|Christina and Maurizio in NYC, 1974.|
Well, this is where all the pieces come together. Chrisma, later to be named Krisma, was an Italian husband and wife musical duo composed of Christina Moser (born in Switzerland) and Maurizio Arcieri (born in Milan). Unheard of in the US, starting in 1976 they charted a course that was equal measure spectacle and confrontation, challenging Italian audiences as the world at large was largely immune to their increasing stature at home. The spectacle came in the way they were one of the first, if not the first band, to harness the power that fashion, imagery, and music could serve together, in a newer medium (video), to seduce unready audiences with truly challenging music. Then, as time transpired, they flipped the script and ran wild with their own musical imagination once the foreplay was over.
Just think about pop music in our present day and age. For the most part, we live in a world where sex sells music first. Also, for the most part, we all know this type of music is very superficial and transitory. Why? because a lot of it lacks the passion that would sustain true enjoyment and interest. Much like real life affection, the way you raise the gauge of enjoyment, typically correlates with the amount of imagination you’re able to explore with a willing partner, whether physical, emotional, and in this case musical. Let me put it another way, when sexuality and intrigue can jointly combine with a high degree of musical imagination…and its done wholeheartedly, with true passion that gets accepted, that’s when it gets interesting.
For Chrisma, it all started with this first attempt. “Amore” was their first single released as a group. Before they recorded this song, Maurizio, like many other Italian artists, already had a long trajectory in various Italian rock groups and as a solo musician. He was a musical journeyman, pure and simple. Whatever musical style was en vogue he would try to create a marketable version of it. In 1966, something puts a bump in his road. Maurizio meets the beautiful Christina, the daughter of one of his record producers. Falling madly in love with her, they secretly get married, and she patiently follows him along. By patiently, I mean quietly. It was during the height of Maurizio’s fame that they both had to keep this marriage under wraps to maintain some kind of image his record label had to project and to remove any repercussions it might produce if his industry people knew. However, increasingly Maurizio was tiring of the record industry’s control over his life and his music. In the mid ’70s, with Christina now out of the shadows, Maurizio proposed one last ditch at musical integrity, they decided that together as a team they had to try something new.
|Chrisma at Festivalbar – 1976|
Meanwhile sojourning in London, a short time later, Vangelis caught wind that a musical group was looking for a disco song to record. Vangelis, again between albums, had one (possibly two) songs in the vault that he could offer. With the help of Nicolas, his brother, Chrisma and both of the Papathanassiouses got together to record this first taste of the sound Chrisma wanted to use as a launching point for something more important. First, they needed to get seen and heard. The way to do so was to enter and perform “Amore” in one of Italy’s largest song competitions the RAI-televised Festivalbar. This new look Chrisma, had the seedlings of what they were going to use to subversively attack a conformist Italian musical scene: their looks and musicality…both of which later on grew to be so, so dangerous. I mean just check out the long side slit black dress that Christina was wearing, and the sparkling suspenders barely holding up Maurizio’s topless wardrobe as the crowd just lays silently astounded by the spectacle of it all (check out the guy letting out a puff of smoke at the end!). There’s something, that they knowingly wanted everyone else to explore with them. I’ll attempt to unravel this “sexy sound” in a different, critical way as the series continues tomorrow, and it really takes off tomorrow…