When Italian neo-folk band Kalascima talks about ‘pizzica’ and ‘tarantella’, they’re not talking about food.
The band explains quite dexterously that pizzica is an orchestral type of music that intended to (and this is where it gets odd) exorcise women bitten by tarantula spiders by making them dance.
It’s technically a kind of tarantella, known for its upbeat tempo. All this originates from the hill area of Salento in southern Italy.
Kalascima’s energetic music travels to Bengaluru this week. For the last 15 years, the band has aimed to keep this traditional Italian folk music alive, even mingling it with modern elements ranging from loops to acoustic guitars.
The band members add, “Today, the ritual of tarantism has completely disappeared but the musical tradition continues to live and regenerate. The rhythm of the pizzica and tarantella (which is a triplet rhythm) is of fundamental importance because it is what characterises our musical tradition of southern Italy.”
The band comprises six members, who share about 25 instruments between themselves – ranging from bouzouki to a zampogna (Italian bagpipes) and even a kanjira. There is a family-like bond between Luca Buccarella, Federico Laganà, Massimiliano De Marco, Riccardo Basile, Aldo Iezza and Roberto Chiga, all of whom grew up together in rural Salento. They picked up the traditional Italian folk music from their grandparents and added current musical instruments and technology. Their 2014 album, for example, is called Psychedelic Trance Tarantella , since it included guest member Enrico Russo playing synthesizers, drum machines and electric guitars. The band says of the album, “We talk about the stream of immigrants arriving on our shores, the history of our young Salento emigrants of the new millennium, as well as the revolt of the Arneo’s area in 1950 (important step in the history of peasant lands of Salento). And we do it with the tools we have inherited from tradition but also with the tools of modernity, including analog synthesizers and electronic filters. As our grandparents did in their time, we use what our world provides us.”
After shows in Delhi, Jaipur and Chennai, the band is always elated when their own regional Italian dialect’s words are repeated by audiences across the world, be it New York or Tokyo. “When this happens, the music has no barriers , no boundaries of geography, religion, race or language. It is always a big party, where bands, audience, technicians and all the people around sing, dance and feel free,” the band says.
In between shows, the band says they had a few days to discover India as tourists. “India is an amazing country. We are always fascinated by things like a wonderful history, great food, beautiful people, amazing places and traditions.”
Once their tour is done, what is it going to be like hauling that many instruments back on board an airplane to Italy? The band says it is not really a hassle. “It is not stressful because when we have to wait, we start to sing, play and dance at the airport.” Looks like Kalascima creates the fun wherever they go.
Kalascima performs at B-Flat Bar, Indiranagar on April 15. Tickets available on bookmyshow.com