Five Loose PLans (NOT007)
This album length project is the latest release from percussionist
Maurizio Ravalico and features him in an unusual sonic duet with electronic
musician Isambard Khroustaliov.
Ravalico was born and raised in Trieste, Italy but has lived and worked
in London since 1991. His previous release the “Ezzthetic EP”
has been reviewed elsewhere on this site and chronicles much of Ravalico’s
musical history. His present projects also include his duo with the remarkable
tuba player Oren Marshall and his work as a member of the prestigious
F-ire Collective. He also plays with Dele Sosimi’s Afrobeat Ensemble
and with the ten-piece merengue and salsa band Merengada.
Former architect Khroustaliov began composing electronic music in 1996.
Since 1997 he has worked with Ollie Bown as one half of the electronic
duo Icarus and they have released several recordings for a variety of
labels and toured all over Europe. In 2004 the Icarus album “I Tweet
The Birdy Electric” (Leaf Records) was named as one of The Wire
Magazine’s top ten electronic albums of the year.
Hitherto self taught Khroustaliov then undertook a masters course in electronic
music at IRCAM in Paris under the tutelage of composer Philippe Leroux
among others. His piece “Junkspace” for banjo and electronics
was premiered at IRCAM in 2006. Khroustaliov is now writing a piece for
string quartet and electronics. He is committed to fusing electronics
with a range acoustic instruments and his work with Ravalico is an important
part of this process.
The music contained on “Five Loose Plans” can only be described
as experimental. Ravalico’s percussion set up includes conventional,
if rather exotic, instruments such as surdos, Tibetan bowls and cymbals
plus “found ” objects and devices such as kitchen utensils,
industrial components, marbles, film tapes and even magnolia leaves.
Khroustaliov picks up the acoustic sounds generated by Ravalico and processes
them using a variety of self-invented software tools. This is then played
back to Ravalico to create an ongoing dialogue.
The sound created by this process verges on the “musique concrete”.
Ravalico’s percussion deliberately steers clear of conventional
beats and metres and once it has been treated by Khroustaliov it becomes
even more abstract. However, as on the “Ezzthetic EP” the
acoustic percussive element is a vital factor in humanising the music.
There are several passages of thunderous acoustic percussion of great
virtuosity that serve to punctuate the more abstract electronic episodes.
The soundscapes generated here are too spiky and challenging to be classed
as ambient, but they can be both atmospheric and dramatic. “Five
Loose Plans” is certainly not a record for the general listener.
However, fans of electronic and improvised music should find much to enjoy
here. Repeated listening reveals fresh layers and nuances as the duo lure
you into their unusual but strangely compelling musical world.
This is the type of music that was likely to be heard on Radio Three’s
“Mixing It” before the shameful decision was taken to axe
the programme. Sadly there is now very little chance of this kind of music
getting any airtime at all and it is likely to be pushed even further
into the margins.
And since you ask I’m none too pleased about the decision to cut
“Late Junction” to four shows a week and even less impressed
with it being moved to an unreasonably late transmission time. Is there
a hidden agenda to reduce listener numbers and hence give the BBC a spurious
excuse to abolish this too?
Originally released in October 2005 this is still the most recently released
work featuring the Italian percussionist Maurizio Ravalico. Born and raised
in Trieste Ravalico has lived and worked in London since 1991 and in an
interesting and diverse musical career has worked with high profile names
such as Jamiroquai, The James Taylor Quartet, Alex Wilson and Snowboy.
In 1998 he released the acclaimed album “Accomodating Gods”
with fellow percussionist Davide Giovannini under the name Afroshock.
Besides his involvement in Salsa and Cuban music he is also involved in
more experimental projects. As a member of the F-ire Collective he has
worked with Barak Schmool’s group Meta Meta.
The Ezzthetic EP is definitely a product of Ravalico’s experimental
leanings. Between 2000 and 2004 he spent some time back in Italy and became
involved with some of his compatriots in the Ezzthetic project. Set up
as a workshop and recording studio in the Venezia region of North East
Italy Ezzthetic also involves actors and visual artists as well as musicians
and many multi media projects have resulted across a range of disciplines.
If memory serves “Ezzthetic” was also the title of a Lee Konitz
album back in the 1950’s.
