Strut’s new Mutazione: Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground 1980-1988 offers a compilation based on the too-good-to-be-true music scene in 1980s Italy, an experimental period that drew as much from Throbbing Gristle and Suicide as it does Foucault and Sartre.
Strut’s new Mutazione: Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground 1980-1988 offers a unique location in space, time, and aesthetics to daydream about, namely a too-good-to-be-true music scene in 1980s Italy where Suicide andThrobbing Gristle made the same impact that the Ramones and Sex Pistols had elsewhere, and Foucault and Sartre were considered rock stars on the same level as David Bowie and Iggy Pop.
As appealing as Mutazione makes this particular place seem, it was actually fairly grim at the time. The 1968 student uprising that rocked society and politics across Europe reverberated in Italy longer than in other countries, and the nation was “on a war footing,” according to an essay in the compilation’s liner notes by Italian music journalist Alberto Campo: “on one side there is the extreme right wing and secret security’s degenreated fringes; on the other, the extreme left movements that had chosen the armed struggle.” In 1978 the leader of the country’s Christian Democratic party was kidnapped and assassinated by members of the Marxist-Leninist terrorist group Red Brigade; two years later the bombing of a rail station in Bologna that killed 85 people and wounded over 200 was attributed to the neo-fascist Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari. In Italy this period was known as the Years of Lead.