Milagro acuStico – I Storie ò cafè di lu Furestiero

Somewhere on a small Sicilian island there exists a café where people of all sorts come to sit, eat, drink, rest, listen and play music… When they are gathered there the open environment encourages them to tell their stories. This is the premise of “I Storie ò café di lu Furestiero” (The Stories of Strangers Coffee), a musical journey to this café and the stories told there by the emigrants, immigrants, pilgrims, travellers…

One of the nicest things about reviewing music is that you sometimes receive fine music from circles you were not familiar with, music which you wouldn’t have bought otherwise. A good example is this cd from Milagro acuStico. This Italian formation makes ‘world music’, I never heard of them, though they were formed in 1995, but their music appeals to me a lot. This surprised me, because the description did not sound like music I normally lend my ears to. The album fuses a wide variety of musical styles from all over the globe. Sicily lies at a crossroad between Northern Africa, Eastern Europe, Tunisia, the Balkans. All these influences are reflected here. Traditional folk music, a little jazz, exotic influences…

Milagro acuStico is an ‘open formation’, with many guest musicians joining them and without being bound to rigid musical genres. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences are important characteristics. The group is led by composer and multi-instrumentalist Bob Salmieri (alto sax, clarinet, flute, keyboards, percussion). Some of the many exotic guest musicians on this album are Nour Eddine (percussion, ghayta or North African shawm) and Jamal Ouassini (violin), both from Morrocco, Papa Kanoutè (kora, a Senegalese harp) and Pape Yery Samb (djembe).

The result is a very rich album, with a variety of musical styles which make me forget the cold climate in which I am living. Most songs are ballads, sung in Sicilian dialects. There are some nicely flowing cafe songs with accordion or jazzy sax or clarinet. A wide variety of acoustic instruments is being used, many of which I’ve never heard of. Various songs have lovely female vocals. The percussion is at times a little ritual or tribal. The album also contains nice acoustic instrumental work and the tempting sounds of trumpet, mandolin, sax, kora, violin, djembe, conga, darbuka…

There is so much atmosphere surrounding you, the music makes me imagine the café and the people in it very vividly. Although I can’t understand the lyrics, the songs still have a great emotional feeling. “I Storie ò Cafè DI lu Furestiero” has a very warm and vibrating effect.

An album which is absolutely recommended! Try it if you have an interest in world music or exotic sounds, but also if you can appreciate the more eastern sounding work of Dead Can Dance, Sarband, GOR or Ataraxia. I hope to be in the neighbourhood of the cafe one day, I will certainly pay a visit, though I’m not sure if my own tales are as colourful.

artist: Milagro acuStico
label: Tinder Records