"why so glum, chums?"--intersecting with Retromania's concerns, an interesting piece by Ryan Diduck for The Quietus on "The New Bleak" aka "hypnagothica" and its relation to recent political/economic/environmental traumas
talking of dark things, Valerio Mattioli, who writes for LaRepubblica tells me that there is an Italian counterpart to hauntology that was recently covered as part of an article in Blow Up (sort of Italy's The Wire) on contemporary Italian occult psychedelia. The journalist Antonio Ciarletta, says Mattioli, enumerates its ingredients as: "local folklore, the popular spaghetti cinema of the 60s/70s (especially mondo movies, giallo, spaghetti westerns, cannibal movies etc), even Catholicism, and a typical 'Italian vibe' all around.... Many of the musicians openly mention composers such as Piero Umiliani, Ennio Morricone and basically the whole Italian soundtracks/library music school".
"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.
"It also comes quite natural to understand this trend as a reflection of the current feelings among many Italians: we perceive our country as a declining glory with no future at all; and economic crisis, crime and political warfare create a sort of Late Empire atmosphere..."
Bands operating in this zone include Cannibal Movie, Donato Epiro, In Zaire, Orfanado, Spettro Family, Heroin In Tahiti [Mattioli's own band], and on the "more 'pagan-catholic folklore' tip", Mamuthones and Father Murphy . TheAwayTeam/Polysick are "a sort of modern Piero Umiliani" with projects lined up for 100% Silk, and Planet Mu. "Needless to say: all these artists form a sort of family, they’re all friends and do stuff together, they share projects and labels etc."
An example of what Mattioli dubs "Mondo-cannibals":
Mattioli calls this sub-category "spaghetti wastelands" (love it!)
This is an example of "Italian gothic":
and this is Father Murphy, who I saw in Pistoia last year