is Stefano De Santis, born in the Southeast part of Italy, in the region of Salento (Finisterrae). Starting his artistic career as a playwright (the name of Urkuma's web-site, sanfocahotel.com, is the title of a surrealistic plot about the problem of refugees), he later developed his unique musical approach to translate his theatre concepts into sound.
The word "urkuma" is an idiomatic expression specific to De Santis' home region of Salento and expresses the opposite to the Buddhist concept of nirvana: entropic-anarchic-heterogeneous.
Live, Urkuma is prone to make use of anything within his reach, including laptop, small electronic devices, clarinet, effects, vocal, home-built instruments, tapes, feedback-boxes and everything that is possible to rape.
Urkuma's full-length release for Baskaru, Rebuilding Pantaleone's Tree, is a concept album based on the monk Pantaleone's marvellous mosaic floor in the Cathedral of Otranto. Otranto is a small city, also called the "Door to the East", located in the southern part of the Adriatic Sea, in the most Eastern point of Italy, facing out upon the straits which have taken its name, the Channel of Otranto. Evidence of the various peoples who passed through here in transit has lent this ancient fishing village a special charm. Considered the jewel of the Mediterranean in the year 1480, Otranto was besieged by the Turks who carried out a massacre, beheading 800 inhabitants.
Amazing is the Cathedral of Otranto, dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation, which contains the bones of martyrs. Its mosaic floor, rich in various scenes, is the work of the monk Pantaleone (1165). The mosaic had a direct influence on the sounds Urkuma used on Rebuilding Pantaleone's Tree, as well as on the way they were assembled.
Pantaleone's mosaic depicts several unusual elements, including a number of animals playing musical instruments such as a donkey with a harp (seen on the album's cover), a dog with snares, and an olifante... This mosaic is full of incredible symbolistic images and there is a strange mood about music in it. The making of Rebuilding Pantaleone's Tree was an attempt to connect the methods for building the mosaic and these "musical pictures".
The monk Pantaleone was not deep into culture and theological theory, but with his mosaic he has melt in a unique opera such a great amount of signs, theories and images assembled in a very "modern" way. This kind of approach is very close to Urkuma's system of composing music, and for this particular release was followed this way of syncretism.