Alessandra Eramo knocked the socks off anyone who was listening with her 2012 album Come Ho Imparato A Volare on the Corvo Records small-edition art label from Germany. That item, released under her Ezramo guise, was a concentrated dose of ideas expressed in sound art and drawings, as befits this gallery-installation artist. Here she is again on the same label, with Roars Bangs Booms (core008) – a limited edition vinyl single on which she tackles the seminal work of famed Futurist Luigi Russolo. On first spin, it’s a grabber – an energetic feast of sound poetry delivered in scribbly, broken, fragments, with a palpable human presence behind it which cannot be ignored.
As is well known, the avant-garde world and his brother have claimed to be “influenced” by The Art Of Noises one way or another, often confusing Russolo’s 1913 written manifesto with the Intonarumori machines which he built some time later in Milan. What Eramo has done is to interpret Russolo’s writings in her own intensely personal manner, focusing her energies on just eight words from the text – words which very coincidentally are onomatopeic, such as “Scoppi” (bangs, bursts, eruptions), and “Stridori” (scraping or screeching). 1 Starting with this toolkit, she then throws herself into the task of building intense episodes of sound, using her mouth and live electronics, on eight short but dense recorded documents. If the press photo is correct, she sometimes does it blindfolded, wearing headphones, and dressed in a black outfit – looking for all the world like a political prisoner undergoing sensory deprivation torture. Hopefully it’s a more benign situation in reality, and she’s deliberately pushing herself into a zone of concentration without distractions, the better to emit these very physical and solid lumps of concrete poetry, which she launches like salvoes of machine-gun fire.
The variant live performances of Roars Bangs Booms, of which there have already been several in 2014 and 2015, also involve body movement and performance, and the exhibition of drawings which are intended as “gestural interpretations” of the same texts…matter of fact the drawings are not just exhibited behind glass like trophies, they’re integrated into the performance, strewn on the stage or pinned on the wall, held up for the audience to see…we have a detail from one (‘Sibili’) printed on the front cover of this release, but clearly it’s not quite the same as being there to experience the thing in person, which I assume is quite a visceral and possibly even frightening event.
Alessandra Eramo has brought new life to these important Futurist statements through her personal and dynamic interpretations. This is infinitely preferable to allowing the work of Russolo and others to become fossilised as part of culture’s history. Literal readings, such as those that led to reconstructing the noise machines in the 21st century, seem to me to have missed the point entirely. If you accept Russolo’s polemic about the limitations of the orchestra and his speculations about how electronics could extend the range of available timbres, then Eramo arguably comes closer to embodying the real meaning of Russolo’s work. (Arrived 13th January 2015).
- Presumably these relate to the Six Families of Noise which Russolo proposed for the new Futurist Orchestra. ↩