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Bededeum - Oltre il Sipario CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.28 | 15 ratings

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4 stars A question I often ask myself when listening to a promising album for the first time: Does it sound like musicians are in a studio ‚??working?‚?Ě Or, does it sound like someone‚??s life is unfolding on tape? Obviously I‚??m much more interested and psyched when the answer affirms the latter question. Bededeum‚??s new album ‚??Oltre il Sipario‚?Ě is not simply a CD containing songs recorded for sale. It is lives being captured through music, it is explorations of history being interpreted, and it is traditional sound being offered with complete authenticity while seeking to infuse new and progressive elements. This is music for the ages, this age and past ones presented with acoustic instruments and heartfelt vocals.

Bededeum is a large collective of musicians who have delivered an album that is one of the most beautiful things you could ever hear: a contemplative and also spirited progressive folk music that speaks to a dormant part of one‚??s self, seeking to forge a connection to the past while entertaining at the same time. They are every bit as successful here as the amazing Pererin debut, Faveravola, or Gian Castello. This is much more elaborate than simple folk music, using extended compositions of up to 8 minutes to stretch out and explore each theme. Lavish instrumentation is employed in getting an authentic period sound that relates to the historical lyrical content. There are moments when you can literally hear this music on a street corner in Europe hundreds of years ago, a chillingly (in a good way) wonderful experience. Yet the band seeks to move the ball beyond a singular medieval-folk experience through lively, thoughtful improvisation and arrangement. They began in 1997 with members whose influences ranged from Anglo-Celtic folk to English and Italian progressive rock, psychedelia, Canterbury, Krautrock, Jazz, and others. According to their bio, almost from the beginning the band pledged to move beyond traditional Celtic music into sounds brought in by the various members, from medieval, baroque, and even sounds of the Balkans and middle East.

The opening track ‚??Le Pietre Bianche‚?Ě already has me swooning with Micaela Guerra‚??s haunting a cappella introduction soon joined by acoustic guitar, flute, whistle, uilleann pipes, bass, and harp. These instruments are present in most of the tracks along with many others present on some tracks. Later the male and female vocals are layered and beautifully coalesce into chant over windy melodies, melodies that simply take flight. So beautiful. In ‚??Le voci di Derry‚?Ě I detect some traditional Celtic with just a hint of defiance in the mood, and gorgeous whistles/pipes from Jacopo Bisagni. Gabriele D‚??Ascoli throws in a more modern bass flurry in ‚??Geordie‚?Ě with a funky slapped technique almost like Flea plays. The next track sees the jamming raised a notch and just full of splendid nuance and sensitivity. ‚??Pee-wee and the quaker‚?Ě showcases some of Antonio Pincione‚??s most ambitious guitar here, earthy and agile, reminding me of pieces I‚??ve heard from Steve Howe or Jukka Tolonen when they‚??ve attacked acoustic guitars. Davide Lazzaroni and Guerra combine again with a slightly more formal, theatrical delivery in the dramatic ‚??Una Stagione all‚??Interno.‚?Ě The next song ‚??Bettogil, 1911‚?Ě is an 8-minute, slow and sweeping showcase for the mournful violin of Martino Salvetti and delicate harp of Chiara Vatteroni. The quality never lets up moving into another highlight ‚??An dro & Dies Irae.‚?Ě There is great jousting here between bouzouki and tin whistle among other things, drawn out and quite exotic over hand drumming. If my very primitive understanding of Italian is correct (and that‚??s a big IF) I believe the liner notes are saying that the band is shooting for a ‚??controlled improvisation‚?Ě and that the melodies here are derived from a repertoire of medieval Gregorian origins. (If my read is wrong I trust they‚??ll correct me.) The energy of the jam carries long enough to build substantial tension by the end that is then soothed effectively by the soft notes of the last song. After a false ending on the closer there is silence before an eerie and unsettling arrangement of chanting returns to put you in a weird space, satiated yet with curiosity aroused. There is melody and emotion in every track, in every vocal and instrumental performance throughout this album. A tremendously satisfying album that is a must for any lover of quality music but certainly those into the various folk sub-genres. I don't know to convey more clearly how I feel here...this music just makes me so happy and somehow peaceful...wonderful in tune with basic human emotion.

While not understanding the Italian language is never a problem for my enjoyment of music, this is one of the rare cases where I am sad that I cannot fully explain the lyrical depth to the readers. Great care has been taken by the band to relay a rich historical lesson into the music, to provide an authentic storytelling experience like you would get from street minstrels. The band dresses and acts out parts in their live performance and that same dedication to the material is there on this studio recording even if I am unable to understand it verbally, I can glean this from the extensive liner notes. But I really regret that I can‚??t talk more about that fundamental storytelling strength of Bededeum. Comes in a digipak design (available from BTF) with thorough liner notes in Italian and six photos of band members. Bravo!

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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