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Interview with Marcello Ambrosini (Post-Industriale: La scena italiana anni ’80)

Published by Davide Pappalardo on January 29, 2017

marcello-ambrosini-post-industriale-scena-italiana-anni80Today FLUX presents a really interesting interview to Marcello Ambrosini, the author of Post-Industriale: La Scena Italiana Anni ’80, namely a very detailed book about the Italian Post-Industrial scene of the 80’s, the first manual about this peculiar kind of music in a place and time it was a really underground reality. We’ve asked him some questions about the book, the idea behind it, and some of his ideas about many topics.

1) Welcome on FLUX! How was born the idea behind a work like Post–Industriale: La Scena Italiana Anni ’80, a book which talks about the Italian industrial scene of the 80’s and what came from it?

I really didn’t want to write another manual about punk or prog music, instead I wanted to write something that wasn’t on the shelves. I’m not interested in repeating things already covered by other authors. What I was looking for, something innovative, I’ve found in the post-industrial movement. I have to say that, although I listen more or less to anything (from Alberto Camerini to John Zorn, including Inti-Illimani), my favorite kind of music is Industrial. We could say it was a great pleasure for me to compensate to this omission in the world of books.

2) In the book’s preface the collective entity known as Luther Blisset introduces the theme of the book talking about the differences and parallelisms between the Industrial scene, Futurism, avantgarde noise and punk derivations. It gives us a non-academic but well thought philology. How important is this introduction in order to understand the theme behind the book?

If we see all the things you have cited from a certain point of view, they have a common thread. Futurism is the core of the theme of music’s renovation and industrial music is part of the same theme. To simplify things, we can establish four main moments: 1) the creation of the Intonarumori by Russolo and Piatti and the publishing of L’Arte Del Rumore, a Futurism’s manifest 2) The prepared piano and the use of non-silence by Cage 3) Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry theory and compositions about musique concrète 4) Throbbing Gristle first album and the establishment of their label Industrial Records.

3) To write a book about a music genre not very well known in Italy, especially in the decade the book talks about, sometimes without any material of reference on the Net and with few data about projects which were short-lived, should have been no easy task. What challenges, joys, discoveries have you encountered and what were your thoughts?

Yes, I have to say the research of material has been difficult. Many musicians even didn’t have their own copies of their works anymore. Anyway I had part of the materials already in my home, collected by myself through the years, but some of them seemed untraceable. For example, thinking about Crime ‘O’ Nautix, neither Rodolfo Protti nor Stefano Giust, the two minds behind the project, had a copy of their only cassette. So I had to buy personally, from a seller that was almost a loan shark, the only copy of the cassette existing on the market. During this long research, which has lasted more than two years, I had a pleasent surprise: an unpublished demo by M.B. which was forgotten even by himself.

4) What’s the significance of your book when compared to the previous attempts to talk, in Italy, about this underground world? Let’s think about the revisited version of the Industrial Handbook by Paolo Bandera or INDUSTRIAL [r]EVOLUTION by Giovanni Rossi.

I’ve read with great interest the chapter wrote by Paolo Bandera called “Italonoise”, very short for reasons connected with the world of publishing, but very well done. I think he is very competent for this theme, and generally speaking he is a very intelligent and educated person. His article was the first step, my book the second one, let’s see who will take the third one and what direction he will take. About Industrial [R]evolution by Giovanni Rossi, Luther Blissett said in the preface of my book it is “a confused and thrown together attempt”. I don’t know if you have ever met the people who hide behind the name Luther Blissett. Well, they are unsavory folk, and because I am afraid they could meet me down in the streets, ready to destroy my vinyl collection with screws and chains, I would never dare to contradict them. Did I made myself clear?

5) The Italian (post)-industrial scene of the 80’s is a very important part of your life, defined by you as “a positive aspect of existence”. Could you please elaborate this concept?

What you are citing, the positive aspect of existence, is something born from a very personal need. Before I started to write this book I was looking for something totally different from the theme of my previous essay in which I’ve talked about the bad aspects of politics and where the protagonists were the politicians themselves, very negative people. So, the positive aspect I found in the Italian post-industrial scene is the fact that its protagonists never accept any compromise offered by the music industry, they act sustained only by a true passion for music and we can say they are pure. They are truly black swans in this society of turncoats.

6) What do you personally think about today’s Italian scene? Do you find in it the same spirit and intentions of the 80’s?

After 36 years, the Italian industrial scene is really boring and depressive. It truly loves 2-meters-long square tables with at least an Apple computer on them. The illuminated screen of the Apple puts the musician in a state of trance, just like a newborn while looking at the bees flying upon his crib. It’s the classic midlife crisis. It happens to everyone. Even Dante has talked about it in  tempore non suspecto: “midway upon the journey of our life…”

7) The book is accompanied by a CD with some goodies between unpublished tracks and very rare songs difficult to find elsewhere, showing us even some names found in the pages of the book like Ain Soph, F.A.R, Sigillum S, Tasaday and so on.  How was born the idea of a sound support for the book? How did you find these tracks?

The CD has been compiled by Stefano Gentile and published by Officina Fonografica Italiana and Spittle Records. The credit for this idea completely goes to Goodfellas, the publishing house. I’ve to say they’ve been very good at keeping the price of the final product very low: a book of 288 pages and the CD at 22 euros (18 if bought online). The bands have been selected by Stefano, I’ve only selected  F:A.R, one of my favorite works and not only about industrial music. This way I took my chance to thank them for many things.

8) Industrial music in Parma: let’s talk about the scene, in the past and today, of your city.

Parma is still the duchy of the ‘800. K.N.D.R in their boxset called Play have resumed the situation very well, writing on the cover: “A COLLECTION OF MASTERWORKS BUILT UNDER THE DELIGHTED REIGN OF HER MAJESTY THE IMPERIAL PRINCESS, ARCHDUCHESS OF AUSTRIA MARIA LUIGIA DUCHESS OF PARMA, PIACENZA, GUASTALLA”. Another important name in the story of Parma’s industrial scene is T.A.C. About the modern scene… let me know if there is anyone! I’m here, ready to listen. Anyway, although they’re not an industrial band, I really like Lourdes Rebels among the modern Parma’s projects.

9) Art and “music against the system”, two elements linked indissolubly between them (even if this is something some scholar could argue about). What do you think about this link? Do you think is important that music still has an artistic element without impositions and reverences?  

Only children are artists. Most of the time, a grown up man calling himself an artist is an artsy fartsy I have always preferred the uncultured to the cultured, the non-academic to the academic, who breaks the rules to who follows them. So, I prefer the self-taught to the artist. Well, if one has the misfortune of being an academic and cultured grown up, who can’t think anymore as a child, he doesn’t need to desperate: madness could save him. Most of the time there is a solution, you just have to find it.

10) Thank you for your time. Do you want to add anything for the readers of FLUX?

Do you mean like asking something to myself and giving an answer? I’ve never been a fan of Marzullo (editor’s note: Gigi Marzullo is an Italian journalist and television presenter, host of a late-night show called “Sottovoce”).