Italian post-punk outfit Recall Madame X is a retrowave musical and visual collaboration between Alessandro De Benedetti and Andrea Zuccotti. The cinematic, oneiric sound, created with Groovebox, Moog, and modified electronics, are evocative of an earlier bygone era, awash in their lysergic rhythms and theatrical dissonance. Inspired heavily by Siouxsie and the Banshees and Joy Division, they began composing decadent post-punk songs with the support of a tr707 and an out-of-tune acoustic guitar. The band also counts the Virgin Prunes, Psychic TV, Tuxedomoon, and Xmal Deutschland among their idols: unwitting saviors of their restless adolescence, reinterpreted with potent vocals.
Tempestuous and dreamlike, Recall Madame X’s latest album Unconscious ID runs through the band members’ personal and artistic relationship, which began in the conformist, provincial town of Genoa at the end of the Eighties. The Psycho, a legendary post-punk underground club where Andrea and Alessandro met, is the backdrop to the stories, nightmares, questions, and to the players of their inner imagination. The album celebrates – and desecrates – the ambiguous concept of salvation.
“Unconscious ID is a therapeutic path, an unconscious journey through the memories of my childhood, lived in silence to protect myself from everything,” says De Benedetti. “From those years, I hear the echoes of a silent and authoritarian mother, the shouts of homophobic bullies, and me locked in the drawing of my room, while the stereo was screaming Siouxsie and the TV was playing Suspiria. “
“Writing the songs was a sort of purifying catharsis of the stories and echoes of my mind,” adds Zuccotti. “Most songs were written overnight, in an almost lysergic state caused by dreams and memories of adolescent experiences.”
The album opens with “Demetra”, a nervous voodoo ritual with a fast and tight tribal surf-wave rhythm describing the moment of revenge: the ritual of the Black Star. Justine Mattera appears on the track.
“Car Crash Flesh” is, in effect, a “horror soap-opera.” Acting as both a tribute and sacrilegious hymn to the female universe outlined in midcentury horror/thriller/noir movies by Lucio Fulci and Peter Weir, the thematic elements draw directly from Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai. The analogue music is highlighted by dark, Italian-language lyrics, describing the moment sensual heroines succumb to a nefarious fate.
The video is a dizzying, nightmarish trip down a darkened highway, reminiscent of a David Lynch universe, if tripping on mescaline. It depicts a love story, lived through a car accident, directed by Giovanni Chiappini and inspired by J.G. Ballard’s novel Crash. The imagery is intense: the bodies of a man and a woman seek each other, and begin to eat themselves, loving each other as to sublimate in spirit.
For “Reading At 92 Degrees”, an alternative writer gives Recall Madame X the words recited on this deconstructed, introspective piece. The song explores insecure female adolescence, influenced by the slippery and creeping cultural archetypes that weaken her. The reading is by Monica Re.
The evocation of restless adolescence and an introspective journey is the main theme of “Psycho”. The song is an explicit reference to the style of Bill Laswell, while the declamation of the lyrics looks towards Psychic TV and J.T. Leroy.
With “So Blind (Exposure)”, we get to the end of the escape: light appears from the darkness, a blinding light, intense like the light of God….or the Ego. But it’s too strong. You must find the strength to look at it, to resist until you know who you really are – risking blindness.
“Cigarettes and Coffee (version 03)” acts as a requiem of a sapphic, vampiric love of two women, locked up in an art-house cinema for eternity. The references look at the imagery of Jean Rollin and the psychedelic horror cinema of the Seventies.
“Lullaby of Lilies” is a melancholic ballad about a progressive loss of a woman’s mental clarity, living in a sunny Arizona farm in the Sixties.
“All That She Said (Oh, Mother!)” is a hypnotic song that investigates the deepest recesses of the mind. At the lowest point, the Carnivorous Flower manifests itself, and once again her overwhelming lesson is repeated.
“I Forgive You (Genoa Demo Version)”, covers O Future, chosen for its suspended lyrics and sung at night by phone in a rainy Genoa.
The album closes with “The Sinner”, representing the epilogue of “Demetra”, or even its reversed tale. The piece explores the concept of sin as a cultural prejudice. A dark and oppressive harmonic atmosphere develops to sublimate in a very strong orchestral, with strings and brass, and Death in Vegas-style guitars.
Unconscious ID is available on vinyl as well as on all digital channels.
Listen to Unconscious ID below:
Recall Madame X’s first album, SupersexDeluxe (Aries Music), came out in 2007, with an electro-wave appeal and inspired by the subculture of Italian noir soft-porn photo novels of the Seventies, and the soundtrack for “What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?“. The LP contains a 16-page photo-novel booklet created and designed by the band.
The following year, Recall Madame X followed up with the single “Rumore”. Raffaella Carrà’s original version was transformed into a hysterical thriller, enriched by distorted vocals and synths.
In 2013 the band released a concept album, Dive Cattive (Naughty Divas). It was published by Ponderosa and produced by Gianluca Mancini (assistant to Ludovico Einaudi) and Alberto Fabris (Blonde Redhead).
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