Marino de Rosas

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Meridies Review

by Thom Jurek

Marino de Rosas is a self-taught Sardinian guitarist who developed his own method of interpreting his region's ageless folk songs and melodies. Using an open-C tuning method and an unusual fingerpicking technique, he has been able to render the old songs with a deeper understanding of their essences as both sound and lyrical forms. Accompanying his guitar is an array of traditional instruments made from reeds, bones, walnuts, and clay; from percussion instruments to membranophones (skin drums) and aerophones, they're all created by Sardinian artisans. In addition to a veritable orchestra of small, indigenous instruments, violin, bass, and diatonic organ add depth and dimension to an already ponderous and busy mix. But it hardly matters. De Rosas has an otherworldly sense about him. Using no sound techniques to enhance his guitar, he approaches all the material here, no matter how ancient, as if he were in the middle of the era, composing these pieces for his friends and neighbors, or perhaps his king. The deep, lyrical providence of his guitar, covering the ground and soaring above it as the ensemble follows his lead, time after time, is a point of both delight and inspiration. There is a strangeness in this music, coming as it does from Sardinia: a place which both offers and takes music from the entire European continent in its history. Thus, certain pieces sound as if they came form the Spanish Moors ("Meridies"), and others sound like mutant descendants of Celtic dance tunes ("Reinas Eleonora"). Still, there is a medieval ring to them that makes them unmistakably Sardinian; their sonorities blend Eastern drone techniques with sweet, Western sacred melodies and Spanish guitar music ("Isole"). Here, the space and texture of de Rosas' music is full of a mystery that will never be pinned to one age or another because it is eternally present, in every stroke of his hand, as he digs deeply into the guitar for an identity that is regional and a musical iconography that is personal. Meridies is one of the most stunning, haunting, beautiful folk recordings of 2001, in any language.

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