Music Portrait | posted 20.09.2021
Loredana Bertè
Somehow Incomparable
Loredana Bertè is being lauded as the »Queen of Italian Rock.« This is not only musically inadequate, for Bertè never represented the status quo and instead repeatedly questioned it. She was and still is an outsider out of conviction.
Text Kristoffer Cornils , Photos Mauro Baletti © Nar International
Loredana+bert%c3%a9+c+1

Italian is one of the languages that knows the so-called absolute superlative, a grammatical phenomenon that regularly has translators scratch their heads. A song title like »Sei bellissima» by Loredana Bertè cannot simply be translated as »You are the most beautiful« or »You are more beautiful than all the others.« Instead, bumpy phrases have to be used: »very beautiful,« for example, or the slightly more elegant »most beautiful,« and so on. The problem is that unlike the conventional superlative, the absolute superlative does not imply any kind of comparison, which in turn means that a song title like this one refers a beauty that is somehow incomparable. It’s the kind of beauty that is also inherent in Bertè’s work. Although the singer never achieved the international cult status of cantautori such as Franco Battiato and Lucio Dalla or was able to score successes like the schmaltz rockers Eros Ramazzotti or Zucchero, she remains a unique figure in Italian music history to this day.

Bertè is born on 20 September 1950 in the province of Reggio Calabria. Together with her three sisters, she grows up in her grandmother’s house while her parents pursue their teaching profession elsewhere. The father is violent, the mother absent and unloving, and they divorce in 1962. Accordingly, young Loredana does not stay at home for long and at the age of only fifteen moves to Rome together with her sister Dominica, who is three years older to the day. It’s the only logical step for someone who, barely a decade later, will sing »meglio libera che stupida« (»better free than stupid«). The time there was the happiest of her life, she would later say.

Bertè had already started dancing at the age of twelve and continued in the capital. Not at the dance school, however, but on the stage of the Piper Club, a discotheque where the city’s beat scene rubs shoulders. These are however not only musically but also politically turbulent times. Sheaccompanied the year 1968 as a singer, Bertè later said, even though she »didn’t have a clue about politics,« as she would admit twenty years later in an interview on Swedish television. That however doesn’t mean that she and her performances didn’t become a political issue again and again. For Bertè, in keeping with the spirit of the times, makes the personal political. Despite her never explicitly referring to herself as a feminist in the course of her career, both her appearance and her songs will provide impulses for feminist discourse in Italy in the decades to come.

»That’s got nothing to do with morals«

At Piper, the teenager meets Renato »Zero« Fiacchini, who will become her long-time creative partner. Together they put on shows with dance, singing and acting while Bertè accompanies showgirl Rita Parvone on her tours around the world as part of her ensemble. During a stay in New York, she attends a performance of the musical »Hair« and is particularly impressed by the character Jeanie. Together with director and conductor Bill Conti, she herself performs in the Italian premiere of the musical and thus, via detours, also begins her career as a singer. Naturally, not without a solid scandal due to Jeanie’s naked scenes.

For a while Bertè helps out with the music of her sister Dominica, now known as Mia Martini, for, among other things, the single »Bolero,« while increasingly appearing in theatre pieces as a singer and also taking part in the performance of the first Italian rock opera, »Orfeo 9.« The film and television world is increasingly interested in her, and so is the Italian playboy. She takes every job she’s being offered, appearing in a series and films as well as on the cover of the magazine. The even bigger scandal for the aspiring artist, however, is called »Streaking,« her 1974 debut album.

It’s a record that lives up to its title: the album artwork features nude photography of Bertè. But the LP also goes beyond the purely visual level to confront the deeply Catholic and macho society she is confronted with. Bertè sings almost exclusively about sex and even swears explicitly, something that in these times is usually reserved for men. _»Voi dite sempre ‘non si fa’, no, no non è moralità« (»You always say: ‘You don’t do that’, but no, that’s got nothing to do with morality«) is how she pre-emptively counters the criticism in the song »Parlate di moralità« (»You talk about morality«), but it doesn’t help: the album is briefly taken off the market by the censors.

