An interview with
Beppe Colli (2021)

By Beppe Colli
Jan. 1, 2021

May I? Oh, I see you're reading a book...

Come in, it's alright. It's the new one by Alan Rusbridger, just published.

You don't know how lucky you are, still having time to read those books...

Just a gentle reminder: I live on the 8th floor.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha... There are still people who say stuff like that, right?

Not as often as before. Nowadays I just let it go, those are really hopeless cases.

What could one say to such a person?

What about, "I haven't watched TV in the last thirty years, so there's a lot of time left".

There's something I hope you could clarify for me, will you?


Do you really wear a mask at home?

What do you think?

Well, first thing I thought maybe you don't have a human mouth, but a thingee like Donald Duck, and so, wearing a mask makes it more difficult to notice.

Nice try.

My second hypothesis is that you fear being recognized by those whose CDs you've criticized unfavourably in the past.

Well, the webzine was in suspended animation for about three years, and memories vanish.


What you really have to keep in mind is that what we do right now is in the middle of a Pandemic. Were not for the Pandemic, I don't think we would have decided to start it all over again. And so, wearing a mask is a reminder that this Web conversation we're having takes place in a time of emergency.

Never thought about that!

I was sure this webzine would gonna stay shut forever. There are valid reasons for that, as you know.

What about a little summary, please...?

Well, the great part of the music that we received in the last... ten, maybe fifteen years, was really mediocre, and things did a turn for the worse in the last two-three years before we closed shop. I know that nowadays one can easily listen to whatever gets released, and so this line of reasoning doesn't work anymore, in a literal sense, but... on paper, it's possible to think that somewhere there's a marvelous album you don't know about, just waiting for you, so you go on thinking that somewhere...

... there's a fantastic album to listen to.

Right. But when you get stuff from all over the world - including Turkey and Iran - and things are like that... yawn.

What about the other reason?

Well, in order to have real meaning, my work has to have these qualities: it must be accurate, truthful, honest, but also useful.


But while the first three qualities are my own responsibility, the fourth element is quite different.

It's when readers do their part.

Bingo! You have this situation when one does one's best, then people come, have a look, and say that it's not interesting to them.

What would you expect, instead?

Well, provided the source is reliable, one has the chance to discover something one didn't know about, or maybe one finds something new in an album one already had, but hadn't investigated properly.

Where did you get the notion that this kind of debate would be considered of interest in the middle of a Pandemic?

I see myself as a part of society, and I think it's my duty to have what I do best as available to others. I want to do my part.

I know you're perfectly aware that right at this moment there are readers who are thinking, well... this guy needs some rest.

I'm sure you're right. But see, this perspective looks totally wrong to me. I don't think there's an "external" perspective where one can file my attitude under "delusional". The way I see it, there's a situation, and I try to offer my contribution in order to make things a little bit better. Those who say that I'm just wasting my time are not just arguing their position, they are doing all they can to make things worse under the false premise of an "external" judgement.

Interesting... And when did it all start? It doesn't look as a "new" phenomenon to me...

This is something that really makes me angry. The idea - quite stupid, if you ask me - that "things have always been this way".

You don't agree?

No. If one uses the most "general" terms, one could say "there's nothing new under the sun". But the exploitation of those working the land in ancient times, or that of the caste system, is not the same notion of economic exploitation of "surplus" Marx talked about.

What about our topic?

Well, what we call "individualization" is something "modern", which has accelerated in recent times. It's funny to notice that what is currently known as "liquid society" is not thought as having a necessary precursor in an "atomization" phase of the production sphere. What I mean is that Zygmunt Bauman's conceptual framework has a much larger Marxian background than what is commonly noticed.

By the way: Where did you get the notion of re-starting your webzine writing those pieces of "social theory"? One could say that those who come here to read your pieces come here in order to read about certain topics. I bet you'd be the first to be surprised, when going to buy some meat at the butcher's, to find the sign...

