Almost a century after the end of World War II, its woes still echo in these times like a specter that swirls beyond memory. Acting in a frighteningly real present with the return of avowed facism to power in Italy – after all, what really was Berlusconi’s thinly veiled totalitarianism? Hence, more than ever, Silvia Tarozzi and Deborah Walker’s Canti di guerra, di lavoro e d’amore proves to be of absolute urgency and pertinence, even as it rescues the songbook of resistance and working-class female emancipation from the years of that Great War, from the distance. The past haunting the present in the continuous urgency of those same songs, the immortality of folk embodied in new lives, because the struggles are (and will be?) always the same. Revisiting this precious and little-known legacy, Tarozzi and Walker recontextualize memory to endow it with new perspectives, new experiences, in opposition to empty revisionism.
Artists with a background in modern composition and improvisation, having already performed pieces by Eliane Radigue, Phil Niblock or, with particular affinity, Philip Corner, Tarozzi and Walker treat these songs with care, knowledge and sensitivity. Music that was a fundamental part of Tarozzi’s childhood in rural Northern Italy and that is interpreted here in the light of the most alive contemporary music, out of the mere canonical or predatory trim, but rather in an organic synergy between folk and the techniques and languages of improvisation and modern composition. Released this year on the vital Unseen Worlds, the label responsible for bringing to light today the work of Carl Stone, Laurie Spiegel, or “Blue” Gene Tyranny, Canti di guerra, di lavoro e d’amore intermingles ancestral chant with instrumental passages, where Tarozzi’s violin and Walker’s cello become entangled in a clamor of languid chords, as if carrying the pain and hope of lives past and present, in a whole of hypnosis without time. BS