Probably they don’t need an introduction, but let’s pretend they do. So…

Squadra Omega is an “Italian-cosmic-psych-impro collective” group that started playing music in 2009. This is what they write about themselves on their Bandcamp page and I would say that these few news are enough, because one of the reasons of the band’s charm is the halo of mystery and the fascinating imaginary in which it is immersed. Starting from that band name that recalls science fiction and record titles that seem to come out of a Lovecraft story, a Jodorowski film or a novel by Guido Morselli. A halo of mystery that seems to suggest not to peek behind the curtain to investigate behind the scenes: after all, what is important to know who is behind OmegaMatt or OmegaG8 (so-called members of the Team – ed Squadra in italian), nor is it really necessary to go back upstream… until you meet bands like Mojomatics or With Love.

Especially in times like these, when everything is revealed and every information is accessible, preserving the mystery of music that seems to be naturally wrapped by the mystery becomes a useful exercise.

It’s enough to know, then, that Squadra Omega has embodied the more acid and psychedelic side within that movement known as Italian Occult Psychedelia – a journalistic acronym that had the merit of capturing the moment of convergence that led a series of bands to exhume with esoteric ceremonies the heritage of ’60s and ’70 Italy, that was much more advanced than the nation itself could tolerate. But they’ve been able to continuously contaminate their music thanks to the open nature of the project itself. Contaminations that enriched the lysergic language with elements of “free jazz, avant-garde, Kraut, Rock in Opposition and ethno-tribal rhythms” (again from their bandcamp site).

If I had to try to make a synthesis, I’d say that the sound of the band, starting from the psychedelic and weird longing that has innervated “evolved” psychedelia before and kraut rock after, has incorporated prog suggestions in its path but eschewing any of its rigidity, thanks to the injection of strong doses of jazz-rock (especially the electric Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock of the afro-ethnic trilogy). I’d add that the original esoteric/(fanta)scientific context contributed to characterize the sound of a band that, besides openly flirting with the Italian library music, feeds on a cultural attitude very close to that of avant-impro.

That sound has evolved from work to work through a substantial discography that we could arbitrarily and for (my) convenience divide into three phases: the first includes the debut “Rennes le chateaux” published by netlabel Vuoto in 2008 and that consists of a single track of 20 minutes; “Tenebroso”, another unique track of 20 minutes, published in 2009 by Clinical Archives and then printed as one sided 12″ by Holydays records; the “Live at outside Inside” published in 2010 by Xhol Recordings (again a single 28-minute improvisation) and finally the Self Titled in 2010 (published again by Holidays Records), which summarizes all the impulses present in previous works with a four tracks tracklist (where, however, the peak is the first one, “Murder in the Mountains” that lasts more than 16 minutes).

Squadra Omega - Murder In The Mountains

In this period the sound of the band moves between very precise coordinates that involve liquid guitars in continuous dialogue with synths, drums that look for the kraut ride or break down in jazz rock freedom, canterburian winds that enrich the full instrumental, radio transmissions and spoken word to make a sense of threat, diluted by lyrical oasis for electric guitar.

After a transitional work such as the splendid “Le Nozze Chimiche” (2011, published by La Macina Dischi in 2011, which allows itself acoustic moments, primitive folk temptations and – in addition to avant moments – is proud of an amazing Pinkfloydian suite entitled “Avviso agli imprudenti”), the second phase imposes the band on the national (and international) scene, and Squadra Omega reach its maturity with two well-tuned moves: the first in 2015, the other in 2017. In these two years, the band publishes three and two works at close range respectively.

The triptych of 2015 is composed by “Il serpente nel cielo” where the ambient-avant-impro component of the band is developed along a single session of improvisation, live and without overdubs, which gives life to two long and imaginative songs, “Lost Coast Soundtrack”, published by Boring machines, beautiful soundtrack of the homonymous film by German director Marc Littler, stages the same conflict narrated in the film: the one between man and wild and primordial nature. rendered – in the total absence of rhythmic – through staggering guitar landscapes and desolate drones.

The triptych is closed by the masterpiece “Altri occhi ci guardano” , the summa of the band’s experience that, synthesizing all the ingredients described so far, delivers one of the peaks of psychedelia of the new century.

