Giovanni Lami / Nicola Ratti: 7-inch Split
Granny Records

Some releases qualify as art objects as much as musical collections, a case in point this recent seven-inch vinyl outing featuring material by Nicola Ratti on one side and Giovanni Lami on the other. That shouldn't be interpreted to mean that the musical content isn't worthy of one's time, as it assuredly is, but more to emphasize how striking the sleeve artwork by Opora is and how effectively it complements the musical content.

Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi and issued in an edition of 150 copies, the release opens with “Odd Doubt,” a concise experimental setting by the Milan-born Ratti, who's issued material on labels such as Anticipate, Preservation, Die Schachtel, and Entr'acte and who's presently working with Ielasi in the project Bellows, with Attila Faravelli as Faravelliratti, and with Enrico Malatesta and Faravelli in ~Tilde. Though Ratti started out as a guitar player, his current focus is more on beat-analog experimentation and sound installation. In “Odd Doubt,” Ratti's modular system and tape loops generate broken rhythms that varyingly call to mind dub-techno, even if dub-techno of an extremely wonky variety. Off-beat chords, crackle, and snare strikes add to the dubwise flavour of the material, though ultimately it registers as more of an experimental exploration than straight-up dub exercise.

The flip side features “Johnny Leech” by Lami, a one-time photographer now known as both a field recordist and a musician focusing on soundscaping and sound-ecology. In his contribution to the seven-inch, Lami's “chaotic hand-made synth (cacophonator) and memoryman” give birth to blustery smears of static electricity that ultimately mutate into an Oval-like array of ripples and scratches. “Johnny Leech” is so removed from anything conventionally musical, it makes “Odd Doubt” sound like a Top 40 pop song. Like Ratti's piece, Lami's is short, so short, in fact, it gives the impression of being an excerpt from a larger sound art work. Here's a release where the abstract nature of the musical content matches its visual presentation.

December 2014