Gaspare Sammartano is the drummer for the underground Italian duo Cannibal Movie, which features just a distorted organ (played by Donato Epiro) and drums, channeling feverish homages to vintage Italian exploitation films of the 1970s (especially the ones featuring “cannibals”) through their loose, droning jams. Apparently there is a whole little music sub-genre in Italy today going under the label of “Italian Occult Psychedelia” which Cannibal Movie are unmistakably one of the leaders of. The sub-genre is a sort of esoteric experiment into the so-called Italian collective subconscious, influenced by everything from vintage film and art to the overall mystique of the Mediterranean area.
Sammartano’s first solo album under his own name is a welcome addition to this esoteric Italian music scene, although it is probably more American-influenced due to his explicit homage to hip-hop, especially the Wu-Tang Clan. The 30 minute album is predominantly a sort of warped, industrial sound collage utilizing hip-hop samples at its murky core, reminding one of the 90s’ electronic music of illbient/trip-hop artists like Scorn, Spectre/Slotek, Req, and DJ Spooky.
But although Sammartano’s “Low-Pitched Italy” is stylistically not original, he manages to sound genuinely inspired throughout every song. The album, although extremely bizarre, noisy, and lo-fi, has an almost breezy quality that makes it engaging from start to finish. Maybe the fact that whole album barely reaches 30 minutes helps, since it is very easy to listen to in one sitting. Sammartano stated the album is influenced by being a “Son of the outskirts, cellars and ruined buildings of Taranto, maybe the toughest and weirdest city in South Italy”, and the record sure does reek of some sort of nasty architectural decay, and paints many images the listener’s mind the of spirits rising up from the dirtiest sewers imaginable, comparable to the best work of DJ Screw. The implied “hip-hop” beats that are scattered appropriately throughout the album evoke much more of a mechanized feel more suited to the dehumanizing nature of vintage industrial music ala Throbbing Gristle.
Overall, the album is most definitely a welcome addition to the record collection of any connoisseur of warped, filthy experimental music, and remains a highly enjoyable and vivid release.
Purchase the Vinyl and digital download directly from Sammartano’s bandcamp page below: