Pizzica Indiavolata – Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino and the cure for what ails you. (Music Review)

I’ve been getting into Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino recently, a folk band from Italy, right down the bottom in the Puglia region, the part that forms the heel of the boot.  The region has a history of Hellenistic influence, and you can hear the Greek ancestry in Pizzica Indiavolata, as well as in their earlier albums. I’m a bit behind the eight-ball here, because this album was released in March, but it has a thrilling energy reminding us the folk revival doesn’t just belong to the anglo world, and I have found myself returning to it over and again just recently.

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Take a listen:

Pizzica traditionally is the music of tarantismo, a ritualistic dance common to the area used to cure the peasants (mostly women) of poisonous spider bites. The idea was to dance and dance to the point of collapse to the fecund rhythms of the pizzica music, embracing life so that no poison can kill you. Deeper study makes way for the emergent knowledge that these “spider bites” are a metaphor for anxiety, grief, depression and sexual frustration. This is a dance of the disenfranchised to play out their desperation, their pent-up energy and their psychological conflicts. Quite a remedy!  The revival of this music through Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (CGS) is intended to provide a kind of aesthetic catharsis for the pain of the suffering in Italy today.

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Here is a quote about the album from the band’s website:  This kind of music is passional, obsessive and conducive to trance, owing to the fact that its main rhythmical actor is a local type of frame drum, the tamburello, which resounds like a never-stopping beating heart. The power of this music is at its highest during live shows, when the audience moves and dances to the rhythm.

CGS was formed by writer Rina Durante in 1975.  They have 17 albums and have toured the US, Eurpoe, Canada and the Middle East.  In 2007 Durante’s son took over the leadership of the band, and the lineup is currently: Mauro Durante (voice, frame drums, violin), Maria Mazzotta (voice), Giulio Bianco (Italian bagpipes, harmonica, recorders), Massimiliano Morabito (diatonic accordion), Emanuele Licci (voice, guitar, bouzouki), Giancarlo Paglialunga (voice, tamburrieddhu), Silvia Perrone (dance).  They’ve won a slew of awards over the years, primarily borne of their committment to excellence, and to maintaining the rigorous high standards required when you bring traditional folk music into the modern day.

You can grab a copy of the album here.

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