Back at the turn of the twentieth century Primitivism, that is the philosophy that life was better back in the simpler cultures before our current “advanced” civilization, played a large role in Modern Art. Many of the artists of this period adopted techniques from the art of ancient and non-western traditions with the thought that these cultures had more genuine expressions of beauty than the complex and complicated techniques that clouded the honest expression of later industrial societies. So, simpler line, simpler form, simpler shape, anything that seemed simpler was considered to be a truer expression, and thus preferred. Examples of such artists are Paul Gauguin, Igor Stravinsky, and arguably Pablo Picasso, who stripped back to a more primal way of execution. So, here we are, over one hundred years later.
Enter Donato Epiro. I don’t know his philosophy, motivation, or inspiration, but I do know that his musical method sounds the way a Gauguin looks. I doubt he was immersed in the Primitivist aesthetic, but I’m assuming that some of their influence or at least a shared romantic interest in early man and the mystery of undiscovered cultures have somehow sown the seed for these nine tracks. Even without hearing the music, the visual images of this release all betray the true intentions of this release. For example, the first image for “Three Different Kinds of Poison” looks like a waterfall of some sort hidden in a remote rainforest. The rest of the images include stone formations and other nature-inspired photos. Listening to these tracks though is a combination of the Italian weird-folk genre with a big emphasis on the exotic. The style of guitar, which is the most constant presence on this disc, sounds like a group of tribesmen who found the instrument washed up on their shore and began to tinker around with it. Calling upon the shaman, the guitar has now sprung to life and sings ethnic songs of yesteryear. This is a safari through tribalistic boredom. In addition to the guitar structures there are some archaic elements like bells, shakers, harmonica, flute, sticks, and others. Over all, it has less tribal rhythm than his earlier “Sounding the Sun” album on Stunned. That one was more get-up-and-go, but this one seems more eccentrically aloof and possibly pensive.
Besides Epiro’s moving unconventional creativity, something must be said concerning Ark Tarp’s far-out approach to packaging its current set of releases. This is the most imaginative and artistic way of putting together a quality artifact that I have yet to encounter. It comes in a DVD case-sized black card packaging with awesome paste-on photo art. Inside is a bundle of large art postcards, album info card, and thick CD mount board, tied together with string. If I judged on art and packaging alone this would for sure get a 10. All of Ark Tarp’s current lot of releases gets this kind of treatment. I predict that Ark Tarp will lead the way when it comes to doing releases. And it seems like they’ll keep pushing the envelope with each fresh batch. I can’t wait to see what’s next! 8/10 -- Dave Miller (21 April, 2010)