Venitian Rendezvous

a production

Background

Venitian Rendezvous was a live → ↑ → project. Focused on notions of the industrialization of Muzak, the sociological radiophonics of Easy Listening and the aesthetic categorization of 'beautiful music', the project saw → ↑ → live the dream of such ideals by becoming a respectable, suited, tamed and innocuous ensemble playing suitably neutered music. In the face of Minimalism's increasing chauvinism and Punk's escalating heroicism, Venitian Rendezvous was the sound of bland conservatism musicalised. It dived deep into the Muzak ethos wherein identity was denounced. For → ↑ →, Muzak's emotive/expressive lack was a populist keystone for imaging art that moved beyond humancentric foibles.

Leigh Parkhill, Philip Brophy, Anthony Montemurro & Ralph Traviato - Caulfield Institute of Technology © 1979

Some of the songs were initially developed for the Caprice project; other songs also appeared in the more severe Minimalism set. Live performances of Venitian Rendezvous entailed the quartet dressed in sober yet colourful unstylish office worker suits-and-ties. The music was correspondingly tasteful. The only cover version was what composer Philip Brophy thought had to be the most innocuous and facile 'evergreen' at that moment in the late 70s: The Beatles' "Hey Jude". All the song titles were in Italian (courtesy of key → ↑ → members Ralph Traviato and Anthony Montemurro).

Leigh Parkhill & Philip Brophy; Anthony Montemurro & Ralph Traviato - Crystal Ballroom © 1979

Credits

Compositions, electric piano & synthesizer - Philip Brophy
Bass synthesizer - Anthony Montemurro
Guitar - Leigh Parkhill
Saxophone - Ralph Traviato
Recording engineers - John Campbell & Chris Wyatt

Venitian Rendezvous EP - 1st pressing © 1979

1978

Melbourne - Clifton Hill Community Music Centre; Preston Institute of Technology

1979

Melbourne - Clifton Hill Community Music Centre; Oz Print Gallery; Preston Institute of Technology; Universal Workshop; Crystal Ballroom; Marijuana House; Caulfield Institute of Technology
Adelaide - Experimental Art Foundation
3RRR-FM Live to Air, Melbourne
Venitian Rendezvous 7" EP - 1st pressing released
Venitian Rendezvous 7" EP - 2nd pressing released

1983

Venitian Rendezvous 7" EP - included on the Muzak Rock & Minimalism compilation LP - Present Records, Melbourne

Venitian Rendezvous EP - 2nd pressing © 1979

Overview

From the original 1981 programme notes

(...) In Rome, we talked about their musical metamorphosis. Raphael said that he and his fellows (Leon, Phillipe and Antonio) were in strict opposition to most so-called 'new music' which operates within an expressive intellectual void. → ↑ →'s music specifically functions in the late 70s: it is real and now - without a doubt, the latest fashion. Earlier, Antonio said with a cunning twinkle in his eye, that their new Minimalism is no different from their old, except for certain "disguises and conventions for the audience, dripping with niceness." Phillipe said that their new music now has a "truthfully irritating balance between content and form." (..) Unlike Nice Noise, their Venitian Rendezvous is without stylization. It is so real, and so now in fact, that 3AK are sponsoring an Australian tour in the near future. Even though these beautiful boys are killing any notion of an existing avant-garde, they are still out on their own limb, in that they are very in-tune with Now. It's delicately disgusting, but it's Beautiful."

Philip Brophy; Anthony Montemurro - Universal Workshop © 1979

Technical

Set list

Original songs

1. Canzona Di Una Notta (1976)
2. Canzona Di Tre Notta (1976)
3. Sportello (1978)
4. Lampadina (1978)
5. Pallini (1978)
6. Carabiniero (1978)
7. Carte Igienica (1978)
8. Fauschnio (1979)
9. Precipitevolissime (1979)
10. Negozio (1979)
11. Familia Christiana (1979)

Cover versions

12. Hey Jude (The Beatles - 1970)

Leigh Parkhill; Ralph Traviato - Universal Workshop © 1979

Recording

The Venitian Rendezvous EP contains 4 original songs from the live set. "Canzona di una notte" is "One Note Song" - the unofficial → ↑ → anthem. It's only one note, and appears on each of the first 3 EPS by the group, each time rendered in a veneer to appropriate to each project: rock for the Nice Noise EP; minimalist for the Minimalism EP; and muzak for the Venitian Rendezvous EP.

The production for the Venitian Rendezvous EP is clear, simple and unadorned. The drum machine is a one-off custom built machine made by an elderly electronics boffin who was selling it through a newspaper ad. It sounds kind of daggy, and perfectly suited the Muzak sensibilities of the project. Ralph's saxophone grants the music that seductive yet non-threatening vibe. The guitar and electric piano are locked in their pastoral phase-shifter effects. The synthesizers mimic the gorgeous warbling of a thousand 'Moog Beatles' records. The live tracks posted here come from a cassette recording by Phil Turnbull of the Sydney band Voigt/465.

Artwork

The posters and covers for the Venitian Rendezvous record depict the duality of seduction. The first pressing features Cary Grant lunging toward Eve Marie Sainte from Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest on the front and Bela Lugosi biting into Helen Chandler from Todd Browning's Dracula. One poster uses a still from Howard Hawk's To Have And Have Not with Lauren Bacall entwined with Humphrey Bogart. The other poster uses a still from Paul Morrissey's Blood For Dracula with Udo Keir ravaging Dominique Darel. The live poster is a publicity of silent cinema goddess Gloria Swanson draped across a grecian column. Collectively, the imagery extols the power and pleasure of being seduced - as a counter-point to the assumption that the 'higher arts' don't seduce their audience.

Philip Brophy, Ralph Traviato, Anthony Montemurro & Leigh Parkhill - Clifton Hill Community Music Centre © 1978