Fiamma Fumana were formed in 1999 by three people who shared a love for the musical tradition of Northern Italy in general and their native Emilia Romagna in particular, but had otherwise very diverse backgrounds.
Alberto Cottica, accordionist guitarist and pianist, has been active in the Italian folk-rock music scene, for over ten years as co-founder of the highly successful (well over 350:000 albums sold) Modena City Ramblers; Marco Bertoni is an electronic musician and record producer who cooperates regularly with top-rank Italian deejays such as Santos; Fiamma Orlandi, at 22, was then an absolute beginner who had been brought up musically in the Emilian countryside, by her mother and grandmother. Her singing is a unique blend of traditional style and modern sensitivity.
The elements had been carefully selected and balanced: Fiamma Fumana was to be a tribute to the tradition of female vocals of Emilia and Italy in general (like the choirs of mondine, the rice gatherers who were all young girls), and that tradition was to be revitalized by a new generation and its musical culture: hence, electronica, the most natural musical expression for Fiamma and people her age in post-industrial and affluent Italy. The result was an intriguing blend of old Italian dance tunes played to new Italian dance grooves, traditional ballads and state-of-the art electronica.
Fiamma Fumana’s first album, 1.0, was released in 1999 in Italy by Mescal and soon traveled beyond national borders. Universal Music Japan engineered a Japanese release in 2000, and Omnium Recordings an American/Canadian/Mexican one in early 2001, to a wide acclaim. In the mean time, Fiamma and Alberto had built up a permanent (and predominantly female and very young, consistently with the attitude of the project) live band. This includes the versatile Lady Jessica Lombardi (Emilian bagpipes, flutes, electric bass) and Italian-Eritrean female dj Medhin Paolos (loops and samples). The band was invited to WOMAD 2001 in Palermo; to the CMJ Music Marathon in New York in the same year (the event cancelled because of the Twin Towers tragedy); to the Detroit Festival of the Arts in 2002 and to many festivals and gigs in Italy and abroad.
In September 2003 Fiamma Fumana signed to American label Omnium Recordings and released their second album, Home. The new release is even more focused on northern Italian roots than the former one (almost all of the 11 tracks are traditional, and traditional artists of the old generations feature prominently), but it is also more extreme in sound, with a harder, more live approach to electronica. The album was accompanied by a contract with an agent in the USA, SRO Artists, and an American tour, which saw Fiamma Fumana perform on the most important American world music festivals and clubs of the period.