Pasta for Warhol

But Bertè wouldn’t be Bertè if she let that stop her. After »Streaking,« produced by Enrico Riccardi, had between proto-post-punk, stadium prog-rock and funk borrowings or blues-based classic rock put less focus on Bertè’s vocal qualities than her performance, »Sei bellissima« followed in 1975. The power ballad brought her not only critical acclaim but also her first major commercial success, though of course it again provoked censorship. The man sung about in the song tells her, of all places, in bed that she is worth little more than nothing. At first, the song, which today is considered a classic of Italian rock music, is therefore only available in a consored version. Torch songs have a long tradition in Italy, but references to sexual power structures are clearly not welcome.

»Sei bellissima« gives Bertè the opportunity to play out her greatest talent: to unite whispering sprechgesang and shrill screaming in one and the same melody. Even in the most pathetic ballads, a resistant spirit breaks through in her coarse voice. On her second album »Normale o super« in 1976, she first displays this talent to the fullest, accompanied by her then-partner, the songwriter and producer Mario Lavezzi. The two go on to work together for five albums in total. During this time, Bertè increasingly treads more differentiated musical paths: while the first albums still largely draw on the emotional and stylistic of rock music, she releases what is probably the first Italian mainstream reggae song with »E la luna bussò« (»And the moon knocked«) in 1979.

After celebrating her biggest hit to date with the single »Dedicato« – which also fell victim to censorship because of one line – she owed »E la luna bussò« to a visit to Jamaica, where she also saw Bob Marley live. The song is one of the few in her long career to attract attention outside Italy, but it does not turn Bertè into a full-blown reggae singer. Already on the album »LoredanaBertE’,« released in 1980, she turns to funk on tracks like »In alto mare,« records an album with the paradoxical title »Made in Italy« in New York and wins a famous contributor for the music video of the lead single: Andy Warhol contributed images to »Movie« after first being cooked pasta by Bertè and in return taking her to Studio54.

A Career in Descent, a World Full of Possibilities.

Bertè can hardly be stopped, as »Non sono una signora« (»I Am Not a Lady«) proves. Written by Ivano Fossati, like so many of her hit songs from this period, it is featured on the album »Traslocando« (»Moving On«), for which she receives her first platinum award. The follow-up »Jazz« tops this, but equally marks a definitive musical reorientation towards electronic pop – the title is anything but literal.

But the success does not last, and Bertè’s career slowly turns into the »volo a planare,« the gliding flight Bertè had sung about in »Non sono una signora.« However, this does not bother her, because after all, her past successes have opened up a world of creative possibilities for her. On the LP »Carioca« she appears for the first time – »for better or for worse,« as she later jokes – as a producer. Her music is increasingly influenced by Djavan, a representative of the Música Popular Brasileira whom she admires and whose repertoire she also reinterprets on »Carioca.«

However, more than a decade after her sensational debut, she is still less recognised for her musical work than for her provocative performances. At an edition of the Festival di Sanremo – the blueprint for the Eurovision Song Contest – she takes to the stage dressed as a pregnant woman. It is not the only one of her ten performances there that causes a stir: In 1997, for example, Bertè again has the first line of a song censored, »Luna«: »Vaffanculo luna!« (»Go fuck yourself, moon!«).

But it is neither the lack of commercial success nor the morality watch that causes Bertè to withdraw from the music world for a while at the end of the 1980s. She marries the former tennis player Björn Borg, who resolutely stands in the way of her career and for whom it is more important to shake hands with Osama bin Laden as a guest of George H. W. Bush in the White House than to keep to her tour schedule. Apart from a mixed Sanremo performance in 1991, she hardly performs live during the short marriage, releases no music and obviously suffers from the circumstances: in April 1991, she is taken to a Milan clinic after a suicide attempt, and barely a year later suffers a nervous breakdown.

