OTEME — Un Saluto alle Nuvole
(Ma.Ra.Cash Records no#, 2020, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-08-24
Osservatorio delle Terre Emerse, or OTEME for short, is a most interesting musical collective, formed around 2010 by musical director Stefano Giannotti, creating a juxtaposition of rock and jazz songwriting and spoken dialogs around a core of vocals and chamber music. Un Saluto alle Nuvole translates to “Say Hello to the Clouds,” not a happy subject, but instead a concept album about death and passing, a firstperson observation told by those who take care of terminally ill patients every day at the Hospice of San Cataldo in Lucca, Italy: the families, nurses, healthcare assistants and doctors. Their testimonies became the spoken word parts that introduce the songs and separate the chamber music vignettes across the thirteen tracks that make up this, the group’s fourth full length release. The spoken parts here are all in Italian, but the musical elements are universal, featuring a relatively large group of nine regular members (including Giannotti) plus four additional members on vocals, vibraphone, and violin. The nine main players cover flute, piccolo, recorder, clarinet, bass clarinet, acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, electric and string bass, keyboards, componium, harmonica, string harp, drums, percussion, and more, as well as vocals. Those sung vocal elements, where they appear, are quite harmonically impressive, even a bit alienatiing at times, though blending seamlessly with the instrumentation. There are also sampled sounds that add a distinctive avant-garde feel to certain parts, most evident on the twelve-minute “Turn,” where samples are combined together into a percussive loop while bass and vibraphone work around them. Throughout, the results are distinctive and unique, though never abrasive or off-putting, and for those Italian speakers who understand the spoken and sung parts better than myself, that’s certainly a bonus. The MaRaCash label has made a Bandcamp page where every track can be heard (link below) and that’s probably as good a place as any to start.
Related artist(s): Osservatorio delle Terre Emerse (OTEME)
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