Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Giampiero Riggio: Watschenbaum/Hold (Woolshop Productions, 2010)

Folktronica + post-rock. A bit out of time, you could object. But Giampiero Riggio, from Palermo, doesn't care at all and crafts a good (and double!) debut album fusing these two "old" genres.

As you might expect, the music sounds both expansive and shy, warm and a bit detached. Acoustic timbres (guitar, cello, piano, accordion, tinkles&clinkles) are coupled with desolate electronic elements, pauses, reverbs. The sound is way more involving than the hushed vocals and intimistic approach would suggest: the music's lulling, and ravishing.

The two cds are quite different. "Hold" reflects a more luminous spirit, and the atmosphere is more playful. "Watschenbaum", on the contrary, is more empied-out, and dominated by a melancholic mood.

Both of them, though, encompass the same apparent references: múm, Bon Iver, Tunng on the indie-folk side, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and acolytes on the post-rock one.

The tracks are surely more ambience-oriented than focused on melody: this may be a slight defect for the album, but is easily hidden by the pleasantness of the music.

"Hold/Watschenbaum" came out in late 2010 with just one-hundred copies, on the new-born Sicilian label Woolshop Productions. Full streaming is available on their website, and a "physical" copy is just 7 €!

CD 1, "Watschenbaum":
  1. Waatschn'bamm
  2. Muttermilch
  3. Die Geschichte Vom Stausee
  4. A Slow Chant From A Tree
  5. Dear Friends (For Gaël)
  6. Awaken In The Park
  7. I'm light
  8. Muttermilch 2 
  9. Turtle Enlightenment
  10. Separation XI (Haunted) 
  11. Stausee
CD 2, "Hold":
  1. We Were Once So Tight
  2. Protect
  3. Face To
  4. Black-Paper Butterflies (For Stefano)
  5. It Felt
  6. Light From Your Mouth
  7. Boundaries
  8. Mit Aller Macht
  9. Moths Invasion
  10. Universum (For Frank)
  11. Liste
  • Violin: Claudio Cataldi
  • Everything else: Giampiero Riggio
Download (160 kbps)

Similar music on the blog:
VV.AA..: Let's Talk about Muertepop (Muertepop, 2007)
Airportman: Letters (Lizard records, 2008)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Alia musica: self-titled (Music Collection/Jurg Grand, 1979)

Medioeval, sacred, Spanish music. What's "traditional" about it, and most of all, why does it get posted on this blog?

Let's take a look at Alia musica's line-up. Among the thirteen musicians involved, nine at least are Italian, and one is Mauro Pagani, who plays rebec and vieille and produced the album.
The band revived old Galician cantigas with traditional instruments. The main figures accredited for the compositions are Alfonso le Sabio (King of Castille and León, 1221-1284) and Martim Codax (c. 1230).

The songs are among the few ones of their era whose music survived in some form of "sheet notation", even if very approximative (no duration, no rhythm, just the main melodic line). Alia musica's mission was to "reinvent" the music in a philological way, instead of playing it with the usual "Christian" approach.

The instruments used don't seem to belong properly to the Spanish-medioeval repertoire, but they should probably be some sort of "modern counterparts" of analogous ancient instruments.

The lp came along with a detailed booklet, but I couldn't manage to get it (or a scan of it), so I have no more detailed information about the project or the recording. To know more about the compositions and their history, you can consult Wikipedia [1] [2] or medieval.org [1] [2].

I can add just that the music is deeply fascinating and I strongly suggest that you listen to it.

