Someone said that beauty would save the world: this has always been the core concept for most of the so called ethereal folk scene (in its many forms and varieties), an approach that made the foundations of the Naples-based trio Ashram. They have recently released their latest effort Human And Divine with a release party at the Caos Teatro near Naples.
Nevertheless, my musical relationship with Luigi Rubino (piano), Edo Notarloberti (violin) and Sergio Panarella (vocals and guitar) began about a decade ago, as I was in the process of discovering that vibrant Italian scene. In fact, their previous work (the masterpiece Shining Silver Skies) was released back in 2006 and even their live performances became much rarer in the last few years (fortunately this wasn’t the case for their collaborations with other projects, such as Corde Oblique), although still maintaining a very strong following around the world, even in China.
Needless to say, it was very exciting for me when I found out that the three musicians were finally working on a new album (promoted via crowdfunding on Musicraiser). The recording process of Human And Divine was quite long, from 2011 to 2016 amidst the hundreds of other projects that each member had, finally reaching its official release about eleven years after its predecessor, in a world that apparently really needs that kind of beauty that Ashram represent so well.
The title highlights the fundamental connection in the trio’s philosophy, namely the one between human and divine as parts of the same universe, not conflicting with each other but capable of coexisting inside each one of us instead. The “Spirituality” mentioned in the opening track is not necessarily the one related to commandments or religious dogma, but our human ability to feel each other’s pain and create beauty with — and for — other people, reaching up for something higher. Here I am not going to analyze each single track, also because this is not very useful when talking about Ashram in particular, since they mostly focus on conveying a way of feeling instead of complicated musical techniques.
Once again, you will be carried away by Panarella’s soft voice soaring above the patterns created by Rubino’s delicate keys and the enthralling violin played by Notarloberti. I would also like to point out an unexpected new edition of “Elisewin 1997” (a song dating back to the band’s formative years). This record is mainly founded on hope, and the elevation of mankind to a self-aware discovery of our positive and divine potential.
If you feel the need to find something beautiful in what Italo Calvino would define as «the hell we live in every day», Ashram‘s latest record will be perfect for you. Or actually, it might do for you even more if you do not feel this necessity. The three musicians have begun a tour that will take also them again to China, and I strongly recommend you go see them live in case they perform in your area too.