i.khroustaliov/m.ravalico' five loose plans reviews



ezzthetic' ezzthetic_ep reviews

birmingham post
all about jazz
straight no chaser


afroshock' accommodating gods reviews

straight no chaser
musicians magazine



The Jazz Mann - March 16, 2007

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?


The Jazz Mann - June 26, 2006

Ezzthetic_ep (F-IRECD08)
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.
(Ian Mann)

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Birmingham Post - October 19, 2005

Ezzthetic_ep (F-IRECD08)
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.
(Peter Bacon)

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AllAboutJazz - November 16, 2005

Ezzthetic_ep (F-IRECD08)
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, in '98.
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.
(Chris May)

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Straight no Chaser – Autumn 2005

Ezzthetic_ep (F-IRECD08)
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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Skug - Journal für Muzik - September 24, 2005

Ezzthetic_ep (F-IRECD08)
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 Liaison ein.
(Alfred Pranzl)

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Straight no Chaser - Winter 1998

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.
(Paul Bradshaw)

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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.
(Roger Beaujolais)

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