Swiss duo In Flagranti have never been ones to follow an expected route, be it the wilful disregard for genre, the outrageously un-pc 70s porn covers, or taking six years to release this fifth album.
Sprezzatura is influenced by the mixtapes of their youth and has been classed as a ‘pre-internet-record-buying-phoneline-concept-album-come-mixtape’. In fact the only physical format this album comes in is cassette, but not in a 'tapes are on trend' so let's release one - it is actually a mixtape/sampler cassette.
As kids they would travel to Disco Piu records in Italy to pick up tunes after receiving a mixtape from the shop which would include a one-minute snippet of all the latest releases. The idea was to then pick the numbers of your favourite tracks and purchase them from the shop, and it's this concept Sprezzatura follows.
Due to its mixtape nature, and the concept being that you just pick up the tracks you like, the album doesn’t really flow as an album would do normally, plus it’s a thirty track album which is of course wildly indulgent, but you'll probably find yourself purchasing all 30 due to the vast area it covers musically, and sheer quality that's on show here.
The lo-fi production techniques makes the music despite being of the now, sound like it was recently uncovered alongside a bunch of disco demos in somebody’s loft in Treviso. The murky funk of the intro "Sidewalk Salsa" is followed by "Twentyfive Dollar Trick", all industrial drums, shouted distortion and out of tune guitar lines coming across like a modern day Throbbing Gristle, not particularly pleasant, but makes it clear that from a genre perspective, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.
"My Sordid Little Affair" is more dance-floor friendly in the vein of Discovery era Daft Punk, "Three Or Four Times a Year"'s drum-heavy tribalism provides a no nonsense heads down piece of techno, "TV Fashion Show"’s arpeggiated bass riffs supply a moment of new wave italo throb, while "And You Know What" casually covers Latino spiked with ecstasy.
There’s oddball space disco ("There is a Trace of Bitterness", "A Little Diversion"), freaky psychedelic work outs ("Anne Has a Secret"), minimal techno ("Blind Transfer", "Susan Was a Fashion Model"), sampledelic heavy dub ("Impactful"), jacking electro cuts ("Platonic Male Friend"), fierce house full of twisted key changes ("Slip of the Thumbs"), and it's all executed with cold precision.
If all this wasn’t exhausting enough, during the album’s highlight track, "Charity Bazaar", they casually take a disco beat, add pan-pipes, 80’s slap bass, a euphoric piano house riff, and filter through string samples and cut up vocals from long lost Arabic 45’s of yesteryear. It’s borderline genius.
Sprezzatura’s eclectic nature and length makes for a heavy listen, whether it’s approaching the thing in its entirety, or just checking out eight or so tracks, but however you approach this album, one thing’s for sure, we’re experiencing an act at the very height of their creative powers here, and it’s a thrill.