View Full Version : italian house/irma records

19-03-2005, 03:20 PM
So I went out to see Stelfox & Ripley last night -- had the wrong night! -- it's next week -- (errrr, may have to miss the show cause my mother's coming to town despite my attempts to discourage her from visiting w/ utmost tact and diplomacy) . . . . the dj playing at the Bunker was Dan Bell, and detroit microhouse isn't my idea of a good time, so i went to my old stand-by the Lotus Lounge at Clinton/Stanton, to hear Josey rock the JA dancehall music . . . . then ended up going to this Irma Records party

not sure what to make of Irma Records . . . . I remember Irma Records as this Italian label in the very early 90s that imitated the (tedious) jazz sophistications of ny house (Don Carlos, Joey Negro), and then the label just stayed and stayed and stayed around, producing the same tedium in perpetuity . . . . but the stuff that the Irma dj was playing last night was more polyrhythmic than I expected, a perceptible brazilian bossa influence -- not baile funk, but trad bossa influence

and on a certain level the music is rather good . . . . it's as if the italians have appropriated the music of 1970s NYC and Rio de Janeiro AND made it totally their own -- very sunny, very mediterranean -- but also very pointless ----- it's as if the italians, this old and decadent and long since post-historical civilization, have no concept of history . . . .

there's no master/slave dialectic in what they do, no struggle against the precursor -- and at the same times there's no irony in what they do (which is part of its charm) -- absolutely no self-consciousness ----- and you can't help but suspect they're rather daft

or perhaps they think we're fools for wanting meaning (i.e., psychedelic agenda) & historical purpose (i.e., "new" sounds) with our dance music pleasure

and then these young italian men who were disco dancing like 1975 -- for all of them i felt nothing but contempt! -- though not at all sure why i felt this way (perhaps i'm xenophobic, or at least hostile to a certain type of european w/ financial means slumming it in ny courtesy of the weak dollar)

perhaps i simply don't like modern italian culture? its sunny superficiality, its lack of commitment to anything other than earthly pleasure (cf. americans who like easy & artificial pleasure, but work fucking long hours to get it and then develop weird compulsions and guilt symptoms and then pay for therapy) ------ yeah i'm trading in stereotypes, but i'm 1/2 italian & identify ethnically as an italian-american (ummmm, not really -- pretty deracinated actually -- as are all "white" people in america after a generation or two), so i can get away with saying such things

and yes, i realize that italians make all kinds of dance music -- but it seems to me that irma records is the epitome of an italian label

and also, i did kinda enjoy the music on a certain level -- so perhaps i'm simply projecting???

19-03-2005, 06:45 PM
Hahaha...seems exactly like the kind of American insecurity that you describe.

There's loads of music that doesn't innovate. In fact innovation is not the best thing to aim for in music. What kind of meaning do you really need for dance music? All that italo-disco was just disposable music for parties and so was rave and lots of jungle too. Let them have fun damnit.

19-03-2005, 07:15 PM
yeah there are a lot of dj and places here where is played this very lite and innocuos plastic fusion of jazzy house and sausade with reminescenze of soul, exotica, sixties... very boring but here people (in general) like it and didn't love hardcore sounds, or at last is a minority who like hardcore (mostly the very youngs).
Well if I look at "dance music" section in a generalist cd store is mostly Sasha, Buddha Bar, Ibiza Anthems, Ked Hendy, Cafè del Mar, Talking Loud, Irma.... right? Where are the Grime collections?
Anyway Irma put out in the past some nice italian soundtracks/exotica or '70 disco/soul collections and a nice collection of Italo Disco from the '80 called "I Robot" which I wish will have a volume two. They have a very vast discography, at the Irma label, but like I say mostly lite jazzyhouse I don't know neither care.

What make you think there is something like "modern italian culture"? Really? This country is not modern and the culture, ancient or modern, as all but fall apart. Here are Ruins.

19-03-2005, 07:49 PM
i should perhaps clarify that i meant this post as a kind of reaction piece -- and i'm ambivalent/not sure how to assess this italian house sound

they had a dj, a live drummer, and a trumpeter -- and you could tell that all three had been into this music for a long long time, let's say their entire adult lives

and they bring a passion to it, but it's the same passion as a passion for wine or tomatoes

and this music is *not* the same sound as 89/92 balearic b/c balearic had (1) a psychedelic agenda and (2) a shufflier groovier hip hop beat

this music was modeled on 1970s nyc and rio de janeiro music -- and went quite a bit faster than 89/92 balearic beats --

and at the same time, this music was more dancefloor orientated than the standard jazzy bossa lite house cocktail

a good friend of mine actually plays a lot of rae & christian/talking loud/broken beats/jazzy bossa lite house cocktail music -- it bores me to tears! -- but he's very witty and the sort of reprobate whose best hours always have and always will be the afterhours that i see past this evil ------ he's also black and from UK, and as SR has elsewhere commented there's this aspiration to "jazz sophistication" shared by many in the black UK dance community that utterly confounds white folks

so yeah there's a kind of race/culture issue running through all of this ----- indeed that was my point in stating my conflicted reaction

there's a kind of "protestantism" that informs the white british and white north american approach to dance music that italians don't seem to share . . . .

