Daniele Sepe,
Anime Candide:
War & Love Songs

(Dunya, 2003)

Right off the bat, the cover of this album grabs you. It's not attractive; in fact it's a picture that made me uncomfortable. A man and a woman are embracing, hands on each others' shoulders, heads covered by gas masks and helmets, and their kiss a meeting of filters.

How cold the world would be if our need to relate to each other was always under those strained conditions. To find love and gentle touches amid the ravages of war and fear, how desensitized would we have to be? How unfeeling are we now?

Italian Daniele Sepe throws ideas at us with music and lyrics that invite questions and elicit strong responses. He draws wide open the curtains that hide the ravages of war experienced by our friends.

Sometimes he holds up a mirror that reflects our war-damaged attitudes. Sometimes he takes us through the looking glass. He shows us truth with lyrical word paintings and makes us feel with dynamic music. What you feel will be up to you; the anger or empathy comes from within.

The images we see on TV and in newspapers of bodies damaged by land mines or bullets don't have the impact the song "L'uccello di Fuoco" does. Because the lyrics are in Italian, I followed the booklet closely to listen to the CD. Opposite the page about this track is a picture of a man in a wheelchair being pushed along through a crowd of walkers. The irony in the song is razor-sharp. It's a light-hearted disco funk with a DJ inviting everyone to "Limp onto the dance floor and do your best to dance the One Leg Dance." The lasting effects of war hit home when described in terms of the simple joys of life.

Daniele Sepe has a limitless imagination. He's like a junkyard artist, picking pieces from the world around him to fit his message. On this CD he mixed and mastered, composed, arranged and produced. He took pieces from movies, books, TV broadcasts and other music productions and inserted them into his visions.

A sense of drama permeates each song and instrumental. Each song tells a story and the music is outstanding. Auli Kokko has a reedy, sweet voice; Jorgos Pittas has a strong, operatic voice; and the Costo Zero Vesuvian Orchestra takes part in pieces filled with energy and excitement.

Piero Ricci plays a Molise reed-pipe on the first track and I liked the sound very much. New compositions and modern takes on traditional pieces are all part of the package here. An operatic ditty and new-age techno swings us through melancholy and optimistic moods. Combinations of piano, accordion, flute, guitars, oboe, bassoon, bombo and clavinet give a rich-bodied sound with professional production. Even though it's layered on some tracks the noise is done purposefully for effect.

Without the booklet, I wouldn't have appreciated the music and message as much as I did. There's a suggested list of movies, book and videos on the inside cover that was interesting -- an eclectic mix of American, British and European content. Though this is an Italian production meant for world distribution, it takes a bit of work on the listener's part to get into. I think there's a big reward for those who take the time.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 8 May 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.