A Heart Full of Darkness

But the woman who once sang the lines »meglio libera che stupida« leaves the control- and drug-addicted Borg behind, signs a record contract and goes back into the studio. Most importantly, after years of estrangement, she reconciles with Mia Martini again and performs the song »Stiamo come stiamo« (»We are, as if we were«) together with the sister in Sanremo in 1993. The lyrics, written by Bertè, who is now also active as a lyricist, are impressionistic and foreboding. »Stiamo come stiamo usati di seconda mano / Nel cuore un buio totale« (»We are like second-hand used / A heart full of darkness«). Bertè’s comeback seems ambivalent.

The time with her sister will also be short-lived. In 1994, Loredana had still drawn a vivid picture of her inner state on the song »Amici non ne ho« (»I have no friends«) with references to her own suicide attempt, and in the following year she has to accept the loss of her sister. Dominica dies on 14 May 1995. Her death has been preceded by physical complaints, but the autopsy reveals that the singer had died of a drug overdose. The suspicion of suicide is never completely dispelled. For Loredana, the death of her sister means a serious break: »For two years I locked myself up at home and stared at the ceiling.« But then she starts making music again because she has to, despite Dominica’s shadow perpetually hovering over it.

»The years went by and it was arduous and incomparably hard to do this job.« (Loredana Bertè)

Since the 1990s, Bertè has remained active and productive. She delivered a career highlight in 2005 with the album »Babybertè,« repeatedly caused scandals at Sanremo because of, among other things, plagiarism, worked with Asia Argento, Ivana Spagna and Gigi D’Alessio and remained the great outsider of the Italian music world. Not always by choice, but mostly out of conviction. »I used to throw myself down, I jumped into the darkness,« she summed up her post-mid-1980s days in a 2010 interview for the TV show Mr. Fantasy. »The years went by and it was arduous and incomparably hard to do this job.« At times, she said, she simply did not enjoy singing. But more than that, she disliked the »provincial mentality« she had to put up with in the course of her career.

Nudity Is Fine, Dissent Is Not

From today’s perspective, all that hardly seems to matter any more, and not only because times have changed – but also because Bertè has changed them herself. The young woman who had no idea about politics in 1968 made some herself, whether with her lyrics or with her – pun intended – bare existence. At the age of 71, Bertè, who has since dyed her hair blue, is now back in the charts and has even been crowned »Regina del Rock italiano« (»Queen of Italian Rock«) by the public television station Rai Uno in a documentary, even if that falls short in musical terms alone.

When a year-long celebration of her musical output, accompanied by a comprehensive reissue campaign of her early work, was announced on 20 September 2020 under the awkward title »70th One Year Celebrating,« it finally provided an occasion to look back on a career after almost half a century in show business. Above all, it becomes clear how self-confidently to purposefully renitent Bertè reflected her own position as a woman in a world that perhaps resented her appearance and yet tried to censor her words. Nudity my be fine, dissent really is not.

And although Bertè may have started late to appear as a lyricist herself, there is a melancholy, sometimes even existential heaviness running through her songs – »buio,« »darkness,« is a word that appears in them just as often as the moon and the night have an appearance in them – that even in the moments when Bertè had approached the musical consensus of her time still stood beside it.

That is especially true in regards to her early work. Just as Bertè’s equally expressive and versatile singing could breathe a strange life of its own into even the most formulaic rock songs, she proved time and again that she had a flair for stylistically expanding the palette given to her and thus enriching the music world as a whole: reggae, funk, Brazilian music were purely marginal phenomena, at least in the Italian context, until Bertè took them on and created new forms based on them. To this day, they seem somehow incomparable.

