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.