Meridiana: Mauro Durante’s Sense of Time
24.05.2021, by Giacomo Luperini
After the release of their latest studio album “Meridiana”, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino are back with a new, multidisciplinary project that allows audiences to experience firsthand the band’s very own concept of time.
Time is a dimension that defies description. The human mind struggles to perceive its outline, its vastness and indeed its very existence, beyond the here and now. There are, however, small tricks to deceive the mind and help it visualize through metaphors something it cannot truly comprehend. We could, for example, just try and open our arms. Our wide open arms represent the entire history of time, spanning from the tip of our left pinky, where we can place the dawn of the universe (13.7 billion years ago), to the opposite nail, which symbolizes this moment. The birth of planet Earth (4.5 billion years) can be found under our left armpit, the birth of pluricellular life is in the palm of our right hand, and the whole history and pre-history of humankind can fit in a thin layer of dead skin under the last fingernail of our right hand. Of course, explaining time is not enough to feel it, but Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino have attempted to do this more effectively through their new project “Meridiana”. Graphics, tracks, website and visuals: everything about this record was expertly planned and positioned to make order among our preconceptions and suggestions of time. As Mauro Durante, whom we interviewed prior to the album’s release, explained:
Our ensemble specializes in traditional Salentine music. By our very definition we take music and dances from the past and adapt them to suit the present. We create a coexistence between past and present, or a persistence of memory (as Salvador Dalì called it).Our music is not about nostalgia for the past, but rather a compromise and modernization of it based on our observation of the world around us.
The album, released by Ponderosa in collaboration with Puglia Sound, comprises 12 original tracks (the same number as the notches on a sundial face) born of a collaboration with other great artists: Enzo Avitabile, Valerio Combass (Après La Classe), Antonio De Marianis, Red Baraat, Justin Adams (who co-produced the album alongside Mauro Durante) and Giacomo Greco, who curated its electronic adaptation. The atmospheric Salentine tradition merges with electronic music and is enhanced by orchestral arrangements, to create a complex, sophisticated and very enjoyable musical tapestry. And yet, the Canzoniere’s latest release is much more than the sum of its tracks. As Mauro Durante explains:
My idea was to convey to whoever experiences this record something akin to the process that led to its creation. Inspirations from different areas of study: philosophy, physics etc. We wanted to create an immersive listening experience through textual citations and video contributions from experts, to widen our addressing of the album’s themes. Not only does it speculate on the concept of time: it also reflects on Southern Italy, mythology and current events.
The album’s release was accompanied by a livestream performance on the Canzoniere’s social media, and by the creation of a website offering the full, 360-degrees Meridiana experience. A multi-disciplinary, immersive website which includes, alongside the record’s music and lyrics, a series of detailed studies on cultural and philosophical issues and current events. They range from philosophers Maura Gancitano e Andrea Colamedici, who founded Tlon’s Scuola Permanente di Filosofia, to astrophysicist Domenico Licchelli, with detours into ethnomusicology thanks to the contributions of Massimiliano Morabito, who is a professor of Musical Anthropology at the Lecce conservatory as well as a member of the Canzoniere. The concept of time is explored by mathematician Roberto Vacca, while ethnomusicology expert Gianfranco Salvatore describes the features of “magical time”, and Amnesty International’s Francesca Corbo addresses the issue of pandemic time in connection to human rights. Visual arts, meanwhile, create a narrative introduction allowing for complete philosophical immersion. We can find the work of Luca Coclite in the album’s striking minimalist cover, the light play of Francesco Sambati’s photographs, as well as videos inspired by the album’s tracks and directed by Gabriele Surdo.
Mauro Durante’s violin and Massimiliano Morabito’s concertina are accompanied by Alessia Tondo and Giancarlo Paglialunga’s vocals, Emanuele Licci’s bouzouki, Giulio Bianco’s wind section, and Silvia Perrone’s dancing feet, following the traditional rhythm of tambourines.
Finally, soon we’ll be able to dance with the Canzoniere once again, thanks to their upcoming summer international tour kicking off in Salento at the end of June. While we wait, their album Meridiana is really worth experiencing. To paraphrase the philosophers from Tlon: modern society attempts to impose a linear, consistent, productive and rapid sense of time on us, while the Canzoniere’s music provides a nourishing break for our minds and hearts.