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.


About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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