and by "protestantism" i mean the demand that dance music have (1) a cultural-political agenda -- no matter how vague, there must be an agenda!!! ------ and (2) that the music be "new," pushing the form forward, etc

19-03-2005, 07:59 PM
the same passion as a passion for wine or tomatoes

poor choice of words -- sorry -- very condescending and ancestor-hating and glib

certainly these musicians had real musical talent, which requires discipline and practice to obtain (not mere naive passion)

so my words were poorly chosen -- but i think that what i'm trying to drive at is reasonably clear

19-03-2005, 11:37 PM
I heart Don Carlos

20-03-2005, 12:43 AM
and by "protestantism" i mean the demand that dance music have (1) a cultural-political agenda -- no matter how vague, there must be an agenda!!! ------ and (2) that the music be "new," pushing the form forward, etc

I don't really buy this as a popular way of thinking about dance music; I think you are confusing critical reactions to dance music with popular ones. Look at the undying popular appeal of uplifting trance (and consider how little serious music critics have ever talked about it) in the traditionally majority Protestant parts of Europe (Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, and Britain) in comparison to more overtly political or avant-garde forms of music.

20-03-2005, 02:43 AM
i'm not sure if the critic's orientation to dance music is any different than the popular orientation, except that it's more fully articulated . . . .

[i then proposed a scheme that's really just too idiotic to leave posted, especially as no one else has yet commented . . . . ]

20-03-2005, 02:49 AM
I don't really buy this as a popular way of thinking about dance music

then how do people think about dance music?

20-03-2005, 03:38 AM
or to introduce another complex of problems for my half-baked theory . . . .

there are at least three fault lines already visible in the reception of grime in america, i.e., (1) people who will try to take grime in a hip hop or thugged-out direction, (2) people who will want to emphasize the sonic strangeness of grime music, and (3) people who will treat grime as the latest thing in wicked voodoo dance rhythms --

but all of these potential lines of development are within the protestant orientation, though to varying degrees & not w/o contradictions, such as:

(1) the hip hop direction -- here there's the problem of deferring to hip hop

(2) the avant garde or idm direction -- here there's the problem of emphasizing the new & the strange at the expense of raw power & meaning

(3) the wicked rhythms direction -- here there's the problem of treating junglistic hardcore as authoritative model

and yet to the extent that hip hop models & jungle ghosts are viewed as problems, this merely confirms the shared protestant orientation of the people attracted to grime -- they want grime to be its own phenomenon, not overly determined by precursors

and to the extent that (2) is viewed as problem, this confirms that they want grime to be about something more than mere sonic tomfoolery

20-03-2005, 12:44 PM
I really doubt there's any such thing as "new directions" in dance music. There's inspired stuff and not-inspired. What is wrong with treating music like tomatoes or wine? Those could be great sources of pleasure and many people are seriously into it (well...not tomatoes probably). It's probably better to treat music like wine than a philosophy book or something. There is a lot of emotional content in music and rational explanations of why music is good/bad are usually pretty weak compared to the emotional response.

If music was rational then computers would be writing good music right now.

20-03-2005, 02:33 PM
then how do people think about dance music?

err... on the whole, they don't. it's kinda the point. isn't it?

20-03-2005, 05:37 PM
err... on the whole, they don't. it's kinda the point. isn't it?

i disagree -- i think that anyone who's into anything has reasons for being into it, and anyone who goes to any club or dance party has reasons for doing so, etc -- and to the extent that the reasons are not articulate or fully consistent, then it's perhaps better to refer to an orientation -- but i don't want to take the protestant/catholic orientation scheme any further as it quickly breaks down as a scheme and becomes ludicrous and makes me feel & look like an ass, etc, etc, etc -- and yet it does seem quite clear to me that the italian dance music culture is in many ways quite alien to the anglo-american approach, especially when the point of comparison is at the "dj bar" level, rather than the "raving massive" level -- and at the same time i want to avoid trite observations to the effect that we've all got our own unique ways of doing things . . . .

20-03-2005, 07:32 PM
I like Italian dance music a lot - Italo disco, Italian house, some Italian techno & sort of neo-italo electro house stuff like nature records. I like the way it has always evolved somewhat seperately from the mainstream music created by the US or the UK but has influenced key developments in dance music - italo was surely a big catalyst in house & techno's development out of disco & electro and italian house had a strong influence on the British rave scene as well as the 'balearic' sound - the 'discovery' of the early eighties cosmic sound of danielle baldelli recently seems to be having a bit of an influence on current producers & djs and seems to me to be a typically idiosyncratic italian approach in reinterpreting dance music genres from other countries to suit their own ends as well as being a heroin house sound 15 years before cologne's