on die schachtel’s overwhelmingly ambitious gruppo di improvvisazione nuova consonanza 5 lp box set, azioni / reazioni 1967-1969

Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza – Azioni / Reazioni 1967-1969 (2017)

Note: This texts draws heavily from the press material that I contributed to Die Schachtel / SoundOhm for this release.

As I’ve been working through my insane backlog of record reviews and write-ups, I realized that I had somehow missed Die Schachtel’s incredible X5 LP box set of archival Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza material – Azioni / Reazioni 1967-1969, released a short while back. Hopefully this piece will rectify some of that sin. No matter how much attention it receives, it couldn’t possibly be enough. It’s a stunning piece of work.

Over the last decade, the remarkable history of Italian avant-garde music has slowly come into focus. While among the most singular movements of the last century, these sounds have largely remained neglected and hidden from view – more or less landlocked. Ironically, the Italian scene was less hermetic than its European and American cousins, shattered orthodoxy and boundary, drawing on diverse traditions from across the globe. When describing their efforts – Minimalism, electronic music, improvisation, and jazz, standard definitions rarely apply. This resistance to categorization is point of principle, and begins in one place – the formation of Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza in 1964.

Unlike many of those who followed them, Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza has been widely celebrated since they first emerged. Among the radical and revolutionary efforts of their day, the collective was assembled by Franco Evangelisti, Ennio Morricone, and Egisto Macchi – rapidly expanding and contracting to include contributions by many of Italy’s most remarkable voices – Walter Branchi, Mario Bertoncini, Ivan Vandor, Frederic Rzewski, Giancarlo Schiaffini, Giovanni Piazza, Jesus Villa Rojo, Battisti D’Amario, Roland Kayn, Mario Bertoncini and John Heineman. Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, under the guidance of Evangelisti, drew equally on jazz, serialism, musique concrete, and extended techniques – breaking with the divisions that largely defined the larger global avant-garde scene – sculpting a body of sound which was like nothing before or since. Despite wide recognition, releases from their first decade are relatively slim, making Die Schachtel’s latest effort – Azioni / Reezioni 1967 -1969, a stunning X5 LP box, a rare, necessary, and valuable treasure. It’s a window into another world, and a reminder of what avant-garde and experimantal music is all about.

The Standard LP Edition.

These recordings, found in the the private archives of Walter Branchi, encounter the group at the height of their powers during the crucial period between 1967 and 69. Across the five LPs, Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza – comprised here of Franco Evangelisti, Egisto Macchi, Ennio Morricone, Walter Branchi, Ivan Vandor, John Heineman, Mario Bertoncini, and Roland Kayn, rises as the sonic realization of the spirit of the era – a sonic snapshot of revolution and great social and creative change. A world of startling interplay, conversations, texture, strategy, and tone – intellect and emotion bound in a single collective force, bridging free improvisation, abstract noise, and wild electronic sounds.

 

The Deluxe LP Edition.

Frankly put, this is as good as contemporary archival releases get – a perfect emblem of the love and care for underground musics which have made Die Schachtel one of the most respected imprints in our world. It goes above and beyond. Available in three distinct editions – a limited collector edition of 100 in a wooden, felt, and rubber box designed by Dinamomilano, as well as beautiful card box editions in LP and CD. Each includes DVD of the original film Nuova Consonanza, shot by Theo Gallher during the rehearsal and the concert that the group held on March 19th and 20th, 1967, at the Galleria d’arte Moderna in Rome. Both CD and LP editions are drawn directly from the original analog tapes, and have been lovingly remastered. Accompanied by a 64 page LP-size book in English and Italian, complete with essays, memories from the members of the group, a new article by Valentina Bertolani exploring in detail the techniques of the group (based on the film featured within), a chronology and a collection of original reviews by Maurizio Farina, and a set of stunning black and white photos of the group playing in the glorious Venice “Teatro della Fenice” in 1968, taken from the archives of the Venice Biennale.

 

Among the most remarkable releases of the year, the set is unquestionably some Die Schachtel’s most ambitious work to date. These are the heights of the sonic avant-garde. The sounds of an incredible culture, and the beginnings of a movement which continues to blow minds. A window into a sonic revolution, and absolutely essential on every count. You can pick it from your local record shop or from SoundOhm, they have sound samples on the site.

-Bradford Bailey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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