The Milan based imprint, Dialogo, returns with the first ever vinyl reissue of Spirale’s lone 1974 self-titled LP. Resting at a fascinating juncture between progressive and free jazz, it was years ahead of its time when it first appeared, rendering it to the shadows for decades, before its ultimate ascent to becoming one of the great holy grails of Italian Jazz prog.
This is a release known mostly by Italian progressive rock lovers, since its sound can be easily associated to the jazz-rock delivered by the way more popular Napoli Centrale and Perigeo – but also to the ‘fundamentals’ Dedalus, Arti & Mestieri, Uno, if not Maad, Nadma or Aktuala, or even the lesser known Bauhaus for instance. But playing this kind of music and trying to release an album in the first half of the ’70s in Italy was also incredibly hard and courageous: Spirale, in fact, was one of the many bands that lived a very short life, before splitting up and disappear forever.
Spirale were an Italian quintet from Rome, consisting of Gaetano Delfini (wind instruments, vocals, percussion), Giancarlo Maurino (saxophone, flute, percussion), Corrado Nofri (piano, marimba, mbira, siren, Jew’s harp), Giuseppe Caporello (contrabass, guitar, percussion) and Giampaolo Ascolese (drums) who released a single eponymous album in 1974.
Spirale was originally released on the International King record label, thanks to Mario Schiano, a free-jazz saxophonist who discovered the band, and producer Toni Cosenza, who included the album in the ‘King Jazz-Line’ series. Consisting of just four tracks, most of which taken by the 13-minute long “Cabral, Anno 1” and the marvellous 17-minute “Peperoncino (Cose vecchie, cose nuove)”, Spirale is an incredibly balanced and flowing record that sounds still fresh and inspired even today, and it’s a shame that it has remained hidden and overlooked for such a long time. Moreover, it is characterized by that undescribable and particular Mediterranean flavour that only Italian musicians were able to obtain.
This beautiful album is of course immensely rare in its original edition, and is now finally reissued on Dialogo record label in a faithful restored version that will satisfy any collectors who have waited for years for this beauty to see the light again!
Italy has proven to be a treasure trove of obscure, archival sounds. For decades, the products of its free-wheeling sonic countercultures – spanning numerous musical genres – remained as overlooked from within as without, until being uncovered by diggers searching for treasures in the shadows of time. Thankfully, those efforts have morphed into countless revelations via the reissue market. Leading the way is the Milan based imprint Dialogo, who have made their name by diving far from the predictable path. Their latest, the first ever vinyl reissued of the lone, self-titled LP produced by the Rome based quintet, Spirale, in 1974, stands among their most exciting offerings to date. A visionary hybrid at the juncture of rock and jazz, it was so ahead of its time that it remained almost entirely overlooked for decades, before ultimately ascending to holy grail status among lovers of Italian prog. Creatively thrilling – filled with emotive highs and lows – it’s a crucial piece in the puzzle of Italy’s wild and wonderful history of radical sound.
Founded in Rome by Gaetano Delfini (wind instruments, vocals, percussion), Giancarlo Maurino (saxophone, flute, percussion), Corrado Nofri (piano, marimba, mbira, siren, Jew’s harp), Giuseppe Caporello (contrabass, guitar, percussion) and Giampaolo Ascolese (drums), Spirale is among the most obscure projects to have emerged from Italy during the first half of the 1970s. Almost as soon as their lone, self-titled LP was issued by International King Record in 1974, the trial goes dark. Members turn up on recordings by Gaetano Liguori Collective Orchestra, Folk Magic Band, and numerous other projects over the years, but in this incarnation the music on Spirale seems to be all we have.
Spirale’s fate seems to have rested with the simple fact that they were too ahead of their time, producing a music that would subsequently come to find broad favour among audiences of popular music only a year or two down the road. Their lone, self-titled LP, carving out uncharted territory between Bitches Brew era Miles Davis and mid-70s Soft Machine, pushed progressive rock into a near undefinable realm; not rock enough to be called rock, not jazz enough to be called jazz.
Across the two sides of Spirale, comprising four works, a band of uncompromising talent stretches out, laying down cycling rhythms and bass lines that channel the modalism of John Coltrane, the funkiness of Donald Byrd, and hypnotic psychedelia, before embarking upon melodic excursions – peppered with Mediterranean sensibilities – into the outer realms.
Joyous, engrossing, and the product of exacting musicianship, how Spirale remained overlooked for all these years is one of the great mysteries of Italian music. An absolute revelation of the highest order brought to us by the capable hands of Dialogo, the first time ever reissue of this 1974, obscure masterstroke is an absolute must for any fan of prog, jazz, or Italian music at large. Beautifully pressed with fully restored and remastered audio and issued in a facsimile gatefold sleeve, reproducing the stunning original design, Spirale is just about as good as reissues get.
Bradford Bailey, 21 September 2021