Four years after this Italian vocal quartet first began, they’re releasing their debut. Three women and one man who create a labyrinth of voices shifting and sliding around each other on arrangements so intricate that each song must take days to rehearse. The results are quite majestic, starting with “Anvaca,” where the females singers and driving percussion provide a base for Simone Pulvano’s raw sprechgesang, something very close to rap on the traditional lyrics.
While most of the lyrics come from traditional Calabrese or Romano sources, they do venture further afield, as with “Improchondria” (where they are joined by Nando Citarella), which draws on the Indian konnokol tradition of vocal percussion, but with wild Italianate embellishment. It makes for a short, breathtaking and utterly bravura performance.
Not that anything else here suffers by comparison. There’s a rich beauty to every track. “Eppure Era Così” is all bass and fingersnaps and jazz drumming beneath very subtle harmonies that evoke a smoky after-hours nightclub, while “Marti A Tocchi” has a laid-back, smouldering sultriness, yearning voices over a gentle, lulling backing.
Really, wherever you turn on this album, it’s a garden of delights. Not simply four talented vocalists, but singers with wild imaginations and the ability to turn what they heard in their heads into reality. Those four years honing their sound have been very well spent.