A dreamy experiment for fans of the avant-garde
Do you like Ummagumma's studio side? How about "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast?" If you answered No you can probably stop reading. But if you like that kind of weirdness you may enjoy this super rarity from late '70s Italy that is being released by BTF for the first time ever on CD. Carlo Barbiera, keyboardist and composer of this group begins his description of the project as follows:
"To wrap up sculptures in a cloak of sounds, in search of tri-dimensional music."
"Nascita della Sfera" (Birth of the Sphere) produced this sprawling conceptual work based on the life of Italian sculptor Luciano Ceschia (1926-1991). Barbiera wrote the piece and assembled a large troupe of musicians to record it. In the '70s the LP was a very limited private pressing, but BTF/AMS have remedied that with a tasty gatefold mini-lp sleeve CD release. I have seen the results described as "experimental electro-acoustic progressive" and also "proto-folktronica." ItalianProg.com says the work reminds a bit of early Battiato. In general there are just enough flavors of the '70s RPI scene to appeal to its fans and the rest should be fans of the avant and electronic genres. It is a product of its time and a bit rough around the edges so be aware of that. If you like your prog polished with top notch production values and linear sensibilities, this is not for you. This is a home-made sounding project that pays no lip service to any commercial conventions, something that not everyone will appreciate but only adds to the fun for me.
It is charming and absolutely successful progressive music to my ears. While the CD is chaptered 32 times, the pieces are connected and this album plays like one long daydream. You move from one short sound experiment to the next: some are beautiful, some are dissonant, some are fairly traditional, some are totally musically insane. In short, just what the adventurous listener craves. To give a bit more description I'll describe some of the more common track scenarios. One track will be an acoustic guitar just frittering away like Gilmour does during Psych Breakfast, very soft, nostalgic, beautiful. The next track will be short flute or sax solo that drifts off down a dark hallway. Then you might have cacophony of hideous loud clanging noises over voices. Then a piano solo or clocks ticking or running water. Then spoken word vocals. Then a variety of synthesizers creating a wall of sound. Then a child's laugh. You get the point? It's the kind of album one either loves or hates, which is why I referenced the two widely known Floyd pieces. This album is even a bit more "out there" and frankly a bit more sincere than the Floyd works I mention-Ummagumma sound a little contrived in places whereas this album feels more natural. The guitar playing is quite frequent and very enjoyable as the players try out several different styles from spacey acoustic to blues to jazz to even a brief bit of hard rock. The acoustic guitar of "Campenelli" literally sparkles with effervescence to great effect and are back by strange piano and synth sequences. The saxophone excursions near the end are like a person coming apart.beautiful at first but descending into some chaos. What I really like about this album is the complete freedom from the chains of a rhythm section. So much music is a slave to having constant drums thumping away-this album allows musicians to play free-form without being constrained by that. Like a situation comedy that is brave enough to not use a laugh track there simply are no rules here. This is about sound and the moods the sounds conjure, it is not about "songs." Overall I find this album enchanting and perfect for a rainy day. My guess is that some fans of today's more hard-core avant-garde projects may find this album a bit "quaint" as it doesn't pack the in-your-face edge of someone like Toby Driver. But that doesn't mean it isn't viable. This album is interesting to me musically, historically, and has the charm of its creator coming through via boundless enthusiasm.
The BTF reissue is even more generous than usual with two separate, thick booklets, one in English and one in Italian. The liner notes written by Barbieri are some of the most heartfelt and humorous I've ever read. He recalls moments of his life in a sort of stream-of-consciousness burst which fits well with the music here. Great detail is given about other contributors also, their backgrounds, and what they are doing now. The sound is taken from the original master tapes and while not exactly awesome it is certainly acceptable to me. Barbieri and his 13 year old aspiring musician son worked together on processing 13 additional bonus tracks adding more than a half-hour to the dream sequence. There is some real bang for the buck here for the experimental music lover but it requires a listener with patience as well as an open mind about what "music" really is..... by Finnforest.....~
Ever since my good friend Steve talked about moving together with this album, I've felt the need to listen to it. Again and again.....It's a couple of years old friendship I've had, which now is beyond the rather peculiar opening meeting that first left me on the verge of delirium.
Birth of the Sphere, or Nascita della Sfera, created a tightly woven piece of art back at the tail end of the 70s, one that takes library music to another level altogether. I've seen many folks affectionately talking about it as one of the great obscure library albums, and if there's anything I am absolutely certain of, then it's that I'll never in a million years bump into this baby down at the local library! Not even the hippest book borrowing businesses will have the balls to play this.
Based around the Italian sculptor Luciano Ceschia (1926-1991) this album wields equal amounts of theatrical avantguarde electronics, freak folk and something else entirely. Not altogether indecipherable, the record seems to have a gentle way about it that very eloquently takes you through melodic "authentic" sounding music, recalling an acoustic take on Jerry Garcia's work for Zabriskie Point - to more daring electronic experiments, that I personally feel are closely related to a certain Italian sound. You hear it in Pierrot Lunnaire's RIOesque Gudrun, Battiato's Fetus (more outspoken on Pollution and the subsequent albums though), and then again it's also present in a remarkable more dark, brooding and sawing album like Claudio Rocchi's complete mindf*ck Suoni di Frontiera. It's a brand of electronics that not unlike The Floyd did on Saucerful of Secrets with organs - very slowly larvals it's way through the music like a mucus engulfed metal snail. The wonderful feel of this musical trade is the equivalent of diving straight into a pool of soft wet clay. Thick gooey gelatinous - words that all very aptly convey the real force of these electronic critters.
