A.R Luciani – Elettroencefalogramma


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In the widening realms of uncovered European Outsider Art and maligned musical enigmas, the composer most commonly known as A.R. Luciani continues to exist on the extreme outer limits. Despite his unwaning commitment to the Italian avant garde and extensive production for the film industry, his work remains undocumented in almost all the excitable documentaries, books and retrospectives on the subject made in recent years. Trust Andy Votel, Sean Canty and Doug Shipton to put that to rights – with this first-ever collection of his music, representing what Votel describes as “just the tip of an iceberg in a very deep ocean”. It represents a stunning haul of largely unheard material offering an immersive overview and the first contemporary assessment of this seldom-scanned musical mastermind. Followers of Teresa Rampazzi, Daniela Casa, Roland Kayn, Maurizio Bianchi or the wider Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza universe need to delve deep into this one.

‘Elettroencefalogramma’ scans the full breadth of solo experimental composition by Antonino Riccardo Luciani, revealing a strong, prescient, frankly shocking line in mind-bending, fathoms-deep work with tape and early, pre-synth devices. Awarded unprecedented access to the polymath composer’s archive of inter-disciplinary work, Andy Votel follows his pressing of Maria Teresa Luciani’s ‘Sounds of The City’ with this first compilation survey of her sibling’s vast catalogue. The set falls deep within the label’s remit of reissued and previously unreleased work by overlooked and undocumented pioneers of 20th century sound, revealing a distinctive mix of material that nods to contemporary, tape music, neo-classical, jazz, electro-acoustic and counterpoint composition.

Drawn from original tapes recorded during the 1970s, ‘Elettroencefalogramma’ spans the heyday of Luciani’s work, before synth music was popularised. In this sense it’s worth noting Luciani’s links with Teresa Rampazzi and the pioneering electroacoustic group NPS – and namely Serenella “Serena” Marega – with whom he shares a strong affiliation toward embracing the possibilities of new music at the dawn of an unprecedented sonic epoch. There’s a sense of being in transition between worlds and eras in the opening blend of melancholy strings and bubbling electronic rhythm ‘Battery Farm’, and likewise the cranky mixture of bestial growls and dissonance in ‘The Zoo’, while the rattly rhythm of ‘Offices’ uncannily recalls Trunk’s recent issue of ‘Mechanical Keyboard Sounds’ from the modern day. But Luciani excels at quieter, introspective styles, as with the flute-led vision of ‘Desol 2’, and most remarkably in the stygian, primitive drum machine pulse and clammy string drones of ‘Forest of Chimneys’, which is surely crying out for imagery of Satanic mills, while the rupturing tape of ‘Bombardment’ sets him firmly in a lane of advanced Italian noise that connects him to Gruppo’s Roland Kayn and Maurizio Bianchi.

Needless to say all of the material compiled here is taken from records that are incredibly rare and which were never intended for commercial release. It serves as a multifarious toolkit portfolio of Luciani’s most introspective, intimate, individualistic and uninhibited studio experiments – compiled and assembled in collaboration with the artist himself, whose vast and incredible oeuvre will hopefully now be made available to a new generation of listeners.

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