This is the story of COSMIC MUSIC - an italian party phenomenon....
In a luxurious discotheque on the italian adriatic coast, every weekend two american DJs called Bob and Tom play records that are just making history in their hometown New York at the legendary Loft, the club that gave birth to Disco. Bob and Tom are resident DJs at the Baia degli Angeli, the Bay of Angels, a gigantic club with various floors, fountains, swimmingpools and lots of glitz of the Jetset. In the midst of this temple they spin records in a glass lift that is moving up and down, so they can hold track of whos dancing on the different floors.
One year later, the Baia closed due to a drug raid, and Baldelli shortly after starts DJing in the new club Cosmic in Lazise at the Lago di Garda in northern Italy.
The opening of Discoteca Cosmic is furious. For four days, 3000 people party in a sold-out house, and its going to be filled always. With a full Disco, supermodern PA, light and soundsystem, and a DJ residency, Baldelli has the opportunity to experiment a lot. He does not only start to mix matching beats, he has got pitchable recordplayers, and with this fine adjusting he can mix layerings of various sources. Also he lavishly uses an Equalizer to produce incredible filter effects. In Europe, this way of playing records is absolutely new, and this reason makes Daniele Baldelli quickly famous.
Meanwhile, the Baia is reopened under new aspects The Jetset audience gives way to a younger, poorer one, which makes the conscience of Discomusic grow in Italy on a larger scale.
Also other Djs like Mozart, Beppe Loda, or Rubens start playing the sound of Afro and Cosmic (the name of the club is used to describe the music) more or less at the same time, and give birth to an expanding scene. At the Melody Mecca in Rimini, the Typhoon in Brescia, the Chicago in Bologna or at the Cattolica, so, all over Italy, Cosmic and Afrofunky music is played soon after. The mixtapes of Baldelli, Loda and Mozart were given out and widespreaded as copies. Sometimes, over 100 tapes are sold, when Loda or Baldelli play at a club. These tapes multiply in such a big dimension, that a whole tape selling trade developes.
When suddenly other italian cities catch the trend, and start having Afro nights, Baldelli pushes his artistic style: He does not only mix Funk, Soul and early Disco, but explores brasilian percussion, modern Afro like Toure Kunda, Manu di Bango, but especially uses Krautrock and Sythesizer-influenced tracks like the music of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Richard Wahnfried and other artists from the german label SKY.
In the beginning, he only experiments with that kind of music at the end of the night, because still, Funk and Soul, well-known and commercial songs are requested. Baldelli though gets bored of the same routines and expands his spaced-out sound more and more to the whole night. His style of music is now in every mouth... To be honest, listening to his old tapes now, Baldellis sytle is unique: Songs are mixed perfectly for minutes in an extremly slow tempo of 80-105 BPM (the average Disco tempo was at 120 BPM at the time). Different musical genres are connected, half-, or doubletime beats mixed into each other and effects like tapedelays or equalizers used. The music is like a LSD trip: African choires on 45 RPM, percussion solos, Bolero with delay effects, 12 singles on 33 instead of 45, ........ In addition to this, the songs at this time were only recorded live, and everything else than tight As a DJ you had to feel the the tempo glitches.
But also the athmosphere that is created by the music is unique, especially in modern DJ or clubber points of views Cosmic basically spreads this big Alice-in-Wonderland-grin, and you feel like dancing like a bear- The slow tempo creates a lot of groove. That is quite like a widespread Cosmic dance: You cance yourself slowly through the club like a big bear with his claws up.
Being a cosmic fan soon also means, wearing certain clothes and driving a cosmic car- a Citroen DS. Many kids have so little money, so theyd sit the whole night in their Citroens OUTSIDE the club to listen to the tapes of the heroes.
Unfortunately, drugs are also a big component of the whole story. In Italy in the 80s, there is an immense drug problem. Not only Hashish, especially LSD and Heroin are circulating, and the wasted kids love the slow, spaced out grin-sound. Baldelli, Mozart and their fans behind soon draw the attention of the authorities that are trying to get control over the situation. As a result from this, the Discoteca Cosmic finally closes after a raid , just like the Baia did.
Stefan Egger, now the most well known german Cosmic-DJ, travels to the Lago di Garda to spend a holiday with his parents in 1980, and finds out about the Discoteca Cosmic. He is overwhelmed - back at home in Innsbruck (Austria), he buys a pair of turntables, and instantly searches for records.
Already in 1981 (at the age of 16 years), Stefan Egger plays Cosmic music at parties. First at little youth clubs, but as he´s travelling down to the spots in Italy, where the Cosmix hang out, he is connecting with DJs and organises his first own parties in Innsbruck Cosmic music now seeds in Austria, and from there will soon spread into southern Germany...
The italian pioneers now also play in front of bigger audiences north of Bologna and until 1985, the circles are growing constantly. Through Stefan Egger, who organises the Afo-Meetings (Cosmic Weekenders in Innsbruck), the sound finally arrives in Munich. There, almost 10 years late, the party phenomenon hits the city like a bomb. You can say that everyone in Munich who´s between 25 35 owned a Cosmic tape once in his lifetime.
