Digging around on a stall on Preston car boot a few months ago, I found a stack of old reel-to-reels: They were all marked up with dates in the 1980s, and the handwritten inserts mentioned intriguing titles – Love Theme from Sewer Baby, The Eyeball, Devilflower… They sounded like straight to video nasties, although straight to video nasties I’d never heard of.
The stallholder told me they belonged to his recently deceased father, an Italian musician who moved to Preston from Florence in the late 80s, his music career having floundered post-university and having met and fallen in love with a Preston girl holidaying in Italy. The tapes had been gathering dust in the attic ever since, and his son just wanted rid.
I bought the lot: I’m a sucker for obsolete music formats, and who knows, maybe there was some interesting music on them? It turned out the answer to that question was a resounding ‘yes’.
My own father’s reel-to-reel (likewise gathering dust in the attic) was somehow in working order, and after a few false starts I was able to play through the tapes – and was astounded at what I heard. Through the dust of the years emerged an expansive body of work. Electro disco, synth experiments and sound collages – some little more than musical sketches, others fully fledged synthesiser epics – but all created with the sureness of touch and offbeat creativity of a master of the craft.
This is soundtrack music, but as far as I’ve been able to tell the titles aren’t for films that have been released. I don’t know if we’ll ever know if the music was produced to soundtrack films made by fellow students at the University of Florence, or whether they were titles Leproto made up to fire his creativity when composing library music – but in a way, I suppose that doesn’t matter. What really matters is making sure this music is heard.
I’ve been unable to trace his son again, and directories and archives in both Preston and Florence have so far drawn a blank – while I was unsure about releasing this album without permission from his family, in the end I’ve decided it’s best to go ahead. If Stefano Leproto’s output was overlooked in his lifetime, I think a fitting epitaph to the man – whoever he was – is for his music to finally find an audience. You are it.
The first volume of Stefano Leproto’s Dance & Mood Music: 1981-83 has been cleaned up and mastered by Electric Sugar Recordings, and is released on Concrète Tapes on 28th February – listen to selected tracks and pre-order the cassette at our Bandcamp now, or pick up a copy in person at the next Concrète.