Can trans-techno-fired guitar instrumentals co-exist with ambient sound collages featuring the likes of American literary great Henry Miller and intimate DADGAD-tuned vocal ballads straight out of the Nick Drake/John Martyn playbook? They can and do on “Sketches of Spam,” the 16-track, 69-minute, genre-surfing debut release from Spaghetti Eastern Music (Bad Egg Records, 30003), the solo project of Saugerties & NYC-based guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Sal Cataldi.
Cataldi’s much-varied sound is the product of an insatiable musical soul and a record collection rivaling the Smithsonian’s. This debut album is an hour-plus journey through contrasting moods, with instrumentals inspired by 70’s Miles, Krautrock, Ennio Morricone, Bhangra, Fripp & Eno and ECM’s icy guitar great Terje Rypdal giving way to bare-bones acoustic vocal tunes – ones oft anchored on unusual tunings, with narratives that chart the course of difficult loves, in styles that range from Brit Folk to Bossa Nova.
Spaghetti Eastern Music has received consistent critical raves, for live performances and the selective release of early mixes of works now fully realized on this debut disc. The New York Times said “the funk-tinged original instrumentals and acoustic vocal tunes have a beat unmistakably his own” while Time Out New York writes: "Cataldi's largely instrumental, Eastern-influenced jams are infused with some delicate guitar work and hauntingly moody atmosphere." Newsday adds: “Mad scientist-guitarist-keyboardist Cataldi brings da funk and throws it in a mixer with electronica, bebop and blues.” Called “truly excellent” by The Village Voice, “a wild ride, a fun name for some very good music” by Radio Woodstock, “beautiful and unique” by WFUV’s Mixed Bag, “triumphantly funkified” by UPI, “a stimulating soloist” by The New York Press and “a jazz virtuoso without the need to prove it” by Aquarian Weekly. Almanac Weekly’s John Burdick proclaims: “a unique voice, a surprising blend of exploratory fusion, electronica and indie song craft, from the Ennio Morricone overtones anticipated by his handle to currents of Krautrock, techno, modal folk and various world music styles.”: East Coast Rocker/Rolling Stone writer John Swenson, the man who penned the liner notes to Frank Zappa’s “Shut Up n Play Yer Guitar,” may have put it best, “he’s the hippie guitarist playing to another dimension.” Hudson Valley One/Saugerties Times recently called Cataldi’s music: “Part Sergio Leone fever dream, part Ravi Shankar raga, a whirling dervish of musical creation.”
The authority on all things Beatles, The Beatles Examiner recently praised the album’s “ sharp soaring guitar jams” and called the distinctive cover of “Ticket to Ride,” “incredible, a wonderfully moody re-imagining” of the Lennon classic. Huffington Post dubs it “the perfect soundtrack for New York City life,” while WFMU’s Irene Trudel calls it “charming melodic and off-center,” while popular Zappa fan sites Idiot Bastard and United Mutations gave raves to his reinvention of “Sleep Dirt,” a Zappa acoustic instrumental rarity, which appears on the CD as “Nap Dust.” The album is now enjoying airplay on radio including WFUV’s “Mixed Bag,” SiriusXM, WDST-Radio Woodstock, WFMU, Oakland’s KALX, NYC-area college station including WCWP, WDFU, WVRK and WHPC and many more. The CD’s title is a lighthearted tribute to Miles Davis’ atmospheric classic, “Sketches of Spain,” one ripe for this digital overload and lunchmeat age!
Divine Nonchalance Live in Bushwick
Ticket to Ride cover from album Sketches of Spam
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