Mutazione Review: Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground 1980-1988

Music

By: / August 13, 2013

As with Italo’s post-disco cousins, Hi-NRG and Freestyle, it is easy to scoff at the European sub-genre. Repetitive drum machines, overzealous synthesizers, broken English lyrics, and helium-breasted songbirds are just a few of the elements that give Italo its distinct, if divisive flavor. There is, however, more to Italo than the cheesy, coke-fueled Euro-disco that influenced countless pop stars, including Madonna and the Pet Shop Boys. This darker side of Italo has less to do with the neon promise of the 1980s and more to do with the dystopian fatigue of the 1970s.
Alessio Natalizia of Walls – purveyor of elegantly minimal electronica and longtime Kompakt artist – has taken it upon himself to showcase this grittier side of Italian dance music in the comprehensive compilation ‘Mutazione,’ released collaboratively through Wall’s Ecstatic label and vaunted archivists Strut Records.

Inspired by political upheaval, the post-punk, industrial-leaning tracks on Mutazione echo the Strum und Drang of German cohorts like D.A.F., the urban paranoia of UK counterparts like Cabaret Voltair, and the deconstructive funk of the American no-wavers like Bush Tetras. Standout cuts include: “Going Underground” by Gaznevada (who also released the boogie classic “IC Love Affair”); “Edges” by Kirlian Camera (who also released the darkly melodic new wave classic, “Blue Room”); Laxative Souls’ “Niccolai” built on eerie samples from a kidnapping call; and Doris Norton’s “Norton Apple Software” an oddity of loops and bleeps sponsored by the computer titan during their Orwellian advertising heyday.

Much of this material was originally released on cassette and word was spread through fanzines, which makes this 26-track collection pretty special. Adding to its allure is the insight provided into not only how politics and technology shape club culture in general, but individual artists like Walls.

Track list CD 1
1. Die Form – Are You Before
2. Neon – Informations of Death
3. Gaznevada – Going Underground
4. Carmody – Vulcani
5. Daniele Ciullini & De Rezke – Ancona Icone
6. 0010110000010011 (Cancer) – Naonian Style
7. Victrola – Maritime Tatami
8. 2+2=5 – Jacho’s Story
9. Laxative Souls – Niccolai
10. LA 1919 – Senza Tregua
11. Baciamibartali & Winter Light – Always Unique (Kill Myself 2) 12. Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici – Back and Forth
13. L’Ultimo Arcano – 1984-1985
Track list CD 2
1. A.T.R.O.X. – Against The Odds
2. Doris Norton – Norton Apple Software
3. Kirlian Camera – Edges (Original version)
4. Spirocheta Pergoli – Romero’s Living Dead 5. La Bambola Del Dr. Caligari – Deep Skanner 6. Pale TV – The Livid Triptych
7. Rats – Please
8. Plath – I Am Strange Now
9. Tasaday – Crisalide
10. La Maison – Critical Situation
11. Suicide Dada – Waiting For September
12. The Tapes – Nervous Breakdown
13. Maurizio Bianchi – Auschwitz

Track list CD 2
1. A.T.R.O.X. – Against The Odds
2. Doris Norton – Norton Apple Software
3. Kirlian Camera – Edges (Original version)
4. Spirocheta Pergoli – Romero’s Living Dead 5. La Bambola Del Dr. Caligari – Deep Skanner 6. Pale TV – The Livid Triptych
7. Rats – Please
8. Plath – I Am Strange Now
9. Tasaday – Crisalide
10. La Maison – Critical Situation
11. Suicide Dada – Waiting For September
12. The Tapes – Nervous Breakdown
13. Maurizio Bianchi – Aus