Bella Ciao is inspired by both ancient Roman Jewish melodies and the Italian Resistance during the Second World War. To help tell that timeless story of defiance, the album incorporates poems by the great Italian writer and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini and his renowned contemporary, the poet Alfonso Gatto. The title track, the partisan anthem "Bella Ciao," has been an international symbol of resistance for seventy years and is re-imagined here in a stunning interpretation for a new generation. As Gatto wrote many years after the war: "The Resistance ... is not an exceptional moment of being; it is the opposite-a period that endures in time and in history to form a common conscience."
As on previous efforts Barbez weaves a haunting mosaic of avant-rock, old-world cabaret, European folksong, and contemporary classical into a uniquely beautiful and personal soundscape. An unconventional line-up, a kind of rock-tinged chamber ensemble comprised of theremin, clarinet, violin, vibraphone, electric guitar, bass and drums, forges a rich, indescribable-yet beautiful-sonic tapestry that alternates between passages of quiet intensity and passionate fury.
Since its formation in Brooklyn in the late 1990s, Barbez has released five albums, each of them engineered and mixed by Martin Bisi. The group's last record, Force of Light, was an homage to the Romanian-Jewish Holocaust poet Paul Celan and was hailed by allmusic.com as "one of the most profound settings for poetry in music" of all time.
For the past decade, Barbez has performed across the United States and Europe including engagements at UCLA's Royce Hall in Los Angeles (sharing the bill with the MC5 and Sun Ra Arkestra), the Festival Territoria in Moscow, Russia, and the Museum of Jewish Art and History in Paris, France. Over its history, Barbez has collaborated with a diverse group of musicians including the cellist Julia Kent of Antony and the Johnsons, the avant-vocalist Shelley Hirsch, and the singer and guitarist Nils Frykdahl of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Faun Fables.
Barbez maintains a long-running collaboration with the experimental theatre director, filmmaker, and playwright, John Jesurun, a MacArthur "genius" grant winner, and has composed and performed scores for several of Jesurun's theatrical works, which have been staged at the Berliner Festspiele, in Berlin, Germany and the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art in New York. Jesurun, who directed the groundbreaking "Last Goodbye" video for Jeff Buckley, has directed two videos for the band. Barbez has also contributed music for several dance works, including One and The Making of Americans, both choreographed by the Bessie-award winner Juliette Mapp and presented, respectively, by Danspace Project and Dance Theatre Workshop in New York.
Barbez is made up of the following members: Dan Kaufman (Rebecca Moore) guitar, Pamelia Kurstin (David Byrne, Cibo Matto) theremin, Peter Hess (Balkan Beat Box, Asphalt Orchestra) clarinets, Danny Tunick (The Clean, Bang on a Can All-Stars) marimba, vibraphone, organ, piano Catherine McRae (filmmaker Sam Green, the Quavers) violin, Peter Lettre (Shearwater) bass, and John Bollinger (Sway Machinery) drums.
Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal - E-Zine