A love letter to cassette culture

ADRIANO VINCENTI & PAOLO BANDERA: Ossido Di Cromo (Anamnesi Mediatica Ricostruttiva)

Release year: 2022
Label: Steinklang Industries

As the liner notes of the thick booklet that accompanies this CD highlights, the cassette tape was a revolutionary musical format. On one hand it allowed virtually anyone to record and release their own music; on the other, various forms of tape manipulation made whole new ways of creating music possible. The history of early industrial music is inseparably tied to the rise of cassette culture.

The duo of Adriano Vincenti (Macelleria Mobile di Mezzanotte etc.) and Paolo Bandera (Sigillum S etc.) have with Ossido Di Cromo crafted an audial tribute and love letter to the format and the unique experimental and do-it-yourself culture which sprung up around it. With his pioneering work with Sigillum S since the mid-80’s, Bandera has also played a part in forming the shape of post-industrial music as we know it today, rooting the album and its concept in personal history.

Musically, I suppose one can label Ossido Di Cromo as industrial at least with broad strokes. A better word would perhaps be experimental electronics. There are noisier moments here and there, moments of atmospheric electronics, and so on, but on the whole, the album doesn’t comfortably fit into any of the established nichés and pigeonholes of industrial electronics. This makes the album somewhat challenging to get into.

But of course, this is probably intentional. The very nature of the album, a combination of the “archaic” technology and processes of tape-based recording techniques, and the modern digital nature of CD, means the album harks back to a time when industrial electronics couldn’t so easily be divided into this or that – to death industrial, power electronics, harsh noise and what have you. Instead, it strives for that adventurous experimentalism of “what happens when you do this?”

The warped, warbling metallic moans, electric hissing, looped-tape drones and white noise rarely ever become particularly aggressive, abrasive or confrontational on Ossido Di Cromo. There are a few moments which come across as a bit more violent, but for the most part, the album concentrates on weirded-out, almost psychedelic atmospheres of richly echoing reverb and strangely pulsating sounds. Almost like the ambient soundtracks of some older sci-fi movies. And, again, I dare venture this isn’t accidental: after all, wasn’t experimenting with tape manipulations a sort of “mad scientist” approach to making music?

Ossido Di Cromo is not just a tribute to cassette culture and the formative years of industrial/post-industrial music. It also very directly draws from that. In classic fashion, Vincenti and Bandera source some sounds from older recordings and other artists: the abstract experimentalism of Lieutenant Murnau from the 80’s, unreleased material by Maurizio Bianchi, and so on.

To reiterate, Ossido Di Cromo is a challenging listen. Even within the context of industrial electronics, it’s abstract, amorphous and ambiguous audial nature makes it a relatively hard album to get to grips with. And, true enough, if your idea of industrial electronics means blaring noise and white walls of cacophonous violence, or the sadistically deliberate ear canal torment of power electronics, then Ossido Di Cromo may not be for you.

However, for those into something less defined and something more purely weird than violent, this album will offer many a moment of interesting experimentalism.

Visit Paolo Bandera on Bandcamp

Visit Adriano Vincenti’s Signora Ward Records label on Bandcamp or Facebook

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