Curran, Laneri, Schiaffini - Beat 72 Lost Date
Even with the swell of interest that we’ve witnessed over the last ten or so years, the history of the Italian musical avant-garde is still a shadowy realm, rich with exciting discoveries. For decades, the movement’s activities - taking a remarkably diverse number of forms - remained almost entirely unknown beyond the country’s borders and sinfully neglected within, rendering it difficult to fully capture a sense of what transpired. The newly launched Eargong Records’ debut LP, Beat 72 Lost Date, brings this sense of possibility and discovery into sharp focus. An astounding, newly unearthed treasure of a one off endeavor, led by Roberto Laneri, Alvin Curran, and Giancarlo Schiaffini, recorded at the legendary Beat 72 club in Rome during 1973, across the album’s two sides we catch a glimpse of a rare bridge between the joint movements of improvised avant-gardism and musical minimalism that drowns the ear in immersive, mesmerizing sounds. A stunningly and beautiful document on creative terms, not to mention as historically important as recordings come, this is unquestionably one of 2020’s most incredible archival releases.
Roberto Laneri, Alvin Curran, and Giancarlo Schiaffini each occupy seminal positions within the canons of Italian experimental and avant-garde music. Roberto Laneri was a founding member of the experimental vocal group Prima Materia - a profoundly important project in the country’s singular movement of minimal music - Alvin Curran was a co-founder of Musica Elettronica Viva, and has remained one of the most important composers working in the field of avant-garde and experimental music ever since, and the trombonist, Giancarlo Schiaffini, was a member of Gruppo di improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza. This trio, joined by cello virtuoso Frances Marie Uitti, a close collaborator of Cage and Scelsi, the bassist Bruno Tommaso from the legendary Gruppo Romano Free Jazz, and American composer and guitarist Tony Ackerma, gathered on a single night in 1973 at Beat 72 club in Rome, issuing an astounding, immersive tapestry of improvised sonority, that has remained unissued and almost entirely unknown until now, almost half a century after it was first laid to tape.
The group that recorded Beat 72 Lost Date, while lacking a name and slightly shorter lived, is nothing short of super group, equal in stature and rarity to Telaio Magnetico (Franco Battiato, Lino Capra Vaccina, Juri Camisasca, Mino Di Martino, Roberto Mazza, Terra Di Benedetto). It encounters six figures of profound importance, bridging the American and Italian scenes, each bringing highly individualized voices into a collective endeavour that offers a remarkable vision of what avant-garde and experimental music set out to achieve during this fertile period of innovation and remarkable creative ambition. It is a collaboration between diverse visions, sets of understanding, and backgrounds, that seeks common ground in forward thinking push toward the unknown.
Falling within a liminal, category defiant zone between free jazz and avant-garde classical music, Beat 72 Lost Date is a tense and challenging expanse of intertwining sounds. Each artist intervenes within a tightly woven, tapestry of texture, rhythm, and tone, that is deeply conversant and almost seems to predict its own progression as it evolves over the album’s sides. Adding to the recording’s already remarkable historical value as a document of a never to be repeated event, this is notably a rare instance to encounter Roberto Laneri outside of the confines of minimalism during the 1970s, and thus can be approached as a crucial foreshadowing to some of his more ambitious ventures from the following decade like Anadyomene, recently reissued by Black Sweat.
An absolute must for fans of Roberto Laneri, Prima Materia, Alvin Curran, and especially Musica Elettronica Viva and Gruppo di improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza - sharing an unmistakable resonance with both projects - Beat 72 Lost Date is a thrilling dive into the wonderful diverse realm of avant-gardism in Italy during the 1970s, serving to radically expand our understanding of what was. A truly thrilling work of art, it’s a hell of a place to start for Eargong. We can’t wait to see what they have coming our way next. Grab it while you can. This one isn’t going to sit around for long.