Ecstatic offer a fascinating, often dizzying insight to the primitive industrial minimalism of Italian siblings, Giancarlo and Roberto Drago, a.k.a
. The Tapes, via Selected Works 1982 - 1992 sourced from original tapes and pressed to vinyl for the first time ever.
Following on from Ecstatic’s issue of “mail artist” Danielle Ciullini’s Domestic Exile Collected Works 82-86, this set surveys a blind-spot in most people’s knowledge of early ‘80s Italian underground music, framed against a backdrop of the Anni di Piombo, or Years of Lead - a period of domestic political turmoil between the late ‘60s and early ’80s - and the mushroom shadow of nuclear war.
Like their international tape-scene allies, The Tapes reacted to this world thru a matrix of mono- synths, drum machines, microphones and 4-track recorders, mostly recording/experimenting ideas direct-to-tape in one take and making a virtue of their lo-fi set-up’s infidelities and imperfections - randomness and mistakes were embraced rather than discarded - whilst absorbing the counter-cultural influence of William Burroughs or Throbbing Gristle, and the sci-fi dystopia of J.G
. Ballard and John Foxx.
These 21 tracks, drawn from 10 different, limited tape releases, perfectly distill a wandering, weirdo spirit, ranging from the funereal swagger of Tanz Fabrik and the darkwave hip-thrust of The Day of Silence to freeform, motorik trajectories such as Time Out of Joint and singular enigmas like the Actress-esque bobble of The Wait and Falso Movimento B2’s weightless, hyaline spindles.
Collected and compiled by Alessio Natalizia (aka Not Waving) and remastered by Matt Colton, Selected Works 1982 - 1992 represents a decade of modest but searching and instinctively grooving experimentation of the rarest, precious and compelling kind.
As Giancarlo Drago explains:
“The Tapes was an unplanned experience, an unplanned need to express myself Looking back
on this music I wonder sometimes how I did it - the whole process from the concept to the completion. Everything I do now seems trivial and obvious and I just end up aborting the idea. And exactly for this reason I think that everything has its time, with a beginning and an end...”