prog artists such as Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator, Ange and even the Canterbury musicians. Well worth discovering.
I was kindly given the opportunity to talk to Roberto, these days performing under the name Bob Crystal, and the interview took place by email between the 22nd and 26th of October 2013. Special thanks to his sister Cristina Puddi for the superb translation!
First of all, Bob, congratulations on the band having their debut album released earlier this year on both CD and vinyl after almost 40 years! How does this make you feel?
Roberto: It has been a strong emotion! After so many years now, we hardly remembered Kundalini. In fact, each one of us has gone on to make several different things in music. I for example write and record CD's of smooth jazz and new age as Bob Crystal - www.myspace.com/crysbobcrystal" rel="nofollow - www.myspace.com/crysbobcrystal - while my colleagues, with whom I lost contact for almost 40 years, hold concerts playing Chicago. To have been discovered after so much time literally shocked us at first, but then we have thought: “Then we were right! We were on the right path!” At that time we proposed our music, it was really a large risk!
Lets quickly go back to the beginning! Despite the band you would eventually form playing progressive rock, you first played pop and dance music. Good memories from this time?
Yes, I have some great memories. It was very different, dance music that was nice to play, although I did never do this with my colleagues of Kundalini, because I was the only one who was a professional musician of the band. Each one of them had a different activity, while I had to earn my money playing in the discotheques.
In the written introduction in your album, you mention hearing bands like Genesis, Banco, Le Orme, Yes and others. What sort of effect did this have on you as a musician?
Let me say that especially the undisputed masters as Genesis, Yes and EL&P made me feel the strong desire to realize something belonging to me, more unique, which has ever been my natural attitude since.
Was it difficult to find other musicians interested in playing in a more adventurous and challenging style than the popular pop/rock music of the time?
It has been very difficult, finding artists that believed and trusted in me and what I proposed to them....which was not simple thing to do, because each of them had his own ideas, but I consider myself lucky to have found the right people.
After a while, you found other interested musicians to join you. What sort of musical backgrounds did they have? The album shows a variety of styles, such as jazz, classical, fusion and more, so did they all come from different styles of music?
It was me, who during my career experienced all music genres and therefore I introduced them to the others. Before this time, they just had strong rock influences as Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and so on...
Ampelio Biffi (drums) and Claudio Capetta (bass)
Did the band members ever disagree over which direction or musical styles to play?
Our band was a democratic one; my music was filtered by their artistic characteristics and by their own way to feel it, to execute it and to comprpmise when needed. Therefore automatically we also became the arrangers. And that's why, when I talked about their functions I wrote "Arrangements".
Ampelio Biffi (drums)
When did you decide on the band name, and why did this Italian band have an Indian name? Very confusing! Did this name have great significance or personal importance to you?
When I met the other band, they were already founded as "Iliade". At that time as well as actually I practiced yoga, so it was natural for me to call the band with the name of "Shakti", the dynamic force and mother of the universe, it seemed to me an original name.
Claudio Capetta (bass)
1974 is right in the middle of the progressive rock boom. So many Italian and worldwide bands were putting out great works, yet you still had trouble from managers and labels wanting something more commercial. Did this encourage you even more to work hard, and was it a discouragement?
The disappointments were numerous, because we didn't find the right people, to believe in and invest in us. The art directors were not musicians but managers with just a little knowledge of music, therefore at last our enthusiasm was gone, so Kundalini dissolved.
Gianni Lecchi (guitar) and Massimiliano Moretti (guitar)
Before or after recording the album, did the band play live concerts or tour in any way? If so, did you perhaps play with any of the other Italian progressive bands of the time?
Yes, we made many concerts, also together with other unknown bands like us and I must say that we had great success with the audience, who made us realize that the record manager was still far away from the people.
Tony Ognibene (keyboards)
Italy has a proud tradition of grand progressive music! What are some of your favourite Italian progressive albums?
My favourite albums of Italian progressive rock are several, such as PFM, BANCO, ORME, NEW TROLLS, but most of all I love "PHOLAS DACTYLUS", for me their masterpiece `Concerto delle Menti' (Concert of Minds) is matchless and has an exceptional creative strength!
