It happens that two not ordinary entities merge into something weirder than the sum of its parts. This is the Lampredonto’s case (Lampreda + Tonto, that are Simone Vassallo the first and Fra Zedde the second, both on behalf of percussionists and electronic musicians) who on June 29, 2022, released the first full-length !WASTED! for the Florentine label UR Suoni, with several artists’ collaborations: in the self-titled track from !WASTED! there is the extraordinary participation as vocalist of the main character of the historical post-punk/exp music Mark Stewart, who was singer and author in The Pop Group and in Maffia; Peter Harris, a musician, artist and film-maker, collaborated in ! WASTED ! in lyrics, vocal and guitar parts. He is a long-time Lee ‘Scratch‘ Perry music partner, and in 2018, for Trashmouth Records, published his first solo album Adverts, permeated by an angular pop in addition with unexpected and day-to-day sonic patterns.
Other special guests are Andrea Caprara (Squarcicatrici, Jealousy Party), Unnur Malin Sigurðardóttir (Ojba Rasta) who appear in Naked Safari and Jacopo Andreini (Al Mustaqil, Squarcicatrici, Bz Bz Ueu) who collaborated in Taiho, and Unnur Malin, Rúna ValaÞorgrímsdóttir and Stefano D’Elia (Sex Pizzul) collaborated on vocal parts in the Wasted track. Moreover there are five reworks of the self-titled song with the following participations: the Portuguese artist Jonathan Uliel Saldana, the Dutch producer Uncle Fester On Acid (previously Patrick Dokter, who collaborated with Adrian Sherwood in the project On-U Sound), the Florentine producer HZHA, Michael Byrne who lives in Italy and collaborates with the Florentine scene, and the electronic artist who lives in France Polonius.
!WASTED!, with its original pieces and reworks, is in the sign of a magmatic dub and weird sound permeated by a punk attitude, whereas the collaborators’ energy is perceptible in each diversified detail. Its musical genre is suspended between many sonorities, including jazz and ethnic sounds, and the Italian-Dutch duo (Simone comes from Italy, and Fra lives in the Netherlands for much time) offers a canvas of electronic beats and analog sounds for the cited several artists who altered and made inspiring his/herself in those tracks in ever-changing ways.
Talking about the Lampredonto members, Fra Zedde AKA Tonto needs no introduction in these pages, so we will resend to the following articles:
– a monographic interview with Fra Zedde (which also concerns the Lampredonto debut),
– the interview with Tonto about his album Functional Stupidity and other topics.
Lampreda (Simone Vassallo), who works with Caveiras and Sex Pizzul, released the first record on February 6, 2017, for UR Suoni, entitled Lampreda №0, with an experimental, atonal and tribal approach. The playing is diversified, whereas the digital component appears as raw and lo-fi, indulging in syncopated patterns in the rhythm, like La Fiesta Del Caracòl; instead, La Legge Del Taglione develops itself rarefidly offering a suspended end to the record, enriching everything of antithetical elements.
The next Lampreda release is another EP entitled Kava Kava, published on April 2 (2020) for Biodiversità Records with the Nautilus Frank (Francesco Lascialfari) contribution; in this record there is an electronic collage with hip hop and dub sonorities, and with the addition of synth and percussions parts, whereas everything is permeated by a more baroque and more elegant atmosphere (in a broad sense), in the sign of an oblique, liquid creativity.
In the following part of this article there is an inteview with some of the main characters who worked in !WASTED! (that are Fra Zedde, Mark Stewart, Peter Harris, Michael Byrne, Andrea Caprara, Unnur Malin Sigurðardóttir and Jacopo Andreini).
Wasted, with Lampredonto, Mark Stewart, and all the other guests has a plastic and multidimensional sound, whose acoustic wavefront assumes renewed shapes which districts in a centrifugal way. The usage of the main theme of the first track (the Wasted track) is peculiar for its development into grotesque and original re-works, diversifying the record through several genres. So, how was the asymmetric and non-euclidean side of the release born, and the collaborative one too?
