A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Enter a world of cannibal holocausts, in swarming green inferno jungles. Descend into sputtering, ill-lit apartment blocks. Face the relentless brutality of the Wild West. One part library funk, one part midnight seance; this is the world of Italian Occult Psychedelia
Italian Occult Psychedelia is the Italian counterpart to hauntology,, serving as a gateway into the subterranean unconscious of Italy. Like every branch of Hauntology, it could be viewed as a visualization of previously invisible, or hopelessly obscured, in large part due to the atemporality and disregard for genre boundaries.
Again, like most offshoots of Hauntology, Italian Occult Psychedelia serves as a kind of vicious satire to the mainstream history. In this case, by pointing out that for all of Italy’s hedonism and style, immortalized in films like La dolce vita [Blu-ray], all the while, the Italians have been seeped in gore, menace, and brutality – with genres like giallo, mondo documentaries, cannibal movies, and Spaghetti Westerns.
Valerio Mattioli, who plays in the excellent Heroin In Tahiti, commented:
“To me,” continues Mattioli, “what’s interesting in these bands, is that their kind of hauntology avoids the eerie and pastoral feeling of the English counterpart, as well as the pop-cheesy attitude of the American hypnagogic pop. On the contrary, their music is blatantly dark, esoteric and sometimes bloody, actually reflecting the ‘sun & violence’ culture which – despite the clichés – is a commonplace here. Of course, there’s the homage to a popular imagery which is deeply rooted here, and that somehow reflects the Italian identity better than your typical Venice postcard. But it’s also like saying that memories often can be nightmares, especially if you live in a country which is half Europe/half… well, Italy. Kind of Sergio Leone/Lucio Fulci induced nostalgia…
“When you go back with your memories to the contemporary Italian golden age – to say, the 60s of the Dolce Vita etc – you can’t escape the ghosts of that same era: terrorism, urban favelas, corruption and so on. Even the big masterpieces of the Italian literature, TV and cinema typically deal with such atmospheres – they’re always bloody, violent, excessive. Somehow, the bands analyzed by Ciarletta are here to remind us that the Italian good old days (when future seemed possible) were a very depressed place, and that the present is filled with those ghosts.
– sourced from Simon Reynold’s blissblog
Fiume Nero is the first appearance on vinyl from Donato Epiro, half of the seminal Cannibal Movie, and head of the Sturmundrugs label. Epiro’s description of the label, “free/freak folk, drone music, psychedelic, prog, kraut rock and electronic”, is a pretty concise shorthand for what goes on, on Fiume Nero. Except Epiro doesn’t dabble in genres – he creates worlds.
I don’t preclude anything but I have in my head a precise sonic universe populated by weird flowers, coloured animals, centenarian trees, forgotten chants, bones, humidity, stones and galaxies.
– from Foxy Digitalis
Epiro creates these worlds with an efficient but dense tapestry of organ drones, ritualistic percussion, funky flute, and an aurora of scrapes, squeaks, rattles, whispers, and feedback.
To achieve this, Donato Epiro jams with a variety of acoustic instruments, and then meticulously layers and edits those results in post-production, creating a scrumptious blend of live, organic improvisation and studio mindfuckery.
There is a graceful, middle eastern temple drum feeling to much of Fiume that makes it seem like some kind of lost temple, poking out of the rainforest, and reminds us of Italy’s non-European roots and influences.
If yesterday’s post, Lawrence English‘s Wilderness Of Mirrors, was a peaceful, contemplative forest clearing by a river, Fiume Nero is the heart of darkness of that forest, where bonfires rage and forgotten rituals transpire. Leave behind civilization, forget words and names and rules, and come to where the wild things play.
More than anything, Fiume Nero, like much of Italian Occult Psychedelia, is interesting due to the live/jammed nature of the recordings, which makes it hairier and freakier than the often hermetic, clean world of British Hauntology. This is trve pagan celebration, true seance music. Cast the corners…
Italian Occult Psychedelia is both vitual to the continued health and growth of Hauntology, and reflective of its currents. This is Hauntology 3.0, as evidenced by the works of Demdike Stare, who began with Ghost Box style recreationism, then adding layers of grit and confusion, as obscure samples were layered and morphed, like a mixtape left in the sun, and then sent through time, to bein some archaic religion. Demdike Stare did a lot to bring in the Italian element into the hauntological conversation, which is an essential component, if yr going to reflect the culture and listening habits of soundtrack hounds and sample fiends. Basically, if you like horror movie soundtracks, you are going to come into contact with A LOT of Italian soundtracks, and probably end up seeing the movies, as well. This fresh magickal current into the form prevents the style from devolving into pastiche, and taken over by impostors with nothing original to say.
Expect to hear a lot more about Italian Occult Psychedelia. It is near and dear to our black hearts – an addictive blend of psych, funk, and ritualism that is a near perfect approximation of our inner landscapes.
To hear more Italian Occult Psychedelia, and learn more about it, check out this wikilist.
Donato Epiro Blogspot
Black Moss Tumblr
Already a fan of IOP? Know something that sounds like Donato Epiro, that we should check out? Let us know in the comments!