As you also mentioned enjoying international progressive bands outside of Italy, who were your favourites? Which international albums did you enjoy the most, and what made them stand out to you in the first place?
There are lots of them, but for me Tarkus by EL&P is a real supreme masterpiece, which you never get enough to listen to it, also at the level of instrumental technique, Jethro Tull, featuring histrionic Ian Anderson, Van der Graaf with the atmospheres of `Pawn Hearts’, all these ones for me are legendary, mythical.....
Tony Ognibene (keyboards)
Once the album deal didn't come together, how long did the band try to stay together?
The ups and downs of life have brought me away from my companions, therefore I would say that we had been working together for almost 4 years..
Did all the band members remain in the music business afterwards?
My companions had other activities and just occasionally they performed in concerts. They met once a week for rehearsals, while I continued my activity as a professional musician.
Was a reunion of Kundalini Shakti Devi ever talked about or considered among the band members?
No, my colleagues have evermore accepted with pleasure my project and also the band's name and i think that this is the result of the great mutual respect they had.
Roberto in the studio, November 2012
How was your long-lost music rediscovered? Who encouraged you to finally try again to release your work?
As I mentioned earlier, at this current time I don't work anymore in this genre. One of my students, Pier Luigi Caramel, leader of a prog band named EGO knew about Kundalini, so he introduced me to Matthias Schelle, a distributor and producer of prog in Italy and abroad, who was very impressed by listening to the tracks, so he made me the proposal for a contract. The original recording after all this time was left somewhere aside in a corner. A miracle was that it wasn't damaged, so last year, exactly October it has been digitized and so we started working....covers etc, and now here we are....
Now lets talk about the album! Three long tracks, all over ten minutes. At the time you were recording them, did the band consider trying to record shorter pieces to appeal to a more commercial audience?
We were interested in expressing ourselves, in bringing out what we had inside, aware of the fact that the people would have understood and appreciated our music...but unfortunately the record managers were not interested...
The first track `Flash' is almost twenty minutes, with lots of variety and ideas! What incredible lyrics, often about consumerism and celebrity culture, sadly the words are even more relevant in todays society! How do you feel about this?
With FLASH I wanted to express various social situations of that time, so I was thinking by having a sort of camera in my brain to witness and fix all those moments.... as you see, many years have passed but everything has remained the same or has become worse, so I think I may have seen very far away into the future.
Gianni Lecchi (guitar), 2012
`Galactic Museum' seems to be a science-fiction story! Do you remember what inspired or influenced you when you wrote this piece?
I've always been a lover of science fiction, because I think that science fiction of today will be science of tomorrow....my love of fantasy has brought to life in both `Galactic Museum' and `Sensitivity' just for this reason.
`Sensitivity’ has very dark words, very dream like and disturbing. Do you recall that this piece is about?
`Sensitivity' was created precisely to provoke this sensation which you are talking about and apparently I have been successful!
Massimiliano Moretti (guitar), 2012
Were you happy with the finished result of the album? If you could change or improve anything on it, what would you do differently to it?
The realization of this album has been very hard. It took almost one year. Thanks to our producer Matthias Scheller, in the end everything went smoothly. You have to consider, just to tell you one particular fact, that once I gave the tape to my colleague, who made the mistake to delete the first phrase of `Flash'... "You, who feels so good....", so I sang it once again with the same effects in my recording studio and when the time came to digitalize we have assembled it, in order to replace the missing phrase. I pretended that this album release would be handled with the maximum care as far as lyrics and biography are concerned, as well in both Italian and English. Therefore I am satisfied of the release of the album, even if when we recorded it would have been much better to be provided with a more complete instrumental equipment, like for example the `mini moog'. Besides, in that period I didn't like my voice very much, so I filtered it using a "Flanger", also to make it more mysterious, but maybe today I wouldn't do such a modification anymore.....
