Yugen and Aparecidos — New Releases From AltrOck
Review by Mark McCawley
With the arrival of each new AltrOck release, I find myself increasingly impressed by the quality of the label, and the consistent world-class virtuosity of the musicians involved. The most recent AltrOck CD releases from the groups Yugen and Aparecidos only serve to solidify my opinion that AltrOck is the major alternative label “from experimental to avant-jazz, from RIO’s heritage to classical progressive rock” and “open to old and new artists from symphonic prog, folk-prog and Canterbury” — a music which looks ahead and doesn’t “clone” big names from the past.
A string-heavy CD, Aparecidos’ Palito Bombon Helado preserves the memory of times when ice for the ice cream was only imported from England and United States of America, when the typical shout of “heladeros” rang out in the streets of Buenos Aires and South America — “Palito, Bombon, Heladooooo!”
More AltrOck Label Releases — 2011/2012
Born in 2005 from an idea by Marcello Marinone, who organized the first edition of the AltrOck Festival devoted to experimental and «on the borders» music, and, together with Francesco Zago, established the homonym label, whose first release was Yugen’s Labirinto d’acqua. The aim both of the festival and label was to produce, promote and propose in various forms the best of what actual underground musical italian (but not only) scene offered, from experimental to avant-jazz, from RIO’s heritage to contemporary classical and progressive rock.
Of course, for those raised on mainstream music in North America, releases from AltrOck might come as something of a shock. A very pleasant shock, I might add. Like all great underground art, AltrOck consistently gathers together and releases albums from bands and groups from as far and wide geographically as they are eclectic, experimental and avant-garde. On the same disc, you’ll discover influences as disparate as prog, RIO, proto-punk, and neo classical. This is not music for the lazy listener. Every track requires the listener’s full attention. There are no cheap hooks or quick gimmicks in these releases. To the attentive listener, the rewards are as myriad and as varied as the music itself.
As long as I have been a writer and micro-publisher, I have noted a disconnection at the heart of CanLit. A disconnection between what was being written by the graduates of Canada’s creative writing programs, and published and consumed culturally by Canadians, and the gritty truth of Canada’s real life authentic experiences (as I knew them) and what passed for them in the majority of CanLit fiction and poetry. What I found seemed mired in various forms of deconstruction, while I constantly sought the authentic and the visceral and the transgressive in human experience in fiction and poetry which was peculiar by it’s absence. Not a complete absence, mind you. Yet enough to direct a generation of writers and poets away from relating the authentic, the visceral, and the transgressive in their fiction and poetry. To choose to write along such lines meant virtual isolation. All one need do is scan Canlit’s award winners to identify this disconnect. You’d think we were back in the 50s.
In the age of celebrity for its own sake, the commodification of literature and the arts as entertainment has produced a sort of consensus artist, one who doesn’t create anything original or unique, but first determines what kind of art is going to be socially, culturally, and financially acceptable — then creates it. Is it really any wonder most of what gets created has the flavor and texture of pablum? Against such a background it takes a truly brave writer/poet/artist to pull back the fabric of their own lives, introspect, and by doing so, return with insights into the contemporary urban psyche and soul. It’s these very writers and poets I seek out when I compile these Urban Graffiti Mixes. It takes guts not to be some consensus artist. It takes guts to follow the beat of one’s own drummer, especially when the mediocre are so often lauded and applauded. And as a late friend once said, “It takes guts to know a little happiness and not make a poem out of it…”
A massive mix, focusing heavily on themes and subject matter so often so severely lacking in Canadian literature. Indeed, a condemnation on the current state and status of Canlit: it’s writers, publishers, and critics. A mix that reveals the full extent of what is creatively possible to the transgressive, urban post-realist writer. Truly, truly exceptional works.
Transgressive, discursive, tracks concerned with the struggles of hard edged urban living, alternative lifestyles, deviant culture – presented in their most raw and unpretentious form: music, fiction, poetry, monologues. We are the stories we tell. Yet another avenue for risky, dangerous writing: off the page. For far too long, and far too often literary recitals have been a literary crap shoot, depending on the preparedness and the oratory skills of the reader. At last, the technology has reached the level where individual authors, poets, and fiction writers can produce their own audio works to promote their printed counterparts. As editor, I welcome any and all such audio works for inclusion in the ongoing series of Urban Graffiti Mixes.