Marlevar / Music from Provencal and Italy
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Forrest Hill Records (

cd cover On the front cover is the handiwork of ancestors from thousands of years ago: a Bronze Age human-like figure carved in rock, from the Alta Valle Grana.

On the back of the booklet is a stone house with a wooden balcony and a cello leaning against the wall: a timeless manifestation of the human spirit and the stone spirit united.

Inside is music that is as contemporary as the latest pop sensation and the most up-to-date mobile digital studio, and as timeless as the human spirit and the affection for the soil each one of us calls home or homeland.

Marlevar sing, mostly in Provençal, original compositions that speak of nature, religion, religion for nature and the Christian God. They also refer to smugglers (of goods and dreams and people), to technology and its power to transform nature and enslave us in a superhuman rhythm of life where we fall prey to technology itself.

These are powerful, deeply-felt messages that transcend borders, beliefs, language barriers and attention spans and pull us in. There is both a religious and earthy feeling to this record; it speaks clearly of subjects that we usually can't find enough time to ponder. So, like every good poet should, Marlevar force us to face those questions, to stop working and contemplate the things we usually leave out for Summer vacations or while waiting to hear the first cry of a newborn child.

Although the profoundness of this music is given, it never disassociates itself from the human scale; it sounds very contemporary, even modish. Although all the musicans deserve to be noted, it is Luisa Cottifogli's vocals that are up front in the mix and carry most of the weight of this experiment.

The presentation is of the usual high Forrest Hill standard, with liner notes in four languages (Provençal, Italian, French and English), perfect translations and wonderful details.

One of the best representations of Marlevar's music is the wonderful "Stella di Venere" (Venus Star). It's the track to listen to, to be convinced of this group's power. "Una immensa claridad" is sung in Castellano to make sure that this record transcends its pigeonholing as a disc of a local tradition. "Mégu Megún" is a Fabrizio de André cover version. Its message of a world in turmoil, of people messed up and lost, of scars afflicted on nature, bring this record to a potent and most appropriate close. A true find. - Nondas Kitsos

CD available at cdRoots

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