In Sicily there's a tradition of marching brass bands parading before Easter playing traditional songs, and that's the idea behind Matri Mia. However, it seems to be largely a jumping-off point, as Banda Ionica takes the material -- much of the inspiration for which might lie in the tradition, but whose writing is directly out of the imagination -- into some odd places. In all likelihood, none of the "real" marching bands have clanking percussion that sounds like a refugee from a Tom Waits album, nor do they bring in the Lawrence of Arabia theme, as these guys do in "Lorenzo in Sicilia," putting it surreally over a bossa beat. But the surreal is almost the norm here -- "Santissima del Naufragati," for example, for the saint of shipwrecks, seems to writhe with desperation, not hope, and elsewhere tunes seem to melt and deconstruct second by second. It's odd, though, that while the marches themselves stay relatively whole, it's the songs that implode. A bizarre, but at the same time absolutely wonderful record.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson