This episode features Giuseppe Esposito, a Neapolitan musician who runs the tape label Archivio Diafònico, an operation that mostly documents artists who are based in Napoli. The chaotic and bustling capital of the South of Italy undeservedly gets a bad reputation, and the city has a vibrant cultural scene and rich history that is sorely underappreciated. Through a chronicle of his own musical formation and the birth of the label, Esposito constructs a map of the Neapolitan underground scene, with particular attention to noise and improvisation. We also discuss Abidjan Centrale / Partono i Bastimenti, a podcast Esposito produces with Carole Oulato exploring the diverse musical traditions of Africa.
Episode 28: COGNITIVE DISSONANCE
Sound Propositions should be available wherever you get your podcasts, so please keep an eye out and subscribe (and rate and review, it helps others who might be interested find us). You can support Sound Propositions on Patreon if you are so inclined, or send a one-time donation via PayPal. The first two seasons are also available on Bandcamp. I’m very grateful for any support, which will help ensure future episodes.
Interview recorded between Montreal and Campania, October 2022
Produced and mixed in Montreal, February 2023
SP* at Anchor
This interview was recorded shortly after it became clear that Giorgia Meloni and her far-right Fratelli d’Italia party [Brothers of Italy], the modern successor to the historic Italian Fascist Party, would lead the country’s new governing coalition. Our conversation thus touched on more political themes than we might have otherwise, though honestly politics was bound to come up in a conversation about Napoli. Systematically neglected since the unification of the country in the 1860s, and with a far-reaching history of occupations by foreign powers, Napoli has an unparalleled anarchic DIY spirit. The city is especially interesting as so many Italian stereotypes are actually Neapolitan (pizza, mandolins, postcard views, endless strikes), but the city itself is has a bad reputation, whether it’s an association with organized crime (as depicted in the film and tv series Gomorra) or outdated reports of street crime that keeps many tourists who do visit bee lining for the Amalfi Coast and Pompei, never really getting to know one of the most vibrant cities in Italy.
My paternal grandfather’s family is from Napoli, so from the first time I visited in 2004 I’ve consciously cultivated connections with the living culture that has found a way to thrive despite institutional neglect. That’s the thing about Napoli; if you want to do something, you have to just do it, for better and for worse, whether organizing noise concerts in an occupied building or illegally dumping toxic waste. I only met Giuseppe Esposito in 2022, as during my previous stays in Napoli he had been living in Berlin and Rome. But ACL has featured his label, Archivio Diafònico, and in fact one of the very first reviews I published when we founded ACL was for a tape Esposito produced under the moniker Grausam Frühjahr. Although in fact I didn’t put this together until I was editing this episode.I bought that tape from the record store above the old Peridtempo in Piazza Dante in Napoli in summer 2011, the same trip where I first met Mario Gabola and Mimmo Napolitano (SEC_), who play together as Aspec(t). While at Tago Fest earlier that summer, in Marina di Massa on the Tuscan coast, Roberta of Jealousy Party encouraged me to visit Perditempo, a recommendation I’ve been very grateful for in the decade plus since. It was at Perditempo that I met Mario, an event that became a gateway into a small but vital scene of musicians exploring noise and improvisation in very unique ways.
Meeting Mario and Mimmo in 2011 opened up a new perspective on the city, and indeed the underground noise and impro scene was on the cusp of a period of flourishing that lasted the rest of the decade. As Giuseppe explains in this episode, the autonomous collectives and DIY spaces he discusses eventually gave way to a period of institutionalization, of which the La Digestion festival is but one example of this evolution. (For more on that, check out Episode 6: MUSIC SELDOM HEARD, which is something of a companion to this episode, providing further documentation of the thriving Neapolitan experimental music community.)
In getting to know Giuseppe, both last summer in Napoli and Cilento, and during the conversation that became this episode, I see many parallels between my youth growing up on the outskirts of New York City and his experiences growing up on the outskirts of Napoli. I think there’s a kind of universal shared experience that is more related to our age than any geographic particularities; trips into the city to record stores, encounters with challenging live music, the early days of sharing our music on MySpace. So the story Giuseppe tells is likely to resonate with many of our listeners as well; getting into punk and hardcore, discovering the Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine and Krautrock bands, pursuing noise and improvisation, organizing shows and small regional tours, growing the network of friends and collaborators.
One of the best encapsulations of this extended network of friends is the Weird Barn Dance, a semi-private party held in Sant’Agata de’ Goti, in the rural countryside, that has become an annual gathering of this group of friends, whose music spans noise, beats, impro, punk, and more. WBD is also a lovely example of how this group have banded together as a loose collective, sharing resources and equipment to achieve something that wouldn’t be possible from a more individualistic and competitive group. This also suggests that their shared aesthetic is as much about an ethos and approach than any specific sound or genre conventions. But this openness to individual creativity has also created an atmosphere that encourages experimentation, drawing musicians from abroad into its orbit.
Archivio Diafònico is a home tape label run by Giuseppe, and many of the artists are locals, or otherwise artists who Giuseppe knows personally. Releases include Giuseppe’s solo project, Blood Feud, his group Matar Dolores, and friends including SEC_, 70fps, Eks, Many Others, False Moniker, and Venta Protesix. The label has also released tapes artists from abroad, including from friend of the site (and former podcast subject) Forest Management. Our conversation touches on various unique musical personalities, such as Renato Grieco, Ottavio Balzano, Francesco Tignola, Francesco Gregoretti, and Maurizio Argenziano, whose work deserves wider recognition, as well as an earlier generation including Agostino Di Scipio and Ellio Martuscello. I used the context of this podcast to also incorporate some more historical recordings from Luciano Cilio and Toni Esposito, as well as 99 Posse, a dub-reggae group associated with Officina 99, one of the city’s oldest and most respected occupied social centers. That Napoli can boast vibrant dub, reggae, and hip hop scenes might come as a surprise to those who don’t know the city, but the success of these genres speaks to an important social reality. Napoli is a poor city in the south of Italy, and this experience of southerness extends to a sense of solidarity with the global south, as people who feel far from the centers of power.