The EP features the dialogue between Ravalico’s percussion and the
computer and sample generated soundscapes of Leonardo Gementi, a gallery
curator who has frequently used electronic sound accompaniment to enhance
his exhibitions. Gementi also works as a dj and is the driving force behind
the Ezzthetic recording studio.
Gementi is Ravalico’s main collaborator but there is also input
from Pierpaolo Vit, also a dj, producer and electronic musician and Alessandro
Corsini aka DJ Enjoy.
The EP is structured as a triptych with three major tracks, all with a
running time of approximately eight minutes framed by four untitled miniatures,
each lasting less than a minute. The first major track “Pacino”
is featured on “F-ire Works Vol.2.” an excellent double CD
collection featuring a diverse, experimental and sometimes brilliant range
of works from the various members of the F-ire Collective which serves
as a good value introduction to F-ire’s music, musicians and ethos.
On the “Ezzthetic” EP Ravalico adds a vital human element
through his use of percussion instruments. He uses five tuned conga drums,
a thumb piano and a caxixi. The congas give “Pacino” a tremendous
rhythmic drive over which the electronics oscillate, weaving in and out
of the piece. It is a surprisingly effective combination.
The second main track is “Duetto” which is divided into three
parts and features Ravalico’s shimmering thumb piano against sampled
speech and other electronica. There is a certain cinematic, film noirish
quality to it.
“3T” again features the pulse Ravalico’s congas and
other percussion to provide the rhythmic backbone of the track allowing
the droning electronic sounds to swoop, soar and float over the top.
The miniatures suitably ambient and too brief to warrant detailed comment.
The importance of Ravalico’s role cannot be understated. His percussive
contributions and rhythmic qualities prevent the music from becoming becalmed
as can so often happen with ambient/electronic music. This is clearly
the area in which this music operates. Certainly it has little to do with
conventional jazz and although there is room for improvisation here the
music does seem to operate within an overall pre-planned structure. Whilst
this is not the style of music I would normally choose to listen to it
is surprisingly effective, not least due to the percussion.
Ravalico has now left the Ezzthetic project and is now once again a full
time London resident. He is currently involved in a number of projects
and hopes to release an album later this year with Isambard Kroustaliov
of software electronics duo Icarus.The album is provisionally entitled
“Five Loose Plans”. It will be interesting to compare this
with the “Ezzthetic” EP.
He is also working in a duo with the extraordinary tuba player Oren Marshall
and is also providing percussion for Dele Sosimi’s Afro Beat Ensemble.
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Post - October 19, 2005
When a review CD arrives in the usual clear plastic case, but with
minimal black lettering on the plastic, no paper insert and a cinnamon
stick encased in the spine, you know minimalist style is on the agenda.
Ezzthetic describe themselves as experimental artists. One of the trio
is percussionist and vocalist Maurizio Ravalico. He has worked with Jamiroquai
and the James Taylor Quartet, and is also part of the F-IRE Collective
(see Jazz Diary).
His collaborators here are Leonardo Gementi, DJ, electronic musician and
art curator, and Piero Vit, DJ, producer and, irrelevantly, wine connoisseur.
Their main arena of work is in providing the sound elements in art installations,
but this EP CD shows their music stands just as well on its own. Percussion
and electronics mix very well in washes, bleeps and clicks. The faint
buzzing, bell-like thumb pianos play out a simple pattern behind abstract
scraping and dragging sounds. Distorted announcements and conversations
are blended to become sounds rather than speech.
It all has a thoughtfulness and grace about it that suggests this is no
accidental amalgamation of sounds. Improvisation at the compositional
construction stage, but very well thought through.
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London's F-IRE collective and label is a multi-coloured wonder, home without
frontiers to a broad spectrum of innovative young British-based jazz-and-beyond
talent including Acoustic Ladyland, Polar Bear, Ingrid Laubrock, Timeline,
and Oriole. Electronica is increasingly being explored by F-IRE artists,
but mainly in creative jazz contexts. This debut from the Ezzthetic quartet
is a new strand: electro-acoustica with no particular connection to jazz,
other than the quest for new sonic terrain.
