Review: Sammartano – Walkman Jazz (Canti Magnetici, Jul 8)

First off, I just want to say how much I love Canti Magnetici. The label’s been around for less than four years but has already built an amazing canon of wide-ranging experimental works, featuring releases from all sorts of burgeoning sound artists as well as by founders Andrea Penso and Gaspare Sammartano (Donato Epiro has not yet put anything out under the imprint). With dedication to both subversive, barely classifiable “non-music” as well as more developed fields such as field recording, sound poetry, and electroacoustic composition, it’s by far one of my favorite labels out there right now.

Walkman Jazz is the second release by Gaspare Sammartano on Canti Magnetici (preceded by 2017’s Rompighiaccio Destiny), once again a single piece presented on a one-sided cassette. This time, however, in tandem with the album’s dark dominion of murk and gunk, the music is dubbed onto recycled tapes, each housed in a black clamshell case. Sammartano’s vision for this work is a singular one, represented both by the track’s hallucinatory, lethargic collage structure and by the sense of uniqueness and discovery evoked by the packaging—it feels like something you’ve found. Walkman Jazz is a monument to forgotten remnants, to languid congealment, to disparate amalgams, an immersive journey through familiarity rendered almost completely unrecognizable (but I was pleasantly surprised to hear a brief appearance of Scarface’s “I Seen a Man Die,” especially because I was just listening to The Diary on the way home from work). Come witness this “funeral party on a ship that sails a radioactive sea towards a new promised land (that obviously doesn’t exist)”; you won’t regret it.

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