** by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore – Arthur magazine (USA)
"Italy’s MY CAT IS AN ALIEN is the finest two-brother band from Italy since the end of the Great War. Their sounds move through the air the way that a tub of fine Roman butter moves through a circus ape, and their new LP, Il Segno (Starlight Furniture Company), is another stab into the brilliance of the dark. None of their albums really sounds that much like any of their other ones, but all of ‘em sound pretty great and this ‘un’s no exception. The overall textural cohesion is provided by a simmering wall of electric guitar that gets stunned with a whole assortment of things: string plonks, toy instruments, mopey voices, starling urine, pierced nipples, etc. And hey, there’s a third guy on this one, too. But he is not a brother. Still, he helps to widen the palette here, making the creepy stuff creepier, the tinny stuff tinnier, and the blazier curtains of puh blazier. So, maybe he is a “brother”, y’know? Either way, the soundscapes here will tap at so many of your inner windows that you’ll be flipping your head back an forth like a tuna. And that’s a nice feeling this time of year. Ask Charlie."
"One of our favorite jams from this Italian space drone
duo, originally released on lp only back in 2003, now reissued on cd with
two loooong bonus tracks.
"A fairly staggering new LP from the Opalio Brothers Maurizio and Roberto, the Italian guitar and noise duo who have become worryingly prolific already – almost as many releases notched up in their catalogue as NY guitarist Loren Mazza Cane Connors, and each one about as turgid! Besides the excessive double LP reviewed last issue, I’ve since picked up two of their limited-edition “art” pressings, which is to say CD-rs wrapped in handmade envelopes of artwork, on their own Opax label. Those are pretty unbearable for the most part, but admittedly do generate some moments of useful scuzzed-up noise. The Cosmological Eye Trilogy part one is a good one, although the treble CD set Out of The Blue, Into The White is definitely one to avoid – it has one CD of passable guitar screech, while the remainder is two hours’ worth of completely pointless amplifier hum with the sound of rainfall in the background! Now I come to think of it, that sounds pretty good…must play it again soon.
There’s the trouble with these goons, who only 8 years ago when lousy bands like Hovercraft were on the lips of everyone in London, would have been labelled with the same dumb tag of “spacerock” (which is to say not very good impersonations of 70s prog or krautrock) – they produce something so brilliantly simple and dumb that it borders on unlistenable, yet retains a compelling charm. This LP’s first side is dominated by the reading of a poem, “The Sign” – a bleak poem of alienation, nothingness, futility and despair, which is snarled by Roberto in broken, halting phrases, sounding for all the world like Alan Vega on skag. As he wanders through a desolate cityscape, the poet finds manifestations of his misery in everything he sees – street signs, broken windows, malfunctioning lights. It’s a downer – a real paean to disconnectedness. Behind this recital is joyless, endless drone of guitar sound, a whirling sensation of electric guitar strings strummed by a machine-like robot hand. The drummer, Viggiu Vortex, remains under-employed at this stage (although he lets rips later), occasionally tapping a cymbal or pushing a bass drum pedal in desultory, uncertain manner. Easy listening? Nope, it’s really tough going…but as dystopic sound-visions of the future (and the present) go, it’s pretty much unsurpassed. In any case, I’m sure you all need an antidote to the “happy, shiny, success” culture which is being constantly rammed down our throats, so this LP is clearly a good choice in that regard.
Steeping their every statement in metaphors of “aliens from outer space”, the work of the Opalio guys reflects their own spiritual desolation, a personal sense of exile and a state of mind heavy with the reek of existential despair. Far from psychedelic in outlook, their music is pure heroin music – wretched, strung-out, endlessly painful and emaciated. Good stuff! We’re still on side one…upon poem’s completion, the trio start to “freak out” in the most cold, clumsy and apathetic way imaginable, leading the listener off into an outer-space voyage across a universe that is a meaningless and empty void, where the stars never shine. Even Pink Floyd at their grimmest never managed anything like this! MCIAA start to get pretty rowdy, yet no more melodic…the guitars remain (like the Grim Reaper’s scythe) strangulated, chiming, instrument of death.
Side two continues this odyssey in like manner, all continuous playing, and a chaotic jumble of clanking, halting guitar work, barely propelled by leaden, lethargic drumming, starts to accumulate. No let-up from the pallor of gloom seems apparent, although an insistent monotone – most like one guitarist hitting the same note repeatedly – does feature heavily, along with light feedback, droning guitars and chiming guitars, and a toy piano making rattling and plunking sounds while attacked in frenzied, spastic fashion. A remorselessly abstract workout, kind of “cosmic” in imagery, but their overall project which seems to find aliens everywhere (not just aliens masquerading as cats) is for the most part earthbound, and very claustrophobic."
"I am sure that all of the feline afflicted amongst us have shared the sentiment that My Cat Is An Alien at some point but if in fact it was true, "Il Segno" could quite possibly be what was passing through the accursed alien's mind at the time. The ability to improvise is a sign of intelligence, the odd movements here suggesting a culture based on tennets of delicate osmosis and ringlet compression, a resulting sliding sound much larger than its apparent dimensions. So if you were considering installing a SETI client for some outer space exploration, might I suggest this recording instead.
I should note that as an affirmed vinyl hater my listening copy is of the CDR variety and so I have had the benefit of an uninterrupted 32 minute listening session (the rest of you will get some exercise strutting to the record player to flip the slab over). The two sides then are evenly split into contiguous sessions, no track markers or pauses in the proceedings. According to the liner notes these tracks are straight up with no post production funny business to remove blemishes, get rid of grey nose hair or increase bust sizes. If that's true, might I suggest you make your next vacation include a stop in Torino, Italy as this shit be sporting a most hypnotic beauty that reminds you to look up and enjoy the sunset while you sip from your acidic Pelegrino. That fact that it's a clean take just all the more impressive.
Although they are rare over all, the vocal components definitely add some distinct aspects to its identity. When the creepy European man unexpectedly steps out from around the corner your heart stumbles a few beats and you instantly become suspicious of your surroundings. It's initially friendly like the waving little green man from Moonsanto but you are never quiet sure if your surprise visitor is harmless crazy or so incoming car crash bonkers that it would be wise to move closer to the door.
The music here struts about in a few main areas. Acoustic instruments including a few stringed something or others and very much pitter-pat percussion are tangled up in a dronish fashion that suggests a surprisingly calm hybrid of Mandragora dirty hippy noise and outsider tinkering by the likes of Noggin. The difference here though is that it feels like these peeps are on their medication more than off and even when freaking out the loose wires are never so much exposed as folded into acoustical origami. These improve aspects meet with up with a post-rock scented rosy ambience which could just as easily be the intro to a cheerful Beequeen melody as an excerpt from a beautiful Aiden Baker introspection.
I expect that those of you hearing this release on vinyl
will find a few of clickier sounds a little frustrating, phantom vinyl
imperfections causing to you get a little excessive with the stylus
I really am quite taken with this Starlight Furniture Company
effort. As droning improv installations go, this one is top notch and
I definitely wonder whether the Aiden Baker recordings I have been
"They prefer weird supports like vinyl or the cd-rs
of their OPAX RECORDS self-releases, but their research, a free improv
based on “space” feedback and electric & acoustic guitar
manipulation, has been shining from many years because of its coherence
and qualitative soundness, escaping any kind of easy ostentacious effects’