Torso Virile Colossale is an original tribute to the Peplum cinema, the Italian cinematic sub-genre of historical movies with a mythological imagery between the 1950s and the 1960s. It is instrumental music that has no philological intent compared to the original soundtracks of the genre (the compositions of the Peplum cinema are in fact symphonic works). It wants to be an ideal fusion between epic and solemn worlds of this cinema, the soundtracks of the 60s and a more contemporary aesthetic that revolves around electric guitars with open tunings and proto-metal, stoner and psychedelic suggestions.
The project aims at evoking the world of these movies through some harmonic solutions and some timbral elements (timpani and brass) but at the same time declining everything in a different flavor by creating some short circuits. The imagery is therefore at times vigorous and at times dreamlike with the intention of being a soundscape for good strongmen, beautiful divas, cruel tyrants, gladiators, oppressed tribes and entertainment with punches and tripping. The Peplum cinema is a cinema where mythology, fantasy and often irony come together to create adventures that make the poverty of means, the richness of ideas and the boldness of the scripts their beauty. Here then the clichés of the genre that peep out in the atmospheres and in the titles of the songs: the struggles, the gods, the oracles, the seductions, the marches of the ancient armies and much more.
Torso Virile Colossale wants to be a strong and evocative music, an ideal fusion of proto-metal, psychedelia, the suggestions of Arabic music, the compositions of Miklós Rózsa, Angelo Francesco Lavagnino and “I pini di Roma” of Ottorino Respighi. The debut album is titled Vol.1 because Grazian wanted it to be the first piece of a bigger project. The album subtitle is “Che gli dei ti proteggano” (“May the gods protect you”) as the typical phrase used as an interlayer in all films of the genre, as a wish for good luck.
The album contains 12 songs, like the 12 Labours of Hercules, and is conceived as a soundtrack or a small opera (complete with Ouverture and Finale). Through the titles and the music, it tries to cover the various aspects of the genre, not without irony.
The spark of a musical project whose imagery is entirely dedicated to Italian ‘sandals’ comes out in the summer of 2008 while Alessandro Grazian was working on the artwork for his album “Indossai”. In fact, on the cover of this record there is an old photograph of the family album taken in the mountains in which we see a girl held in the arms of a vigorous boy. The two young people in the photo are his mother and father, nicknamed “Maciste” by his friends because of his muscles and his passion for the mythological cinema. In his parents’ house there is an entire album of photographs of a very young Gastone ‘Maciste’ Grazie intent on showing off his strong physique in Peplum poses and clothing. A collection of photos that are as naïve and bizarre as exciting in the eyes of a son who has other athletic and artistic goals for his life. Those photos, which betray the father’s youthful passion for Peplum, will be the spark that triggers the desire to explore that world and learn more. Some time later Grazian is on vacation with friends in Sicily and ‘Orazi e Curiazi’ is showed on TV, an old film from ’61 where between a questionable actor’s performance by Alan Ladd and the approximate scenes of falling in love, hilarity and curiosity are triggered among the onlookers.
The desire to play with that world and its clichés is immediately clear, bending it to their own expressive needs, just as strong men bend bars and screenwriters bend mythology to adapt it to their films. It is immediately clear that this project must be disconnected from Grazian’s songwriting career. A real side-project without continuity with the songwriter’s songbook, but a real opportunity to ‘tell’ another part of himself (musical and visionary), hitherto hidden from the public.
The first fruits of this timbre and writing research begin to be seen right away and it is immediately clear that these compositions are an opportunity to explore new and extreme territories with respect to the music for which the Paduan musician is known. It is not about songs or acoustic music and there are no docile and reassuring atmospheres: it would not be surprising actually because they are sound worlds that belong to Grazian’s background but at the dawn of Torso Virile Colossale the times are not yet ripe for reveal the project and it is preferable to focus on your career as a songwriter and on other collaborations thus postponing the time to throw yourself headlong into this adventure.
With the passage of time, however, encouraged more and more to give life to the project by creative urgency, by contingencies and by friends and colleagues who listen to the songs, Grazian begins to think more concretely about the creation of Colossal Virile Torso. The meeting with the producer and sound engineer Antonio Cooper Cupertino who records, mixes and co-produces his latest record “L’Età Più Forte” (‘The Strongest Age’) finally creates the right conditions to unblock the situation and think of an album. Grazian in fact involves Cooper who listens to the material and is enthusiastic about it. At this point, in the spring of 2016, the recordings of the discographic debut begin.