‘Tarantismo: Odyssey of an Italian Ritual’ – a creation to celebrate one of Europe’s most mysterious trance phenomenon

FLEE has released its new project – Tarantismo: Odyssey of an Italian Ritual – and its documentation and musical evolution is a thing of wonder. It explores a ritual where women have been exorcised of “a mysterious evil” caused by a spider bite that they suffered while working in field. As can be seen from the research and archive footage there is a deep rooted history and cultural practice found in Southern Italy, and its symbolism or structure of belief is thoroughly studied in accompanying essays in this package.

Both the original music connected to this unique event and the re-interpretations by some aptly selected producers makes this one of the highlights of this year, as well as the detailed book on this occult phenomenon being a fascinating companion. Some of the photographs collected are a must see.

The selection of such archive material, mysterious history and revisiting through leftfield remixes is an exciting concept providing a multi-disciplinary approach. As the collective explains: “FLEE is an independent cultural engineering platform dedicated to the documentation and enhancement of hybrid cultures. Functioning as a record label, publishing house and exhibition organiser, it focuses on shedding the light on sub-cultures, while making them interact with contemporary artistic approaches through a critical point of view. This documentation is trans-disciplinary.”

The double LP vinyl compilation presents and explains the events captured in original field recordings of musicians and exorcists, as documented by Diego Carpitella, Ernesto de Martino and Alan Lomax in the late 1950’s in Puglia – all featured in their original form. They are immersive and eerie.

It is the remixes though that help this project to evolve further and appeal to new audiences, with reinterpretations from Don’t DJ, Bottin, LNS, Bjorn Torske & Trym Søvdsnes, KMRU and Uffe.

The new interpretations of this work are examples of how talented the chosen producers are, as well as how much they have been inspired and embraced the project and their brief.

Photography collected in FLEE002 by Chiara Samugheo

A hardback book features nine essays focusing on various dimensions of the ritual, with text in Italian and English. It gives voice to the artists involved, photographers who have covered this practice, as well as sociologists and anthropologists who have studied its meaning and origin for decades….even accounts from catholic priests about their perspectives.

Photo by Chiara Samugheo

In terms of presentation and the accompanying literature and music, this release shows a commendable endeavour by all involved and has been crafted beautifully. High standards have once again been maintained, following the first FLEE issue, which focused on the Kenyan music movement Benga.

Photo by Chiara Samugheo

A forthcoming cycle of exhibitions and conferences are also planned, where FLEE’s year-long research on Tarantism, as well as its numerous commissioned artworks, will be presented.

FLEE002 Tarantismo: Odyssey of an Italian Ritual is available worldwide through www.fleeproject.com and selected retailers.

Listen to more selections on the last World Treasures Music mix.

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