Fra Zedde: “It was a long and slow process. Simone and me always lived in different towns, so it mostly happened online and even the germinal idea of meeting up to make a new project was pretty much casual and easy. There was a good occasion for him to come visit me, and we got caught in studio together for 3 days. That has been a really fun time, we were very informal and chill, at the same time felt very committed and serious about finding a common ground between our tastes and practices. We listened a lot of music together and of course improvisation definitely smoothed the job, made everything comfortable. That session happened approximately 4 years ago, in the meantime we can say we never stopped thinking about it and tinkering on it, there has been countless provisory mixes and several follow-up meetings to figure out the character of the project, the vibe of the videos, the artworks and so on. At a certain point (more or less 2 years ago), we understood that it was crucial to involve more artist, we wanted more colors and diverse ideas, to expand that common ground that lies between Simone’s taste and mine.”
A question for Mark. There are several points in common between the modern DIY culture and the old macro-scene, represented in this case by the associated historical masterpieces like Y (1979) and For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? (1980). In this case, the sound is eclectic, and sometimes it appears exotic, related to urban electronics (especially the techno and dub sounds). There are several aspects in common between The Pop Group and Lampredonto in this record, for the related weird, baroque sound, especially between dub and punk/noise sonorities. Could I ask you how was your collaboration with Lampredonto born, and if you see any correlation between this production and that fervid scene in which you were one of the main characters?
Mark Stewart: “Working with Lampredonto was an easy decision for me. Their name jump-started memories of my protruding pot-belly as a kid, fully satiated with what many Florentines consider to be a delight, but what most Brits consider to be lesser than human shite – I’m talking tripe. But that is what the majority of its critics are doing when they declare it to be either ‘gross’ or ‘eaten by the sort its name suggests darling – tripe.’ As a vegetarian of many years now, I can honestly say it is the one cut of meat I miss. But, if the truth be known, here in Britain, the bulk of carnivores who claim to be repulsed by it, have never actually eaten it. Try asking them which type they dislike the most – but don’t hold your breath in waiting for an answer. It’s the chronic disease they happily play host to – a refusal to try something, claim they have, but slate it anyway – that I fear contracting the most, not their undiagnosed Trypophobia. These are people who are “on the run from nothing”. The only holes they need to fear are the ample abysses in which they ably incarcerate their own minds. Perhaps if, “pecking orders” were to be interpreted in the most literal sense by all and applied to everything in life, then heads and hearts might head in a healthier direction? Lampredonto and the imagery the name evoked, was my starting point with the duo. Tripe’s popularity around the globe varies, but tends to be most secure in the bellies of those who struggle with a budget of nothing, yet excel in the value of everything. Our track “! WASTED !” owes much to tripe. Is it really that far-fetched to envisage tripe as the new truffle?
“I feel like the Florentine purveyors of the likes of a Panino di Lampredotto, have it sussed: fully accessible; mobile yet permanent; seizing every opportunity; wasting nothing. They possess an innate ability to spot the seductive soul of all that might be deemed unpopular or ugly and liberate it, from either self-imposed tyranny, or others’ mockery. Their skill in stitching silk purses from sows’ ears is as habitual as switching underpants. By stewing, slicing and stuffing guts between absorbent layers laced with a simple sauce, they make it not only palatable, but desirable for the masses. That kind of mindset is the very marrow of DIY. Never underestimate the span of the language of love, a sandwich speaks. Be it open or closed; single or double-deckered; rolled or coned; flat or filled; grilled or griddled: whole, halved, quartered or slaughtered, the sandwich, in all its guises, has talked its way into boardrooms, backstreets, projects, palaces, deserts and diners everywhere, while steadfastly stifling claims to exclusive rights of ownership at every turn. Be it Ethiopian Injera laden with all manner of delights, or an interstate gas station’s boxed offering – with its single window to the world – the pulling power of the party that the sponges and their perfect mix of fillings hold between them, is unparalleled.
