I have to admit, I’m a bit of a laggard when it comes to accepting that music may not always come with a physical product these days, so it absolutely fills my heart with joy when a release like Deadburger’s La Chiamata comes along. The Italian band has provided a magnificent feast for the eyes as well as the ears, with this beautifully presented album. Upon opening the almost 70-page book that comes with the CD, one of the first things I came across was one of the gorgeous illustrations with a small handful of text. The illustration appeared to be of Alice coming through the looking glass – and sure enough, thanks to Google Translate, I found out that La Chiamata is the second part of the “Mirrorburger Diptych”. The other side of the mirror from the previous album (or, perhaps more correctly, albums) La Fisica Delle Nuvole – a lavishly presented three CD boxset, with another 70-odd page book.
As with the first part of the diptych, Deadburger present themselves as Deadburger Factory – perhaps in recognition that the band performs apart, together, and augmented by an assortment of guest musicians? Perhaps an allusion to Andy Warhol’s famous multimedia Factory? A more conventional title might have been Deadburger Collective, but apart from the fact that Deadburger are anything but conventional, the Factory title seems particularly appropriate for La Chiamata, with its emphasis on drums giving it a constant industrial thrum and rhythm. Every track on La Chiamata features double drums, with different pairings of drums on (and sometimes within) the seven tracks that make up the album.
By the art and articles within the accompanying book, it is clear that the drumming relates especially to shamans, and the way that they often begin their shamanic journeys by way of drums. That the band also portray Alice coming through the looking glass is surely no coincidence – as Alice’s trip to Wonderland are often given as an analogy for a shamanic journey. If taken allegorically, all the elements a shaman might encounter are represented during Alice’s adventures, from puzzles, to transformations, to guides and guardians and the journey itself. So, if not through a mirror, I’ve certainly fallen down a rabbit hole, and allowed La Chiamata to take me on a wonderful trip.
The album begins with the shortest song – a short song about a solider who fought a long war. Onoda Hiroo was, of course, the infamous second last soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army to surrender after the end of the Second World War. Although he definitely lived apart from the surrounding society, Onoda was perhaps not a shaman (and given that one possible etymology of the word shaman is “He Who Knows”, an extra layer or irony is added since he refused to acknowledge the war was over until his superior officer informed him), but with his guerrilla tactics, he was similar in many ways to revolutionaries throughout history. For shamanism is only one part of the story that Deadburger has set out to tell us. Another of the articles in the book is all about revolutions, or rather the end of revolutions. In a sense, Onoda Hiroo fits this role, too, giving a strangely workable introduction to the album and the concept.
As an introductory song, it’s almost a conceptual, if not instrumental, overture. We have the idea of the shaman, almost the dissident, mocked by the crowd. What Onoda Hiroo also does extremely well, is provide the contrast with what came before. Hiroo dramatically demonstrates that La Chiamata really is the other side of the mirror, of the diptych – physically pounding and brutally bruising, in a way La Fisica Delle Nuvole was not. It seems deliberately discouraging and confrontational, and you can’t ignore it. This is an assault of avant designed to elicit a fight or flight response. You’ll know by the end of this track, and probably well before then, whether you are going to enjoy this album or not. I was head over heels (down that rabbit hole) in love.
The following song is no less intense, even if it starts fairly demurely in comparison, with some quite lovely piano and double bass. The drums, of course, are ever present. And then we have the title track, which is absolutely superb, with its minimal lyrics shouted out in staccato bursts over those wonderful drums. Or perhaps I should say the drums are superb, over the minimal lyrics, as the drums are absolutely front of stage and centre of attention. Throughout the album there’s sometimes a sense of the music being almost a race, as the drums, vocals and other instruments chase each other, and this becomes quite palpable during Deadburger’s reinterpretation (I hesitate to call it a cover) of Max Roach’s Triptych. The band describe it as “a reinvention, or re-writing, of Roach’s song. The original was a revolution song for drums and vocals only. The Deadburger version is also based exclusively on percussion and vocals: the two primeval ranges of musical events. But both have been expanded and taken elsewhere by electronics.” This all sounds a lot more challenging a listen than it really is, and it works particularly well after the title track. I can see this being a difficult listen for some, but I love it, even when at its most intense and extreme (and it does reach those heady peaks).
The listening perhaps doesn’t get any easier with Tamburo Sei Pazzo, which begins with a passage spoken, perhaps changed, over a shamanic drum, in ancient Sicilian. I love the brass in this song, which becomes quite funky and groovy, accompanied, of course, by that wall of drums. It’s an adventurous and unpredictable song that feels far shorter than its length, and which I always wish could carry on, but it’s over too soon with a rat-a-tat-tat. It is followed by Manifesto Cannibale which might just be the only song that could be said to look back at La Fisica Delle Nuvole, with a (relatively speaking) gentler sound. There’s even some acoustic guitar. But, the quieter passages only lull one into a false sense of security, as there’s as much restless chaos and cacophony here as within the rest of the album.
La Fisica Delle Nuvole was abstract, ambient and acoustic, where La Chiamata is concrete – a concrete breeze block to the side of the head, to a willing victim who comes back, bloodied and beaten, for more. And more we shall have, for the album has one final delight; the closing number is absolutely brilliant. It’s as angry as the rest of the album, but the anger is restrained and reasoned. The protagonist is aware of the anger, and that makes anger, as told by Aristotle, Rage Against The Machine and many others in between, a gift. It’s a noticeable contrast to the uncontrolled and invective anger of the title track. The album leaves the listener to decide if they want to side with the crowd, happy in their shopping mall, or the shaman – the only free man.
01. Onoda Hiroo (4:37)
02. Un Incendio Visto da Lontano (5:04)
03. La Chiamata (5:42)
04. Triptych (5:49)
05. Tamburo Sei Pazzo (7:19)
06. Manifesto Cannibale (9:05)
07. Blu Quasi Trasparente (9:27)
Total Time – 47:03
Vittorio Nistri – Morse Signals, Organ, Acoustic & Electric Piano, Microfreak, Samples (Berimbau, Cairo Drums, Anti-Aircraft Alarm), Glitch, Metallic Percussion, Siren, Filters, Loops, Synths, Electronoises, Drum Machines, Marimba, Vibraphone, Ghosts
Simone Tilli – Vocals, ‘Hammer’ Guitar, Trumpet
Alessando Casini – Electric, Acoustic & Slide Guitars, Noise
Carlo Sciannameo – Bass, Fuzz
~ The Factory:
Silvio Brambilla – Drums
Lorenzo Moretto – Drums
Pino Gulli – Drums
Zeno De Rossi – Drums
Bruno Dorella – Drums
Marco Zaninello – Drums
Simone Vassallo – Drums
Cristiano Calcagnile – Drums, Tin Can, Rubbed Metals
Allio Antico – Shamanic Drum, Vocals
Silvio Bolognasi – Double Bass
Claudio Macchia – Electric, Acoustic & Slide Guitars
Enrico Gabrielli – Alto Sax, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Flute, Shamanic Flute
Edoardo Marraffa – Tenor Sax
Lalli – Vocals
Cinzia la Fauci – Vocals
Davide Riccio – Vocals
Record Label: Snowdonia
Country of Origin: Italy
Date of Release: 20th November 2020