A small note should go to the audiophile connoisseurs out there though. I know some of you, and my guess is that you're most likely going to hate the production side of things. Per una scultura di ceshia at times sounds like it was recorded in a rather large plastic bucket. Especially the rare moments, where the more earthly businesses of saxophone, guitar and drums appear, takes on this absurd cartoonish cardboard sheen.
With 7 people behind the vocals, including head honcho Carlo Barbiera (keyboards, vocals, composition), you can also expect quite a vocal affair - though not in the way you probably think. Bouncing back and forth through sections of soft talking, voices and what genuinely sounds like a mic stuck in a room with two people having the most life altering conversation of their lives - the focus of this thing lies elsewhere - more specifically on the panoramic electronic scenery, saxophone experiments and droopy rainy day silhouettes.
When I hear this album now, it reminds me of Steve, who at the moment probably is celebrating his birthday(Godspeed comrade - feel the potatoes)............... Funny how some records remind you of people, and what's perhaps even more funny, is that music this mad and mosaic actually is capable of reflecting genuine personality in a kind flattering manner. For me personally, I have always had a lust for bewilderment, to get lost and hopefully stay there for a bit. Maybe I'm mad, but to me the backstreets and jungles just have so much more swoof and zing than all the world's highways combined. This facet of me is multiplied a thousand times when it comes to music, and I suspect that Steve most likely understands this better than any. Have a good one buddy! I'm sending you a box of koalas in the winter.....by Guldbamsen....~
Avant-garde concept album about the artist / sculptor Luciano Ceschia. I didn't know who he was, either. (His work is on the cover). The music is an appealing DIY mix of Italian classicism, futurist longings, and primitive constructivism. Expect noisy soundscapes interspersed with passages of delicate folk. Perhaps the variety of sonic textures represent the different mediums used by the artist? Let's petition our nearest museum to hold a Luciano Ceschia retrospective. It can be curated by his biggest fan, Carlo Barbiera......Phallus_Dei ....~
An absolutely unknown group for an equally unknown album. Under the name "Birth of the Sphere" there is a group of studio musicians assembled by Carlo Barbiera, keyboardist and composer, for the recording of a single LP. Released in 1978, the album is dedicated to the life and works of the sculptor Luciano Ceschia (1926-1991), originally, like Barbiera himself, from the Udine area. The information is very sparse. Read on Italianprog.itwe learn that this rare album "is a rather original example of an experimental electro-acoustic progressive genre, built on synthesizer effects and acoustic guitars which often recalls something of the early works of Franco Battiato. Despite the presence of five singers in the formation, the parts vowels are short, speak or recite rather than sing. " The disc in my opinion is very beautiful. The synth brings back to the sounds of Fetus , the tracks for acoustic guitar are a little reminiscent of The Narrow Way's David Gilmour(forgive me the somewhat strong comparison), there are piano touches here and there interspersed with sound effects, delicate flute inserts, choral and recitative interventions of great effect. The bonus tracks are decidedly different: the sessions, in particular, present us with a nice compact group struggling with blues, jazz and rock sounds, with guitar, bass, sax and drums in evidence. The last tracks are followed by applause, so much so as to seem played live (I suppose in the studio). Who knows what they would have produced, if their musical journey had continued. In short, a decidedly avant-garde album for the time and still very current today. The original edition of the disc, which was printed and distributed privately, contained 19 tracks, listed separately, but actually connected to each other so as to form two long suites that occupied the two facades. The album had a gatefold cover including a detailed biography of Luciano Ceschia and two inserts with one of his works and notes by the same artist. Some copies also contained a small promotional leaflet illustrating the album and its contents. A recent reprint by AMS offers 13 bonus tracks, included here, for completeness. And what the heck, did we want to leave them out? A recent reprint by AMS offers 13 bonus tracks, included here, for completeness. And what the heck, did we want to leave them out? A recent reprint by AMS offers 13 bonus tracks, included here, for completeness. And what the heck, did we want to leave them out?...verso la strtosfera.....~
Legendary and top obscure Nascita della Sfera only LP, produced in 1978 as a very limited private pressing. For many years people thought this LP was not existing as no copy was ever found, even buy the most esoterically collectors. In a border zone between avant-garde music and contemporary art, Nascita della Sfera (i.e. Birth of the Sphere) was a group of session musicians assembled by composer and keyboardist Carlo Barbiera to record this sprawling conceptual and self-published LP. Carlo Barbiera dedicated the very limited album to the life and works of contemporary sculptor Luciano Ceschia (1926-1991), both coming from near Udine, Friuli Venezia Giulia, in the north-east of Italy. The very rare album is an original example of experimental electro-acoustic progressive style, mainly based on synth effects and often reminding some of Battiato's early works like "Clic" or "Sulle corde di Aries". Despite the presence of five singers in the line-up, the vocal parts are short, spoken rather than sung. 19 tracks are listed on the cover, but these are connected to form two long suites. A top obscure album for the adventurous listeners in search of something unique.....~