Boomkat Product Review:
On its 40th anniversary, Die Schachtel highlight Claudio Rocchi’s gorgeous but visceral psychedelic dream sequence, Suoni Di Frontiera - a collection of electronic sound ‘sketches’ by the Italian prog and folk pop hero - for its first vinyl reissue since 1976. Like so much of the Italian avant-garde’s output, Suoni Di Frontiera is nearly impossible to locate. from pulsing, rhythmic tones to sheets of pure abstraction, fragments of voice and environmental sound, captured and spun wild by tape loops and space age sounds.
Collecting the original LP, plus a bonus from the CD reissue released in 2009; Suoni Di Frontiera marks the sound of an artist following his instincts away from song structures to fully embrace the pleasures of tonal and rhythmic experimentation with concise, absorbing results that arguably parallel aspects of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Harmonia, and pre-date elements of Coil and reams of new age meditations to come.
As audiophiles and diggers have long known, Italy was a hotbed of experimental music during the mid ’70s era when Suoni Di Frontiera was conceived. Being a member of psych prog unit Stormy Six in the ‘60s, and later involved in Italy’s explorative pop scene, it was almost unavoidable that Rocchi would become seduced by the allure of oscillators, synths and electronic FX, and between 1974-76 he fully committed his time to this emerging paradigm. The layered, pastoral experiments of Rocchi manifested his first break with psych-folk-rock tradition towards electronic music, and thus laid the groundwork for a full transition into the tape-looping anomalies found on Suoni Di Frontiera.
Using the tactile soundboards of acoustic, electric and bass guitars, plus piano, keyboard, a load of FX and a Revox A77 (an earlier iteration of the B77 favoured nowadays by Valerio Tricoli), Rocchi conjured a sound free of the restraints usually found with song-writing and traditional instrumental arrangement. In the process he moved to a place between prog, pop and more academic skools of practice, intuitively throwing down taut, freeform sketches that range from recursive, head-pinching metallic moires thru to plasmic sound paintings and psychoacoustic vocal processing that uncannily recall Coil at their most enigmatic; taking in atemporal cosmic animations, beatless plunges and pulsating, proto-4th world pieces which clearly hinted at his increasing awareness of eastern philosophies, and lead him to spend 15 years as a Bhakti Hindu monk.
It’s fair to say that this scene has been extensively mined in recent years with swathes of Italian library records and the work of Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Di Nuova Consonanza or the likes of Franco Falsini seeing much closer inspection. Yet Rocchi’s enigmatic and prescient opus perhaps reappeared ahead of that curve and, with hindsight, is really due its time in the spotlight, where we find an album that neither falls into the frivolous charms of library music, nor gets tangled in academic concerns, instead hitting on a deeply satisfying pineal pop spot right between the eyes of tradition and uncharted territory.