Massimo Natali’s musical upbringing has been tinted by both the music of Bach and the one of the minimalists—especially Glass. As he was forming his musical-self, Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Well-Tempered Clavier seem to have had a large impact, just as much as Glass’ Piano Etudes. As a performer, Natali has often combined both influences, and it is natural that it reflects in his compositional style. With his first solo release with the Italian label Blue Spiral Records—Nobody’s Home—the composer exposes a music that is both strongly narrative, minutiously-minimally crafted, and very similar to the one of another composer that follows the path Bach/Glass; Richter.
Generally speaking Natali expresses himself with the vocabulary of the minimalists—and as much as it is evident—it is a delight. The Mole presents many of the characteristics of contemporary classical and Collapse—one of the most well-written piece of Nobody’s Home—uses minimalistic techniques and impeccable musical craftsmanship. Lullaby and Departure are very post-minimalists, in fact very Richter-like; whether in terms of their structure or their harmonic vocabulary and it is no surprise since the composer cites the British composer as an influence—to the point of sharing titles with him. Dust borrows once more from Richter—and Satie!—in a subtle manner. Memorial is the fourth piece that musically explicitly refers to Richter, and could represent a study in post-minimalism—as do much of the pieces of the album. There are a lot of evocative moments in Nobody’s Home. A great example of it is The Mirror, where two parts seem to reflect each other in an exchange of registers. Metronome is a very explicit piece that plays on repetition and the regularity of the rhythms while The Bell Tolls is very visual—through the carillon-like low pattern. Hills is a little delicate piece and Breathing is probably one of the most traditional piece of the album, structured around accompaniment and melody. Burning Home reveals the influence of the current Italian contemporary classical stylistic approach, just as Portrait Room brings a certain interest for lyricism. Finally, Endless Nights announces the closing of the album and introduces strings, enhancing the dramatic effect of the piece and perhaps opening to Natali’s compositional future.
Memory is the central theme of Nobody’s Home. The album is for Natali an opportunity to explore his souvenirs and memories; the creative exercise is very introspective and is the result of an extensive search for images of the past and a translation in music. While the musical language is very familiar, it is the honesty of the themes that make Nobody’s Home an interesting release. Through this first release, the Italian composer is getting closer to finding his natural musical voice and areas of exploration.