“Luciano Chessa, a musician and musicologist, has studied this photograph intensively for several years. He is probably the world expert on this picture on its close cousin, an alternate exposure of the same scene with a slightly different arrangement. Ever since he began looking at the photos while writing his dissertation on Russolo (published in 2004), he hasn’t been able to leave them alone, mining them for their every minute detail as a documentary record of the instruments. When RoseLee Goldberg, impresario of the Performa Festival in New York, invited him to recreate the instruments for concert performance I 2009, he began an extended project of reconstruction. At once scholarly and creative, Chessa’s project recreates a technique of the historic avant-garde bringing it into the present in a necessarily altered form. Given its massive scope, it also raises historically complex aesthetic, political, and musicological concerns that have so far escaped serious critical review. This essay attempts to situate and evaluate Chessa’s remobilization of the intonarumori within each of these realms.”
Benjamin Lord for X-Tra Contemporary Art Quarterly (2014)

“As the authority on Italian Futurist musicology, Chessa found a way to have futurist sound machines built, as they no longer existed from the early twentieth century. Chessa conducts and performs modern compositions of the futurists noise machines, which are each cranked by a musician. If you’ve missed out on these performances in the past I advice you to secure your tickets for Friday night, now! You are not going to want to miss the evening of pure creative energy Chessa brings to his audience, and the rare experience you will get by witnessing these noise machines in action. It will truly be a once in a lifetime experience.”
Sarah Dragovich for Art-Nerd San Francisco (2013)

“PERFORMA 09 marked the 100th anniversary of Futurism, and a number of events strove to move forward, while looking back at a few Italian forebears, though nothing that I saw accomplished this as marvelously as Music for 16 Futurist Noise Intoners at Town Hall. Luciano Chessa, who conducted the lion’s share of the programme, oversaw the reconstruction of 16 crate-encased, crank-and-lever-operated intonarumori (noise intoners) designed by Luigi Russolo in 1913. Chessa assembled an impressive batch of composers and performers to play the instruments, including Joan La Barbara, Mike Patton, Tony Conrad and the gayageum artist RaMi Seo, among many others. The mechanical twangs, metallic aches, and spring-loaded groans that partnered with silence, song, spoken word, and what sounded like a field of tin-legged crickets were as musical as they were mysterious. ‘What’s making those boxes tick?’ was never far from my mind, and the night’s sounds haven’t been since.”
Graham T. Beck for Freize Magazine (2009)

“Performa 09, the Visual Art Performance Biennial, outdid its two previous incarnations, unleashing three weeks of more events than any person could possibly attend. The most memorable included the resurrection, at Town Hall, of the Futurist Intonarumori, or Noise Intoners; 16 of these eccentric hurdy-gurdy instruments first created in 1913 still sounded musically radical after all these years.”
Roberta Smith for The New York Times (2009)

“The 2009 edition of the Performa festival, the New York based performance art biennial, was dedicated to Futurism on the 100th anniversary of the movement’s foundation. The musical portion of this year’s festival was, appropriately, insprired by Futurist Luigi Russolo’s manifesto The Art of Noises, as well as his famous intonarumori, a set of mechanical instruments that represented on of the earliest attempts to compose with non- musical sounds. Music for 16 Futurist Noise Intoners at Town Hall was a concert performed entirely on new reconstructions of Russolo’s instruments—lovingly researched and built—by Luciano Chessa. Enclosed in a variety of wooden crates bearing manual cranks and metal sound horns and arranged across the full width of Town Hall’s large stage, the instruments were stunning to look at – perfect reproductions of the originals as seen in their few surviving photos. Concealed within their boxes, the actual components and workings of the intonarumori were a mystery, but the sounds made by the instruments were fairly limited. Not surprisingly, these were not pitched notes but the kinds of mechanical noises romanicised by the Futurists: grinding gears, buzzing strings, the crescendo/decrescendo of airplanes taking off and landing, the tick-tock of small woodblocks, and the plucking of what sounded like tiny toy guitars or ukeleles. Given this narrow range of unamplified and unprocessed sounds, there was little sonic variety in the pieces presented, despite the fact that the concert featured contributions from more than a dozen composers including Pauline Oliveros, Mike Patton, Joan LaBarbara, John Butcher and Blixa Bargeld. This leveling of the playing field was a virtue on a night highlighting the sounds of the intonarumori rather then the talents of the individuals composing for it. Nevertheless, several presenters managed to either push the limits of Russolo’s instruments or toss other elements into the mix. Nick Hallett added a pair of male vocalists singing deep, extended notes in harmony. The Icelandic outfit Ghostdigital brought in a toy trumpet and a hilarious shtick by frontman Orn Benediksson, who did a crazed soliloquy and capped it by chasing an imaginary person through the audience.
Joan LaBarbara’s performance involved subtler theatrics, her voice mimicking the grinding gear sounds of the intonarumori while doing an exaggerated feline walk around the stage. Her piece also played with the physical space. As the conductor swept his arms in slow broad movements across the stage, the players in the corresponding positions followed by dropping in and out along with his gestures. Several participants broke out of Russolo’s tight mould by playing the crates themselves as percussion instruments: Mike Patton’s piece in particular, used the percussive qualities of the wooded boxes well, with the entire ensemble at one point taking a detour into a Native-American style drum groove. Anat Pick’s piece involved the most extreme misuse of Russolo’s instrument, with one of the musicians playing it while rolling around on the floor.”
Dave Mandl for Wire Magazine (2009)

“But the most exciting of the many events is Music for 16 Futurist Noise Intoners, a Town Hall concert of original scores and new commissions for the intonarumori, a sort of din-producing hurdy-gurdy invented by Luigi Russolo in 1913. Einstuezende Neubauten frontman Blixa Bargeld, minimalist saxophonist John Butcher, drone pioneer Pauline Oliveros, avant rock vocalist Mike Patton, downtown guitarist Elliott Sharp and violin experimenter Tony Conrad take the stage Nov. 12 to respond to the replicas of these early sound machines, constructed by composer and musicologist Luciano Chessa. This is the very first reconstruction of Russolo’s first intonarumori ensemble of 16 instruments,” Chessa said. “A great deal of the instruments included have never been reconstructed before, among them the scoppiatori, the gorgogliatori and the sibilatore. When Performa commissioned me to reconstruct these instruments, I immediately pictured the intonarumori orchestra on a stage, in performance mode. Never in this process did I divorce the historical reconstruction project, with its obvious need for historical accuracy, from the performance project.”
Kurt Gottschalk for NY Press (2009)