Addosso Agli Scalini: Balance and tension in Italian world music
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cd cover Addosso Agli Scalini
Ludos/CNI (

Addosso Agli Scalini's music hails from Bari, in Southern Italy. The band's name translates to "on top of the steps," or "leaning at the top of the stairs," or even "will to insist." No matter which you may prefer, each translation provides a fitting image for Addosso Agli Scalini's music: the sense of maintaining balance, and the tension involved. In fact, on albums prior to Piripicchio, Addosso Agli Scalini were a much larger band, and on the CNI website they summed up their philosophy in the following manner: "to take an uncomfortable position or stand, to stay on top of or right on the music, the lyrics, the reality of our homeland and the vestiges of our past in order to lead us to echo the music of other cultures that have helped form the people we are today".

I admit that I haven't heard Addosso Agli Scalini's earlier music, but judging from the songs on Piripicchio I would venture to the say that the band still prefers to occupy a zone of discomfort. Stripped back to a trio, Addosso Agli Scalini's sound is minimalist and raw: drums, bass, and guitar predominate, with occasional electronic flourishes. Addosso Agli Scalini use this spare palate to sketch memories and places; as with many of the modern folk bands in Italy, there is a longing to revisit the past and contemporize it. But Addosso Agli Scalini sound more like a post-rock band than a folk group, dreamy, and positively anguished. Perhaps the most fitting comparison I can draw is to say that Addosso Agli Scalini remind me very much of the ultra-cool downtempo meanderings of the late Mark Sandman's band Morphine, with the bass so far forward in the mix.

Singer Silvio Sada has a wonderfully rich, resonant voice, and he plays off the band's dramatic washes to full effect, moaning and clicking his tongue. Piripicchio is full of unexpectedly dark, sexy, experimental music, redolent with the shadows of southern Italy. - Lee Blackstone

Listen to some excerpts

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