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Cristiano Calcagnile: ST( )MA

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Cristiano Calcagnile: ST( )MA
Cristiano Calganile by Gianni Grossi

Cristiano Calcagnile’s album and DVD, ST( )MA is deeply provocative for it forces us to pause and think of things we have forgotten; things we have left behind, and things that we seem to have no time for anymore. – such as the naturalness of sound as an expression of life – infused by the supernaturalness of the spirit. We don’t always prize man’s artistic instincts as much as we do his instinct for survival. Perhaps we should because both seem to be united in the questing expression of hope. The preternatural cry of man seems as basic as his need to live for another day. At its finest both these elements in the human narrative intersect when the melody of the former bisects the vector of the latter – in the poetry of song and dance, and the sound and fury of a narrative pursuant to both.

Artistic expression of [man’s preternatural and natural] vivisection may be the only kind of visceral ostomy [Cristiano Calcagnile’s word] acceptable to us without resulting in nausea of any kind. Moreover, Mr Calcagnile’s metaphoric narrative of it – which is sonic is a superb example of what results when an artist of his prodigious gifts presents a forward thinking vision, looking back on where it all begins. Being a drummer and percussion colourist with radical ideas of how melodic intersects with both harmony and disharmony he is able to present his unique point of view with a deeply and singularly expressive audio-visual recording. For all of this to come discernably and palpably alive, he must have the wonderful Italian label We Insist! Records onside.

Thus we come to have this LP and DVD – exquisitely packaged with framable prints [stills form the film], a large, poster-sized booklet with multi-lingual notes. The film is a graphic representation of the music. However, one does not necessarily follow the other [or vice-versa]. You could start – as I did – with the LP. This will come with its own sense of mystery. You will benefit from the experience depending on how silent you keep in order to allow for it to seep into your sensibilities. The immensity of this topographical metaphor will achieve its greatest effect from listening [to the LP] in silence. You will see how anthropology, mythology, theology, liturgy, mysticism and more life-sciences – the naturalness of all of which – comes together in masterful artistic expression.

Cristiano Calcagnile: ST()MA
Cristiano Calcagnile – a still from the film by Bruno Pulici, cinematographer and director

By employing the conventional drum set caressed and stroked by brushes of various kinds, or beaten gently [or severely] with sticks Mr Calcagnile is able to bring his aesthetic to life, living and breathing with every stroke of the drum – very possibly the first instrument on earth, even before man found his voice. This “act of sound” begins with “Segnali” [or “Signals”] is further extrapolated in 6 different forms that are born of reflection and delve into the physical, the mythical, the mystical, the medical…and so on. All of this comes alive in music with distinctive melodic, harmonic – and, of course, rhythmic conceptions inextricably united in song.

The visual element of this musical metaphor of ST( )MA is awakened by superbly conceived cinematography, eloquently framed in the close-ups that depict the naturalness of life paralleled by the naturalness of the sound that is pursuant to it. For this we must acknowledge the work of Bruno Policy as much as we must that of the drummer. We also get big close-ups of the instruments that Mr Calcagnile uses – and there are several that deserve scrutiny. What, for instance, is a “drumtable guitar”? And what constitutes “objects” and “effects”? Best of all, we find ourselves in the thrall of the toy xylophone, used to create the music’s finale – Mr Calcagnile’s radiant tribute to Thelonious Monk entitled “Around Me”, which is an extraordinary take on the legendary composer’s “Round Midnight”.

There could be no better way for the dénouement of an album to die for… packaged as most of us can only dream of having and holding, and listening to [or watching] over and over again.

Track list – LP – Side A – 1: Segnali; 2: Tatoonomi. Side B – 3: Oltre gli stomi; 4: Medicazoni Liturgiche; 5: Archetipi; 6: Around me
Track list – DVD – 1: Segnali; 2: Tatoonomi. Side B – 3: Oltre gli stomi; 4: Medicazoni Liturgiche; 5: Archetipi; 6: Around me; 7: Credits; 8: Home. Extra – 1: Inside Stoma; 2: Home; 3: MP3 [PC only] – Stoma

Personnel – Cristiano Calcagnile: drums, percussion, objects, drumtable guitar, effects

Released – 2018
Label – We Insist! Records
Runtime – LP – Side A 15:20 Side B 20:21 – DVD – Movie 31:27 Extras 19:42

Raul da Gama is a poet and essayist. He has published three collections of poetry, He studied at Trinity College of Music, London specialising in theory and piano, and he has a Masters in The Classics. He is an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep technical and historical understanding of music and literature.

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