Related Articles
Music Portrait | posted 07.09.2021
Leslie Winer
The Unknown World Star
Björk, Grace Jones, Boy George and Sinéad O’Connor are among her admirers. William S. Burroughs was her mentor. Somehow, she also invented trip-hop. Yet Leslie Winer is known only to insiders today. That could change now.
Music Review | posted 12.10.2011
Lana del Rey
Video Games/Blue Jeans
Before it’ll all begin properly when her debut album will be released in February, Lana Del Rey’s first double-single has been released.
Music Review | posted 11.11.2011
Dillon
This Silence Kills
It’s the most surprising BPitch-Control release of the year. Instead of electronica, Dillon is presenting best pop-music á la Feist.
Music Review | posted 08.05.2012
Santigold
Master Of My Make-Believe
Santigold has grown as an artist and has found the very track on the nerve of zeitgeist.
Music Review | posted 02.10.2012
How To Dress Well
Total Loss
On his second studio album, Tom Krell is combining lyrical clarity and musical vagueness under the name of How To Dress Well.
Music Review | posted 02.09.2013
Emilíana Torrini
Tookah
No track on »Tookah« can be compared to »Jungle Drum« – Emilíana Torrini does what she knows how to do best: treasures made of sound.
Music Review | posted 14.11.2013
M.I.A.
Matangi
M.I.A.’s new record, at last – even though the years of musical dog and pony show have left their mark on »Matangi«.
Music Review | posted 10.03.2014
Neneh Cherry
Blank Project
For Neneh Cherry, »Blank Project« is much more than a simple comeback. It’s about soul, and she deserves our credit for it.
Music Review | posted 02.05.2014
Damon Albarn
Everyday Robots
»Everyday Robots« is the first actual solo-record of the British musician Damon Albarn – and it doesn’t have to hide behind Blur.
Music Review | posted 23.07.2014
Jorge Ben
Samba Esquema Novo
Re-released just in time for the World Cup. In 1963, Jorge Ben’s »Samba Esquema Novo« was the pioneer of a new musical era.
Music Review | posted 13.02.2015
Ibeyi
Ibeyi
Parents like it, girlfriends like it. How the hell could you possibly like »Ibeyi«, as well?
Music Review | posted 15.05.2015
Hot Chip
Why Make Sense?
On »Why Make Sense?«, Hot Chip’s sixth record, a lot remains unchanged. But not quite everything.
Music Review | posted 12.02.2016
David Bowie
Blackstar
David Bowie is dead. His record »Blackstar« was released almost simultaneously. Its core topic revolves around his own death.
Music Review | posted 19.02.2016
Animal Collective
Painting With
Animal Collective are back on track: with their new record »Painting With«, they remain faithful to their skew pop approach without being wearisome.
Music Review | posted 19.08.2016
Blood Orange
Freetown Sound
Under the name of Blood Orange, Devonté Hynes is presenting his third record »Freetown Sound« as a sample-based mixtape.
Music Review | posted 13.03.2021
Reymour
Leviosa
Swiss synthpop duo Reymour release their debut album »Leviosa« on Knekelhuis.
Music Review | posted 17.03.2021
Lana Del Rey
Chemtrails Over The Country Club
With “Chemtrails Over The Country Club”, Lana Del Rey continues to spin her great capitalism-cinema pop art.
Music Review | posted 16.06.2021
Loveshadow
Loveshadow
Released on Music From Memory, the debut from California duo Loveshadow is an album for making love on the beach.
Music Review | posted 26.09.2021
Angel Olsen
Aisles
On »Aisles«, Angel Olsen covers songs from the eighties that she heard as a child in the supermarket. A little masterpiece of five songs.
Music Column | posted 11.05.2021
Records Revisited
Grace Jones – Nightclubbing, 1981
Nightlife for androids: On »Nightclubbing«, along with one of the world’s leading rhythm sections, Grace Jones made sure that reggae and new wave would develop a new life of its own in 80’s pop.
Music Column | posted 27.08.2021
Records Revisited
Björk – Vespertine (2001)
Introverted standstill. Despite numerous positive reviews in August 2021 for the release of her fourth album “Vespertine”, Björk Guðmundsdóttir did not seem to fulfill the promise of her previous work with this record. Because this time she chose a completely different approach. Which makes »Vespertine« one of her best records to date.
Music News | posted 02.09.2021
