Nicola Ratti bases his music upon the search for a personal language that is capable of joining together basic song structure, electro-acoustic experimentation, and the use of sounds extracted from the environment in which we live, with a sensibility that ranges from improvisation to the almost artisanal construction of sound. The use of voice and words compete to create a result full of nuance and discovery within compositions which remain open to both formal and emotional points of view.
Born in Milan in 1978, Nicola began his musical career playing guitar and singing lead vocals for the math-rock band Pin Pin Sugar, until their eventual break up in 2004. After releasing a limited, self-produced 10' EP, he released his official solo debut album (which was ranked as one of the 25 best releases of 2006 by the publication, Il Mucchio) on the Italian label Megaplomb.
In addition to his solo material, Nicola is currently working with Giuseppe Ielasi on the project entitled Bellows (released by Kning Disk), and with the Morriconian soundtrack-band Ronin. He has also collaborated in various live performances with Andrea Belfi, Dean Roberts, Oren Ambarchi and Phill Niblock.
The search for descriptive methods through the use of sound, and the ability to create environment with sound by recognizing its territorial elements, are points where the activity of the musician and the architect converge. Through his work in both pursuits, Nicola Ratti has had the opportunity to engage with these themes in various exhibitions and events dealing with architectural and urban spaces.
Nicola Ratti - From the Desert Came Saltwater - Anticipate 005
released May 2008 - CD / digital
Italian-born multi-instrumentalist and architect, Nicola Ratti, presents his debut for Anticipate, adding a new layer to the label, while fitting in perfectly with previous releases. Nicola's music can best be described as warm, subtractive rock, whereby he reduces guitar figures and piano passages into quiet explorations of the hidden corners of an otherwise familiar sound. Guitars twang and elaborate chords with slight and spacious percussion and softly hushed (occasional) vocals, atmospheric sound twinkles, and the complete work congeals into a carefully composed re-imagining of music which could have gone in more traditional directions.
In terms of situating this album in the context of modern electroacoustic music, Nicola uses more natural effects treatment, shying away from fragmentation and processing which obscures the inherent character of the instruments. Rather, he uses these processes to add depth and subtly tease out the hidden sonorities of his tools of choice, re-composing them and adding atmospherics along the way. While using instruments which have their own inherent qualities, the sounds which Nicola coaxes out of them feel as if he has made them with his hands, rather than be constrained by what a guitar string is physically capable of doing. By taking advantage of electronic production approaches, Nicola reworks something which is, at the heart of it, imminently accessible, into an album which retains an inviting quality, while adding new levels of intangibility - turning a classic and subdued sound into a work which utilizes the acoustics of field recordings and found sounds as instruments in their own right - blurring the distinction - allowing the harmony between object and instrument to become more fully realized.
Dynamic and well balanced, this subtly haunting album maneuvers through full, layered sequences into spare moments of near silence and back again with ease. It isn't a loud-quiet dichotomy, but rather, skillfully placed areas of intimacy which offset the more overtly instrumental progressions. Nicola segues from droning strings and almost invisible vocals to subtly uplifting chords in a manner which makes the transition almost unnoticeable. This is just one example of how From the Desert Came Saltwater sneaks up on the listener. It captures a quality which allows it to disappear and then completely take hold without missing a breath.