Review Summary: Obscure mid-'80s recordings by the Italian industrial projects Cicciolina Holocaust and Sermonizer.
Nostalgia is a powerful force in the music industry, and each trip to the record store seems to tempt collectors with a fancy new upgrade of an old album they have bought before. Hidden in this crowded reissue landscape exists a somewhat cheekily-named new label called Forced Nostalgia, dealing in archival releases of primitive underground electronic music that few people have even heard of. This particular release on Forced Nostalgia compiles rare mid-'80s cassettes of two early industrial projects from Italy, Cicciolina Holocaust (who would break up a few years later) and Sermonizer (reportedly still active). For a release ostensibly intended to force nostalgia, the LP packaging is fairly minimal, providing only the barest descriptions of when, where and how the music was recorded. Not a word of retrospective essay is given to whether the two featured projects had any connection back in the day, or why these particular tapes were chosen from their discographies to be reissued, but perhaps it was intentional to keep some mystery and let the music speak for itself.
by Cicciolina Holocaust is the complete, remastered content of a privately-released cassette from 1984. The tracks are primarily instrumental, generally based around subdued metronomic rhythms that meet up with moody ambient sounds rather effectively. "Zigomar," the most interesting of the three (or even the entire record, for that matter), dares to put its stereotypical drum machine beat distinctly in the distance to a subtlly uneasy ambient drone, recasting one of the staple instruments of '80s pop music as a hazy, hollow flutter, perhaps of hospital equipment. Cicciolina Holocaust clearly had a great sense for electronic sounds, with some very nice creepy and squelchy bits throughout their side of the record. However, the lengthy instrumental style lacking much in the way of "hooks" begins to feel a bit aimless and unmemorable to my tastes, and my attention often wanders before the side is over. The second side, Sibelius Spiders
by Sermonizer, has been edited and abridged from the original 1985 cassette. The opening track is again a good one, aptly complementing the feel of Cicciolina Holocaust's industrial soundscapes with its own brand of wavering dissonance and experimentation. This side moves along at a busier pace, with five tracks taking various approraches. The material on Sibelius Spiders
is never bad per se
, but certain aspects of it do feel a little obvious for this style of music, especially after spending 25 years in the vault: the cosmic meowing of the synthesizers, the gratuitous echo effect on the title track's vocals, or the breathy sounds of coitus set to a loping bass pulse on "Copulator," for example. The presence of a "guest vocals" credit on the latter track at least suggests that the sex sounds may have been personally recorded, rather than sampled from a video, but only the artists would know for sure.
Albeit, Albeit / Sibelius Spiders
is not the most mind-blowing classic industrial record ever made. However, it is an enjoyable and interesting document of two "average" unsung projects, from an era when homemade industrial music involved a 4-track tape recorder, hardware synthesizers and a variety of traditional instruments (guitar, cornet, and violin all make appearances). If you're like me and simply can't get enough oldschool industrial, or if you have a special interest in old underground/experimental music from Italy, this is still a worthwhile compilation to seek out.