After the closing of the original Cosmic in Lazise in 1984, the parties finally relocate to other places and the sound changes.
Stefan Egger: The parties went more Pop, more commercial it was about surviving. The DJs of the first hour (Baldelli, Mozart etc) didn´t draw people anymore. Techno and therefore electronic beats got more and more popular so also Cosmic became more modern.
While in Italy the hype declines from the mid 80s, it gets exploited in Germany and Austria. Not only tapes, even vinyl bootlegs and later also CDs come out. The scene is still growing, but nevertheless, Cosmic is still the deep underground.
First, only music freaks, and hippies find out about the trend, and for these people, Cosmic is the perfect solution for their problems finding good parties between Innsbruck and Munich, the possibilities of finding other sound in Bars and Clubs are rare.
Munich, 1989 Since over 10 years now there is Cosmic Music and the DJs basically play the same sound: Avantgarde records of the german Kraut-, and electronic scene, and Afrofunky. The parties happen in big warehouses, to which the italian big names (in the meantime cut down to Corrado, Yano, TBC, Loda, Baldelli and Mozart) get invited. The scene is keeping the music to itselve, and doesn´t mix with the developing Disco (now House) and Techno crowd.
In the beginning of the 90s, Bootlegs and collector´s items start to appear, to give the original tracks to the new generation of Cosmic-lovers, who don´t know the titles, and can´t find the records, because they are already too rare. Also, there are tons of CD samplers, unfortunately they have nothing to do anymore with the original spacesound.
Again and again in the period of investigation, i am asking myself, why Cosmic always was a local phenomenon, and never became cosmic. This is partly because Cosmic is no individual, peculiar style - It makes sense only in the Nonstop-DJ-mix, when different genres are thrown together and get bastardized until they sound Cosmic.
On the other hand, Krautrock, the german spacesound of the 70s, Funk and Disco are developing. None of the Cosmic DJs starts to create their own music, like the pioneers of the Techno scene. Nobody thinks about stepping out of the small circle to be more professional, more commercial. This is because the parties are still happening, and the big DJ names are booked every weekend of the year.
Why did nobody try to distill the Cosmic Sound? Produce tracks, commercialize? A post-Hippie / pre-Punk Do it Yourself attitude?
Stefan Egger: I think we all all lived in our own world and earned way too much money. The problem is, when you´re booked out and sell 100 tapes a night, like me, Yano, or Baldelli, all without taxes and rights management. Then, no big, honest project is interesting. We´re busy every weekend, the samplers and records sell great there wasn´t ever a need for a big distribution. It was and is a no-brainer.
Besides, in Germany (the italian scene dried out in the early 90s and just recovers), Cosmic was stigmatized as hippie bullshit, when Techno was happening in the big cities around 1990. On the countryside, though, where most of the Afroparties were happening, you´re always behind the trend, that´s why i believe, they stayed with the happy heroin sound.
Stefan Egger: I think Afro/Cosmic is simply standing still. After the big years 1979-1985 nothing new happened. There was creating, mixing and promoting but all in a small circle, the international public never found out about it.
Astonishingly, the electric funky afro sound gets preserved since 1979 Cosmic does not develop stylistically and therefore stays a relic from the golden era of Disco - in an italian Remix.
For collectors of music from the time of the DJ generation that didnt´t see itself as a human Wurlitzer, but as creative musictinkers and recyclers, the phenomenon of Cosmic should be a highlight it is the strangest string of early Disco that still lives today in the year 2005, and it is possible to listen to it live at a club. It´s like someone put Disco in the deep-freezer.
And all this evolved, because Baldelli and Co. wanted to play records that sounded like those of Bob and Tom? This alone seems mysterious enough in this wonderful Hollywood story. In addition, it proves to be hard to track down Bob Day and Tom Season After their departure back to the USA nobody ever heard from them again. There´s plenty of myths, but in New York, nobody knows or has heard their names.
Stefan Egger: (Baldelli and Mozart) ... had no idea of what was happening in NYC, they only knew Bob and Tom. Everything else we were told years later. So, Italy was directly influenced by Bob and Tom...
Cosmic is still happening inside the triangle Adriatic coast-Innsbruck-Munich. The sound though has changed until today. The experimental, unusual sound gave way to a slow, but stompy Brasil-House-Worldmusic mix. Nevertheless, there are still interesting nights, especially when Baldelli and Mozart play for a small audience.
The most interesting point is that after a long depression, Cosmic and Afrofunky (thats what they call it in Italy) is played again in clubs, and the scene is reforming.
Now, a gap of a long circle is closing that Bob and Tom started drawing in 1976 without even knowing it.
Taken from an article by DJ Mooner (http://www.myspace.com/djmooner)
©Mooner Industries 2004-2005