Silvio Berlusconi isn’t known to be a Black Sabbath fan. A recording artist in his own right, the musical preferences of the Milanese media magnate lean more towards cruise ship favorites like “What’s New Pussycat?” than they do “Iron Man.” Not that it’s unreasonable to conjecture. Particularly following Il Cavaliere’s infamous flashing of the corna (horns) behind the head of Spain’s foreign minister, during a 2002 photo op. A southern Italian equivalent to giving the bird, in metal circles, the gesture is meant to signify the horns of the devil.
There’s no denying that such gestures are significations of evil, especially in such an intensely Catholic society as that of Italy. One version is simply juvenile (ha ha fuck you,) the other, anti-clerical, in an ironic, we’re all in-on-the joke kind of way. That the latter version of the signage was popularized by an Italian American, Ronnie James Dio (who replaced Ozzy Osbourne as Black Sabbath’s vocalist, in 1979) certainly lends credence to the notion that both gestures are indeed related. The American version is just more religiously self-conscious.
Despite hipster disdain for saxophones (see Fear’s “New York is Allright if you like Saxophones,”) horns have an indelibly transgressive significance ascribed to them. Whether it’s the notion that saxes are the “devil’s horn,” or not, there is a longstanding association with the Great Horned One, and wind instruments, especially those played by African Americans prior to the Civil Rights Era. You can understand why. Horns have a capacity for eliciting a feeling that something’s off, that we are being led in a wrong direction. If you’re white and paranoid, that is.
Hence, the spectacle of over a thousand Juventus supporters gathered in a central Turin square, blowing cheap plastic horns following a victorious football game. Boasting some of the best natural reverb in Europe (Turin is sandwiched in between the Swiss Alps to its east, and rolling hills to its west) cobblestone streets, and enormous apartment buildings and palaces dating back to the 17th century, the downtown area is ideal for field recording. Whether you’re capturing a busker, or a live band, the sound is crisp and clear, and positively enormous. Thunder storms are a real treat to record, as they descend from the mountains, and explode all over the city, migrating towards the Mediterranean.
The noise made by these Torinese is a reflection of where they live, echoes of the shock and awe of the local weather at its absolute worst, during a period of intense economic decline – brought on, not so coincidentally, by seventeen years of mismanagement by governments led by Silvio Berlusconi. Blowing their hearts out at conflicting intervals, there’s clearly a lot more going on than just a celebratory toot following a good game. If you listen closely, you can hear hints of avant-garde this, and orchestral warm up that, with a brief nod to a sports stadium melody. The mood is definitely a dark one. Victory gives license to rule breaking. This is what austerity sounds like.