Neon Neon: A radical new sound from Gruff Rhys


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The Independent Culture

Neon Neon, the side project of Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys (pictured) and dance producer Boom Bip, is back, this time with an album about Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, Italian publisher of The Leopard and supposed leftwing terrorist. Rhys came across Feltrinelli when he was given a biography of the maverick entrepreneur. In the Fifties, the scion of a wealthy family helped to smuggle Dr Zhivago out of the USSR before publishing Lampedusa's Leopard.

Before that, Feltrinelli fought the Nazis and Mussolini's forces as a Communist. He met Fidel Castro, whose works he also put out. In 1972, as the founder of a militant far-left group, he was found dead, killed by explosives he appeared to be planting. Suspicions that his death involved the Italian security services remain to this day.

For Rhys, Feltrinelli is a man of contradictions. “He was a Communist, but also a marketing genius and master retailer,” he explains. “His legacy is as a publisher, a conduit for other people's ideas and his belief that radical and difficult texts could be taken to the masses.”

Rhys and Boom Bip first came together as Neon Neon for 2008's Mercury Prize-nominated album Stainless Steel, which focused on the rise and fall of John DeLorean, the businessman behind the titular sports car that tanked commercially yet enjoyed an iconic role in Back to the Future.

The follow-up record, Praxis Makes Perfect, turns the pair's gaze on to a character with a very different relationship to capitalism.

'Praxis Makes Perfect' is out on 29 April on Lex Records