Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In review--Granite Voices & Clarion Horns

Paulo Fresu, A Filetta Corsican Voices & Daniele di Bonaventura
Mistico Mediterraneo

A lone lyric jazz trumpet, an Italian bandoneon, and Corsican vocals combine to create a haunting soundtrack for Mother Earth on the album Mistico Mediterraneo. In my opinion, this gorgeous recording will likely appeal to sensitives (which comprise only 30% of the population), and sophisticated music audiences. It’s not going to appeal to the average music listener who prefers the jangles of pop music. Corsican polyphony alone has the power to stop a listener in his or her track, but I’ve noticed that only more evolved humans gravitate towards this music. It’s as if you need to listen with an inner ear to fully comprehend it.

Sadly, much of what I review on this blog fits into this category because the most powerful healing music scrubs the soul clean, leaving it bare and vulnerable to daylight. Not everyone enjoys this type of musical journey. Too bad because this type of purging is exactly what the earth needs at this time. Listening to these 7 vocalists sing a cappella harmonies alone represents a transformational experience. Oddly, I discovered this Corsican vocal ensemble when I was recovering from an accident years ago. It was a dark time for me and the music provided the perfect soundtrack, haunting with a caveat of peace. It’s not exactly reggae, but this type of music transfigures the soul. A Filetta has captured my heart.

For those of you not familiar with A Filetta, the ensemble formed in 1978 on the French island of Corsica and has given voice to the ancient vocal tradition while also growing it along with modern times. You have heard the voices of this group gracing French composer Bruno Coulais’ movie soundtracks (think Winged Migrations). But what stands out for me is the way in which Corsican polyphony entwines with the earth’s energies. This music expands like fields of wild flowers and carries the weight of Corsican’s granite mountains. It’s a rebellion against oppression crying out, not in the night, but in broad daylight. Listening to it feels like you have entered a cave deep in the mountains, or a Cathedral with vaulted ceilings. You emerge transformed.

Sardinian trumpeter Paolo Fresu brings in his Miles Davis-inspired playing, clear as a bell with jazz syncopations. Daniele di Bonaventura’s bandoneon (not tango-style) plays a lesser role here, except on the tracks Da tè à mè which it takes on a circus feel, Corale and Sanctus which closes the recording.  Yet, the bandoneon offers an etherealness to the performance. A Filetta’s vocals steal the limelight, but the musicians create a balance between musical elements. The overall feel of the album falls on the pastoral and even whimsical side alternating with brooding secular and sacred music. Still, it feels wonderful to hear A Filetta take a lighter approach such as on the third track and Coulais' La folie du Cardinal, already mentioned.

Mistico Mediterraneo will appeal to sophisticated audiences who enjoy music for the sake of art. Listeners not afraid of feeling an array of intense emotions and who don’t over analyze music will best enjoy what these musicians offer. When listening to this disk just let your mind wander and don’t control its destiny. The music asks for total surrender and a leap into the unknown which in my opinion, speaks to contemporary times. Only the bravest hearts will answer the call.


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