This is a private page containing material of my next release "A Thousand Rawhide Diaphragms", a yet unpublished work in progress.
It is constantly updated, and it serves as a point of reference for communication with potential labels, backers and agents. If you are on this page it is because you have been personally invited; please treat it as strictly confidential.
Soundcloud streaming page - unmastered
All tracks composed and performed by Maurizio Ravalico, except Norwegian Wood, written by Lennon/McCartney
Recorded at St. Mary's Road Basement Studios, Ealing, London
and engineered by Chico Santarosa, except where indicated
Hither Green train station additional recording on “No Comparsa Today”: Isambard Khroustaliov
“Drag Spin Swing Read Pluck Clash Read”:
Pt.1 and 3 recorded at Trinity Laban’s fire escape staircase by Isambard Khroustaliov
Pt. 2 and 4 recorded at CodaToCoda studios, London; engineered by yours truly
Mixed by Will Worsley at CodaToCoda studio
Tintype front cover photo: Gui Sussekind
Digital finishing: Ario Drioli
Back cover photo, Maurizio Ravalico
Produced by Maurizio Ravalico
Special thanks to Will Fry, for the precious feedbacks given during the process of completion of this album
LINER NOTES - A manifesto in progress
As a percussionist, congas are the single instrument I have spent more time playing, and whereas this fact in itself certainly doesn’t make me a player of relevance, nor grants me any claim of authority over the subject, it has nevertheless contributed to generating a symbiotic bond with this instrument; a sense of self-identification not dissimilar to what I have with any of my limbs, or my vocal apparatus. This, coupled with the only incidentally symbolic fact that congas are played with bare hands, makes conga playing one of the most intimate acts of my life, and conga drums an out-and-out (if cumbersome) extension of my body.
There’s something about its weight, size, its barrel-shaped body, the wood, the thick skin and its particular range of frequencies, that was attracting me even before I could lay my hands on one of these instruments, as a young man, and that to this day makes my spine, chest and mind responding like a tuning fork.
After spending the entirety of the nineties (and a good part of the eighties) playing Salsa, Afrocuban music, Funk and all the groove-based genres where conga drums legitimately dwell and belong, with the new century I gradually started experimenting congas in less trodden environments, like free-form improvisation, contemporary dance, spoken word and electronic music. Liberating congas from their time-keeping obligations led me to experiment with new sounds and to explore structural layouts different than those suggested by the canonical repertoire of the instrument, yet without ever losing touch with its idiomatic legacy, its raison d'être in terms of aesthetics.
The music on this album is a synthesis and a consolidation of those experiences. In assembling it, my intention was that of creating "music for congas" in the widest and less restrictive sense; my only self-imposed limitations were that no instrument other than congas can be used, and that nothing else than bare hands should be employed to play them; no “preparations” with supplementary material were allowed either. Within these given restrictions, any way of creating music was allowed.
Some pieces have more historical continuity; some other make use of wholly orthodox sonorities but apply compositional strategies not usually associated with the instrument; some other again make a significant use of extended techniques, or isolate and expand specific areas of its conventional sound palette. I have also experimented some more adventurous recording methods, often in unusually sounding spaces, outdoors and indoors; for these pieces I have treasured and re-investigated the experiences made years ago during the recording of the album “In Thunder Rise”, with Oren Marshall and Isambard Khroustaliov.
Despite their inherently universal nature, congas are more often than not associated with, and relegated to, particular types of music and specific “ethnic” connotations; at their most far-reaching they remain confined to the roles of either a time-keeping instrument, or that of a flashy soloist.
The last thirty years have seen a formidable evolution in congas technique, thanks to the seminal examples of Changuito and Giovanni Hidalgo and the legacy that followed in their steps; but not much has been added in terms of content during the same period. It is my opinion that congas have a lot of potential still in want of being explored, both in the realm of composition and of improvisation, and I like to think of this album as a series of suggestions; a seed, bound to grow in different unexpected directions; the best reward for me would be to know that this small effort of mine has been a source of inspiration for other conga players, instigating them to venture into new areas that I haven’t even imagined myself.
Another implicit aim of this work is that it would somehow engender the curiosity of creators of composed music, a realm in which congas have hardly ever been taken into consideration as an instrument worthy of attention.
With this in mind, I have developed a new system of notation, simplified in relation to the various systems currently in use, yet allowing for unlimited degrees of details and articulations. For scoring, transcriptions and analysis of some of the tunes in this album please get in touch directly; an online collection of new studies for congas is also forthcoming and I invite you to join my mailing list by dropping me a line.
Egberto is a duet, for two players on a set of five congas each.
Interlude 1 - Thump, is an improvisation for one player.
A Thousand Rawhide Diaphragms is a choral piece for an ensemble of five/six players upwards (nine in this recording) playing one drum each, plus a conductor.
Interlude 2 - Hiss, is an improvisation for one player.
No Comparsa Today consists of a short unison phrase repeated indefinitely by four players on four pairs of differently tuned congas. That forms the basis for an action recorded somewhere else.
Interlude 3 - Tap, is an improvisation for one player.
Norwegian Wood is played by one person on a set of five congas.
In Drag Spin Swing Read Pluck Clash Read two improvisations in a very boomy space are alternating with a written theme; the latter is repeated twice: once by one player on five drums, while on the second iteration a third voice is added by a second player.