"Verdadero Fruto" CD - Matías Betti
review by Greg Howard.
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Matías Betti: Chapman Stick
Andrea Alvarez: Batería y percusión
Sergio Alvarez: Guitarra
Renzo Baltuzzi: Guitarra
Pablo Belmes: Cajón Peruano
Guillermo Cides: Stick ambients
Adrià Grandia: Zanfona
Lulo Isod: Batería
Argentine Stickist Matías Betti's Verdadero Fruto is a diverse and impressive debut Stick CD. These eleven instrumentals run the stylistic gamut from his own raucous composition "Tras los Pasos del Gigante," where he slaps and whacks his ten string Stick in time with the heavy rock drums of Andrea Alvarez, to romantic ballads, like the theme from Charles Chaplin's 1952 film "Limelight" ("Candilejas"), also composed by Chaplin. "Alfonsina Y El Mar" is a lilting waltz by Félix Luna and Ariel Ramirez, a tribute to Alfonsina Storni, the Argentine poet who ended her life by drowning herself in the sea. Matías shows a remarkable gift for getting inside the tune, telling its story patiently, awash in the softly swelling zanfona (hurdy-gurdy) played by Adrià Grandia.
For anyone to attempt a recording of Ravel's "Bolero" in this day and age is remarkably brave, as it has been recorded so many times before. Matías offers a truly contemporary take on Stick with drums, guitar and percussion, and soaring electronically harmonized Stick melody lines. It's an engaging and fresh version of a widely popular piece of music.
Matías's Stick sound bridges the divide between acoustic and electric instruments. There is a real punch, edge and growl to the bass, and his melody is sometimes sweet and lyrical, and sometimes distorted and heavily processed. In his left-hand chord accompaniment I can clearly hear his fingers engage the strings. He seems perfectly at ease with the whole range of sounds at his fingertips, and uses them all with good effect.
Matías and his supporting cast of musicians perfectly complement each other. Most of the pieces are duos or trios with clearly conceived overdubs. The sound is deep but never cluttered. Cides contributes an ambient wash to "Floreciendo," providing an ambiguous tension against the broad major and minor tonality. Matías's own compositions are melodically often as sophisticated and memorable as those he choses to cover, especially "La Esencia", which lingers playfully in my head after each time I hear it.
Stylistically, Matías brings a clear and distinctive new voice as a composer and interpreter of his musical roots, capable of looking backwards into the music of the past and bringing it forward into the present. I wonder what the future holds for Matías?