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Mamma Non Piangere - N.1 (Musica Bestiame e Benessere)  CD (album) cover


Mamma Non Piangere



3.07 | 11 ratings

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3 stars Mom will Not Cry over Music, Cattle and Welfare?

First things first: your correspondent is about as au fait with the RIO/Avant critter as Fay Wray was qualified to carry out genetic research into the mating patterns of rather large apes. That said, I've got to start somewhere and despite my ingrained resistance to elements of the genre, will attempt to be as objective and fair-minded as any grumpy and cantankerous rodent could reasonably be expected to be.

Armonia E Gelosia - A brooding funereal intro worthy of Magma 'Unplugged' with chanted wordless vocals framed in an angular melody which flees hastily in the face of some guttural and bubbling brass at rapid tempo before we meet a Teutonic Kabarettlieder as if sung by Nico's little sister. (Is it just me that thinks Sonia Milan sounds like a 'chipper' Marlene Dietrich?) Thereafter we enter a dislocated but endearingly cyclic loop of stuttering guitar and brass which conjures up a hungover Gentle Giant albeit one reduced to 13 rpm from sampling too much Columbian beanstalk. There are some strong European folk elements in the 'traditional' song passages which delight, plus some forays into Pierrot Lunaire's sprechgesang which don't. This is a strong opening track certainly, but like so much avant oriented malarkey, the latent threat of smirking anti art-wank is never far from a surface even as appealing as this one.

Il Bambino Luigino - Yet more cyclic cut-ups as though a Lounge Lizards track had been dissected in a biology lab and reassembled into a Balkan village fertility song sung by Henrietta Cow. Threatens to disintegrate at any moment but MNP miraculously keep their 'dark brown matter' together and deliver an imposing but unwieldy composition.The brass and reeds very often cleverly imitate the nuances and articulations of speech throughout this record.

Lasciati Baciare - Droning eastern inflected intro with some hints of overtone singing in the layered textures and some plaintive and articulate sax weaving its way in and around the febrile sound picture. Degenerates thereafter alas, into a transparent pastiche of tongue in cheek Mediterranean strummed ethnicity before erupting into 'Dixieland meets Pixieland' via North Africa. If you can imagine the Bonzos as exclusively Tangiers pipe tobacco smokers this may very well have resulted. Those not smiling at this number's conclusion are advised to check in a mirror for a definition of 'humourless'.

Catarro Cosmica - Had Lamont Young written for the Count Basie Orchestra, the opening provides a tantalising glimpse into such an unlikely alliance. Once again MNP whip the magic carpet from under our feet without warning by way of a strong but transparently ironic Mediterranean folk-song intoned with predictable bathos by Lorenzo Leddi. Atonal squawking and sprawling acres of unkempt vegetation are de rigeur for this genre but apart from the few and far between short bursts of self conscious 'Viva Neglect !' this band to their credit, never abandon conventional harmonic devices and form entirely. At just under 10 minutes, Catarro Cosmica rather overstays its welcome but has a depth and resilience that warrants repeated listening. Like so much of this challenging music you have to pan for the gold, the jewellery will not jump onto your fingers by itself.

Osvaldo - Who must have been buried in New Orleans judging by the marching street band lamenting his demise here. Ms Milan dispenses with the Germanic inflections and sounds unequivocally Italian on this track.The melody is as strong as Sonia's emotive delivery and her cohorts serve up an unlikely and beguiling accompaniment with shades of Dixie jazz, lieder and Italian folk idioms all pressed willingly or otherwise into this multicultural blender. Musique Concrete via some typewriter sounds and traffic noises make an unwelcome appearance and it seems the gang just can't resist being ugly for the sake of cocking a snoot at our conditioned perceptions of conventional beauty. (It seems that the avant garde has just as many tiresome clichés as that of the reviled mainstream).

L'aperta Verita - Possibly tantamount to 'through composed' form in places, such is the convoluted and tangential nature of the development. Almost saved by a wispy as barbecue smoke melody from Milan but once more, MNP are guilty of throwing irritating Musique Concrete sound effects into the mix like wanton Luddites. In mitigation, there is a fine moment of sustained calm when Sonia intones with effective urgency over a Celtic dirge/bagpipe drone imitation to memorable effect.

Mamma Non Piangera - For the first time the looming presence of Zappa is discerned during the brass parts of the intro. Certainly not a bad idea to assimilate Frank's command of abrasive counterpoint but weed out the adolescent schoolboy humour beforehand. Episodic writing is the order of the day here, as unrelated passages of medieval plainsong, folk song, Canterbury prog, brass band parody, Indian raga and aimless accidental meanderings a la Art Bears follow sequentially with no apparent architectural design. (Pah ! who wants to build something that still stands up 20 years hence ? Landmarks are for tourist scum says the RIO manifesto) Not entirely redundant as the individual sections are worthy of some of your time but let's not kid ourselves, this is a jammed medley of sorts.

Ballatelo Questo Ritmo - The closest we get to a rawkin sing-a-long-a pop song. Good fun, but the clumsy knowing irony and self conscious insincerity smacks of those who want to tear down popular music and graffiti the ruins with 'everything sucks but check out the wallpaper'.

This album will undoubtedly confound most people's idea of 'conventional' and is refreshing for that alone. It also betrays a robust strain of the germs of tonality, despite the toxic vaccine administered by the Avant/RIO doctors to rid their patients of such social diseases. As someone who heartily loathes the output of Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, John Zorn and others from the 'more obscure than thou' ghetto, MNP represent a point which is probably as far as I would dare venture into this barren field. I'll leave you with a quote from the discerning 'egghead's egghead' Brian Eno, which rather neatly sums up many folks misgivings about entering this forbidding sonic realm:

- Avant-garde music is sort of research music. You're glad someone's done it but you don't necessarily want to listen to it. - Brian Eno

ExittheLemming | 3/5 |


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