Gorgeous Italian Musical Fusion Pieces

Various Artists
 Rough Guide to Italia Nova (World Music Network, 2004 )
 The Music Rough Guide series has done a wonderful job putting together samplers of music from around the world. The compilers have sampled both contemporary hybrid sounds and folk roots music from various regions. While I favor the folk roots repertoire, I try my best to keep an open mind when it comes to the fusion between folk sounds and electronica. I am not a fan of drum machines or noisy instrumental tracks dropped into a musical collage. But I do appreciate traditional musicians who open the door to musicians from other genres and create new sounds. A fine line exists between those two scenarios. Rough Guide to Italia Nova offers gorgeous musical fusion pieces as well as, noisy ones with wailing guitar and digital slapping beats.
 My first thought when this CD arrived in my mailbox was, "uh, oh." Then after I listened to the disc a couple of times, I unearthed a few gems. Overall I felt that the sampler provides a great jumping off point to traditional Italian folk. For instance, a listener might fall in love with the Italian bagpipes that appear on Novalia’s Cantamaggio or the Armenian duduk that graces clarinetist’s Luigi Cinque & Tarantula Hypertext O’rchestra’s Tangerine Café. An introduction to polyphonic voices appears on the a cappella quintet Faraualla’s Mascare (Witch Mix) and Tazenda’s Su Dillu Est Goi to a much lesser extent.Another wonderful aspect of the Music Rough Guide series is that the compilers take a musical tour of the country they are representing, stopping off in various regions and educating listeners about various cultural traditions. This particular compilation heads off to various regions including, Puglia, Sardinia, the Cuneo province (shares a border with France and Switzerland) and Sicily. The musical groups cover traditions ranging from Occitan to Tarantela and others.

Highlights include Faraualla’s Mascare, Banda Ionica’s celebration of horns, Come L’Aria, violinist Lino Cannavacciuolo’s Morriconesque Segesta, Gai Saber’s Quand Lo Rossinhols Escria, Rosapaeda’s Ta Travudia (The Rootsman Remix), Tazenda’s Su Dillu Est Goi and Fratelli Mancuso’s Tu Chi Strascini. I am not to pleased with tracks by Daniele Sepe, Alpha Bass or Luigi Cinque (although I think the duduk on the Luigi’s track is a nice touch, the electronica is overpowering).

Rough Guide to Italia Nova offers a wonderful view of the other Italy that bridges the gap between the old world and the technological age, with a few nice surprises tossed into the mix. Personally, I would like to hear more of the Italian folk sounds in its rawest form, but for now at least I can hear fragments of those sounds. http://www.worldmusic.net

This archival review by Patty-Lynne Herlevi formerly appeared on Cranky Crow World Music.

Buy Rough Guide to Italia Nova.