The Adventure of ICTUS Records
The adventure of ICTUS records began in April 1976 when — exasperated by the the refusal from a recording company to publish CLANGS, a duo with the great Steve Lacy — my wife, Carla Lugli, and I decided to try to go for total artistic independence with our own record label.
Those were years of great enthusiasm, when improvised music had a political meaning and musicians felt the need to break away from the usual production business and manage their own concerts and recordings.
However, there were some difficulties in creating an independent label in that turbulent period: first of all, pressing plants didn’t like working for private clients.
They charged a minimum copies rate that was unthinkable for self-financed musicians and, last but not least, they provided the worst quality vinyl for the recording (unless spending a fortune as we did for INDIAN TAPES), thus lowering the standard of listening quality in a kind of music where the dynamics and silences were so important.
But in spite of all these drawbacks, we decided to make a go for it and suddenly the very first independent Italian label of creative music, operated by musicians only, was born.
It was also one of the very first independent labels of new music to appear on the world market.
We had our ups and downs during that experience, until 1984 when for many reasons we had to stop the operations.
My music career throughout those seven years touched down on all the shores of experimentation: from post-jazz language to total improvisation, contemporary music of the academic tradition, electronic music and, finally, the present compositional structuralism of the post-minimalistic school and some touch of more easy listening new age kind of music.
However ICTUS did not produce any income.
To the contrary! Rarely were we able to cover the production costs of a record and when we did, we reinvested it all immediately in a new production, always with the help of the various musicians involved.
Basically it was a labor of love for all kind of not conventional musics! But the impact that the label had on the diffusion of new music was quite considerable and I’m still very proud of the decision to dive in that dream of independence.
In 1984 with a sudden twist of my artistic interests I discovered the video making and with my first video film TIARE I stirred so much interest that for the upcoming 3 years I dedicated myself almost completely to directing films. At the end I had to decide between my career and … the record label. Too many changes in my life both personal and artistic.
Obviously I had to choose my career.
The years that followed were the beginning of new experiences for me and, in a certain sense, I wanted to bury that initial experience in the past because I thought (wrongly!) that it didn’t blend very well with the new artistic direction I was taking.
We gave the master copies to a University documentation center; some had gotten lost in the meantime and others lay in the archives of the pressing plants, completely forgotten.
In 1995 when I was asked for the first time to re-release some of that old material on CD, I declined the offer because I was afraid it would be too difficult to find it and put back into circulation music that no longer in 1995 represented my music world now completely concentrated on composing both for concerts and for movies.
However, something convinced me to get involved in the operation. It also was that, while listening, after ten years, to the master copies, fortunately salvaged, I realized that they undoubtedly represent one of the highest point of that creative era with hidden links to my present work.
In 1996 some of the tracks, never before released for production reasons, make that first Reissued ICTUS Series CD’s, in the surprising beauty of digital sound, a fundamental chapter for understanding creative music at the dawn of the new century.
Unfortunately the guy that released the series was a real crook and after an initial modest license fee he never paid a royalty. Typical of the underworld of indie music.
At that moment I was already living in Los Angels since 1991.
One day in 2000 just by chance I met an old fried who then, just started a digital distribution business. He knew of ICTUS and he was interested to digitally distribute it.
For a stroke of luck, he was also distributing the Polish Jazz label, so I met Cezary Lerski, the label producer and a fan of the old ICTUS.
He had an extended knowledge of avant-garde jazz and new music and he was very familiar with all ICTUS musicians and he proposed me to start, once again, a fully operational label.
The time was right and with all the new recording in my personal archive, the catalogue was ripe to become a new sensation.
We started releasing a box set with all the first 12 Albums of old ICTUS, some as the originals and some in new lists of tracks.
From there ICTUS started raising again and establishing itself again on the new music market.
Few years ago Cezary for personal reasons moved to Northern California, so sadly, I’m now the only operative on ICTUS. Kind of difficult but still possible!
Today most of the titles are released primarily as digital download files, but all ICTUS CD’s are available both in the original version and in a custom made on request edition and on the top we are producing 12” Vinyl LPs and… Cassettes!
On the site you’ll also find rare original editions of the ICTUS LPs and much more.
So ICTUS is here to stay for another bit, giving to the fans of new creative music the opportunity to enjoy a different side of the listening experience.
In reviewing the 45 years of ICTUS history, I really need to give a heartfelt thanks to all the great friends that collaborate to this titanic enterprise.
Carla Lugli (label manager until 1984)
Sergio Tommasini (studio maintenance engineer 1974-1978)
Fabrizio Menardi (original ICTUS site designer)
Steven Weber (digital distributor for ICTUS until 2015)
Cezary Lerski (co-producer and mentor for the new ICTUS Records from 2002)
And finally, my good friend Massimiliano Masserelli (supreme software programmer and web site master/designer) who designed this beautiful site and maintains it.
Andrea Centazzo (2000-2021)
ICTUS Records in numbers
years of independent music publishing
For the last couple of years, Centazzo has been combing through old recordings and cleaning up some surprising pieces of lost history.
“Today you can really do magic washing those tapes like you wash your shirt, he said. “I have a huge collection of recordings, but I’ve been such a disorganized person my whole life, I listen to some tapes and I say ‘who the hell is this?’.
Among the unearthed tapes is an Albert Mangelsdorff orchestra and a quartet featuring the unusual lineup of Centazzo with Tony Oxley, Lester Bowie and Alvin Curran. Also included are groupings with Derek Bailey, Carlos Zingaro, the ROVA saxophone quartet and a section from Centazzo’s opera based on Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus.
“I’m just putting it out as a labor of love because it was a part of my life that was really important, he said. “It’s also very sad because some of these people are already gone – Tom Cora, Derek Bailey, Steve…
Kurt Gottschalk – All About Jazz – 2006
Andrea Centazzo - Musical Renaissance Man
Over the past thirty years, Italian/American percussionist Andrea Centazzo has created an amazing body of work, spanning a wide range of musical styles.
Starting in the 1970s, he helped instigate the free jazz movement in both Europe
and America. In the 1980s, he combined his compositions with both ethnic and
environmental sounds, anticipating what would become new age music. He’s
also produced large scale ensemble works, starting with the formation of his
Mitteleuropa Orchestra in the early 1980s, going on to write and produce operas,
symphonies, and music for films. Centazzo has traveled the globe, incorporating
various ethnic musics into his own, and in the 1990s he combined video and
music into cutting edge multi-media performances, creating a signature musical
language easily identified as his own.
The heart of his music has always been percussion—percussion that moves out
of the background and takes its rightful place with the other instruments,
providing melody, harmony, and rhythm. It is the thread running through all of his
musical works and can easily stand on its own. His all-percussion sound tracks for his award winning films, Tiare and Futuro Antico, feature dense layers of keyboard mallet instruments, gongs, and drums woven into a musical tapestry that entrances the listener. Played against a projected video background of
images collected during his travels, his current one man multi-media performances feature drums, gongs, and electronic mallet instruments, along
with triggered samples of various ethnic music and sounds.
Andrea Centazzo, a true musical renaissance man, offers in this series an
outstanding collection of his music, personally chosen, remastered, and
presented the way it was originally intended. He also offers many unreleased
recordings recently discovered in his archives. Sit back, listen, and enjoy!
Michael Bettine (journalist/musician Milwaukee, January 2005)