Originally released digitally by Cafe Oto in 2020, "A Queer Anthology of Drums" is Italo-British percussionist Valentina Magaletti's most satisfying set - a future-fluid evolution of post-punk/industrial murk, free-jazz fizz, electro-acoustic trickery and avant-minimalist mischief. Think Chris Corsano, Morton J. Olsen, Thomas Strønen, Han Bennink.
Best known as a prized collaborator who's put in work with Raime, Helm, Jandek, Floating Points, Nico Jaar and numerous others, and making up part of Moin, Vanishing Twin, Tomaga and CZN, Valentina Magaletti is also an accomplished solo artist, and this is where her skills really tend to shine. "A Queer Anthology of Drums" stands as a blueprint for her methodology, rolling through her studied musical philosophy centering percussion without sacrificing structure, cohesion and momentum. Anyone who's heard her performances before won't be completely caught off guard, but this record is the most complete collection she's assembled thus far, balancing lucid rhythmic ritualism with playful psychedelia and fragmented melodic elements.
Magaletti recorded the album at home, collaging drums, field recordings, vibraphone, toys and oscillators into a fluxing symphony of rhythm and tone. And while the original album was eight tracks, an additional piece has been added to this new remastered edition to open the record: 'She/Her/Gone', that introduces us to Magaletti's sound in a shower of delayed piano, brushed drums and jangling bells. From here, the set takes a darker turn, pattering into cavernous, metallic spaces on 'The Unity of the Mind', and erupting into a chunky, limber rhythm on the tough-as-nails title track.
The fog lifts a little as the set progresses, first with the Steve Reich-cum-Broadcast lounge minimalism of 'Rumors of Bread', and then with 'Per Strada', one of the album's most disarming moments that offsets Magaletti's gamalan-influenced percussive cycles with rousing choral sounds. She utilizes these elements to illustrate her understanding of musical history - her drumming is not tied to the instrument's expected function: it's not simply jazz, or punk, and it's definitely not free improv. Her interests are deep and literate, and her sound reaches thru global folk traditions and ritual practices, touching on pop and experimental forms without mimicking them or operating in template mode. But it isn't an academic exercise either, Magaletti queers her subject matter in a way that makes it accessible and humane.
Absolutely essential listening for anyone interested in percussive music, ritual music - even experimental lounge.