Monday, 20 February 2012

MEDITERRANEAN ENERGY

Abash are an Italian band from Puglia that was formed in 1998. Looking for their own musical identity, they tried to blend African obsessive tribal rhythms and Oriental melodies with Italian traditional folklore (especially the music from Salento) and rock. The result is a very particular and atypical “Mediterranean progressive rock”. “Madri senza terra” (Mothers without land) is their third album and was released in 2006 on the independent label “Il Manifesto” with a line-up featuring Anna Rita Luceri (vocals), Maurilio Gigante (bass, vocals), Daniele Stefano (guitars), Luciano Toma (piano, keyboards), Paolo Colazzo (drums) and Luciano Treggiari (percussion, flute, teremin). It’s a really mature, interesting album, with good artwork and a paper sleeve package... It’s a kind of concept album where the character of “the mother” becomes a metaphor for love, peace, land, roots, tradition... On the cover are printed the following words: “The roots, the land, the mothers / It’s there the spirit, the truer and deeper way of living / Pure instinct, perennial love, blood and sweat / Music from the heart without borders...”.

Abash on stage

The opener “Intro (Madri senza terra)” is a short track that features only an evocative melody, sung without words by Anna Rita Luceri in a way that reminds me of Noa, and an “exotic” narrative part that leads to the “heavier” “Niuru te core” (Dark heart) where you can appreciate the contrast between the aggressive guitar parts and more relaxed moments, between the raw vocals of Maurilio Gigante and the beautiful melodic voice of Anna Rita Luceri singing the “poetry of a red sunset / red like blood... ”. The lyrics, in dialect, are about parents’ love for their children in a hard, dark world.

“Salentu e Africa” was the title track of Abash’s first self-produced album and this is a new powerful version... Here every now and again the voice of Anna Rita Luceri reminds me of Teresa De Sio while the song has a strong “ethnic flavour” with Mediterranean rhythms and “Plato and Marrakech” inside the heart. The words and music invite you to “jump and beat on the drum...”.


“Madri” (Mothers) is one of my favourite tracks on this album... The beautiful voice of Anna Rita sings “I’m your strength, your spirit, your memory, your coherence / I’m your mother, your root, your shelter, your comforter... With my voice I sing a war anthem to the world / That does not listen to me and dies / Swept away by the waves...”. In the beginning the melody reminds me a little bit of Mecano’s “Hijo de la luna” but then the music develops in an original way and the band showcase a great musicianship with keyboards and guitars in the forefront.

“La corsa di Assan” (Assan’s escape) is about an African boy running away from his land animated by a “thirst for hope and justice”. Tribal rhythms and evocative keyboard passages here are intertwined with a sweet lullaby giving the image of a desperate dream... “Here I am / Flying over the sea / Like a black angel / With outspread wings / Over your cities and your dirty miseries / I will blow my wrath / I’m the black power / Africa won’t lend its hand anymore / And my dream will be a land / Saved by the cry of God...”.


“Canto alle nuvole” (Song to the clouds) is a song of universal love and hope, hope that “poetry and love will change the world”. On an evocative musical carpet the voice of Anna Rita sings “I will be the music for your song to the clouds / Fire that melts the snow-fields / With words that nobody will never listen to anymore...”.

“Oltre” (Beyond) is delicate and sweet, featuring good harmony vocals inviting you to listen to the dreams and the silences of the night... “Beyond this moment, elsewhere / Beyond the mountains, beyond the heart... Beyond my destiny, to the East / Beyond my colours, beyond my mind...”.


“Otranto 14 agosto 1480” is another great track with strong traditional influences... The lyrics, in dialect, are about an attack of the Saracen pirates against the city of Otranto in 1484 and the music tries to describe it... “I can see some ships coming from the East / I can see faces painted black...”.

“Maràn Athà” (Come, Lord Jesus) features a delicate guitar arpeggio and flute... “From the scream and the cry of History / My praise shall rise up to Thee...”. The lyrics are an Aramaic prayer. Excellent the instrumental finale...


“Non gridate più” (Do not scream anymore) was inspired by “Il dolore”, a poem by Giuseppe Ungaretti. It’s a mix of modern sounds, heavy rhythms and dreamy vocal passages... “Stop killing the dead! Do not scream anymore, do not shout if you want to listen to them / If you hope to avoid death!...”.
  
“Scale fino al cielo” (Stairs to the sky) is another great song of peace and hope with a strong Oriental flavour featuring a good “heavy” guitar work... “Please, Mother Earth, cradle all the songs that were born from freedom...”.


On the whole “Madri senza terra” is a very good album, without really weak moments. Abash are not stuck in the past and their personal way to blend progressive rock and ethnic influences is very interesting... By the way, the album was re-released by the independent label Immaginifica in 2010 with a different art cover. Do not miss it, this work is a must have if you want to experience something musically fresh, full of poetry and an amazing female voice.
Abash: Madri senza terra (2006). Other opinions:
Tarcisio B. Moura: A great promise in the already strong italian prog scene. Very original and still very familiar. Great tunes and nice perfomances... (read the complete review HERE)
Henri Strik: This album contains a mixture of prog metal and Arabian and African musical influences. It has been done in a perfect way and I loved it at once... As far as I’m concerned Abash deserve international acclaim. Their music has many characteristics that might appeal to many people especially those with an open mind who like prog rock and are willing to listen to new, not quite common attributes in the genre... (read the complete review HERE)

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