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Futurlieder

Franco Casavola

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Album Review

This album was released by the boutique reissue imprint Le Temps Moderne, better known in many circles for their reissue of obscure U.K. indie and post-punk releases on the Factory and Sarah labels. Also, it features cover graphics derived from exactly the same poster by Italian futurist Fortunato Depero that Peter Saville had already cribbed for the front cover artwork for New Order's debut album, Movement, back in 1981. This may lead some to assume that the album has a strong connection to the U.K. post-punk aesthetic, but in fact, Futurelieder is the real thing, a collection of music by a key figure in the aesthetic movement that most heavily informed that rockist scene. Franco Casavola (1891-1955) was an Italian composer today inextricably linked to the futurist movement that flourished in his homeland in the teens and '20s, although he broke with the movement around the same time that it started to get intertwined with Benito Mussolini's fascists in the late '20s. The 28 pieces on Futurelieder are taken from the last years of Casavola's time with the futurist movement, 1922-1927. Performed by pianist Daniele Lombardi and soprano Susanna Rigacci for Italian radio between 1994 and 2002, these performances emphasize Casavola's links to the late Romantic era (he had been a student of Ottorino Respighi, composer of The Birds, early on in his studies), which softens the music's harsher edges. Futurelieder contains most of Casavola's best-known works, including La Danza delle Scimmie [Dance of the Monkeys] and Tango Viola da "Cabaret Epilettico" along with some of Casavola's more playful works, such as the jazzy Fox-Trot Zoologico and Campari, a sprightly 30-second tune that was written for the makers of the aperitif. Yep, it's a jingle. Given how much the U.K. post-punk scene took from the futurists in terms of inspiration (besides the New Order reference above, Adam & the Ants name-checked the futurists on the early Dirk Wears White Sox album, and the Art of Noise took their name from the title of the key futurist manifesto), Futurelieder is a fine way for fans of Le Temps Moderne's reissue campaigns to find out first-hand what this music sounded like.

Futurlieder, Franco Casavola
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