Boomkat Product Review:
This tape is basically as weird and hard to place as its cover suggests. It’s an impressionistic ‘radio tale’ describing private listening life conducted in Albania under the totalitarian communist rule of Enver Hoxha (1944-1985), whose restrictive regime meant that radio become the sole source of connection to the world beyond Albania’s borders. It was made by Jonida Prifti, documenting her own experience living and documenting under that regime.
You don’t need to have experienced the same repression to understand the pathos and raw, alien wonder of her hauntoligcally-related recording, which lands somewhere between the haunting electro-acoustic documentations of Áine O’Dwyer, alien radio transmissions, and the kind of spectral enigmas released by Venetian label Von Archive.
Part of the latest batch from Canti Magnetici - the esoteric young label operated by Gaspare Sammartano, Andrea Penso and Loopy’s Donato Epiro from an area in South Italy across the Adriatic from Albania - Acchiappashpirt Tola is a steeply abstract incursion to Jonida’s formative years, sharing, in her own words, “the tale of a girl who discovers freedom through the frequencies of a radio” - a medium which was forbidden, and only legitimately accessible to those who supported the regime. Tuning into indecipherable ‘“foreign” frequencies’ was therefore both a form of resistance and exploration which, although ostensibly simple and passive, clearly had a powerful impact on the young woman who “felt sucked in by the radio waves until I disappeared into the frequencies”, calling it “a kind of metamorphosis from human being to a free pure wave without boundaries”.
Starkly greyscale and billowing with negative space, the 23 minute piece opens with a dramaturgy of primitive electronics and voice, with bleeps and distant Italian vocals establishing widely reverberant, hard-to-grasp dimensions perfused by acousmatic disturbances and thrilling in their pranging, unpredictable and operatic nature. At around the half way mark percussion joins the mix in a way recalling the early electronic poems of Edgar Varèse, tumbling into stilted syncopations and sharing dusty space with wistful, prodding organ notes in a way just like Áine O’Dwyer’s Music For Cleaners.
It’s rare and quite shocking to find music so astute and bold in its primitiveness, at once reminding us of similarities between our own formative fiddling with tuning dials and the rawness of early electronic recordings. And that’s where the blank B-side comes into play, intended for listeners to fill up the space with their own recordings, in a way getting back in touch with what made music and sound at the rawest level so seductive, alien and key to all of our listening lives.