SQUADRA OMEGA " il grande idolo " video official

The two works of 2017 are “Materia Oscura” published by Soave and “Nervoso”. The first continues on the trail traced by “Altri occhi ci guardano”, almost constituting a reduced version of it, as well as an admirable synthesis more focused on the jazz rock side of the band: see the excellent “Mondo Brana” that mixes a theme similar to “My Favourite Things” with Kraut synthesizers, Jerry Garcia guitars and then leaves space for the free form and tingling spirals of “Le oscillazioni dell’universo giovane”, a monstrous song that owes as much to Davisian/hancockian jazz as to the more free and electronic Italian library music.

SQUADRA OMEGA Mondo-Brana

The second work is titled “Nervoso” (published by Holidays Records) and it’s the ideal sequel to the avant impulses of “Il serpente nel cielo”: in fact, it replicates a trio formation (with OmegaMatt and OmegaG8 there is OmegaFrank on drums) and recording mode (only one session with very little polishing work afterwards). The result is an avant-impro-jazz skeletally conducted by OmegaMatt’s atonal guitar that evokes the ghosts of John Mclaughlin and John Abercrombie, while around the tireless and furious work of the brushes creates an atmosphere of expectation, which – moving among electronic tingles – resolves the tension in now unusual funky breaks all played in dissonance and then in ambient leavening and finally in free jazz sarabande. We find the same trio line-up in “Archivio Acustico Vol. 1”, published in March 2018 (one hundred cassettes for the Volume), but recorded during 2013 sessions. As also suggested by the title, it includes four acoustic tracks in which the guitars dialogue with the brushes and drums of OmegaFrank, preferring, however, a folk pace made of repeated arpeggios, raga scented psychedelia and visions of american primitivism to jazz atonality and avant-garde improvisations,.

Then there would be the third phase, the one that should start with the band’s new album, titled “Antiterra” and released in November 2019,.

We use the world “should” because it’s a disorienting work compared to the band’s wide canon, so maybe it could be just an isolated proof of (amazing) eclecticism or rather the start of a new course.

It’s a record that don’t merely add more elements to the sound of the collective but it totally shifts its barycentre, passing from acoustic vibration to a whole electronic one. The keyword is “analog” not only for the electronics but also for the choice of double audio cassette as main format to present the work. After all, what is more natural than listening to analog synths imprinted on a tape?

SQUADRA OMEGA - ANTITERRA part IV (edited)

Anyway, coming to the record, there are five pieces of music ranging from 12 to 18 minutes (with the only exception of Part II which stops at 6 minutes). The journey to Antiterra was conducted by the core of the OmegaMatt and OmegaG8 project, joined by the third member VonTesla, which in Squadra takes the name of OmegaInvisible. The expedition was well prepared for the adventurous journey, obtaining all the analog instrumentation necessary for the exploration of negative dimensions, interstellar screwing and amniotic buoyancy. After returning to Earth, and in particular to the Outside Inside Studio, OmegaMatt edited, mixed and mastered the travel diaries filled with the collective’s strange calligraphy. Among those lines the vocabulary of the group was enriched with “Fourth World elements, Ambient Hauntological feelings, Kosmische music, minimalistic Drone-based repetitions and poly-rhythmical asymmetries”.

The result is probably the second true masterpiece of the band.

A record of cosmic exploration that amazes first of all for the skill with which Omega use the FULLY ELECTRONIC language (granular synthesis used with mastery, rational use of glitches, sound recording and mixing are really exceptional); but that most of all succeeds for the poetry of a journey that, in its glaciality, manages to extend for 72 minutes without boring, but rather presenting every moment as necessary for the success of the journey itself.

It’s a monolithic work and it’s difficult to to point to a single episode: is it better the magmatic tingling of Part I in which the arpeggiators support a rhythmic structure on which the various synth lines intertwine or the glitch electronics that, fluttering in the cosmic vacuum, are saturated with electrostatic mass noises in Part II? Is it better to indulge in the kosmische territories of Part III in which a Morriconian melody hauntologically pops out, standing out as poetic and far, or the sampled saxophone phrase of Part IV, whose course certainly recalls dubstep and hypnotizes with its reiterations? Or is it rather preferable to extract the ending of Part V that bubbles with glitches, tingling with unstructured sounds and gurgling with amniotic and concrete liquidity?

It will be clear, of course, that the experience is to be taken as a whole and, by the way,it’s an experience that we strongly recommend.

We do not know, in fact, when the next dispatches from Squadra Omega will arrive, nor if the members of the collective have already planned new excursions.

And then… are we sure that they have really come back?