Edgardo Moia Cellerino - L'Amore Che Gira Il Mondo (2009)
I got to know Le Masque some 10 or 12 years ago, when I picked up a second-hand copy of their greatest-hits-featuring-unreleased-bonus-tracks 'Dal Diario di un Soffiatore di Vetro' (released in October 1998, subtitled 1984-1998) in a small Metal store for some reason. I can't for the life of me remember why; I had no idea what to expect, there were no indications whatsoever that I would like this, and the cover art is gruesome. Maybe the fact that it was on an Eibon Records sublabel (Fuoco), plus the fact that the shopkeeper, desperate to unload what was no doubt in his eyes an awful piece of crap, had put a ridiculously low price on it, was enough to win me over. Maybe it was merely because I was taking some Italian classes in those years, and wanted to practice a bit. Either way, as it turned out, this music was labeled 'Wave' (to this day I'm not sure what that means, exactly), but what I heard was a great singer-songwriter (also guitarist) with a beautiful, melancholy voice and very good lyrics, backed by some very able musicians on piano, synth, clarinet, sax, bass and percussion. Sure, some of it was quite schmaltzy, and it took a while to get used to the one or two tracks with very simple drum computer beats, but somehow I returned to that album obsessively for months, and translated some of the lyrics. The best tracks (some of them were live recordings with between-song banter) had something of a late-night smoky vocal-jazz club feel to me.
Over the years, I have played Le Masque's compilation album (along with a couple of other records of theirs I managed to pick up here and there) to quite a number of people, but haven't been able to gain them many new fans, I'm afraid. Most people were turned off by their supposed cheesiness, so you have been warned.
Le Masque was formed in 1979, in Milan, by Edgardo Moia Cellerino (voice, guitar) and Tiberio Boncristiano (percussion). They took their name from a Baudelaire poem and were inspired by British post-punk bands (I can't hear any of that in their music). In the beginning, the lyrics were in English (going by 'The Happy Flock', featured on that compilation, however, it may take you a while to recognize it as English); pretty soon, they switched to Italian. They released a number of albums over the years: 'The Happy Flock' (1984) 'Colloquio' (1986), 'Il Signor Gustavo Coscenza' (1990, on EMI; these first 3 are all mini-LPs really), 'La Memoria di Venere' (1991) and 'Le Masque' (1995); two more singles, 'Dandies' (1997) and 'Sai' (1999, released only in Greece?), and the compilation album mentioned above the next year; and finally another full-lenght, 'Gli Anni di Globiana' (2003). Some of the material in later years suffered in comparison with their earlier works, unfortunately, being poppier and catchier and less 'atmospheric' (whatever that means).
There was no more to be heard from Le Masque for many years until in November 2009 this album credited only to Cellerino appeared out of nowhere on the young Italian label Oltrelanebbiailmare. I don't know why it's suddenly his album, as this is again a greatest hits compilation, mostly, with tracks taken from all over the Le Masque discography. Only the title track and the Brel-cover are previously unreleased. I'm not sure if this means that Le Masque is no more; I'll just quote this from the press release:
"Edgardo has just got back during November from the prestigious Tenco Festival, a showcase dedicated to the most valid Italian singer-songwriters, where he received the SIAE/Club Tenco Prize as the best emerging author/songwriter with the following mention: "His lyrics are illuminated by all-consuming landscapes. His language is made of an almost embarassing extreme and refined elegance, and reminds the greatest Italian writers of the Twentieth Century, from Pavese to Buzzati. Nonetheless he defines himself just like "a polka-dot illustrator on clowns costumes". At the Tenco Festival he presented some of his songs in concert, including the new album title-track. For all the Le Masque aficionados and for all the lovers of Italian songwriting... This is a must!"
Here is the tracklist with year of publication (+ original album) of each song, and my own translations:
1. Le Donne (from 'Le Masque', 1995) ('Women')
2. Marcel (from 'Le Masque', 1995)
3. Nostalghia (from 'Le Masque', 1995) ('Nostalgia')
4. La Notte del 31 Dicembre 1999' (from 'Le Masque', 1995) ('The Night of 31 December 1999')
5. La Ballerina Marta (from 'Le Masque', 1995) ('Marta the Ballerina') (I'm starting to wonder if these translations were really necessary)
6. La Lunga Notte di Gianni (was an exclusive track on the compilation 'Dal Diario di un Soffiatore di Vetro' ('From the Diary of a Glass Blower'), 1998) ('The Long Night of Gianni [Versace]')
7. Sai (from the 'Sai' single, 1999) ('You Know')
8. Quando una Parola (from 'Gli Anni di Globiana' ('The Years of Globiana'), 2003) ('When a Word')
9. 'Non Andare Via' (new; a cover of Jacques Brel's 'Ne me quitte pas') ('Don't Go Away')
10. L'Amabile Assenza (from 'Gli Anni di Globiana', 2003) ('Pleasant Absence')
11. Il Trionfo del Bikini (from 'La Memoria di Venere' ('The Memory of Venus'), 1991)
12. Elsadora il Profumiere (from 'La Memoria di Venere', 1991) ('Elsadora the Perfumer')
13. Amore Bello Amore Stanco (from 'Sai', 1999) ('Beautiful Love Tired Love')
14. I Tartari (from 'Le Masque', 1995) ('The Ta(r)tars')
15. L'Amore che Gira il Mondo (new) ('The Love that Makes the World Go Round')
Definitely not like much else you may have encountered on this blog, so buyer beware. The less cautious downloader may - you never know - have a similar sort of revelation to the one I had some 10 years ago. The rest can sit tight for some more blistering eai, coming up next ; ).