Bennato's taranta: all light and no heat?
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cd cover Eugenio Bennato
Da lontano....
Nocturne Records

In 1969 Eugenio Bennato founded the Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare (New Company of Popular Song), devoted to reviving the ethnic music of southern Italy. In 1998 he founded the "Taranta Power" movement which helped spearhead a renewed interest in the traditional rhythms of the tarantella. It is said that the original tarantella craze started in the Middle Ages as a way to get around religious proscriptions against dancing. Farm women would claim to have been bitten by a tarantula, and the only known "cure" was to whirl around in a circle in order to neutralize the spider venom, while musicians played frenetically. It was considered unlucky to dance the tarantella alone, so of course a male partner would dutifully oblige. Of course, it's only a rumor.

The rhythms on many of the tracks on Da lontano... are indeed frenetic, but Bennato is anything but. He has a certain detached, laconic air, making him the calm eye in a musical hurricane. But for a storm, the music packs very little real punch - it's all light and no heat. It may be worth a listen, just watch out for spiders. - Eric Iverson

Listen to some audio excerpts

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