Niklas Wandt
Exclusive Edition: »Solar Müsli«
After various collaborations and band projects, Cologne-based Niklas Wandt releases his first solo album »Solar Müsli" on September 17, 2021. Exclusively at HHV Records there will be a Curacao Vinyl Edition.
Music News | posted 01.10.2021
Girlwoman
Das Große Ganze
Now it’s all about »Das Große Ganze". The songwriter Girlwoman from Bielefeld releases her debut on Staatsakt. Exclusively at HHV Records there’s a limited Red Vinyl Edition available.
Music Review | posted 14.06.2012
Japandroids
Celebration Rock
The Japandroids make the most direct music possible. »Celebration Rock« has turned out to be the expected doozie.
Music Review | posted 19.03.2014
Carla Bozulich
Boy
Her influence on rock-history has been remarkable. »Boy« is Carla Bozulich’s latest contribution to keep it that way.
Music Review | posted 15.05.2014
Swans
To Be Kind
It’s a record to smash bones with: On »To Be Kind«, Swans pick up the threads where they left them with »The Seer«.
Music Review | posted 03.06.2014
Stephen David Heitkotter
Black Orckid
Fake or original? Now-Again Records is presenting »Black Orckid«, a demo-record by Stephen David Heitkotter.
Music Review | posted 04.10.2019
Nef
Mais Alors !!?... C'Est a L'Envers
»Mais Alors !!?…. C’Est a L’Envers«, the first and only album of the French band Nef, has now been re-issued.
Music Review | posted 21.08.2021
Devendra Banhart & Noah Georgeson
Refuge
Get down and listen inside: Devendra Banhart and Noah Georgeson have recorded a consistently spiritual album with »Refuge«.
Music Review | posted 20.08.2021
Lingua Ignota
Sinner Get Ready
Round three of Lingua Ignota’s reckoning with the tormentor who subjugated her for years and is representative for all power-hungry assholes.
Music Review | posted 17.08.2021
Moin
Moot!
Together with Valentina Magaletti, the duo Raime has not only reaniminated its project Moin for the LP »Moot!«, but also immediately expanded it.
Music Review | posted 09.08.2021
Humans In A Pool
Humans In A Pool
The Viennese group Takeshi’s Cashew celebrate the chaos of our time and the exuberance of life with »Humans In A Pool«.
Music Review | posted 28.09.2021
Various Artists
Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop 1980-1989
In Mexico, too, synthesizers and drum machines were popular in the eighties. You can listen to them on the compilation »Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop 1980-1989«.
Film Report | posted 21.01.2013
Nico
About Documentary »Nico: In Memoriam«
Not a documentary but the the ruins of an attempted documentary. Bernd Gaul’s film »Nico: In Memoriam« is just that. Short concert clips and Warhol material united do not create documentary but a surprise guest at the viewing saves the day.
Music Column | posted 23.09.2021
Records Revisited
Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1991)
1991 – what a year for rock music. The albums by Nirvana, Soundgarden and Red Hot Chili Peppers released September 24, 1991 made rock become popular again. But »Screamadelica« by Primal Scream changed the whole genre.
Music Essay | posted 22.09.2021
The Beat Era in the GDR
Hostile takeover
Records from the Amiga label are widely available in Germany. In addition to pressings of international stars such as Michael Jackson, the Beatles or Bob Dylan, there was also a lot of music from the GDR itself that was released. Some of it is worth to be rediscovered.
Music Portrait | posted 25.06.2020
Roy Ayers
Warm vibrations with universal attraction
The American vibraphonist, singer, songwriter and arranger Roy Ayers is one of the most sampled contemporary musicians. With songs like »Everybody Loves The Sunshine«, the soul jazz legend, which celebrates it’s 80th birthday in September, became the main inspiration for Acid Jazz in the late 90s. His new album “Roy Ayers JID 002” on Jazz Is Dead with Adrian Younge and ex-ATCQ producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad continues his golden period of the Polydor years in the 70s seamlessly.
Music Portrait | posted 18.05.2021
Seefeel
Music in vacuum
Seefeel are a convergence of improbabilities. For almost 30 years they have been playing between styles, unfettered by contemporary references. Their sound remains a singularity.
