Stefano Saletti and Piccola Banda Ikona - Stari Most
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Stefano Saletti and Piccola Banda Ikona
Stari Most

The concept of hybridization has been a buzzword for musicologists studying world music. Hybrid music expands on the music of local cultures, incorporating new sounds and technological innovations to make for a more eclectic mix. According to Simon Frith, an English sociologist and music writer, " music could be seen as a site on which new sorts of (hybrid) identity are being performed... world music could be seen as a site on which new sorts of cultural theory could be developed, new futures glimpsed." In this light, Stefano Saletti, the founder of the wonderful Italian band Novalia, has created a truly hybrid project with Stari Most.

The name Stari Most refers to a Bosnian bridge that was bombed in 1993 in an attempt to disrupt movement between the East and West. The destruction of the bridge was meant to exacerbate religious fighting and ethnic conflict. But rather than depict isolated Mediterranean cultures, Saletti seeks to show the deep ties between Mediterranean sounds and languages. Even a casual listen to Stari Most reveals numerous dialects and languages, whether Hebrew, French, Sicilian, or Greek.

To accomplish this feat Saletti partnered with the Piccola Banda Ikona, a true supergroup of Italian musicians drawn from such bands as Agricantus, Novalia, and Klezroym. Much of the music is lush and mysterious. Saletti is remarkable at constructing soundscapes that arch like cathedrals, lending some songs a liturgical character. The result is that Saletti and the Piccola Banda Ikona draw their Mediterranean influences together, emphasizing a common core identity. Rather than discord and war, Saletti and his band envision peace.

Compared to Saletti's work with Novalia, however, Stari Most comes up short despite the good intentions of all involved. None of the songs linger as particularly memorable after the last notes fade. As a melting pot of sound, the record succeeds; but perhaps the project's execution is undercut by its being too clean and too safe, despite its ambitious nature. - Lee Blackstone

Ref.: Simon Frith. "The Discourse of World Music." Pp. 305-322. In Western Music and Its Others. Edited by Georgina Born and David Hesmondhalgh. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

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