COMPAGNIA DIGITALE may be the last act of the musical experience that began in 1969 with IL SISTEMA and lasted precisely a decade: a decade of incredible and profound intensity.
By now almost everything has been said about IL SISTEMA, SNC, CELESTE, ST. TROPEZ, but not all. The missing piece is the COMPAGNIA DIGITALE. News has always been scarce and often inaccurate. The reason is to be found in the fact that the last months of 1979 had been quite hectic and confused. ST. TROPEZ had not been able to continue his speech serenely. The rhythm section, or rather the various rhythmic sections that had alternated, gradually lost interest in continuing on the path traced and the path taken. From the very beginning, the "thorn in the side" for ST. TROPEZ had been the drummer and the bassist.
Thus we found ourselves with the eternal dilemma of finding a new bass player and a new drummer. There were not many musicians left to listen to and above all to be considered suitable for the role to be filled. But Fortune came to our rescue once again. Marco Tudini who, as you will recall, had been part of CELESTE's original line-up in 1972, had left for professional reasons by going to England to look for new outlets for his music.
But in those days he had just returned to Italy with a rich baggage of new experiences and, as a great genius and creative as he has always been, he had considerably improved his instrumental technique and, among the various instruments he had always played and frequented (flute, saxophones, piano, guitar, etc.) there was also the drums. Now, having grown up not only as a musician but also as a performer, he could be the right man at the right time! It didn't cost me much to involve him and convince him to participate in this new adventure.
He adhered without reservations and immediately began to listen to the rehearsal tapes where there were the compositions that would later become the material that is present in the live concert of “THE DIGITAL COMPANY. So at that point the drummer's stool was occupied. And the bass player? The situation was slightly more complex. The incidence of the percentage of bass players in relation to other musicians has always been rather low. For 10 drummers let's say… .. 3 bass players? I think it's likely. I mean drummers and bassists of high musical value.
Let's go back to research. Replacing a Giorgio Battaglia or a Silvano Cecchini was not that simple. Anyway with my usual unshakable confidence and determination I got busy and started spreading the word and personally trying to fill that void where 50% of the band's rhythmic engine was. It suddenly occurred to me that a musician - clearly a bassist - who had once frequented my recording studio, could have been the missing element to be able to complete the ensemble. I'm talking about Roberto “Roby” Rossi. In the years between 1975 and 1976 he had been part of a trio on which I counted a lot and which I had tried to produce (I have always had the ambitions of producer and discoverer of new talents). I remember that I welcomed the three musicians, who were none other than old acquaintances, carving out a small space where I would intervene in compositions not mine, playing parts with the Mini Moog. Their names? Clearly "Roby" Rossi on bass, Stefano Minutolo on guitar and vocals (you will remember his name on the track "Il Laghetto del Cigno") and Marco Tudini on drums. Before moving almost permanently to England, he was commuting to Sanremo and in one of those rare and fleeting "windows" he found the time to set up several rehearsal sessions. A demo of only 2 minutes and a few seconds remains of this formation which makes us regret that they did not continue. But so be it! Let's go back to our bass player. I contacted Roby and he was thrilled to accept without reservation. When I then informed him that the drummer would be Marco Tudini ……… Said and done! After two days we were already in the studio rehearsing the material. We also had in mind to take back all the material that made up the repertoire of ST. TROPEZ but the new compositions were so many so we decided to start from scratch without looking to the past. Even if the temptation was really great because the legacy of the previous band, in terms of style and quality, would have been of great support. But today I'm glad that decision was made. On the horizon there were no appointments either at the level of concerts or at the level of contacts with producers or record labels. We only had the desire to confront ourselves with the new that was advancing. We were well aware that it was necessary to revolutionize the schemes and create never conceived presuppositions on which to base all our future experience.
I had just bought a wonderful ARP 2600 equipped with 3 ARP Sequencers, which I had only partially inserted and used in the last "flashes" of ST. TROPEZ. Now this new equipment found its true space within the band's compositional dynamics. In fact, much more than an idea and a starting point were born from the exploration of this absolutely "mythical" synthesizer. The regret is that many compositions have remained out of this recording. We didn't have time to prepare them properly. In fact, only in August 1979 my "old" companion of musical adventures in Celeste, Mariano Schiavolini, asked me if we were available to participate in a concert for which he was trying to organize. It didn't seem true that we could put ourselves to the test. The opportunity was absolutely not wasted. We accelerated the tests. Every moment was used to improve every step and every nuance. This is why we were forced to limit ourselves to choosing only the pieces we wanted to present and which were already at an advanced stage of preparation. We finished just in time.
At the end of the month we were ready! Great expectations and great emotion, as always, before facing the public. And here it is a must to tell how the whole story related to the only concert of LA COMPAGNI DIGITALE really took place.
Like any summer musical event, we had to arrive in the early afternoon and, under a scorching sun with humidity at the highest bearable levels - next to the esplanade where the stage stood, a stream flowed - to start unloading instruments and equipment. Some diligent friends tried to give us a hand but delicate things (guitars, my synths, keyboards, etc.) had to have our exclusive care. After having occupied every available corner on stage to arrange our instruments, we had the usual briefing with the sound engineer who was supposed to take care of our sounds. We had a clear idea of the kind of sound that should characterize our “live act”. We literally drove the sound engineer crazy but in the end we declared ourselves satisfied and as always happens we tried to relax each in his own way. I opted for a nice dip in the stream before having a quick snack enough to recover my strength a little. We were going to have dinner very late after the concert. As always. After the temporary "free everyone" we found ourselves near the stage. All punctual and beautifully loaded. But here comes the "beauty"! In the 1970s, the consoles equipped with memorization of levels, tones and effects were not yet in use for which it was customary to leave the sliders in the position that had been chosen as optimal. Here is the surprise! When we started playing we realized that someone - who knows who? - for calculation, for inattention, for lightness or for any other reason, he had brought all the faders, the knobs, the pan pots, the effects sends to zero. Result? At three / four of the drummer from the stage only the sound of the drums was heard. What to do? Presence of spirit. One of us went to the mixer trying to recreate the sounds we had so tried throughout the afternoon and with the help of the sound engineer, give a sense to our show. I deliberately stayed on stage and asked that the levels of my synths be taken care of before any other instrument. I meant in this way, to give more time to the restoration of the original sounds and levels, to entertain the audience by creating improvised spatial atmospheres waiting for the return to normal. It seemed to work. In fact, a large part of the concert was appreciated precisely by virtue of these "experiments" developed on the spot. During the concert there were other episodes that put us to the test. Especially our patience. But so be it. Everything went well and today we are here to talk about it. However, this was really the last episode of a decade that, personally, slipped on me, leaving me breathless, speechless but full of experience and experience. My journey as a band musician was about to end (I would have reopened it with CELESTE “Il Risveglio del Principe” in 2017, 38 years later but I still didn't know). A few weeks after I came down from that stage in August 1979, I signed my first contract that allowed me to start a solo career with the creation of SOLARE. But this is another story.