Enrico Radaelli (keyboards), 2012
Were there any left-over pieces of music the band had written for this project that was never recorded?
Yes, in fact, at least two tracks have been left out, that we had not been able to record because of lack of time and other means...
Tony Ognibene (keyboards), 2012
Have you had any response or feedback so far about the album?
This album has had great reviews on specialized prog magazines, such as `Arlequins' or `Mat 2020', as well as at interviews on private radio stations etc..... so it seems that this project has started very well.
Other bands, such as Il Cerchio D’Oro had a long wait before their first album release too. Reunited, they now record modern albums as well! Any plans or possibilities that Kundalini Shakti Devi may record new music?
For now we didn't yet evaluate this possibility.
Is the band performing concerts at this time?
We actually don't hold any concerts, but if we are able to find a serious promotional structure I really do not exclude that this could happen...
Finally, anything you would like to say to progressive rock fans?
We are really very thankful to the fans of prog rock, because only their interest in our music made it possible that we exist artistically. All the good things that happened to Kundalini in the last period we owe it to you! Thanks! We love you!
Thank you so much for your time!
We have to thank you Michael for appreciating our music and for giving us the opportunity, perhaps also to be known in your continent Australia! Therefore, it's a pleasure for us to answer to the questions of your interview!
Very special thanks to Roberto (Bob Crystal) and Cristina Puddi for all their time and co-operation for this interview!
Some further listening: Sensitivita:
My review of the self-titled album - http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=1068145" rel="nofollow - http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=1068145
Prog Archives band page - http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=7398" rel="nofollow - http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=7398
Band Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KundaliniShaktiDevi‎" rel="nofollow - https://www.facebook.com/KundaliniShaktiDevi
Buy the album here:
CD: http://www.btf.it/kundalini-shakti-devi.html" rel="nofollow - http://www.btf.it/kundalini-shakti-devi.html
LP: http://www.btf.it/kundalini-shakti-devi-1.html" rel="nofollow - http://www.btf.it/kundalini-shakti-devi-1.html
Interview posted 28th October 2013.
Replies: Posted By: Tom Ozric
Date Posted: October 29 2013 at 00:45
Great work, Michael
Posted By: Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Date Posted: October 29 2013 at 00:58
Thanks, mate! I think Greg stocked the LP on his previous list, did you snap it up? If not, you should consider it, a very nice album!
By the way, his latest update made it through last night to my email this time! Hooray!
Posted By: Tom Ozric
Date Posted: November 05 2013 at 02:45
I haven't, but after this fine interview - it'll be in the next lot for sure
Posted By: Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Date Posted: November 05 2013 at 03:00
Definately do a quick check of (I think) his previous newsletter, I'm certain the LP version of it is available and was on his list. I bought the Mini LP CD of it, but from the pictures I've seen, the LP looks lovely! Lots of psychedelic colours on the sleeve!
Posted By: Guldbamsen
Date Posted: November 05 2013 at 07:47
Very nice interview monsieur Kangaroo
------------- “The Guide says there is an art to flying or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
- Douglas Adams
Posted By: AEProgman
Date Posted: November 05 2013 at 15:13
Bravissimo Michael! 40 years to be yet another RPI one album band (for now).
Posted By: sandro
Date Posted: January 03 2014 at 16:12
There is an article in italian about the Kundalini band..... i've wrote to the author of that interview to ask him to translate it. Why? Because I think there is a "secret" story behind the Kundalini :-) I've tried to translate that article with google translater and i've read that a member of this group is died, or something like that... I want to apologize... but I don't understand italian very well
so this is the article... http://vpervimercatese.com/2014/01/03/kundalini-shakti-devi-vita-band-facebook-caponago-ampelio-biffi/
Posted By: sandro
Date Posted: January 03 2014 at 16:15
sorry this is the http://vpervimercatese.com/2014/01/03/kundalini-shakti-devi-vita-band-facebook-caponago-ampelio-biffi/" rel="nofollow - http://vpervimercatese.com/2014/01/03/kundalini-shakti-devi-vita-band-facebook-caponago-ampelio-biffi/