Saturday, 29 June 2013

MB - Regel

Maurizio Bianchi (December 4, 1955 in Pomponesco in the Province of Mantua) is an Italian pioneer of Industrial music, originating from Milan.

Bianchi began to produce music in 1979, and since 1980 has used electronic equipment with the avowed goal "to produce technological sounds and in such a way to work on complete realising of the modern decadence".

In the beginning, he published tapes under the alias Sacher-Pelz. In 1981, William Bennett, head of the band Whitehouse and the British Come Org. label, offered Bianchi a record contract, which Bianchi signed unchecked. It was based on a "joke contract" that Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound had sketched. The contract assumed all rights to Bianchi's work. After delivery of the tapes Bennett edited-in speeches by Nazi leaders, and instead of the relatively unsensational name MB, it was published under the alias Leibstandarte SS MB, named after the SS unit that worked as bodyguards to Adolf Hitler.
Until 1984, Bianchi published on other labels intensively as either MB or simply Maurizio Bianchi, sometimes several albums and/or tapes per year, as well as numerous tracks to compilations.  Bianchi became religious and withdrew from the music business. Much of his work is sought today by collectors, especially as they appeared in extremely small editions.

One of my favourite MB works, Side One continues in the Menses / NH style, whilst Side two is more restrained, hinting at Schnitzler, Kluster and even early Popol Vuh !

Regel was originally released in 1982 on Mectpyo Sounds and was certainly on par with other industrial releases of the day. The packaging is minimalist and uninformative, leaving us to judge the music rather than the cover. There is a short text informing us that this is Bianchi's finest work to date (1982). The cover underscores the strictness and minimalism of Bianchi's work. Shortening the name to M.B., as well as cropping the title of the work so tightly that it's partially left out hints toward an abundance of self controll. Perhaps this is also the intended meaning of the title? Regel is the german word for rule or norm, such as in "rules of society". This focus on control is obvious when listening to the music.

Compared to Throbbing Gristle, Monte Cazazza, SPK or NON the recording is a great deal more avant garde and less noisy and certainly less danceable. The comparison is perhaps unfair however, as Bianchi's work certainly belongs more in the tradition of experimental modernism than the anti social noise music of Throbbing Gristle. In many ways it sounds like a denser version of Arne Nordheim's work from Poland or experimental japanese music from the fifties. It is also reminiscent of experimental italian film music from the fifties and sixties. The music is unlinear and effortlessly multilayered. The sound focuses on texture rather than structure. What Bianchi himself referred to as decomposing music, rather than composing. In other words, cool stuff.

The album consists of two long, unnamed and unstructured tracks, and a third, shorter bonus track. Originally the two first tracks comprised a single side of the LP each, as a work however they are a whole. Mostly track one is made up of manipulated noises with some synthesizer or theremin phrases added for detail and contrast. There is a great deal of subtle banging noises with echo on and loops, as well as decontextualized melodic fragments drifting in and out. The second track is a bit more focused, with less noise, more recognizable melodic content and less invasive loops. It is highly minimalist, and shows a very slow progression toward a more chaotic state. Track two is a great deal closer to the early ambient compositions of Brian Eno, while track one is more experimental. They fit well together however, with track two functioning as a calmer companion piece to track one. The music is meditative and soothing, and provides a welcome halt in this stressfull life.

If you are a fan of Combichrist chances are you'll find this tedious, boring and chaotic. If you however appreciate layered music, ambiance and the avant garde this is a recording you should not be without. Regel is certainly some of Maurizio Bianchi's finest work. Atleast of what I have personally heard.

Let's say that "Regel" perfectly combines the two opposite/complementary sides of M.B.'s sonic research at that time: brutal noise stabs and cold, deranged machinery-like loops on one side, and dismal synth patterns, with vague melodic hints, on the other. I've written "opposite/complementary" because, while in other releases the characteristics are more polarized, here they frequently collide, giving birth to a monstruous wall of sound. There are some abrupt changes, probably deriving from largely improvised sessions, that make track 1 sound like a broken, out of control mechanism, while disturbed frequencies and echoes streak the dull synth lines of the filpside. As a whole, I can only see M.B.'s early phase as a sick, cancerous organism eating itself out. Possibly the perfect record to understand how the anti-musician Bianchi built a bridge between some of the most autistic performers of the Kraut era (Schnitzler, Kluster, Sesselberg) and the growing industrial circuit, especially the inhuman Come/Broken Flag hordes.
Eugenio Maggi

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