Nicola Ratti is a guitarist and experimental composer from Milan. He has worked on a number of projects, including Bellows with Giuseppe Ielasi, and with Canadian musician Mark Templeton (whose Jealous Heart LP remains a firm favorite for this writer). On February 6, Ratti released his latest work; a double edition LP titled ossario (volume 1 and 2) on the Italy-based Holiday Records. The album is breathtaking, a well defined and contemplative medley of styles that is said to build on “musical skeletons designed not to be covered in flesh and tissues, but trying to reduce everything to the bone.”
In addition to the release, Ratti has assembled an exclusive mix for TMT. It’s grounded in the music of musicians he personally knows or has worked with in the past. There are also works from musicians he has never met, and who he could never meet, but it’s “music I could be listen to for hours, or music that doesn’t belong to my roots but that I recognize as essential to my artistic development.”
The image Nicola chose for the mix is an instrument he uses with Tilde, a trio with Attila Faravelli and Enrico Malatesta. It’s a small wooden block used to investigate surrounding surfaces, or it can be used as a percussive object. He says that it represents what the production of very complex sounds through the simplest of means. I couldn’t resist asking Ratti a few questions about his mix, which also features some crackle and noise from the vinyl he chose to use.
Listen to his untitled mix below, and check below for the tracklist and Ratti’s responses.
What were you hoping to achieve with this mix? What were your aesthetic aims?
I simply tried to mix together some music I really like. I like my music complex and rich in terms of texture and matter but extremely simple when conceived and realized. For instance, two wooden spheres, a colony of woodworms, a pair of low-frequency oscillators used with a simple and smart idea behind it all could create an intense aural experience, if you listen to them properly. In addition, the mix turns around the idea of rhythm conceived as a complex and non-musical element. A rhythm becomes more of an overlay of two or more discharges of acoustic events through a measure of time. Yet another aim was to create a mix characterized by high sound quality; that’s probably the element that lumps together all the selections I made.
The mix is stylistically diverse - field recordings through dub and glitch - how do these divergences in style play into the context of your latest album?
It’s all about sound and its substance, this is more important than the instrument you use to create your sound. My music is a kind of fragile balance between all of those elements, every one of them has the same importance in the mix and there rarely is a “main” one - it’s the distinctly hidden or far away elements are more important than what you can ear clearly.
The mix is based around collaborators and people you have worked closely with. How do you choose your collaborators? Are there certain?characteristics or personality traits you need to be able to relate to before you start working together?
Actually, it’s always a reciprocal choice. It’s easy to start a collaboration when you realize that you’re sharing some ideas and, most importantly, an attitude toward music and sounds. What I like in the collaborations is that they let me experiment much more than I could do by myself and also try some new solutions/instruments since I get bored after a while I’m playing the same instrument.
Your new album, ossario (volume 1 and 2), was released on Holiday Records earlier this month. Will you be supporting it soon with a live show? If so, where can people catch you?
Yes, I will. There’s a live show page on my website with the upcoming shows. The big one I’m looking forward to will be in Paris on March 28th at the Presences Electronique Festival, I’ll be around Europe for the most part of Spring and Summer.
[00:00] Attila Faravelli - “On top”
[04:04] Andrew Pekler - “The twilight of your smile.”
[08:12] Burkina Faso, Antologie de la musique du Gan - “Rythme Des Pilons Dans Un Mortier”
[10:21] Rhythm & Sound - “Aground”
[14:57] Burundi, Musiques Traditionelles - “Akazéhé Par Deux Jeunes Filles”
[16:34] Adam Asnan - “Tetraptych”
[21:25] Vessel - “VMI”
[24:51] Renato Rinaldi - “Time Machine II”
[26:56] Burkina Faso, Antologie de la musique du Gan - “Rhombes”
[28:07] Enrico Malatesta - “Bestiario vol.2”
[30:32] Mark Templeton - “Jealous horse”
[33:11] Eselsohr - “Voluntary milking system”
[36:32] Emptyset - “Monad”
[39:20] Francesco Messina - “Prati bagnati del Monte Analogo”
[44:57] Ricardo Villalobos - “Minimoonstar”