The Tapes – Selected Works 1982-1992 (Ecstatic, February 2016)

After last year’s Ciullini-shaped surprise that swept those who intended to reduce ‘80s Italian archives from pumping synths into a half-lit morgue of Marxist industrial, Alessio Natalizia is at it again with this reissue of an even more forgotten duo, The Tapes, aka Roberto and Giancarlo Drago. The brotherly pair silently and personally made their tapes in Genoa throughout the decade of darkness and the gift this time is a record that will mature and grow with us. Wide-eyed and deeply melancholic, it’s a fabric of impressions and cues followed up and then forgotten; tapes frozen in time that explode with genius. The Drago brothers are rather unlike Ciullini: cerebral and delicate, they made meditative, dark music that compliles stillnesses, repetitions, modulations and variations on reocurring themes.

Accessible and unpretentious, their electronic experimentations managed to marry a home-made flavour and an instinctively knowing knack for melody that moved with nonchalant elegance between organic clunks, buzzes and strikes of plasticky cheap synthlines. The rich and intricate sample of their work provided by this double LP allows us to appreciate their refusal to slot into a single genre and to hear them across moods and definitions. Thin, airy progressions of sonic smoke (“Falso Movimento B2”, “Il Manifesto”) sit alongside excellent minimal synth dance pieces (“Berlin”, “Low Gear”, “Nervous Breakdown”) and philosophical electronic pieces (“Otto” and “Nove”) fall into the abyss of a ruthless, black-fuzz industrial (“Totem 1351”, “Il Tempio”). Unmissable, crisp and all in all, favoloso.

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