Traditional folk music and dance-club electronics may seem to stand at opposite ends of the musical spectrum, but the idea of combining them isn't new. Folk ensembles like Finland's all-female Vrttin have experimented with electronics for years, often trying to build big, Gabrielesque soundscapes that rest on foundations of traditional tunes. And for electronic creators, the manifold musical instruments of the world are novelties, flavors to add to the recipes for new sounds that they program into their musical machines.
Fiamma Fumana, though, is something different. Its members describe their music as "simultaneously a tribute to the tradition of women's singing in Emilia [the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy] and Italy in general . . . and a revitalization of that tradition by a new generation and its musical culture electronic dance music, the most natural musical expression for young people in twenty-first-century, postindustrial, affluent Italy." Their music consists of traditional songs and dance tunes, not just underlaid by electronic rhythm tracks but quite closely woven together with them.
The electronics are sophisticated and varied. The tunes underlying Fiamma Fumana's music are simple, immediate, close to the earth; some of them are rooted in the music of the mandine, choruses of young female rice gatherers. The basic material consists of such textures as groups of women singing responsorially, or powerhouse tunes from an accordion or the piva emiliana bagpipes.