Novalia

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The ancient songs of Italy have been brought up to contemporary standards by Rieti-based ensemble Novalia. While they incorporate traditional Italian folk instruments, including the gaita (Galician bagpipe),…
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The ancient songs of Italy have been brought up to contemporary standards by Rieti-based ensemble Novalia. While they incorporate traditional Italian folk instruments, including the gaita (Galician bagpipe), gaida (Balkan bagpipe), and accordion, their sound is given a world flavor with the addition of Mediterranean and North African instruments, including saz, baglama, oud, darbouka, viola braguesa, and udu and modern instruments including samplers, sequencers, and loops. According to multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Raffaello Simeoni, "There are very old songs and music which in time have been forgotten. We are like archeologists. We begin by unearthing these ancient melodies. We look for them wherever we find their traces, a fragment, a cave to be explored. We extract them from the oblivion into which they had fallen. We rediscover their millenary charm and we throw them into the arms of the future to bring them to life once more."

The antiquity-meets-modern approach taken by Novalia has been hailed by the world's folk music press. While Dirty Linen claimed that Novalia "skirts the boundaries of new age, with ethereal voices and washes of synthesizers predominating their work, they often move in the same dance circle as Afro-Celt Sound System, mixing trancey drum grooves with lots of local sounds." Folk Roots wrote, "If there's a late-'90s equivalent of folk-rock, the bringing of traditions into a contemporary context, this is one major way of tackling it."

In addition to Simeoni, who plays organetto, gaita, gaida, clarione, claramella, zurna, tiktiri, kaval, nay, oud, tzouras, and Calabrian lira and sings, Novalia features Stefano Saletti (electric guitar, bouzouki, tzouras, samplers, grooves, loops, devices, rhythmic programming, sequencers, piano, and choirs), Giovanni Lo Cascio (drum kit, darbouka, davoul, skin udu, riq, tamburello, caxixi, shakers, grooves, and choirs), Michele Frontino (bass) and Allesandro Strinati (viola braquesa, samplers, grooves, and choirs).