Three from Italy:
Some compilations that will please novice and fanatic alike.
Italian Musical Odyssey
In collecting together several of the crucial acts of the contemporary Italian folk revival, this collection smashes the stereotypical representation that Italian popular song begins and ends with "O Solo Mio." Gathered here are the monumental Piedmont group La Ciapa Rusa, the melodeon maestro Riccardo Tesi, Agricantus, and Novalia. All are represented in mainly acoustic, relaxed selections, but with their regional differences very much in evidence so that the percussion on tracks from southern Italy (Naples, Sicily) impart a Middle Eastern flavor.
The singing along this 'musical odyssey' is evocative, filled with traditional longings of place as on Calicanto's stunning ode to Venice, "Bealaguna." The Sardinian group Calic's contribution, "Attinde," is notable for its upbeat rhythm married to their island's polyphonic vocal style as well as its bizarre, violent lyrics that comment on modernization. While the compilation holds together brilliantly as an introduction to Italian music, it would have been exciting to have had some of the wilder cutting-edge experiments of folk music and dance-floor culture included. Nonetheless, Putumayo has corrected a grave injustice by bringing these artists heightened visibility; and, if the excellent liner notes pique your curiosity, an accompanying video documentary of the Italian roots scene is to follow. - Lee Blackstone
Travellin' Companion 2
Available from CDRootsAudio: Riccoardo Tesi "Tevakh"
©1999 Felmay (www.felmay.it)
Musical Travelogue - Italy Auvidis/Silex
For those who want the pure 'folk' experience, a highly recommended trip can be made around the boot with this CD. It literally makes a journey, starting in the central Adriatic coast, moving up the coast, looping around Venice, Milan, and Genoa and then down the Mediterranean coast to Rome, Naples and Calabria, across to Sicily and then finishing off in Sardinia. Along the way you'll hear the unprocessed folk music in a cappella, raw fiddle dances, high energy accordion and percussion duos, some astounding, unnerving reed and horn music (said to be inspiration for some of Morricone's film work) and a host if other unique and inspired performances unfettered by studios or stages. - CF
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