photograph by Lorenzo Ferraro
Sometimes in life it seems, if you don’t join the dots, the dots join you.
My appreciation for AK Press / PM Press founder Ramsey Kanaan, recently led me to the M.A. Littler film in which he appeared, called ‘The Kingdom Of Survival‘. I had no idea at the time, that just a few short months later I’d be in thrall to Squadra Omega, who just so happen to have provided the soundtrack to M.A. Littler’s ‘Lost Coast‘, both on Slowboat Films.
“Over the past 15 years Slowboat Films has gathered a dedicated international cult following for their uncompromising aesthetic and portrayal of underground art & music, radical politics and maverick minds”.
I’d like to think that if this page aspires to anything, it is that some of those same maverick minds may find their way to this portal.
Littler described Squadra Omega as follows, “It is said that all empires are built upon the ruins of previous empires. It is said that destruction breeds construction. In times of deadlocked aesthetics and stylistic stagnation the time is nigh for a destruction of the old and the construction of the new. From the rubble of a post-post modern world, Apollo is rising and he is accompanied by a tribe of psychedelic wasteland fellaheen – the Squadra Omega. The winds are shifting, the fog is lifting and a new age is a-coming. Spaceage Cubist-Free-Jazz clashes with Pygmy-Percussion-No Wave-Kraut Rock causing a sonic fusion leading to a complete derangement of the senses, an assault on the frontal lobe and permanent hallucination. This is music from the third eye. Warning: Suitable only for sonic adventurers who dare to explore the darkness of the forest and the mystery of the deep blue sea”.
Could there be any better introduction to, or celebration of the fact that in reaching this watershed, fellow adventurers reading this are most certainly, “on the same page”! Grab your machete, strap on your oxygen tank, we are going in…
Squadra Omega describe themselves as, “an Italian cosmic psych impro collective active since 2009, touring and recording with different formations each time.”, and further, “a psych/avant/kraut rock collective devoted to free improvisation, psychedelic jams and mind blow ups”, though in essence, “…consistently guided by a musical and spiritual blueprint: EXPAND CONSCIOUSNESS, FEED YOUR THIRD EYE!”
With 3 sought after, sold out EP’s, ‘altri occhi ci guardano’ or ‘other eyes there watching’ is Squadra Omega’s 4th Long Player outing.
Side A: ‘Il Buio Dentro’, (‘Darkness Inside’), sounds akin to cabalistic tunings, unfolding within a vast Arrakeen cistern; ‘Sospesi Nell’oblio’, (‘Suspended Oblivion’), intones computer punch card automata, spiralling free form repetitious motifs, shot through with jarring exotica flourishes; ‘la Nube di Oort’, (‘The Cloud Of Oort’), opens to the insistent flapping of the Lepidoptera in celestial navigation, the twinkling Oort’s transient sparkling, a reminder perhaps of the larvae’s former state of suspended animation. (“The outer limit of the Oort cloud defines the cosmographical boundary of the Solar System and the region of the Sun’s gravitational dominance”).
Side B: ‘Il Labirinto’, (‘The Maze’), epitomises what the band describe as, “what free thinking at the crossroads of rock’n’roll, jazz and psychedelia can sound and should feel like”. This is a baleful, horned evocation of the Minotaur, a passage algo-rhytym, blending anguished aboriginal throbbing, suffused with tribal chants; ‘Sepolto Dalle Sabbie Del Tempo’, (‘Buried From The Sands Of Time’), is a claustrophobically euphoric, stridently oscillating, scalar analog groove.
Side C: ‘Hyoscyamus’, is a paean to the Angel’s Trumpet, the doleful strings lift and carry on wistful winds, the moth’s aphrodisiac, nourishing delirium on this haughty, pastoral acoustic jaunt; ‘Il Grande Idolo’, (‘The Great Idol’), opens to a squabbling seabirds-like sax, an evolving, soothing, opiate dystopia, a shimmering space shanty, imperceptibly constructing towering monoliths, cloud cresting aural citadels, bathed in choral adulation.
Side D: ‘Altri Occhi Ci Guardano’, (‘Other Eyes There Watching’), is a vividly salacious, jazz blues funk jam, a tenebrously addictive infectious groove, a voyeur’s guilty pleasure; Album closer,’Le Rovine Circolari’, (‘The Circular Ruins’), is a lenitive acoustic farewell, tipping a nod to Borges’ short fantasy story of the same name. Borge took inspiration from Carroll’s, ‘Through The Looking Glass’, as the framework for his idealistic manifestation of thoughts, dreams and immortality, in short everything a Squadra Omega ritual encompasses…
‘altri occhi ci guardano’ is a resolute triumph, a cacophonous, hypnotic, tranformative, perceptive affirmation.
If ever there was an eloquently fitting, alternative soundtrack for the cult psychoactive movie, ‘Altered States’, this is it.
Cover painting by Flavio Bordin, ‘Il grande Idolo’, 1977.