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Krisma: Sex, and more sex and rock and roll (Sounds Magazine, 1980)*

Hugh Fielder relates his steamy nights of pornography in the mountain-top hideaway of Italian duo KRISMA

"Hello, welcome to the land of wops," says maurizio enthusiastically shaking hands as I step out form the hotel entrance on the shores of Lake Maggiore, blinking in the sunny glare that's passed Britain by this summer.

Beside him, flashing a grin that would make a toothpaste advertiser envious and with eyes that sparkle with zest Krisma - Sounds Magazine, 1980 and plenty more besides, stands his wife Christine. Together they are Krisma, a self-styled sex-pop duo who've taken Italy by the scruff of its maternal apron strings and shaken it around a little. They are now intent on doing the same in this land of the new wave.
Maurizio is 32-years-old and looks elegantly ravaged with his bleached punk hairdo, white T-shirt, black tight multi-creased trousers and biker-boots.
Christne is 26 with classic Swiss-rich features (after all, she is Swiss), spikey blond hair that's tinted blue at the sides and greased into an outrageous coxcomb in the middle, a withe V-neck T-shirt that does its inadequate best to conceal a pair of mountainous breasts, a blue leather mini-skirt and first of a succession of ridiculously high-heeled shoes (a subsequent pair have wooden sofa castors as heels).
We pile into a car and wind our way up into the mountains that tumble down to the likeside, passing groups of Italians weekending in the heat, some of whom recognise the duo in the front of the car and wave or stare according to age bracket.

The overgrown log cabin we eventually reach is the couple's country retreat, a couple of hours from their Milan base. Inside, the sweet wood smell occasionally blends with a waft of cat's pee. There's a sitting room with books stacked on shelves and records strewn over one corner and a pair of mammoth speakers that savour the scratched vinyl surfaces sounding like sausages dropped in boiling fat.
The kitchen is minimalist and used to provide liquid refreshments and snacks. The dining room is artisan with plates stuck on the walls and various artifacts dotted around. But the cultural nerve centre is the bedroom. The bed takes up half the room and the other half is occupied by an enormous television set, a video recorder and a camera, a film projector and an upright piano.
A lot of time is spent watching television over the next two days. Maurizio is something of an addict and he's in the right country to safe his addiction. As he roams restlessly from channel to channel I ask how many stations there are in Italy. "I can get about 40 stations here, but in Milan there are more than a hundred. There are about two thousand stations altogether in Italy."

Behind this mind-boggling statistic there lies an unsung Italian characteristic that is camouflaged behind news reports and imminent anarchy - they have an extraordinary Nowadays, the "enormous television set" still stands near the bed, but in a different house... highly developed sense of democracy allied to a fervent  belief in individual freedom. Thus, when a group of people set up their own television station the Government thought about it and then decided that it wasn't harming anyone and that the trouble of trying to stop them wasn't worth the expense or the probable public outcry so they let it beam on.
The result has been a proliferation of private stations - anyone it seems can start their own station if they can afford the equipment. Some of them are like Prestel, running small ads and information services. Record companies supply a good deal of the material shown. We watched an RCA-sponsored programme featuring The Beat, Simple Minds and Osibisa that put anything we screen here to shame. Amateurish much of it may be, but technologically it puts Britain to shame. Imagine the beaurocracy and ted tape if anybody tried to do it here.
And yet we pride ourselves on our democracy and civil liberties!

Many of the stations run all night and several show porno movies after midnight. My favourite station was one that closed downs some time after 2am with an epilogue that consisted of a woman stripping off on a green tafita four-poster bed and writing around for a couple of minutes before the voice-over huskily bade us good night!
When the television stations finally palled Maurizio had a selection of his own delights on video and film: a library of porno movies, many concerned with the art of fist-fucking, the tender details of which are perhaps best left to your imagination. There was also a snuff movie which your correspondent found himeself unable to watch in case he threw up all over the bedspread. "I just care about music and sex," says Maurizio and circumstantial evidence to support him was overwhelming.

Some time in the afternoon of the second day I begin a vaguely formal interview to find out if there is more to Krisma than music and sex. Christine - Sounds Magazine, 1980 There is. Maurizio, in turns out, used to be an italian pop star in his own right. His rock and roll career goes back to the mid-Sixties when the band he was with supported the Beatles on their Italian tour. He unearths his band's first single and puts it on - Fats Domino's "Sick and Tired" sounding like a slightly heavier version of the Newbeats's "Bread And Butter" and typical European R&B of the time.

In the early Seventies he became an archetypal Italian solo pop star with several hits, including a version of the Who's "See Me, Feel Me" until six years ago he suddenly gave it all up.
"I spontaneously destroyed it," he explains in his wop-accented English which he admits used to be better when he ran away to England in the early Sixties and hung around the Two-Eyes coffee bar in Soho mixing with the up and coming British musicians of the time.
"They just wanted a pop star image that could be loved by little girls. I enjoyed it for a while and then I started feeling continuously sick, manipulated by the system. So I just stopped. I retreated here in the mountains and went skiing and started to write my own music."

