World Music Central 2015

Ecstatic Musical Traditions from Southern Italy.

Newpoli

Nun te Vutà (Beartones Records, 2015)

Newpoli is one of the few American acts performing music based on Italian tradition. In this case, Newpoli specializes in music from southern Italy, creating a fascinating ardent sound that mixes traditional folk music with contemporary arrangements and new compositions. Nun te Vutà (Don’t Look Back) is the group’s latest recording, dedicated to migration.

Southern Italy has some of the poorest regions in the country so for the past two centuries, southern Italians migrated to northern Italy and overseas to the United States, Argentina and Australia. As the Italian economy improved in the 20th century, migration decreased. But the economic crash of 2008 has led to a new wave of migration.

“In the last couple of years we’ve seen so many more young people emigrate from the south of Europe," says Newpoli’s guitarist and mandola player, Björn Wennås. “They’re highly educated, and very skilled but there are no jobs for them at home. They want to work, to have a chance."

Vocalist Carmen Marsico adds: “The verses on “Nun te Vutà" lay out their situation. It’s a very sympathetic song, and of course there’s sadness, but in the chorus there’s more energy, happiness – that sense of hope for the life ahead."

Nun te Vutà’s six traditional songs include one from Apuglia and six from Basilicata (also known as Lucania), where Marsico comes from. “The music is so rich there, yet not well known" Marsico explains. “It’s really inspiring, and there are things unique to Basilicata, like the stop-and-go between the rhythm and voices in some pieces that exists in, for example, Stigliano, and the way the voices drop suddenly at the end of a line."

Southern Italy has been a crossroads area for centuries so the music reflects those influences, coming from the eastern and southern Mediterranean. There are Greek and Turkish influences in some of the pieces. In addition to traditional Italian instruments like chitarra battente, mandola, tamburello and zampogna, Newpoli adds Turkish dumbek and Arabic oud.

The lineup on Nun te Vutà includes Angela Rossion on lead vocals and castanets; Carmen Marsico on lead vocals and castanets; Björn Wennås on chitarra battente, classical guitar, mandola, background vocals, and tamburello; Roberto Cassan on accordion and tamburo a cornice; Fabio Pirozzolo on tamburello, tamburo a cornice, dumbek, lead and background vocals; Daniel Meyers on recorders, ocarina, ciaramella, cupa cupa, and zampogna, dumbek, castagnette, background vocals, and tamburello; Karen Burciaga on violin, lira, Renaissance guitar; and Sean Farias on electric and acoustic bass.

Guests featured include Jussi Reijonen on oud; Beth Bahia Cohen on violin; and Pasquale Iocola on background vocals.

Nun te Vutà showcases the impassioned vocals, stirring melodies and trance-like rhythms of the ecstatic traditions from southern Italy.

- Angel Romero