Entirely recorded in home studio, "Eremos" embodies my various musical and cultural backgrounds and experiences, including early western and modal music, experimentation and tradition, medieval music, radical improvisation, maqamat and deep investigation of their respective languages.
"Eremos" symbolizes the journey of the hermit through different worlds and ages, a journey accompanied by recurring female figures from Mediterranean mysticism, feminine archetypes present in many cultures, such as the Christian Madonna, compassionate mother of all mothers, beloved and adored in the medieval laudas, bringing consoling guidance and the highest light; and such as Magdalena, a symbol of human imperfection, worthy of being praised because of her truth.
The album takes a solitary path back to the origin, following the steps of Rumi, who, like nobody else, was able to describe the pain of separation from the source.
"Fire, not wind, fire of Love (Aşk) is the sound of the ney“ : the ney flute slowly acquires a central role in the album, as well as in my life, eternal and imperfect, a primal and limitless instrument.
Nature, the hermit's companion, is present in various sounds, colors and scents: whispering of leaves, quarreling bees, Mediterranean sounds and echoes of the forest, fires, winds. And as in the ancient pilgrimages, here you will also find moments of levity and self-irony, of dances and songs, of flutes and drums. As the pilgrims lose and find themselves, even the most ancient fears may be exorcised.
Alexey Kochetkov (technical & spiritual support), Damian Press (mastering), Midakuk Leuphana Universität Lüneburg (some of the equipment), Neustart Kultur Berlin (funding), Udo Demandt (percussion track 9), Borys Slowikowski (percussion track 2) Azin Zahedi (farsi voice track 5), Gülin Mansur (turkish voice track 5)
This is my experimental version of an ancient mystical italian song from the "Laudario di Cortona" (Tuscany, 13th century).
This piece is meant to be calming and healing. I use some ASMR elements to give you a feeling of comforting closeness.
It tells about the "Altissima Luce", the highest light, the mother of all mothers. The one who consoles us and guides us through the darkness. Maria, Madonna, Ishtar or Mother Earth or maybe just the sun, the life, the nature, however you call her, she's always been there and she always will be.
This my first composition in makam system. "Creta" means "clay" in Italian. But of course it is also related to Crete, the place where everything started
Late night nay improvisation on bayati maqam
Like a hermit, wandering the woods, through "other worlds, other ages, other perhaps", following the wind calling, looking for the source
All female zikr ritual, following the steps and the words of Rumi, who, like nobody else, was able to describe the pain of separation from the source.
Lyrics in Farsi, Turkish, Italian, German of the famous incipt of Rumi's "Mathnawi":
I composed this tarantella while looking at a picture of my sicilian grandpa. In the back of the photo only a date (november 1934) and a short description "Gita sull'Etna" which means "Excursion on the Etna". There he was indeed, on the famous volcano. Giuseppe, the name of my grandpa. He was young back then. His green eyes are looking at the camera, he smiles. And he's handsome, vibrant, bright as he has always been - until his last day on this earth. This is for him.
The second friscalettu, the funny quarreling one, has been fantastic played by my friend Alexey Kochetkov, who is not a flute player at all but an amazing violinist (check him out!)
The quarreling bees are also sicilian, I swear!
Using the words of a dear friend: "true spirituality embraces and accepts the imperfections of human life on Earth, rather than rejecting them, so that both aspects can have their rightful and valid expression. Indeed, this is the message from Jesus himself, in the way that he gave prominence to Mary Magdalene"
Magdalena is indeed the most human and, at the same time, spiritual character of Christian religion (and even though I'm not a religios person but rather spiritual, Christianity - with its lights and shadows - is where I come from): a symbol of human imperfection, worthy of being praised because of her truth.
Lyrics and melody from the ancient manuscript called "Laudario di Cortona"
a musical codex from the second half of the 13th century, originally from Tuscany (the region I grew up)
"Magdalena, degna da laudare, sempre degge Dio per noi pregare"
"Magdalene, worthy of praise, always should God pray for us"
Living in Germany, loving German language and German poetry...I couldn't help recording this meaningfull poem by Rainar Maria Rilke, written in Berlin in 1898. I feel it so deeply close to me
"Ich fürchte mich": "I fear"
Ich fürchte mich so vor der Menschen Wort.
Sie sprechen alles so deutlich aus:
Und dieses heißt Hund und jenes heißt Haus,
und hier ist Beginn und das Ende ist dort.
Mich bangt auch ihr Sinn, ihr Spiel mit dem Spott,
sie wissen alles, was wird und war;
kein Berg ist ihnen mehr wunderbar;
ihr Garten und Gut grenzt grade an Gott.
Ich will immer warnen und wehren: Bleibt fern.
Die Dinge singen hör ich so gern.
Ihr rührt sie an: sie sind starr und stumm.
Ihr bringt mir alle die Dinge um.
I fear so deeply the words of mankind.
They utter them all with so certain a sound:
and this we call house and that we call hound,
and here is before, and there is behind.
I fear too their thinking, their mocking disdain.
They know the whole past, all things that will be.
For them, no mountain is wondrous to see;
their properties border on God’s own domain.
Pay heed to my warning: now make your retreat.
The singing of things, not words, is what’s sweet.
Your words make things mute, so rigid and gray,
killing them, draining their beauty away.
In the London Manuscript (British Library, Add MS 29987) are included some amzing instrumental dances from Tuscany from the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century. This one is my own version: I added other voices and an improvisation part. What I hear in this music is the connection between early European music and Middle Eastern. This is where European music comes from after all. So I have dared to play it in a more free way and I added a frame drum, amazingly played by one of the best drummer I know (Udo Demandt, who recorded it remotely form his flat in Rotterdam during the lockdown)
Kiz Ney HIcaz Taksim
Taksim is the turkish term for "improvisation"
This tender sweet melody comes from the Laudario di Cortona and tells about the mystery of the Immaculate Conception. I added some flute voices to the main melody, but the main singing here is made by apulian cicadas, I recorded them last sommer. A healing sound indeed, that brings me back to summer, to Italy, to my childhood....to those endless summer afternoons, when everything was all right and still no one was gone.
This is my very personal experimental mystical version of a famous "Cantiga de Santa Maria".
Like in the Michelangelo's Prisoners, those fantastic figures imprisoned in marble I was used to see in my city almost every week (my dad used to take me to the museums every sunday) the main melody of "Santa Maria strela do Dia" slowly frees itself during this track.
Maria is facing her fears, her demons: is she winning against them, is she fighting them? are they gone at the end? should we really fight our demons and our fears or rather accept them, embrace them, love them? is only the perfection of God worthy of love? At the end you may understand that everything is worthy of love in this world, and with love you may be able to "exorcise" even your worst fears.
"Santa Maria strela do Dia, mostra nos via pera Deus e nos guia"
"Holy Mary, mornig star, show us the way to God and be our guide"