Music Portrait | posted 30.06.2021
Hōzan Yamamoto
Meditation out of improvisation
For over five decades he pushed Japanese jazz towards spiritual spheres, without kitsch or esoteric – and just a little pathos. Above all, he garnered reputation for it back home. Even today Hōzan Yamamotos work is internationally considered an insider tip.
Music Portrait | posted 27.06.2021
Hiroshi Suzuki
The unknown with the trombone
In 1976, Japanese trombonist Hiroshi Suzuki recorded an album. “Cat,” which is characterized less by perfection than by a fine groove, was somewhat overlooked at one time. Now you can rediscover it.
Music List
Palmbomen II
10 All Time Favs
Pictures and sounds could never really be separated from each other with Palmbomen II. His new record, »Make A Film,« provides the music for the moving pictures that we all have yet to shoot. What music inspires him when composing film music, the Dutch producer has told us now.
Music Column
Records Revisited
A Tribe Called Quest – Low End Theory (1991)
It doesn’t get much better than that. At the beginning of the 1990s, A Tribe Called Quest brought the flow to the point with their second album »The Low End Theory«. Without aggressive male poses, but with jazz, breaks and vibe.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1991)
1991 – what a year for rock music. The albums by Nirvana, Soundgarden and Red Hot Chili Peppers released September 24, 1991 made rock become popular again. But »Screamadelica« by Primal Scream changed the whole genre.
Music Essay
The Beat Era in the GDR
Hostile takeover
Records from the Amiga label are widely available in Germany. In addition to pressings of international stars such as Michael Jackson, the Beatles or Bob Dylan, there was also a lot of music from the GDR itself that was released. Some of it is worth to be rediscovered.
Music Interview
José González
Taste Is Like Your Bum
In 2003, Jose Gonzalez covered the song “Heartbeat” by The Knife and instantly catapulted himself into the hearts and study rooms of so many. Now he has a new album, »Local Valley«, released. We had the opportunity to interview him.
Music Portrait
Loredana Bertè
Somehow Incomparable
Loredana Bertè is being lauded as the »Queen of Italian Rock.« This is not only musically inadequate, for Bertè never represented the status quo and instead repeatedly questioned it. She was and still is an outsider out of conviction.
Music Column
Records Revisited
DJ Shadow – Endtroducing (1996)
25 years ago, »Endtroducing« was released, a hip-hop album that brought Björk together with Metallica and Finnish fusion. DJ Shadow was digging in the cellar for it. And found gold. He covered what he found with a touch of melancholy and created an album that seems to have fallen out of time.
Music Portrait
Sarah Davachi
Echo of the infinity
Intensity is the word that comes to mind. In her music and in her movements. Sarah Davachi is an artist on the border between ambient, composition and drone. Her sound feels like someone stroking the soul with a fingertip. Now her new album »Antiphonals« is released.
Music Portrait
Dais Records
Sound as a collection
Between experiment and expectation, the contemporary and the past, Dais Records dares a delicate balancing act in aesthetics. Gibby Miller and Ryan Martin make waves where linearity experiences conscious disturbance – and follow the tracks of exceptional labels.
Music Portrait
Leslie Winer
The Unknown World Star
Björk, Grace Jones, Boy George and Sinéad O’Connor are among her admirers. William S. Burroughs was her mentor. Somehow, she also invented trip-hop. Yet Leslie Winer is known only to insiders today. That could change now.
Music Portrait
DJ Koco
Guest Mix
With DJ Koco, amazing mixing skills meet a selection of tremendous sophistication. Hardly anyone cuts his breakbeats tighter into each other than he does. The most amazing thing: The Japanese DJ limits himself to 7-inches in his sets.
Music Column
Records Revisited
John Coltrane – Africa/Brass (1961)
In 1961, »Africa/Brass" marked the dawn of a new age: for John Coltrane, it was the beginning of his Impulse! years, and for many African countries, the start of independence. Musically, it was probably his most ambitious effort.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Björk – Vespertine (2001)
