Of the many delightful books that renowned fantasy author Ursula K. LeGuin has written, one of the most curious is entitled “Orsinian Tales”. This volume is a collection of short stories set in an imaginary central European country. The tales are extracted from various periods of history, from recent times, to the distant past.
AL MALAIKO NOSKEMA by the Libera Societa Di Improvvisazione (Free Society of Improvisation) could easily be an aural artifact from that same imaginary central European country.
Libera Societa Di Improvvisazione is a vocal ensemble of remarkable ability. Essentially, the group improvises song forms using an invented language called Lipit. This language bears strong resemblance to various Mediterranean tongues but also includes distinct Slavic and Balkanic elements. The purpose of this unusual approach is relatively straightforward and fortunately avoids the trap of gimmickry. In the words of artistic director Antonella Talamonti, “This record represents the result of a search into the musicality of word and its phonemic, melodic, and timbral implications.”
The result itself, is a recording which by turns amuses, bewilders, confounds, and dazzles the listener. Depending upon the individual listener’s linguistic abilities, the “lyrics” will range from totally incomprehensible to partially recognizable and intelligible. The effect is that the listener is required to key on the sound of the voices themselves as opposed to the meaning of the words being sung or spoken, i.e., the message (if one exists) is ultimately to be discovered in the sound of the voices alone. Or as the liner notes state “there will be many surprises because the evocative/emotional reverberations of this language touch the unconscious and seem (strangely, absurdly) familiar.” (Luigi Onori) As a consequence, the listener is inexorably drawn into this foreign land.
The songs could thus be interpreted as having originated from various historical periods and having diverse significance or function: prayer, ritual, folklore, storytelling, lullaby, harvesting, advertisements for hair color or toothpaste, etc. As one could anticipate, this record is not about stretching (or stressing) the human voice to it’s physical limits and beyond. Libera Societa Di Improvvisazione is not a choir of Phil Mintons, there are no demonic shrieks ala Diamanda Galas, and there is no electronic processing. The songs are earthy and honest without being primitive.
AL MALAIKO NOSKEMA is a recording made by and for people who have a simple but profound love of the human voice, it’s marvelous capabilities, and the sound of words. Consider this disc as music for armchair travelling across the regions of the mind.
Note: as an added bonus, AL MALAIKO NOSKEMA is a CD-extra. The multimedia track provides a simple, yet dynamic insight to how the songs are constructed.
Libera Societa Di Improvvisazione: Antonella Talamonti (director); Vincenzo Appolloni, Alberto Berettini, Alessandro Campioni, Sandra Cotronei, Patrizia De Ruvo, Daniela D’Ottavi, Manuela Giovanelli, Xavier Rebut, Filio Sotiraki, Lucia Staccone, Antonella Talamonti, Piergiorio Terzi (voices)