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Le Stelle di Mario Schifano - Dedicato a... CD (album) cover

DEDICATO A...

Le Stelle di Mario Schifano

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.08 | 17 ratings

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Luca Pacchiarini
3 stars I'm surprised nobody has reviewed this album yet. The historical importance of this album is ENORMOUS.

It would be impossible to appreciate this album without an idea of the background of the band. "Le Stelle Di Mario Schifano" took their name from a flamboyant italian avant-garde artist, who during the Fifties and the Sixties, gained a good critical acclaim. His works were featured in some of the most important avant-garde museums, both in England and in the USA. He is also known as the guy who, for a certain period, "stole" Marianne Faithful from Mick Jagger. In the late 60's, he discovered psichedelic underground music: he was fascinated by the Andy Warhol/Velvet collaboration... since he was a highly-credited artist, he wanted to start a similar adventure.

Since he couldn't play the music himself, he quickly hired some unknown italian hippies: Urbano Orlandi, Nello Marini, Giandomenico Crescentini and Sergio Cerra. Nothing is known about their past and their future. They're likely to have quitted the musical world after this weird adventure. Also Ettore Rosboch, an engineer, and Peter Hartman collaborated to the sessions. About the music, I don't agree with this band being in the Rock Progressivo Italiano subgenre. This is pure underground, forgotten, psichedelic schizophrenia... The music itself could not be enjoyable at first listens, and neither 10 listens later if you're not into psichedelic improvisations. The first track in particular sounds like a Krautrock improvisation... anticipating the time.

In fact, as I said earlier, the value of this album is primarily historic: although the band and Schifano himself were influenced by anglo-saxon underground bands, this recording anticipates many other bands since they were one of the first (probably THE first) group to record such an improvised and trippy in Continental Europe.

Try to imagine what kind of response this album had, in Italy in 1967... in a musical scene dominated by commercial pop singers who competed in various festivals like Sanremo...

To make you understand how weird this album is...Julian Cope rated this recording "Album Of The Month" in his Head Heritage website :)

As soon as you hear the first second of the first track, you know that this is no ordinary album. This 17-minutes long psichedelic jam is entitled "Le Ultime Parole di Brandimante, dall'Orlando Furioso, ospite Peter Harman e Fine (da ascoltarsi con tv accesa, senza volume) "

It means "The last words of Brandimarte, taken from the Orlando Furioso, with Peter Hartman as a guest, and End (To be listened with TV on, but without volume)"

This is the most significant track of the album. It begins with the members talking between themselves in a funny italian-english gramelot, then we hear the sound of some percussions (someone shouts "piano, spacchi tutto!" which means "Slow, you're breaking it!"" ). The first minutes are dominated by paranoid percussions and sinister organ clusters (something similar to Richard Wright's Sysyphus), then a woman sings a melancholic folk theme with guitar, but gradually the organ and percussions attack reemerges again and drowns her voice under a wave of musical schizophrenia. In some points, this part is pretty similar to Interstellar Overdrive. After six minutes, the guitarist Urbano Orlandi plays a glorious, loud, fuzz guitar riff, and the songs continues, even more chaotically because the guitar acquires a more important role. After 17 minutes of random chaos, the track fades with a guitar feedback.

The rest of the tracks are equally random but not as significant as this opening jam. They feature more vocals, which always convey the same feeling of spaced out trip / really bad hangover. In the closing numbers, like in Molto Lontano and Susan Song, there is the pleasant addition of the flute...it's welcome since it helps making the atmosphere calmer. In the last track, some eastern-indian influences are showed.

Just a few other curiosities about the album... the cover is a highly-rated work of art, done by the band guru Mario Schifano, presenting large purple stains with white stars. The infold sleeve presented a list of people to whom the album is dedicated, like Ernesto Che Guevara, Godard, Warhol and the Velvets, Fellini, Zappa...

In conclusion, as you noted from this review, this "Dedicato A..." (the title is not to be confused with the Semiramis album) has a great historical importance for Italy and the whole Continental Europe, and is excellent for weird trips, but the sound quality is not very good, especially in the vocal sections, moreover it's probably too random and difficult for the average prog fan.

More appreciable if you think of it as a Avantgarde work than an album. It's music to dance to while burying a dead animal in the night, if you really want to.

Three stars, but essential for historical matters.

Luca

Luca Pacchiarini | 3/5 |

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