Review: Valentina Magaletti & Julian Sartorius – Sulla Pelle (Marionette, Aug 30)

I have this old faded yellow Ege Bamyasi shirt that I still wear around a lot, and it’s always a pleasant surprise to see the amount of people who recognize it. I think Can is a very universal band, something that connects a variety of demographics of music enthusiasts, from 70’s psych heads to skillful musicianship appreciators to weirdos like myself, and personally I’d attribute that to Jaki Liebezeit’s iconic drumming. Tracks like “Halleluhwah,” “Up the Bakerloo Line With Anne,” and “Bel Air” demonstrate his uncanny ability to create an enrapturingly meditative atmosphere through repetition and jazz-indebted rhythmic looseness, a quality shared—and finally a segue out of this tangent—by Valentina Magaletti and Julian Sartorius’s new collaborative LP. Though the two musicians’ backgrounds in the contemporary avant-garde scene manifest with plenty of abstractions and eccentricities, rhythm is at the heart of Sulla Pelle, and the four pieces evolve via head-bobbing cascades of hypnotic percussion jams and airy cymbal work. I began with the Can comparison not only for Sartorius’s solo shows with Liebezeit on the bill, or that the fluid snare triplets on “Sobaka” could be yanked straight from “Pinch,” but because the almost celestial drum presence on Sulla Pelle is also one of fruitfulness and vitality. On more extended cuts like the title track and “Micro Tormento” the garden of groove gives birth to a host of other atmospheric subtleties and sonic decor, as bubbling electronics most likely supplied by Magaletti are bounced off drum skins to the surface and make the already meticulously detailed improvisations even more lush. Despite its undeniable strangeness, Sulla Pelle is just as universal.