At this point he's just married Christine, the daughter in a rich Swiss family of diplomats and archaeologists. The story they tell together would melt a rock journalist's heart. She met him when she was thirteen and he was playing in a town near her school.
"I was with my boyfriend until Maurizio said hello and then I was with him," she says pointing straight at Maurizio. Their love for each other grew over the next five years (it says here in my notes) although she was either at school or at home and they married in 1973 when she was nineteen.

Together they came to live up in this log cabin while Maurizio put his "head in mountains instead of down on sea level". He didn't listen to anything until the German group Neu started giving him ideas. In the meantime he relates how he made a film about skiing, another of Christine in a castle at Mantua and helped to start a private radio station in Milan.
Eventually his recording contract ran out. He signed up with Polydor but didn't do anything for several years until he eventually came up with the first Chrisma (spelt with a Ch then rather than a K) album in 1976 called "Chinese Restaurant".

Never released here, "Chinese Restaurant" was nevertheless recorded in London with Vangelis producing. The cover is punk influenced even for that time. They are standing outside a Chinese Restaurant in a Soho alleway, him looking like a young Kim Fowley and her like an aristocratic young lady. It was on the first albums to use a Polymoog and yielded a European hit with "Lola" (no relations to The Kinks).
Chrisma's first live date followed the release of the album. Midway through it Maurizio took a knife and cut his finger to the bone.
"It was spontaneous and deliberate. Because of the lack of audience reaction," he exclaims. "There was a big scandal afterwards because of all the blood and everything. There was a lot of publicity but it wasn't a stunt. There were no photographers present. The audience made me do it. It was a very paranoid period for me but also a stimulating one."

"He was crazy, " laughs Christine waving her hands expansively. "He was behaving badly with everyone. I was so angry with him. I didn't know if he was wrong but I had to go  with it."
"It was hard at the time," continues Maurizio. "I was working in a rock desert."
He talks of the struggles in bringing the new wave to Italy, but then undermines his own case by saying that "I wasn't to please people. I don't want to disturb them. I want to communicate generalities." I suggest that he is perhaps more radical than his albums are. "Yes, the albums are a filter," he replies.

The second album, "Hibernation", was less of a filter. Maurizio says he was depressed when he recorded it and plays a couple of tracks to prove the point. One is monotonous one-chord Lou Christine - Sounds Magazine, 1980 Reed/Velvet Underground pastiche that suddenly gains a metallic edge and stars to sound like Public Image, although it predates them by a couple of years.
On this cover Christine's like a Honey cover model and he's artistic new wave and the silver tinted picture has them suspended in weightless animation. It's a much "heavier" album than the first and hints more at Maurizio's fascination with what he calls "the outer limits".
"It's a scientific interest. I am fascinated by sex. Some people might call that perverted, but in reality it's just the outer limits. I called the album "Hibernation" beacuse Christine and I have already signed up for hibernation when it becomes available. Then we will be woken up at some time in the future. That will be enormously interesting."

I steer the conversation round to the new album, which is the first to be released here. It also marks the change from Chrisma to Krisma.
"That's just to give an indication to me of our change," says Maurizio". "We may change again," he adds and proceeds to offer some highly rarified theories about musical progression. On a more mundane level I learn that "Cathode Mamma" (a homage to his 625-and-a-few-more-lines obsession) was produced by Jack Lancaster, whom he met when recorded "Peter And The Wolf" in italian and the synthesisers were programmed by Hans Zimmer, who did the same for Buggles and Ultravox.

"It's a lighter offering than "Hibernation", which might have made a better introduction for Britain. But it contains a likely Euro-smash called "Many Kisses", which Maurizio plays loudly and repeatedly as the evening drans on. Christine jumps up to repeat her recently videoed performance of the song for TV, blowing kisses magnanimously to us all.
If they ever get to come and perform in England she could leave Debbie Harry looking like a Mary Whitehouse.
"I'm a girl. I like to show it and I want to have an effect on people,"  she declares. But Maurizio is evasive when it comes to talking to live gigs. What he has lined up in his head hasn't so far been turned into practical reality.

Maurizio talks on far into the night. Theories, ideas, explanations on his music and if just a tenth of them come to fruition the rock scene will never be the same again.
And when he runs out steam for a bit he rings up Hans Zimmer back in London (it's three in the morning now) and hands me the receiver. Hans confirms he's ready to play with them as soon as they can get it together.
I get the impression they are more practical when they come down from the mountain. Maurizio certainly wants to be big in Britain.
"We've got problems about being wops. London is were the music is interesting."As we finally make to head back to the hotel he says "I like you English". You're nasty in the nicest way, which is something an arrogant person like me needs to learn."

* MANY thanks to Oliver C. - England


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