Dr. Drer & CRC Posse,
Cosa Bella Frisca
(independent, 2012)

Sardinia is a large island on the Mediterranean, isolated from the mainland and halfway between two continents. It's an out-of-the-way part of the European Union, closer in some areas to Africa than to Europe, and its music reflects this blend.

While the island is known for its indigenous music, which uses unusual scales and harmonies, one of the best groups to emerge in recent years is the roots-rap-reggae group, Dr. Drer and CRC Posse. On this, their fifth release since their founding in 1991, they explore a blend of popular sounds with the local traditions of Sardinian music. It's a really fresh-sounding CD, much as the title (Nice Fresh Thing) would indicate, with lyrics in both Italian and the Sardinian language.

Dr. Drer (Michele Atzori or Su Dottore) -- and of course not to be confused with the American hip-hop artist Dr. Dre -- is an intense and frenetic lead vocalist who shares the stage and duties with Giorgia Loi, whose talents in both traditional and contemporary singing really enhance the group's sound. Also stepping up are Riccardo "Frichi" Dessi, Mauro Mou and Giuanni Siccardi, while Alex P handles computers, synths and scratches. The disc also features guest musicians on guitars, sax and traditional instruments (launeddas), among others.

In this, the band's third release, they improve on a strong product -- their previous CD In Sa Terra Mia -- with a brave and sometimes quirky recording.

Hailing from Cagliari (Casteddu) in the south end of the island, CRC is committed to the protection of the Sardinian languages, which are endangered due to lack of status and official recognition, and protest the the environmental and moral havoc wreaked on the island by outsiders.

In this context the Quirra Syndrome is referenced in several tracks. One region of Sardinia suffers, it is alleged, from extremely high leukemia rates (and other health issues) that just happen to coincide with the presence of experimental military operations in that area. This syndrome is referenced in both the title track, which opens the CD, and in "Voyage en Sardaigne" which is a collage of sounds encountered on the island. Also found are two tracks with similar titles, "In Mesu de Su Mare/Mediterraniu" ("In the Middle of the Sea/Mediterranean"), one of which is a mutetu (a form of traditional song).

In my opinion, the best and most complete track is "Su Sardu Alfabetu" ("The Sardinian Alphabet"), which is an inspired reggae with a clever hook, and a call for respect for Sardinian language and culture. UNESCO says there are at least three endangered languages that are native to Sardinia, and while many people still use these languages, they suffer from lack of official status and social denigration.

As well, "E la Chiamano Democrazia" ("And They Call It Democracy") is a great, lively reggae-type song, with a strong message about how the word "democracy" can hide a variety of social ills.

Another gem is the title song: "In Sardinia, newspapers television and radio / are all in the hands of a great impresario, who takes millions in public money, you can believe it." And as for investigating the Quirra Syndrome: "Nobody questions the television / they set up a commission made of the military themselves / organized to maintain the bases." A pristine and historic landscape is destroyed, a people poisoned and the media is silent because islanders themselves do not control their futures.

Among other highlights, "El Tano" is a story about a Sardinian worker, Martino Mastinu, who disappeared during the military dictatorship in Argentina. Mastinu like so many others vanished during this evil dictatorship, his crime apparently fighting for the reduction of the 12-hour workday. The song details some of the vile deeds of this dictatorship, which have been well documented elsewhere (dropping people from the sky, kidnapping babies, etc.).

"Viaggio Sempre" is a humorous look at the geographical and political situation of Sardinia. "I always travel Ryan Air / to dream with Dr. Drer: We are the voice of rebel Cagliari, / the Sardinia that does not give up and is not for sale."

Drer/Atzori handles the better part of the vocals, leavened by Loi and assisted by the other vocalists. The lyrics are hard-edged; the music is vibrant. The music, whether reggae, pop or Sardinian traditional, crackles with energy and, sometimes, anger. Lyrics are in Italian and Sardinian.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
David Cox

27 April 2013

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