On Jouer. Spielen. To Play, La 1919's nucleus (Luciano Margorani on guitar, bass, and loops; Piero Chianura on samplers and synthesizers; Roberto Zorzi on guitar) is joined by two all-star avant-garde drummers: Charles Hayward (first five tracks) and Chris Cutler (last four). This album was recorded live in Italy on two separate occasion in April 1991 and in May 1992, hence the different drummers. This Italian band approaches free improvisation from a progressive rock perspective. The beginning of "Hanno Seppellito l'Uomo Sbagliato," with its 6/8 drum pattern, clavinet riff, and twangy guitar, could share affinities with some material by the best bands from the Canterbury scene (National Health, for instance). But through slightly sloppy transitions and a certain degree of uncertainty permeable to the music, one quickly finds out this is improvised material, even though it is riff-based for the most part. The first half of this album floats somewhere between avant-prog and experimental atmospheres (like the moody "Sheffield Wednesday," which includes some recitation by Hayward). On the tracks featuring Cutler, the music tends to be closer to Cassiber than Henry Cow. Overall Jouer. Spielen. To Play can give the impression of a bad jam band or of an avant-prog band trying to free itself from structures, but not quite succeeding. A record of tepid interest.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture