Boomkat Product Review:
Deluxe edition of Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza’s Azioni collection, comprehensively highlighting the early years of one of the most important, widely influential musical explorers at their late 1960's best. All the material here was salvaged from the archives of Gruppo member Walter Branchi, and serves to illustrate his work in the collective - along with Franco Evangelisti, Ennio Morricone, Ivan Vandor, Roland Kayn, Egisto Macchi, Mario Bertoncini and John Heineman - like some kind of document to the “big bang” of their unique electro-acoustic microcosmos.
Covering the period between their seminal, eponymous debut Gruppo Di Improvvisazione ‘Nuova Consonanza’ and the Improvisationen LP for Deutsche Grammophon - the same period during which Morricone was composing the OST for A Fistful Of Dollars and Roland Kayn was starting to realise the first strains of a sonic AI - the set documents in-depth the exhilarating friction and outlandish wonder of this unique unit of multi-disciplined and unblinkered musical thinkers and performers who smashed convention and effectively opened the doors for thousands of artists in their wake.
Funny thing is, to look at old pictures of the squad, all suited, bespectacled and with neat-ass fades, you’d hardly think that they would out-do Wolf Eyes or Smegma when it comes to creating the maddest racket you’ve never heard; but thats just what these guys did. Drawing from all corners of the compositional sphere, from free-jazz to serialism and concrète, they practically trampled on conventions with a fine-tuned experimental thrust that spun the lead of Russolo and the futurists with the live fire of Ornate Coleman and John Coltrane and the synthetic otherworldliness of Oskar Sala.
Gruppo fiends will no doubt know and love the original Azioni set, issued on 2CD+DVD in 2006 and found here cut across 2.5 sides of vinyl. However, hardly anyone in the world has heard the 100 minutes of Reazioni material, forming a major part of the attraction here; manifest in a masterly and near-telepathic system of tonal and percussive communication rent with head-spinning spatial dynamics, generating structures and sounds which arguably never existed before these recordings, which really come into their own in the quiet moments of extended technique, and a totally dilated 20 minute finale or détournement on the 5th disc.
OK, there are historic precedents in Russolo’s Intonarumori, the clatter of early Henry or Schaeffer, and the sonic architextures of Varèse and Xenakis, but nobody else had knitted sheets of plasmic electronic drones (thanks to Roland Kayn and Walter Branchi) with the sublime tensions and cues of music for film (ta to Macchi and Morricone), and the in-the-moment wit of jazz quite like these guys. And with praise due to the restoration of original tapes and remastering by Giuseppe Ielasi, the recordings still sound wildly ahead of the curve, effectively in a parallel dimension of their own.