(Sound Projector) I can’t believe I never heard of Jean-Marc Montera before. He’s a prominent French avant improvising guitarist who’s been active since 1978 and was co-founder of the Groupe de Recherche en Improvisation Musicale (GRIM), and besides all of his film soundtrack work is a hero of European festivals and has worked in many groups. Most of his discography comes from the 1990s, and after hearing his music on Idi Di Marzo (PUBLIC EYESORE EH?64) I am tempted to start scouring for some of those released obscurities…on this album, he’s picked up his effects-laden electric guitar and teamed up with Francesco Calandrino, a talented young Italian fellow who glories in the mistakes and improbable sound events that can be wrought from his set-up of stereo players, cassette tapes, and field recordings. On these 2009 recordings made in Palermo, the duo create a deliciously glutinous effect of sticky, honeyfied sound that a fat bumblebee like myself can easily get trapped in for many an hour of recreational listening. It’s a lovely, rich, continuous slew of rough-edged noise, packed with plenty of variances and little boxes of surprises, and never content to drone foolishly like a salamander trapped in its own slimy sandpit. Montera rocks! He’s packing a lot of the sort of frisson and energy we used to hear from Keith Rowe, never afraid to let those humbucking pickups hum as much as they please, and weaving many heavy, clanging phrases of lead-lined guitar work. He can ride his amp feedback like any expert surfer dude, but he’s also wringing some wayward solo phrases on occasion (check out the action on track 3) that fans of Fred Frith’s rubbery style will snap up like hot biscuits. Calandrino is likewise a musician who thankfully has not yet learned how to be earnest and self-important, and there’s a palpable sense of exploration in the way he flings his unexpected lo-fi cassette samples and music stabs around, coupled with an enviable dose of sheer fun. He’s a clarinettist, too. You may tune into this set one day and find you hear nothing but distorted wobbly murk, but for me today (baking in clammy sweaty heat) this play is “the goods”. I tell ya, between Montera and the “other” Jean-Marc (Foussat, that is), the French just rule noisy improvised music! - Ed Pinsent
(Monsieur Délire) French noise guitarist Jean-Marc Montera and Italian sound artist Francesco Calandrino (lo-fi stereo, cassettes, field recordings, clarinet), in one hour’s worth of dense and surprisingly powerful free improvisations. The second track includes some seriously haunting vocals. Lots of mysterious things and unexplained sonic additions happening here. Quite fascinating, despite the raw quality of the recording. - François Couture
(Kathodik) Che poi, di fondo che vuoi che sia. Stai bene oggi, schiatta domani. D'altronde; è la vita. Mi dirai. Se io dicessi: Un cazzo! Puozz' jetta' o' sang!? Cambia qualcosa? Nulla, tutto gira indifferente. A lungo e per molto, con la chitarra elettrica, a tracolla e sulle ginocchia, per terra, da sola e in compagnia, clarinetto, cassette manipolate e stereo di merda sollecitati. Agitarsi, in forma evidente e fisicamente percepibile. Gracchiare e ragliare, cortocircuitarsi ed immalinconirsi fra le corde, tanto nastro a contatto (trattato nel mezzo). La vita offre di meglio, ma è del buon tempo speso. Tra sudore ed aggrovigli, fotocopia audio di un odierno incespicante. Dico bello. Poiché bello. A giocar con i detriti. Metti insieme i cocci in un sacco, dentro sputa colla, agita, attendi il risultato, dattelo in faccia. Diabolicamente gagliardo. - Marco Carcasi
(Chain D.L.K.) According to the liner notes, Jean-Marc Montera is on Electric Guitar and FX, while Francesco Calandrino wields 'Lo-fi Stereos, Manipulated Audiocassettes, Field Recordings, Clarinet.' With this in mind, you have a pretty good idea of what you are in for. This one gets in your face right off the bat. Imagine, if you will, a typical album. Now take all of the tracks, separate them out, and throw it all into a blender. Add a healthy dose of feedback and you have 'Idi Di Marzo.' This is pretty good cut up noise and improvisation. It isn't quite as coherent as Negativland, but closer at times to Nurse With Wound's more cut up works in style or perhaps 'Redintegrate' by Hafler Trio. It isn't all completely in your face, though. In some parts, it is more of a noisy drone. If you like noisy improv, this will be up your alley. This album weighs in at around 58 minutes.
(Ampersand Etcetera) And then Jean-Marc Montera on guitar and fx and Francesco Calandrino on lofi stereos, manipulated audiocassettes, field recordings, clarinets recorded on 1 March and release on 'Idi Di Marzo' (Eh?64)(mysteriously as, as the Italian hints, Idi is ides). Their album together is quite a slippery beast though. The first track has scraping and rapidly played guitar over a protean bed of electronica that shifts and cuts like an audio whirlwind - buzzing crackling whining, samples emerging briefly, though a longer choir sings. Things get more restrained in the next track, with a hint of Calendro's clarinet which becomes more obvious on subsequent pieces, particularly track 4. As you listen your mind focusses on the electronica - the child's voice or the whooping in 3 perhaps - and then to the guitar which uses a range of tricks (scraping, percussive, treatments) and straight playing in varied styles. The balance between the 2, and the interplay, is well judged and satisfying. There is also a flow to the album - as it moves to the conclusion it passes through a noisy ragged track 5 with voice samples more prominent and then the more rocking conclusion of track 6. This is a driving album, which pulls you along and demands that you listen to it. After finishing the review I realised that the albums are perhaps more different - if I had kept it at 2 we would be fine with a tying together here. July Amalgam and Dotolim both have a quiet earnestness - I see these groups sitting playing with serious faces to a group of intense audience members, they work the silences and subtly modulate; while in Idi there is more excitement and extravagant drama. I am not a ranker: each of these albums works its field skilfully and is satisfying in their own way - either as ambience or as pummeling noise. - Jeremy Keens