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Maurizio Ravalico


by Ian Mann

June 26, 2006

/ EP

Surprisingly effective, not least due to the percussion.

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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