Walkman Jazz by Sammartano

Sammartano | Walkman Jazz
Canti Magnetici (CS/DL)

Canti Magnetici is a small Italian label with a very interesting profile, the philosophy of the label sees the tape not as a mere plastic box hosting music, a fetish for audiophiles’ collections, but a true investigatory medium. The music they release is composed to be on tape and exploits the typical characteristics of a tape release to add special features to the musical discourse.

Sammartano here does a recycling operation, collecting used cassettes and recording his composition on the tape’s main side, leaving the B-side to chance. Each cassette is different from another and the randomly chosen B-side becomes an element of unicity that wants us to embrace the unexpected. We listen to tape glitches, spooling back and forth, hisses and noisy swirls. The distortion of high gains, pitched phrases, snippets of music.

Jazz in this sense refers to the two different dimensions of form and content. In facts most of the sampling comes from jazz recordings, being it old school memories or cut-ups of jazz samples used in other instances of black music such as hip hop and house. Music, interviews, live concerts, all the elements depict a pointillistic, scratchy, graffiti-like picture of a hectic vibrant scene, of its strengths and energy but also of its problematic nature, social struggle and the melancholic sorrows of the people involved. Talking about form, the randomness of the cassette’s B-side, reflects a strong link to improvisation, beauty of the unpredictable, composition inspired by surrounding environments and the chance of life. The jazz here is in the nature of the operation as well as in the content of the music.

In this sense Walkman Jazz is a fine document, that studies a musical and social phenomenon trying to pull out a single, coherent item out of such reflections. All the interviews, small riffs, beats and talks might indeed also contain some deep extrinsic references about black culture and music connoisseurs, but even lacking such background knowledge, the record results are completely enjoyable, and entertaining.

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