  1. Cantiga 1: Des oge mais quer' eu trobar (Alfonso le Sabio)
  2. Cantiga 245: O que en coita de morte mui grand' ou en prijon for (Alfonso le Sabio)
  3. Cantiga 137: Sempr' acha Santa Maria razon verdadeira (Alfonso le Sabio)
  4. Cantiga 6: Quantas sabedes amar (Martim Codax)
  5. Conductus: Cedit frigus (anonymous manuscrit from the Monastery of Ripoli)
  6. Cantiga 20: Virga de Jesse (Alfonso le Sabio)
  7. Cantiga 424: Pois que dos Reys Nostro Sennor (Alfonso le Sabio)
  8. Cantiga 4: Ay Deus (Martim Codax)
  9. Cantiga 77: Da que Deus mamou o leite do seu peito (Alfonso le Sabio)
  10. Cantiga 35: O que a Santa Maria der algo ou prometer (Alfonso le Sabio)
  11. Cantiga 100: Santa Maria, Strela do Dia (Alfonso le Sabio)
  • Brigitte Lesne: voice, tambourine
  • Gérard Lesne: voice, chains
  • Piergiorgio Lazzaretto: voice, bendir
  • Riccardo Grazioli: hurdy-gurdy, vielle, cittern
  • Silvio Malgarini: symphonia, hurdy-gurdy, saz, cittern, voice
  • Robert Batto: 'ud
  • Francis Biggi: 'ud, bell, cymbals
  • Alexandre Regis: zarb, nakers, bendir
  • Febo Guizzi: tambourine, cymbals, chains, rattles, voice
  • Giuliano Prada: bagpipe, recorders, horn, handbell, voice
  • Mauro Palmas: launeddas
  • Mauro Pagani: rebec, vielle
  • Fabio Soragna: santur, pandeiro, darbukka, voice
Note: The album was recorded live in open air, at Carimate Castle, Como. It came out as a limited edition in very few copies, but in an interview, Mauro Pagani mentions a Philips edition of the album; and medieval.org even lists the lp as a "Dischi Ricordi" publication. Maybe they are reprints, but I don't know.

Download (vinyl rip, 224 kbps, from prognotfrog)

Similar music on the blog:
Zeit: Un giorno in una piazza del Mediterraneo (Materiali sonori, 1979)
La lionetta: Il gioco del diavolo (Shirak, 1981)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Astrolabio: Spirit folet (Prince, 1978)

It took me some time to get it ok, but here's what I promised some weeks ago: a traditional folk album from the Eighties. And it's extraordinary.

Oh, well, I'm not really sure it's from the Eighties. You see, very few information is available about this record. Until today, I didn't even have its cover. A problem one must face when dealing with traditional folk music on the web is the extraneousness of that world with p2p and file sharing in general: folk music enthusiasts have a strong commitment to buying records and aren't used to vinyl/cd ripping and sharing (not even information sharing, at least on the internet).
I've been lucky to find the mp3s and I have to thank rym user dimi13 for providing me with some scans of the original lp. I still don't know if the album actually came out in 1980 as all of the (very few) data on the internet indicate, but let's suppose it did.

Let's try to describe the music. It's Piedmontese folk with evident celtic influences. It's very proficiently played and the instrumentation is rich (accordion, guitar, cello, mandolin, harp, bagpipes, bombard, different kind of flutes).
A subtle veil of melancholy is the most peculiar trait of the nine tracks composing the album. Some of you may remind Malvasia's self-titled lp I posted some years ago: though quite far on a plainly geographical (and, hence, musical) point of view, I find "Spirit Folet" bears some striking similarities with it when talking about mood.

In both the albums, great musical refinement is coupled with a captivating nostalgic allure, which casts a shadow even on the most solar episodes. It seems like the reprise of centuries-old traditions is no longer a way to revive them in the present - as it was for many artists in the Seventies, but rather becomes a metaphor for everything that's come to an end.
Both for Malvasia and Astrolabio, this can be read as the rising awareness that the intellectual and social climate of the Seventies was almost entirely gone, with its culture, political involvement, and utopias.

Edit: a reader told me the album is a private production and was recorded in 1978. I hope the information is correct (why shouldn't it?).

  1. Spirit folet/Pifferata palazzo di città/Conta (B. Costa/traditional/traditional)
  2. L'umbra gaia (T. Parisi)

  3. La bella all'armata (traditional)
  4. Al gril e la furmia (Maria Masoni-Astrolabio)
  5. La giostra di Martina (B. Costa)
  6. La prova (traditional)
  7. Mazurka e breton vals (traditional)
  8. La cirese e la funtan-a (Galli-Parisi-Brondetta)
  9. La mort (B. Costa)
  • Giuliana Galli: vocals, percussion
  • Lorenzo Brondetta: hornpipe, schalmein, flaut, flutes
  • Beppe Costa: hurdy-gurdy, harp, guitar
  • Tullio Parisi: accordion, mandolin, vocals
  • Marco Robino: cello
  • Beppe Turletti: accordion (track 5)
Download (128 kbps, vinyl rip)

Similar music on the blog:
Malvasia: omonimo (Fonit Centra, 1979)
La lionetta: Il gioco del diavolo (Shirak, 1981)