Introverted standstill. Despite numerous positive reviews in August 2021 for the release of her fourth album “Vespertine”, Björk Guðmundsdóttir did not seem to fulfill the promise of her previous work with this record. Because this time she chose a completely different approach. Which makes »Vespertine« one of her best records to date.
Music List
Durand Jones & The Indications
10 All Time Favs
More than retro soul: Durand Jones & The Indications have been combining the past and future of the genre since their debut five years ago. Now their third album »Private Space« is released. Time to ask the band about the 10 records that have shaped, improved and educated them.
Music Portrait
Conrad Schnitzler
In the Midst of Disorder
Conrad Schnitzler, who died in 2011, is still perceived primarily for his connection to Kraftwerk or Tangerine Dream. Yet the impressive body of work that the »intermedia« artist left behind stands on its own.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Main Source – Breaking Atoms (1991)
In some ways, »Breaking Atoms,« Main Source’s full-length debut, seems to have remained a second-tier classic. But Large Professor’s production defined a signature sound for the Golden Age of Hip-Hop.
Music Column
Records Revisited
LFO – Frequencie (1991)
With »Frequencies«, the low frequency oscillators LFO from Leeds created one of the first techno albums. Their high bleeps and low clonks made history in techno music. To this day, it is an invitation, er, order to dance.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (1971)
With »Maggot Brain« Funkadelic 1971 goes to the dark side of funk. The triumphant pleasure principle is interspersed with dystopian eschatology, and juxtaposes the celebration of life with an oppressive doomsday mood.
Music Portrait
Hōzan Yamamoto
Meditation out of improvisation
For over five decades he pushed Japanese jazz towards spiritual spheres, without kitsch or esoteric – and just a little pathos. Above all, he garnered reputation for it back home. Even today Hōzan Yamamotos work is internationally considered an insider tip.
Music Portrait
Hoshina Anniversary
The Techno and jazz meltdown
Hoshina Anniversary makes techno. But he would rather see himself as a successor to jazz and traditional Japanese music. And the Tokyo native is not alone in this. In this sense, jazz is less what you play than how you play it.
Music Essay
Jazz kissas
Where the music plays in Japan
They offer classy retreat from a world where everyone listens all the time. And they celebrate listening to music: Jazz Kissas, Japan’s unofficial cultural heritage. Journalist Katsumasa Kusunose is now documenting it.
Music Portrait
Hiroshi Suzuki
The unknown with the trombone
In 1976, Japanese trombonist Hiroshi Suzuki recorded an album. “Cat,” which is characterized less by perfection than by a fine groove, was somewhat overlooked at one time. Now you can rediscover it.
Music Essay
Small In Japan
Japan, a Vinyl Nation? Not really.
Elaborate packaging, audiophile listening bars and the highest number of record shops in the world: Japan, a vinyl paradise? No. For decades, the medium has only played only a minor role there. A cultural history of Japan’s music industry.
Music List
Evidence
10 All Time Favs
Evidence is a producer, cratedigger and rapper, and one who in 15 years of career has never lost the desire to discover. Now his album »Unlearning Vol.1« is released. We asked about 10 vinyl records that have shaped, improved and educated him.
Music List
Record Store Day 2021 – 2nd Drop
12 releases to look out for
On July 17, 2021, the second Record Store Days this year will now take place. Again, several dozen exclusive releases have been announced. We have again picked twelve records that we want to recommend to you.
Music Column
Records Revisited
The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (1986)
Released in 1986, »The Queen Is Dead« is the culmination of the British band The Smiths’ career, which lasted only five years and four studio albums. It still sounds refreshingly idiosyncratic even after so long.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Porter Ricks – Biokinetics (1996)