Founded in Italy in '00, Ezzthetic is a collective in its own right: a
group of DJs, musicians, electronicists, art world professionals, writers,
actors, and cyber freaks who come together in various combinations to
produce club, gallery, and theatre events. The connection with F-IRE came
about because percussionist/frontman Maurizio Ravalico was based in London
in the '90s, where he was the percussionist with Jamiroquai from '92-'94
and the James Taylor Quartet from '94-'99, was involved in numerous salsa
and Cuban music projects, and set up Afroshock, with drummer Davide Giovannini,
For Ravalico, these sessions must represent a haven from those hotter
and more wired playing contexts. Subtitled Noises For Gentle People, the
26-minute EP is built around three eight-minute tracks—"Pacino,"
"Duetto," and "3T"—featuring his congas and
thumb piano on soft-hued, pastel canvases of realtime, MIDI-free, electronic
soundscapes. Superficially, it's not unlike the ambient music that contemporary
art galleries use as a mood enhancer: nuzak which seeks to erase urban
clatter, but in which nothing much really happens.
Listen more attentively, and it's a micro world of delicate, incrementally
evolving tones and textures. The almost geometric reconfigurations of
the five congas on "3T," for instance, or the subtly shifting
thumb piano motifs on "Duetto," are strangely absorbing—once
you realise it's not stasis you're listening to, but finely detailed slo-mo.
Without being transcendental, and though it's modest in its ambitions,
this is peaceful and centering music, and like the man might have said,
you could try a little gentleness.
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Straight no Chaser – Autumn
This awe inspiring EP is the result of collaborations between F-IRE Collective
members based in Italy and London. Until now the only way you could witness
their work was by attending one of their theatre plays, installations
or performances. This, at last, is the groups first commercially available
purely musical production. Realised over a summer of isolation in Udine,
Italy, Ezzthetic members Maurizio Ravalico, percussionist with the likes
of Jamiroquai and the James Taylor Quartet, Leonardo Gementi, a DJ and
electronic musician and Piero Vit, a producer and DJ, created 26 minutes
of magical blend between percussion instruments and computer generated
sounds. The beautiful organic sounds of the conga drums, thumb piano and
the caxixi contrast perfectly with the haunting electronic sounds created
by modifying sound samples – using a rhythm machine, an ad-beam
oscillator and a radio. The EP is structured in a triptyc with three main
compositions that will transport you to a mysterious twilight world. In
music terms at least, the future is right here. (NTB)
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Hinter diesem Projekt verbergen
sich Italiener mit Wahlwohnsitz London, wo sie in der zeitgenössischen
Kunstszene umrühren. Ezzthetic ist die rein musikalische Ergänzung
zu Kunstprojekten. In Udine haben Maurizio Ravalico (Percussion - u.a.
James Taylor Quartet, F-ire Collective, Duo mit Sam Britton) und Leonardo
Gementi (el.) in ein Studio begeben und schmuckes Kurzweiliges eingespielt,
das dank der Verwendung von Daumenklavier und Caxixi in gewissen Passagen
delikat-naiv klingt. Die am Computer generierten Sounds gehen mit der
mäandernden Percussion eine vitale und doch auch wundersam-beschauliche
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Straight no Chaser - Winter
Accommodating Gods (Calmi)
A decade in the making this CD is the result of these two Italian percussionists
being immersed in music that serves the deities of the African religions
in Cuba. Rather than simply regurgitate or mirror what they'd learned
during their journey the duo transposed the music from bata drums to trap
drums, congas and other percussion.
Maurizio and Davide sing and play with fire and passion and, like Bata
Ketu's CD, makes this innovative venture essential to investigate.
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Musicians Magazine - 1998
Accommodating Gods (Calmi)
Afroshock is a duo of Davide Giovannini and Maurizio Ravalico, two Italian
percussionists who have caused quite a stir since arriving in London about
eight years ago. Both virtuosos with a thorough knowledge of Afro-Cuban
rhythms, they are firmly entrenched on the London Latin scene and have
finally released thir long-awaited debut album Accommodating Gods
(...). Afroshock have arranged traditional Cuban folkloric songs for drum
kit, percussion and several voices in a way that defies belief. This is
a live album with no overdubs that sounds full (I'd swear there were five
or six of them!). To play these intricate rhythms, with these arrangements
and sing harmonies is impressive stuff. It may not be to everyone's taste,
but this is a must for students of Latin percussion and those interested
in Cuban music. Others should see the band if they get the chance.
Seeing is believing.
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