“You know, you can look at those Lampredonto guys with their balaclavas, and interpret that however you choose. Are they headed to a masquerade or a rubber ball? Are they about to commit an “act of terror”? Are they about to “blow the bloody doors off” a bank? And, if the latter, is that necessarily a bad thing, when the past has, and the future will, continue to teach us that all that has been either overlooked or overdrawn, is paramount to our survival? If it transpires their haul was sat languishing at length, gathering dust, then who’s the savvy investor and who’s the injured party here? For if the response they provoke in their audience frees itself from self-imposed tyranny, then who exactly is the villain?”
Let’s talk about the Wasted track with Peter Harris. You wrote the guitar part and lyrics, which follow different directions. Your guitar is similar to a wind instrument, and recalls the sound of a snake charmer, with its Middle-Eastern tonalities, with an extemporaneous fluidity and catchy but intelligent approach in this eclectic context. Instead, the lyrics from the same piece look to the ordinary day-to-day living with any militaristic shades. Indeed we can see there are many characters in different dimensional hyperplanes. Can you talk about how these elements happened in this song?
Peter Harris: “The guitar part was a one off improvisation that ran through the whole song. I think it was then edited down to the parts you hear. The fast nature of playing live to the track meant that, although some notes were reached in a standard way instinctively – like a kind of musical memory muscle that wants to reach the key note for comfort – the other notes were played in a non western/blues way, more of the Eastern/jazz way that you picked up on. This duality in sound seemed to echo the lyrics which are a kind of conflicted conversation between the animalistic instincts needed to survive and prosper and the internal world of hurt that bears witness to this and licks its wounds.”
In Wasted there is an electronic side and another analogic, percussive one. Indeed there are the diversified contributions of the following artists: Mark Stewart and Uncle Fester On Acid (their re-work is multifaced, polychromed, whose sonic borders are neat), Polonius (with his lo-fi, heavy eccentricity), Michael Byrne (characterized by heterodox techno/post-punk), HZHA (an exotic elaboration, linked with a more classic electronic hardcore), Johnathan Uliel Saldana aka HHY (distorted and cheap electronics, which is more homogeneous). They have been working with remixes and re-works with a more double-faced structure, more absurd or ordered. Could I ask you how these re-elaborations were born, how these artists were involved, and how each relative intuition was born?
Fra Zedde: “Federico (Fragasso, ndr) from UR gave a great contribution reaching most of the guest musicians, some of them have been selected and carefully targeted (such as Stewart and Saldanha, of whom we can consider ourselves fan) some other just popped out along the path, like Unnur, who is a good friend and very interesting musician, she was with me in Iceland when I was working on some overdubs. So the realization on those tracks has been a long and thoughtful process with a lot of space for spontaneity and inspiration, such method worked very well in my opinion and the result is very satisfying both on the musical and personal level.”
Michael Byrne: “It all started as a last-minute offer from my friend Michele Alunni, from UR Suoni. Because I love getting feedback from him, I usually send him some of my latest works and remixes. We worked together as record dealers for almost a decade, and I really trust his taste and ears. At the time, he sent me the original version of Wasted so he could pick my brain about it. First thing I thought was: “Wow… Mark Stewart? Really?” Later, he told me I could try to make a Remix if I liked it, but on condition that it would be ready in 10 days.
“I loved this noisy percussive industrial ethnic blend Lampredonto put together since the very first time I heard it, and I knew right away I wanted to be part of this project. It felt really natural to imagine the visionary dancefloor version I wanted to unleash; it took me about 3 days to make it.”
In Naked Safari, one of the original pieces of the record, with the contribution of Andrea Caprara (saxophone and alto clarinet) and Unnur Malín Sigurðardóttir (euphonium), the brass wind instruments make the track more freed by traditional structures, which appear spontaneous in their essence, and with a background of smoothed electronic sonorities, and a lysergic and exotic atonality. They reproduce something familiar and break up into the shape of a distorted magma. I’d like to ask you how the involvement of those artists and the associated sounds were born, which is linked to free improvisation.