Despite this, the average Italian today remains ignorant as to the evils of Italian fascism. Many Fascist era monuments still stand, and there was never a real process of reckoning with the Fascist past and crimes in Africa (including the use of mustard gas in Ethiopia during the 1930s, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, something which the Italian state only admitted in the 1990s). This tension, between the broader Italian amnesia and the Napoli’s more complicated expressions of solidarity with the south, is something we discuss in this episode as well, via Giuseppe’s interest in African musics.
The final quarter of the podcast delves into Partono i bastimenti / Abidjan Centrale, a podcast series Giuseppe produces with Carole Oulato, an Italian with roots in Côte d’Ivoire. The duo met while working in a call center in Berlin, and bonded over sharing records from throughout Africa. They started DJing together in 2018, and were soon invited to produce a podcast series for Radio Cavone Stereo, and later Fango Radio. The podcast features Giuseppe talking to Carole on the phone as she ostensibly travels around Africa, with episodes dedicated to the music of Côte d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, South Africa, Somalia, and more.
Partono i bastimenti x Radio Cavone Stereo
ARTIST – “TITLE” (ALBUM, LABEL, YEAR)
Mario [Gabola] – “Steno, tube, voice and feedback” (Idiolect, Archivio Diafònico/Viande, 2021)
Eks – “B-side excerpt” (Echo Courts, Archivio Diafònico, 2019)
Grausam Frühjahr – “B-side excerpt” (Ascent/Descent, Toxo, 2011)
Velvet Underground – “White Light White Heat” (Live, 1969)
Tony Conrad and Faust – “From the Side of the Machine” (Outside the Dream Syndicate, Table Of The Elements, 1973/1993)
My Bloody Valentine – “Loomer” (Loveless, 1991)
Gristleism – YouTube Demo (Throbbing Gristle Buddha Machine, 2010)
Weltraum – Sy.1 (Sy, 2009)
A Spirale – “Suriciorbu” (Agaspastik, Fratto9 Under The Sky Records/Viande, 2009)
Elio Martusciello– “For Mario Biserni” (…A Gift For (°!°)…, Afe, Grey Sparkle / Morirermo Tutti/ etc, 2006)
Jealousy Party – “JP Punca For Trombones” (Again, Burp Publications, 2008)
99 Posse – “Curre Curre Guaglió” (Curre Curre Guagliò, Esodo autoproduzioni, 1993)
Toni Esposito – “Rosso Napoletano” (Toni Esposito, Numero Uno, 1974)
One Starving Day – “Black Star Aeon” (Broken Wings Lead Arms to The Sun, 2005)
Francesco Gregoretti – “Faithful Walking Stick” (Solid Layers Deafening Shapes, 2016)
Motosega (Ottavio Balzano) – “No No No” (NO, 2014)
SEC_ – “Small traces” (Moscaio, Bocian, 2012)
EKS – “Falafel Humpers” (Sedic, 2015)
70fps – “Untitled – Side A” (Campo Catodico, Archivio Diafònico, 2015)
Matar Dolores – “The Great Transformation (Side B excerpt)” (The Great Transformation, Archivio Diafònico, 2015)
False Moniker – Side A (Amidst The Statues, Archivio Diafònico 2019)
Many Others – “Day Two / I” (Aggression of Paradox, Archivio Diafònico, 2017)
Grizzly Imploded – Side B (You Are The Way You Face Your Death, Scissor Tale, 2013)
Maurizio Argenziano – “Buio Riflesso”(Privazioni, Joy De Vivre, 2016)
Forest Management – “Porter Creek (Side B Excerpt)” (Porter Creek, Archivio Diafònico, 2015)
Luciano Cilio “Quarto Quadro”  (Dell’Universo Assente, Die Schachtel, 2013)
LIBERATO – NUNN’A VOGLIO ‘NCUNTRÀ (CAPRI RDV Ep.03, 2019)
Genital Warts – “Cut and Shit (Instrumental)” (Parappaio, Viande, 2015)
Giuseppe and Carole talking on the phone from “Capo Verde”- (Partono i Bastimenti – Abidjan Central per Radio Cavone Stereo, 2019)
Antoinette Konan – “Abidjan Adja” (RACINES & RYTHMES, 1995)
Dur-Dur Band – “Dooyo” (Dur-Dur Band Vol 5., 1989)
Zagazougou – “Varietoscope” (La Confirmation, 2000)
Claudio Villa – “Santa Lucia Luntana” (Santa Lucia Luntana / ‘O Surdato ‘Nnammurato, Vis Radio, 1958)
Salaad Darbi – “Side B excerpt” (cassette, Awesome Tapes from Africa, 1970s?)
Co’Sang – “Poesia Cruda (ft. Fuossera)” (Chi More Pe’ Mme, Poesia Cruda Dischi, 2005)
Kuupuu (Jonna Karanka) – “excerpt” (Kuupuu / Hilma Glad split, self-released, 2011)
Blood Feud – “Side B Excerpt” (AM Fields, Archivio Diafònico, 2014)
Joseph Sannicandro, “Piano in Colle” (Field Recordings, 2022)
Sound Propositions is written, recorded, mixed, and produced by Joseph Sannicandro.