The Cop Killers
The Cop Killers
A genuine holy-grail of Italian Post-Industrial music issued on vinyl for the first time
Originally issued on tape in 1982
Features Trax co-founder Vittore Baroni, Daniele Ciullini and Mark A. Phillips
Remastered by Matt Colton
A true holy grail of Italian post-industrial music, The Cop Killers’ sole, eponymous tape is remastered
and issued on vinyl for the first time via Alessio Natalizia’s Ecstatic label (see also the essential Trax Test compilation also on Ecstatic). Fetching triple figures on the 2nd hand market (there’s a copy on ’scogs atm for £300) this is an indispensable slice of ‘80s Europe’s underground experimental rhizome.
An important release for Ecstatic and one very close to their heart, ‘The Cop Killers’ was originally presented in 1982 on the legendary Trax label as “the first (and last) spoken word “industrial opera” in (anti)rock history”. It features the industrial power trio of Trax co-founder Vittore Baroni and label regular Daniele Ciullini assisted by UK’s Mark A. Phillips (Five Times of Dust) in supposing a sci-fi narrative set in a not-so-distant future society “... where all ethical and moral values had been reversed”.
While clearly drawing influence and literary license from classic sci-fi by Orwell, Ray Bradbury and William Burroughs, the trio also take cues from the Marquis De Sade and the not-so-distant history of Italian fascism to offer a subtly coded and subversive warning against right-wing ideologies. In the process The Cop Killers distinguished themselves by preferring to plants seeds of hope amid the rubble of their peers nihilistic/ apocalyptic visions, implicitly turning the album into a sort of “pacifist parable”.
The political aspect wouldn’t be half as crucial without the music, though. A coarse blend of Italian-accented english vox with backing tracks ranging from jaunty synth figures to cloven drum machine malfunctions and noisier wig-outs, it was mixed on a dual cassette deck and mixer from numerous tapes in just over 90 minutes, and successfully carries the narrative and its message to the point it’s become such a sought-after classic - not just for its obscurity, but also its charged energy, a condensation of candescent anger focussed into a pointedly oblique yet smartly allegorical condemnation of fascism.
Vittore Baroni: “As a music journalist and fan of radical and avant-garde audio researches, at the start of the 80s I was becoming increasingly bored by the mannerism of so many industrial and noise bands, and also annoyed by their gratuitous and stereotyped use of images of death, Nazism, war, with titles and texts soaked in right-wing ideologies. I wanted to produce an antibody to this depressive trend, with seeds of hope well concealed under a nihilistic-apocalyptic “industrial” camouflage.”