Fra Zedde: “We tended to not give a lot of direction to our collaborators, almost everyone was invited to use our tracks as a blank paper. Improvisation was quite fundamental but all of them were aware of the general idea of the record, so we somehow created an imaginary world of musical features where everyone compounded with relative freedom. Of course not everything was perfect at the first go, it took a lot of work to refine and polish the material (a MASSIVE amouth of material, by the way). We didn’t really care too much about having a deadline or pulling out the record soon, so we could use a lot of mental space and time to figure out things, communication between the two of us and the producers has always been very open and everyone has been a true gentleman, on top of it, the tracks grown cooler and cooler all along the process, at every edit or collaboration, so we never missed the excitement for spending energies on them.”
Andrea Caprara: “Federico from UR Suoni asked me for some sax parts on Naked Safari. I worked on a rough mix, trying to imagine different parts for split notes, rhythmic patterns, abstract soundscapes and a free solo. I guess I let myself be carried away, so I sent five tracks back to Lampredonto. I didn’t mean to be Baroque or egocentric, but I wanted to give them a wide choice of sounds to cut, slice, mix and use in their creative way: a feedback process where I could not control the final result.”
Unnur Malin Sigurðardóttir: “In 2018 my friend posted on Facebook that an Italian friend of her friend was looking for accommodation in Iceland, my home country. I offered them to stay at my home as I have spare rooms. That’s how I met Fra, through a friend of a friend… and he has since been a dear friend. He managed my tour in Italy in 2019 and has since stayed twice over the summer at our place in 2019 and 2021. It was during his last stay in Iceland when he invited me to play the euphonium for the Lampredonto project, to add layers to the soundscape. I love improv and am not afraid to go out of my comfort zone. I hadn’t played that instrument for a while, so I was rusty… but that discomfort can produce something fresh, and I trusted Fra and his collaborators to make something good of it. I also recorded vocals and wrote Icelandic lyrics for the song !WASTED!.”
Jacopo Andreini (hand-made tenor and baritone electric bouzouki) collaborated in Taiho. Greek/Middle-oriental sonorities are the main characters, with a more personal, heterodox creativity, giving a more ethnic contribution than the other tracks. How were this piece and those cosmopolitan characteristics born?
Jacopo Andreini: “For Taiho I’ve been invited by Simone/Lampreda to substitute a sample he cannot use because of cultural appropriation debate. I exposed my harsh point of view about it (being a punk anarchist since decades I claim the right to use and abuse anything I want, to put it down maybe too quickly, but I hope you get the point), then I recorded some improvisations with my handmade custom instruments. We edited the sessions without pity, found some obbligato here and there, got rid of a lot of my playing and that was it! The character you mention as greek/middle-eastern are linked to my solo project Al Mustaqil that I’ve developed expecially with those instruments re-imagining musics that I listen since I am 6 years old. So: do I have the right to play music without borders or am I doomed to play only music from the town I’m born (i.e. ottava rima)??”
In the end, can you talk about the following tour or live sets and the work on the next album?
Fra Zedde: “We are planning a fairly big tour in March, probably reaching Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Netherlands, we already tested the liveset last summer with an handful of really good shows in Italy, i’m very excited about bringin it on stage again. Making a liveset was (once again) a complicated and tricky process, we can’t afford a lot of rehearsals together because of distance, and anyway it would be impossible to decently rearrange the songs for two performers. For this reasons we use a lot of electronics and not everything is truly performed on stage. Thats something we are not enthusiastic about, but at the same time we managed to figure out a very effective setup that leaves some space for improvisation and enough interaction with the audience. Nonetheless, one day we’ll have some more resources for live sets and we will be able to drag more performers on stage.
“We still didn’t make anything for the next record, we’re still very concentrated on pushing this one, in the meanwhile ideas and inspiration are slowly stacking up, soon will be time to go back to studio and we really look forward”