How does a music collector contend with a release that literally putrefies over time?
This peculiar item is an obscure noise release from a record label called Turgid Animal, run by George Proctor and Nicola Vinciguerra, two producers that work collaboratively out of their separate homes in Britain and Italy. Proctor’s own noise act was named Mutant Ape, while Vinciguerra records prolifically under the name Fecalove.
Stalin vs Splinter was the work of Vinciguerra and his pal, Marco Pampaloni. The release in question, Pasta Electronics II, was in fact a sequel, although the first volume is less noteworthy.
Pasta Electronics II was a CD-R which could be ordered directly through the Turgid Animal website. Those who bought one of the 30 copies received a parcel in the mail containing a damp pasta box that was taped shut. What those ill-fated consumers learned was that the box has been filled with cooked pasta mixed with pesto and various other ingredients. The actual CD-R was buried deep inside the mixture; over the time it spent in postal transit, it had ripened impressively. The audio itself, which is now available on Bandcamp, was a hodgepodge of digital noise combined with chopped-up recordings of an Italian prime ministerial debate and Japanese television commercials.
This is an impressively revolting package. Though it left Vinciguerra’s home in edible condition, it’s a release that is fated to decay. Record collectors often take for granted that their releases can sit on a shelf and appreciate in value. Vinyl warp and CD rot are long-term threats to the stability of a prized possession, but those processes occur in the timescale of decades. What to make of a release whose packaging grows more offensive with each passing day? To better understand the motives behind the release, I reached out to Vinciguerra, who patiently fielded my questions by email.
any general background about the release? how did the idea come about?
I think that around the time we made the first Pasta Electronics (a couple of years before volume 2) I was crazy about the extremely elaborate special packaging of legendary Japanese label G.R.O.S.S. and unique, disgusting and bizarre relics from Lateral Agriculture Order. Knowledge of mail-art had some influence too I guess but my focus was, and still is, the worship of industrial/noise music. I also simply always liked to make a mess. Pasta Electronics II was the natural evolution of that earlier effort. More disgusting, more rotten. Me and my bandmate Marco recorded the sounds, I took care of the packaging.
where were you coming from? some people have a sort of theoretical meaning behind their art. was there a hoity-toity conceptual meaning behind the package?
It was the epitome, the apotheosis of Italy. Rotten food thrown in a box of highly recognisable Barilla pasta, with a noise CDr wrapped in alluminum foil. Pure tradition. I guess we don’t think very highly of our country. I liked the idea that you had to break the box and actually touch rotten shit if you wanted to actually get to the music.
was it pasta mixed with a cheese sauce, or just the pasta?
I remember it was fairly good commercial pesto sauce with the addition of some grated Parmigiano cheese and whatever else I had in the fridge. Ham, bacon, bresaola, pepper come to mind. Each box was different.
how long did you let it rot before you sold it? where did you keep it (outside, inside, etc?) if it took time for them to sell out, did they decay even more as they waited to be sold? (did you have to throw any out?)
I made the copies only to order, so the stuff didn’t actually rot in my house. It rot in postal offices, vans, planes etc. On the way to my customers. Nasty, eh?
did you get any feedback from customers?
Not really, but the face Klaus from Genocide Organ made when I handed him a copy was priceless. He shook the box for a while, not sure what to make of it. I remember a french friend writing me something along the lines of “it’s a good stink, the stink of Turgid Animal”, but I’m not sure it was regarding this release in particular.
how much did it sell for?
10 Euro? Maybe less, I don’t remember.
what did the music itself sound like?
We manipulated sounds directly from Italian tv (a Berlusconi/Prodi pre-election face to face and material from a football corruption scandal) and some Japanese commercials for pasta toppings. It’s two long, repetitive and not super noisy tracks as far as I remember. A retarded version of Vagina Dentata Organ, maybe.
if you can, describe the odor.
To me it smelled like amid and pesto. I never got to experience any nasty stench because I shipped the boxes pretty quickly after I made them.
Thanks to Nicola Vinciguerra for the interview.