Zoč / Sangue Vivo
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Sangue Vivo
CNT.it, Italy (www.cnt.it/zoe)

cd cover Sangue Vivo is the soundtrack to the film of the same name by Edoardo Winspeare, a film about life, love and, mostly, Salento (Italy). That film has been doing the rounds of the various festivals earning rave reviews along the way for the way in which it brings to the fore the soul of a place.

Zoč were formed in 1993 and are also from Salento (like Winspeare), which is why they were asked by the director not only to compose the soundtrack but also to act in the film.

Readers who have ventured into the Salentinian musical tradition will know what to look for: the sense of a dry, barren, sun-drenched, infertile earth and of a hard-working, sensitive and sensual people, a place and a music that resonates with the burning problems and burning desires of a melting pot.

Zoč deliver that sense masterfully at many points throughout the record: the resonating sound of the tambourine signifying the earth beat; the high-pitched female voices piercing through the sun-hardened skin, including that of the proud heart; the diatonic accordion and the guitars that provide a sense of a safe musical harbor; the stinging social commentary in a region where troubles never ceased to exist. And, above all, the earthy sensuality that transcends all music coming out of the region.

What is missing is a sense of balance, a sense of the holy, which I consider to be one of the reasons for the uniqueness of the Salentinian musical tradition. Too often I got the idea (in the liner notes, in the video from the wonderful multimedia part of the record, in the lyrics, in the photographs) that Zoč were caricaturing the spirit of the place, bringing forth a sense of careless abandon and fun-fun-fun that is alien to it. What I find fascinating about Salento and its music is that inherent balance between the holy and the profane, hardship and sensual abandon, oppression and hope. Zoč seemed at moments to want to sweep under the carpet all the hardships, forget them, and focus on the raw sensuality of the music, the rhythm and the lyrics. On that level, their music works effortlessly and magnificently: this is quite a party and its sensuality doesn't take long to win the listener over. What I find missing, though, is the sense of melancholy which provides the necessary counterpoint to the joy, the darkness and the seriousness which make the light and the joy all the more prominent, a sense which can be deciphered in the music of other groups from the region.

Sangue Vivo is a fine introduction to the musical tradition of the region, but then one should move forward to discover its true soul in the recordings of ensembles like Radicanto and Ghetonia for example. - Nondas Kitsos

Available from cdRoots

Further reading: Music of southern Italy

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