... "We only have fresh fish", right. But in the middle of this Pandemic, after three years, I thought it wasn't right to start again with a piece such as "XY's new CD". First things first. Let's see where we stand. To go back a bit, I have to say that nowadays most people have a cold heart, like Scrooge before he saw the light.

What's in store for us?

Well, making predictions is obviously impossible. For now, we already have a vaccine, which in itself is something of a miracle. But remember, there are a lot of very bad things that are ready to make the jump from... camels, say, to humans. The current epidemic was "expected". And so are all the others that wait their turn.

Then there's the whole point of people's "reaction". Let's assume a vaccine works, will there be an explosion of... joy? Will people be able to taste the pleasure of enjoying "small things"? Or we'll go back to the "roaring twenties"? This is a very important issue.

This is not totally clear to me...

The fact that the distribution of money from the State to the People is not as efficient as needed is a given, I think, but as a principle it's widely accepted. But we all believe that Father Christmas travels the sky distributing money, with the aid of his reindeers. And we all know that reindeers don't need to stop at the gas station.

But don't forget that at the moment defined as "this is a limit that we can't exceed", Italian deficit was 130% of the GNP and is now 160%. Meanwhile, since we have to stay home, and so don't spend much, there's a lot of money sitting in the banks as a function of additional savings. What will happen the day the Pandemic is defeated? (I'm playing the Optimist here, there are much worse sceneries.) I'll buy some new glasses, you'll buy a new car, he'll buy a new house, she'll buy a new boat, etc. Can you picture this enormous amount of money going to the market all at the same time?

Looks like an inflationary scenery.

Could be. But there's always the possibility to drain money by offering Public Bonds at an interesting rate.

Don't know why, but...

Me too.

What about the state of criticism?

Comatose. But things are not the same, everywhere.

For instance?

Well, take the recent album by Flaming Lips, American Head... I'm not really an expert, could not say much about the difference when it comes to Yoshimi... or The Terror, but having an album featuring those "toxic" episodes while going back to those moments from one's adolescence while being aware of what happened later, something that we know perfectly well, to me it looked courageous and artistically fecund. It's not an "easy" album to listen to.

I've read quite a few reviews from the United States that were quite perceptive, this goes beyond the actual judgement. But what I've read on a few Italian webzines is awful, in some cases it appeared that the writer did not really understand what he was writing - not "writing about", mind you. "Publish... and perish".

Have you listened to something good recently?

Just last night, but it's not a new album. After a long time I've re-checked Ellipse, by Imogen Heap, and so I decided to read my old reviews of Everything In Between, the DVD-V about the recording of Ellipse, and also Sparks, the most recent Imogen Heap CD that I've listened to.

What did you think of them?

My reviews? Excellent! When an album has depth, it invites the critic to investigate its content, so the review - albeit sometimes confusedly - is enriched by the work. But very often what I listen to is as new as the recipe of the rice I cooked today, which I ate with great gusto. But what kind of review am I supposed to write about it? It's just your average rice, as cooked by me.

I'd like to read you the last passage from my review:

"The DVD-V features a few excerpts from the 40 vBlogs that the artist made while the album progressed. Which brings me to a very sorrowful point. After the demise of the old record companies, musicians have to get all the weight of promotion on their own shoulders, and it goes without saying that Internet and all those "social networks" are a very big part of this. Everything In-Between - The Story Of Ellipse shows us the different ways Imogen Heap managed to have her fans become participants in the making of her album. Of course, other musicians will find some of her strategies and inclinations to be not to their liking, or not appropriate to their own personalities. But they'll have to find those that are more appropriate to them."

When did you write it?

In 2011. The point being that today many musicians don't find those means to be to their liking, but they don't try to find different means that are more to their liking.

Do you have any suggestions?

In general? No! But if your horizon is defined by a public check and those Summer Festivals, you're bound to wait for the Pandemic to pass, and then we'll see.

Don't you think that's the way that will be?

Who knows?

Beppe Colli 2021 | Jan. 1, 2021