NICOLA RATTI: From The Desert Came Saltwater (Anticipate Recordings)


Posted on Jun 2nd 2008 09:09 pm

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Nicola Ratti: From The Desert Came Saltwater

From The Desert Came Saltwater
Anticipate Recordings 2008
06 tracks. 44mins42secs

What most people know about Nicola Ratti could be written on the back of a postcard. The former guitarist of the now defunct Pin Pin Sugar is not exactly a household name, although work with Giuseppe Ielasi on 2007’s well-regarded Bellows will have gone some way to establishing him with a wider audience. He has also collaborated with Andrea Belfi, and is today a guitarist with underground Italian instrumentalists Ronin. But obscurity is probably not something that would worry someone like Ratti. After all, his sound virtually invites it. Hushed guitars played at half-pace on studied, earnest compositions are not easily going to grab the attention of the average listener. But this is the point, it seems, with his music, and with From The Desert Came Saltwater in particular. It is the sound of music stripped of verbosity and excess, a sound that in doing very little very slowly manages to lure its way insidiously into perception.

Perhaps the main problem with this approach is that it has to be done expertly to carry any weight. The slow, lingering sound of a guitar played very softly somewhere in the distance is a pretty conceit, but few will stick around if it doesn’t really hit the mark. Luckily Ratti knows what he is doing, and the light, lazy acoustic plucking meanderingly forms into something substantial. His background as an architect might well be the key here. Both the patience that the profession requires – where completed forms take years and not the hours or days that musicians often work in – and the bigger sense of vision have certainly helped his music. Indeed, he explicitly links the two pursuits, claiming that he aims to do with music what he has done with architecture – turn it into a territory in itself. While the point is certainly abstruse, it makes sense of his music, and gives structure and weight to each soft note of the piano or guitar as they appear.

The album works best as a solid whole, such is the interconnectedness both of the theme and the sound with it. But there are stand-out moments. The delicate Voluta Musica, where an organ sighs quietly beneath vocals that barely register, is almost effortless, while the brooding Coconut sees a subdued, low-key guitar refrain lifted by whispery, meditative vocals. Ratti’s delicate approach does at times scream out for something more powerful – a change of pace or a move away from quiet reflection – but this doesn’t really seem to suit him. But few could listen to this album and deny that in its own tender, finespun way, there is definitely something about it.


Nicola Ratti | Anticipate Recordings
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