When Porter Ricks released the album »Biokinetics« in 1996, it was more than just a collection of their first 12inches flanked by two bonus tracks. It was a utopian attempt to expand upon the dub techno formulas.
Music Portrait
BBE Records
The influencer's influencer
Peter Adarkwah is the reason why some lives have been changed by J Dilla, why Roy Ayers experienced a second spring and why Japanese jazz albums are reviewed by Pitchfork. In other words: BBE Music turns 25 years this year.
Music List
Record Store Day 2021 – 1st Drop
12 vinyl records to look out for
On June 12, 2021, the first of two Record Store Days will take place this year. For this alone, several dozen exclusive releases have been announced. We have picked out twelve records that we would like to recommend to you.
Music Portrait
Portico Quartet
Guest Mix
»Terrain« is the name of the new album of the British band Portico Quartet, which was released these days on Gondwana Records. For us, Portico Quartet’s Jack Wyllie has put together 60 minutes of music in an exclusive DJ mix.
Music Portrait
SSIEGE
Looking for the Infinite Loop
Densely packed with details, the sound of SSIEGE strolls along the transitions of the seasons and during the process blurs ultra-saturated pictures with cravings yet unfulfilled. With them, the Italian producer manages to tell dream tales that recur endlessly.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Marvin Gaye – What's Going On (1971)
Is it even necessary to reminisce about this album? Not really. But you can listen to it again and again. And it has remained relevant to this day, for better or worse. Marvin Gaye’s »What’s Going On« is 50 years old.
Music Portrait
Seefeel
Music in vacuum
Seefeel are a convergence of improbabilities. For almost 30 years they have been playing between styles, unfettered by contemporary references. Their sound remains a singularity.
Music Portrait
Arsivplak
The Past, Re-presented
Volga Çoban’s Arsivplak label and Arşivplak edit project are two sides of the same coin: his approach to Turkish funk, disco, pop, rock and jazz is archival on the one hand and strives to shed a new light on old sounds on the other.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Grace Jones – Nightclubbing, 1981
Nightlife for androids: On »Nightclubbing«, along with one of the world’s leading rhythm sections, Grace Jones made sure that reggae and new wave would develop a new life of its own in 80’s pop.
Music List
Crumb
10 All Time Favs
Since their debut »Jinx« in 2019, Crumb have been considered the next big thing in music . Now their new album »Ice Melt« is out. The perfect opportunity to ask them about 10 records that have shaped, improved and educated them.
Music Interview
Adrian Younge
Sonic history lesson
»The American Negro« marks the beginning of a new chapter in Adrian Younge’s work. It is more frontal, more politically charged, and more self-assured. He wants to teach. We had the opportunity for an in-depth interview.
Music List
Leon Vynehall
10 All Time Favs
With his new album »Rare, Forever«, British producer Leon Vynehall continues the path he started with »Nothing Is Still« 3 years ago. Today he tells us 10 vinyl records that have shaped, improved and educated him.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces Of A Man (1971)
He was called the “Godfather of Hip Hop” because he wrote about drugs, racism and the Divided States of America. Gil Scott-Heron’s most successful album is now 50 years old – and more timely than ever.
Music List
Jenn Wasner (Flock Of Dimes)
10 All Time Favs
With her solo project Flock of Dimes, Jenn Wasner has just released her most personal and at the same time most substantially far-reaching album. We asked the musician to name 10 Vinyl records that have shaped, improved, and educated her.
Music Portrait
Gondwana Records
Soul And Character
As a DJ and musician, Matthew Halsall became a label operator. Starting with a local focus on Manchester’s contemporary jazz scene, the trumpeter, composer and bandleader has since given his imprint Gondwana Records a fairly international focus.