Pane is a project that began life in Rome in the early nineties on the initiative of Claudio Orlandi and Maurizio Polsinelli. Their aim was to find a very personal musical fabric mixing poetry, literature, theatre, classical music, jazz, canzone d'autore, rock and many other influences. In 2003 they released a self-produced eponymous début album, followed in 2008 by Tutta la dolcezza ai vermi. Orsa maggiore (Ursa Major) is their third work and was released in 2011 with a line up featuring Claudio Orlandi (vocals), Maurizio Polsinelli (piano), Vito Andrea Arcomano (acoustic guitar), Claudio Madaudo (flute) and Ivan Macera (drums). It's a good album and the song-writing in my opinion is excellent although the overall sound in my opinion is penalized by the lack of bass and organ. Of course, this is the consequence of a precise stylistic choice made to exalt the theatrical approach of the vocalist and to give the correct balance between lyrics and music but in my opinion the result could have been better if the band had added more musical colours to their palette.
The opener “L'umore” (The mood) features a charming, soaring melody while the music progresses from dark to light like an oblique bolero towards peaks of intense beauty. The hermetic lyrics depict in some way the need to be always open to the world to find peace, even if it's really difficult some times... “I've changed many times my way of thinking / Despite the risks due to my mood...”.
Then comes the short, disquieting “Gocce” (Drops) that is about the feelings of a man who's listening to the sound of the raindrops falling outside in the night while a silent anguish bounds him as a golden chain... “Tonight it's raining outside... The raindrops let me rest / Solemn nuances, not only sheet music / I hope you are among those raindrops...”.
The title track is a nice piece of joy and revolution where songs are weapons. It features echoes of South America and a style that reminds me of Italian singer-songwriter Paolo Conte. The lyrics are based on a poem by Vladimir Mayakovsky titled Our March... “Hey there, Ursus Major, clamour for us to be taken to heaven alive! / Sing, of delight drink deep, drain spring by cups, not by thimbles / Heart step up your beat! / Our breasts be the brass of cymbals...”.
“La Pazzia” (Madness) is a delicate, melancholic ballad that depicts a creeping feeling of madness that stealthily attains you like the songs of enraged dogs or the laments of people brawling at night... “You have to run away without your flowers / You must run away without your flowers / They ask you light and you are burning in a desert of nothing...”.
“Samaria” is a long track featuring an almost mystical atmosphere that describes in music and words a desperate, difficult march through the arid land of Palestine. The lyrics are based on a poem by Italian writer Gesualdo Bufalino titled Lamento del viaggiatore (Traveller's lament). “There is nothing but crossroads and I continue to stumble and fall down / I go on keeping my head down / Along this way that I don't know... Oh betrayed comrades, follow me barefoot / Throw stones at me from afar...”.
“Tutto l'amore del mondo” (All the love in the world) is an ethereal piece dealing with a spiritual, universal love. The music features Oriental touches and ethnic instruments played by the guest Bob Salmieri (from Milagro Acustico). “I feel the beating of your wings, the slow sound of your thoughts / Whether you are on the banks of the rivers or on a walk in the land of wolves...”.
“Fiore di pesco” (Peach blossom) is a short, melancholic piece that describes in a poetical way a broken relationship. It leads to the visionary “Cavallo” featuring theatrical vocals and a dark mood on the brink of madness. The lyrics are freely based on a story by Italian writer Victor Cavallo from the book Ecchime. The nocturnal, dreamy “Alla Luna” (To the moon) concludes the album evoking strange shadows and bizarre figures merging under the moon... “The foliage of the forest trail around my body / Leaving unheard and fruitful furrows...”.
Well, on the whole I really like this album although for non Italian speakers it could be difficult to appreciate it since the words really do matter here. Anyway, in the rich booklet you can find all the lyrics and some pictures that in some way help to describe the content of music and words. The art cover is taken from a drawing by Johannes Hevelius while in the booklet you'll find some paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Valentina Carta and other stuff.
Pane: Orsa Maggiore (2011). Other opinions:
Chirs “Seventhsojourn”: Overall this album leaves me feeling frustrated, mainly because the texts are of such importance and I think a deep understanding of Italian is required to get the most out of the music. And try to forget about any comparisons you might have seen to bands such as Banco and Area. Pane are fairly minimalist and are closer to avant-folk poetry, artists like Juri Camisasca and Angelo Branduardi spring to mind, and as such I can really only recommend this to hardcore RPI fans... (read the complete review HERE)