Here at Aristocrazia, covering non-metal bands is not that unusual anymore. It has been a while that especially neofolk and related genres have entered our realm on a regular basis, and I reckon it is always interesting to introduce such different projects to a different (though sometimes similar) audience, as in this case.
I am particularly happy to finally have a chance to write an official article about one of the bands I most care about: Corde Oblique, an act born from the fertile mind of guitarist Riccardo Prencipe about ten years ago. Their background is at a crossroads between music school, history of art and a wide array of musical influences (which we can find — also in the form of covers — throughout their albums).
Starting from their neofolk-influenced first steps (with a clear Mediterranean flavor already at that time), the band went on to gradually include new elements and instruments, through international collaborations as well (including names such as Duncan Patterson). The band used to be more famous in Europe than in Italy, but it has finally started to get some real traction in their homeland in the last few years, touring around the peninsula generally with positive feedback from the audience.
Per Le Strade Ripetute is the fifth album by a band which has really matured by now, perfectly aware of its strongpoints and always stressing variety as one of its main features. The opening track “Averno” sets the tone showcasing the ensemble’s style, also coming with a music video shot on the eponymous lake for the album official release. Floriana Cangiano’s voice (she was the main singer on the 2011 album A Hail Of Bitter Almonds) leads us to the threshold to a world made of historic places.
One of the peculiarities of Corde Oblique has always been the will to recover the magic of some locations around the Campania region, a land torn by many horrors, in order to find something “which is not hell”. In the past, the band dedicated tracks to Naples, Caserta, Torre Annunziata and so on. What makes them interesting, though, is the refusal of a “neofolkish” return to one’s own roots excluding anything coming from outside, going back to Naples as a crucial Mediterranean port instead, where many different musical cultures used to mix with one another and still do so.
Therefore, the album features a few tracks with English lyrics and one in Greek (with Daemonia Nymphe), as well as a cover of the famous movie theme “Requiem For A Dream” by Clint Mansell (which had already been part of their live sets for a while). A particularly intriguing piece is “In The Temple Of Echo”, a guitar instrumental named after the Temple of Mercury in the archaeological site of Baia (near Naples), where it has been recorded without adding any studio effects with notable results (the ghost track has been recorded under the same conditions).
The line-up is now stable and tested live, where the band is probably at its best. Alessio Sica’s percussions, generally smooth in studio, can really make a huge difference during live performances, as it is the case with Umberto Lepore’s bass. Once again, the violin is in Edo Notarloberti’s reliable hands — already a member of the ethereal folk trio Ashram — and we also enjoy it in the solo “Uroboro”. As usual, there are many different singers, especially female, alternating throughout the fifty minutes of this release.
A critique I can put forth is that in lyrical terms there have probably been more inspired moments in Prencipe’s career than on here, although also in Per Le Strade Ripetute we can find more than one noteworthy quote. The verses and the music evoke meaningful images, especially to someone coming from that area or who has visited it with their mind as well as their body. A new Campania, ready to be rediscovered and shrouded in its own “hell”, the Storyteller (Cantastorie) from the eponymous 2007 track doesn’t look tired in the least and wants to keep telling us about this land, its sea, and its stories.