Trax Test (Excerpts From The Modular Network 1981-1987)
• First ever survey of Italy’s pioneering and influential Trax label - a crucial cog in the mail-art movement
• 25-track compilation of obscure Italian post-punk/new wave peaches c. 1981-1987
• standout material by Masami Akita (Merzbow), The Cop Killers, Colin Potter, Caroline K
• includes 16-page booklet of images, essays + notes by artist/author Frans De Waard and Trax co-owner Vittore Baroni
• long-in-the-works, major project compiled by Alessio Natalizia (Not Waving) and Vittore Baroni
• mastered by Matt Colton at Alchemy
• includes an unrecognisable Masami Akita (Merzbow) covering the Japanese national anthem in 1983!
‘Trax Test’ is the first ever survey of Italy’s pioneering, visionary and influential label and mail art collective Trax, which ran from 1981 - 1987 as a network for the creation of collaborative projects. The collective included a pre-NWW Colin Potter and some of the earliest work from Masami Akita aka Merzbow, but also had deep connections with the art world; a few trax members went on to become famous designers and artists - Ettore Sottsass of hugely influential Memphis Group even guests on vocals on the last track of the compilation. The whole selection here is rare as heck and sorely in-demand by collectors, much of it now making its vinyl premiere some 30 odd years after the fact.
With credit due to compilers Vittore Baroni of Trax and Ecstatic’s avowed wave fiend, Alessio Natalizia (Not Waving) - who was also behind the ‘Mutazione (Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground 1980-1988)’ compilation - ‘Trax Test’ is a portal to the international scene which laid the grassroots for a proliferation
of electronic music over the proceeding decades - a pioneering part of the infrastructure for independent music distribution which could be said to pre-echo the myriad social networks and platforms which exist for sharing music today.
As Frans De Waard astutely points out in the 16-page booklet, there were no ‘templates’ for this thing back then - as opposed to the forms of Soundcloud, Spotify or YouTube nowadays - meaning artists did everything DIY: from cutting, pasting and xeroxing their artwork to experimenting with recording techniques and disseminating their work; all resulting a wonderfully daring and freeform mosaic of ideas which valued the virtues of ostensibly ‘unfinished’ or open-ended work, when compared with more expensive, ‘proper’ studio output.
Traces of disco, cosmic krautrock, jazz, electro-pop and industrial noise are all tessellated across the compilation’s 25 tracks, with a number of artists and the same equipment - cheap drum machines, synths, FX and tape - cropping up in various, mutant formations.
In terms of obscurity, quality and variation, this set is right up there with the best compilations from Vinyl- on-Demand (an early supporter of this project), Light Sounds Dark (although Ecstatic guys did it legit, lol), or Minimal Wave, and likewise probably saves you the few months wages it would take to track down all the originals.
A1 00I…Cancer - Telematic
A2 M.A.Phillips - You’Ve Lost That Loving Feeling
A3 Nausea - No Conversation
A4 Amok / Mecanique Vegetale - Untitled
A5 Daniele Ciullini / Amok - The Secret Door
A6 E-Coli - Borax
A7 The Cop Killers - Cop Killers Theme / Calma Atmosfera
B1 Peter Mayer / Rod Summers / Robin Crozier / Capitalist Pig / Biagio D’Egidio - Notterossa/Rednight
B2 Piermario Ciani / Vittore Baroni / Nocturnal Emissions / De Rezke - Live Blister Bump
B3 Piermario Ciani / Ado Scaini / Enrico Piva / Giancarlo Martina - I Love Cancer
B4 B Sides - Tribuna Ludu
B5 Colin Potter - Solidarity At Wujek Colliery
C1 Piermario Ciani - Co.Mix 1
C2 Naif Orchestra - Fratelli d’Italia
C3 Merzbow (Vacation Of Merzbow Lowest Music & Arts) - Kimigayo
C4 Monty Cantsin - Catastronics
C5 Die Form - Sex By Force
C6 Utopia Production - Chainsaw Massacre
D1 Spirocheta Pergoli - Merendine
D2 Bi Nostalgia - Biosolution For Today
D3 Ptose - The Jellyfish’s Mood
D4 Vittore Baroni - (Living with) Prosthesis
D5 DDAA - Ghosts Of The Paper Trumpets
D6 Zone Verte - Le Fantome De L’Elephant
D7 I Nipoti del Faraone - Prendi l’osso e corri