Writing reviews for Creative Commons music is my small way to pay back musicians for releasing music into the wired ether for free. I also do this as a way that I can go back in time, get that slight reminder of a work, listen to it again, and feel that joy again. The last reason, and one that hopefully makes the most impact, is that someone who sees this review may actually download the album. I cannot express the hope that this last reason results in hundreds of downloads for Bebawinigi’s self-titled debut album on the netlabel Strato Dischi.
Bebawinigi aka Virginia Quaranta has released a EP that is as beautiful as it is incredible in its breadth and grasp of popular music. Quaranta’s opens the album with “Did You Get …” with a sultry bass-line and soft but firm vocals repeating “Did you get disappointed? Or did you get excited?” until it implodes in a punkish crescendo. The next track, “Cugino ITT”, is a cabaret number in Italian that could possibly be an ode to the Addams Family’s Cousing Itt (I really don’t know). Regardless, my ignorance takes nothing away from enjoying the wonderful singing, the varied tempo and, at times, Quaranta’s intentionally croaky voice.
The dark strings of “Fabula” bring a melancholy to this track, but it’s Quaranta extraordinary voice and inflection that entrap me in the song’s sadness. With the fourth track, “Dogs & Sharks”, Quaranta returns us to the punk beginnings of Bebawinigi as she blurts out, “My best friend is a dog …”
Of late, I’ve been reading chapters of Kim Gordon’s autobiography, Girl in a Band. After she tells her story up to the forming of Sonic Youth, Gordon then breaks the chapters into songs where she writes about what was happening to the band, to her, and, maybe, even what the song was about. These chapters have been taking longer to read as I find myself listening to the tracks Gordon writes about instead of doing the reading. I bring this up because Quaranta’s voice is a reminder of Gordon’s, though the former’s voice is much better. “Maramori” is probably the finest example of the alignment between Gordon and Quaranta voices.
The last track is not the last track. Quaranta ends the folk song “Telemolo” about halfway through the sixth track and then there is large silence before, Quaranta begins the ever-popular hidden track.
Though this Bebawinigi will never see the light of day in the commercial music blogs like Pitchfork, Stereogum, etc., it should do strongly in the Creative Commons / Netlabel blogs as this is proof that free music can be equal if not better than music for money. One should expect to see Bebawinigi on several Best of 2015 lists later this year. It will be on mine.