Released on August 27th, Bella Ciao is the fifth album by Barbez, a Brooklyn-based collective, led by avant-guitarist Dan Kaufman. The basis of the music lies in an eclectic mixture of ancient Roman Jewish melody and the Italian Resistance of World War II. Dreamy and often haunting soundscapes bring this album to wonderful heights, while the structures and progressions are often melancholic and dark. The music flows between almost neo-classical, avant-garde and free-form jazz/improvisation. The tapestry is weaved by guitars, drums, bass and theramin to add to the etherial eeriness of the songs. “Mizmor Leasaf” stands out with its echo-guitar and heavy rhythm; “Yedid Nefesh” is a gripping vocal opus. The title track, “Bella Ciao” is out of standard time signatures but moves with its keyboard figures and “Channun Kerov Rachamav” feels like an old-world dirge; again, dark is the operative word here.
Mixed by the brilliant Martin Bisi and released through John Zorn’s Tzadik label, let yourself be swept up and touched by the work of Barbez on this fine album. In a word, lovely.