October 28, 2004

Various Artists: Musica Futurista

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French surrealism and German dada have been credited for their influence on everything from musique concrete to New Wave. Italian futurism, on the other hand, has been given short shrift due to lost tapes and abandoned musical scores. Perhaps this disappointing state of affairs will be remedied with Musica Futurista, a double-disc compilation that catalogues the movement’s musical innovations from the ’20s and ’30s. The most valuable documents are the pieces by Luigi and Antonio Russolo, former painters who invented intonarumori, mammoth noise intoners (using stretched diaphragms, cranks, and springs) that infuse even the most conventional sonatas with the burgeoning mechanical density of infernal factories and diesel engines. It’s hilarious and strangely poignant, sending fragile piano pieces hurtling through caverns that emit surging wind and movement. Adding to this pandemonium is poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s radio collage, “Cinque Sintesi Radiofoniche,” which rushes through field recordings, soccer matches, folk jams, alarm clocks and carnie barking. It’s a clear precedent for John Cage, Negativland and “Revolution 9.”

4 Stars

Archived article by Alex Linhardt