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A New Musical Triptych: ‘Harmony’ - Italia 90

Words by A. L. Noonan

With the release of their highly anticipated debut LP Living Human Treasure on Friday 20th January, Brighton-by-London post-punk combo Italia 90 grace us with their latest offering courtesy of Brace Yourself Records: ‘Harmony’.

In describing their newest triumph, the band state that "Harmony is a song written in three distinct parts” something they later proclaim on their Facebook page as a “new musical triptych”. This is an apt description, with the tonal landscape of ‘Harmony’ invoking visions of Francis Bacon’s 1944 work, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, embodying distinct horror show images of repeating cycles of pain, struggle through adversity, and cathartic clamour.

Like Bacon, Italia 90 invoke animality, suffering and outcry on ‘Harmony’, displaying their work in three distinct, aural panels. The first melds stalking bass-lines and sharp, stuttering hit-hat strokes under singer, Les Miserable’s unchanging lyrics describing what the band call “the seemingly endless bad behaviour of a serial wrong'un.”

"the ideology that I’m forwarding in the songs is correct, and very important, but it’s not important that it’s me saying them"

While the first chapter depicts a figure’s compulsive and irresponsible repetition of mistreatment, the middle section greets us with an open, reflective spaciness. Chorus-dipped guitars and swelling saxophone flourishes courtesy of Emily ‘The King’ King sift through the space before a pulsing whirr of drums, distortion and vocal growls interrupt, with lyrics invoking ‘radical feminist groups that have played a central role in countless revolutionary movements and their commitment to challenging the roots of oppression’. With sonics like The Pop Group and content like Gloria Steinem, this shift in tone counteracts the narcissistic carelessness of the introduction’s character. Rather than be victim to reckless urges and bad behaviour, the subsequent section takes responsibility, looks oppression in the eye and “in the rumble of their fury” takes aim at its enemies.

The tune’s coda soon sweeps in on a blanket of reverb before baring its jagged teeth. Harder, sharper, and more chaotic than ever, Italia 90 finish off ‘Harmony’ with the ultimate post-punk apotheosis of buzzing bass-lines, siren guitars and defiant vocal barks. Describing the denouement of ‘Harmony’, the band mention that “this song is the last track on our album and we liked the idea of ending it with a nod to the kind of music that we made when we first started the band”.

Italia 90's album 'Living Human Treasure' out Jan 20th Via Brace Yourself Records

Like their previous singles ‘Tales From Beyond’ and ‘Leisure Activities’, the themes present on ‘Harmony’ provide an insight into Italia 90’s overarching thesis of collectivism as a balm for a society weaned on individualism. “I care deeply about the things that I’m singing about,” says Miserable, “but I don’t think that it needs to be me that is saying it. I have my point of view, and think that the ideology that I’m forwarding in the songs is correct, and very important, but it’s not important that it’s me saying them. If I did, I would already be contradicting the things that I am saying in the songs.”

Italia 90 play the 100 Club on Feb 8th for the launch party of Living Human Treasure which comes out January 20th.


Listen to ‘Harmony’ here.

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