No one should judge a CD by its cover, but first impressions matter, and listeners often expect a few helpful hints to the nature of a disc's contents in the title, cover artwork, or label. This 2006 disc by Rolf Lislevand on ECM New Series appears to be new music -- indeed, its title, Nuove musiche, seems quite explicit, and the bleak, autumnal booklet photograph suggests something austere, perhaps music in a brooding modernist vein. Or, if it is considered on the names of the Baroque composers listed, such as Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger, Domenico Pellegrini, Alessandro Piccinini, Luys de Narváez, Girolamo Frescobaldi, and Bernardo Gianoncelli, one might reasonably suppose this to be an album of early music, a hunch further supported by the list of instruments used: archlute, Baroque guitar, theorbo, chittara battente, and so on. But few could guess that this is really a confused new age confection, based on seventeenth century music, to be sure, but on many other things as well, and reinterpreted in an adult contemporary idiom replete with atmospheric vocals, reverberant ambient effects, multicultural references, and soft pop touches. Fans of ECM's breakthrough recordings know better than to prejudge any of this company's releases, and have come to expect unusual programs of infrequently played music that often merit serious attention. However, even the most open-minded will feel that ECM has slipped them a mickey with this loopy, mixed-up CD. Because it is a crossover album that tries to be too many things at once, connoisseurs of early music will reject it as an adulteration, not a serious adaptation; followers of avant-garde or post-modern music will find nothing adventurous or novel in it; and devotees of international popular music will be bored by its bland, pseudo-ethnic mishmash of styles. This leaves only casual or indifferent listeners, who may think that Lislevand and his band of musicians have made a pretty album, but be unable to grasp its numerous weaknesses. This CD is not recommended, though it may be suitable background music for meetings of the Society for Creative Anachronism.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson