Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Speaking Rhythms: Valentina Magaletti’s Baker’s Dozen

Prolific drummer and collaborator Valentina Magaletti marks the release of Tomaga's finest album by telling Jennifer Lucy Allan about her favourite 13 albums, from The Cure to Miles Davis, Art Blakey, and Can to Deerhoof, This Heat and the Art Ensemble Of Chicago. Photo by Adele di Nunzio

Valentina Magaletti is a drummer who has played in more bands, duos and collaborations than I can count on two hands. “I’ve got to start saying no to things!” she tells me over video call from her hometown in Southern Italy. Magaletti is currently working on CZN, a project with Portuguese percussionist and sculptor João Pais Filipe who makes gongs with faces, putting the final touches to the third album by Vanishing Twin, a duo with singer Cathy Lucas, gearing up to play some live shows and release music with experimental dub outfit Holy Tongue, and finishing the second full-length album with UUUU, a group with members of Wire and Coil. A documentary is being made of her most recent release for Café Oto’s TakuRoku, A Queer Anthology Of Drums. “That was a very introspective effort,” she says of that album, “the darkest time of my life – a little bit because of the pandemic, a little bit because [Tomaga bandmate] Tom Relleen got diagnosed with cancer, so I knew I was going to lose my brother, and breaking up with my girlfriend – all that effort went into intimacy, narrative and me putting this out.”

Relleen died in August 2020, and the final album Tomaga recorded, Intimate Immensity, is released on 26th March. Magaletti has also played drums for Raime, Gum Takes Tooth and Hey Colossus, and has collaborated with Marlene Ribeiro, Charles Hayward, and many others. She first wanted to be a drummer when she saw the music video for The Bangles ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ on TV, and knowing “I had this vivid experience – I just knew this was what I wanted to do. That’s going to be my job,” she says.

Magaletti studied classically, as well as jazz styles like bebop, but her style now – although she says it’s always evolving – is rhythmic and textural, and indebted to krautrock for its pacing and the way in which her playing unfolds. “Technique can be a blessing and a curse,” she says. “I’m not interested in technique. I studied a lot – classical music at conservatory, marimba and vibraphone, but the showing off and the macho, it doesn’t interest me as a musician or a listener. The way you tell stories is where it’s at… I’m really happy to have done it, but at some point in my career, when I started composing and collaborating with so many different people, I just thought that could take me backwards. I am so blessed to have a creative job, you don’t have to always use the same words to communicate, I am blessed to have this language, and can use whatever is in my head. I think technique sometimes puts things in flatline.”

Magaletti is a voracious and passionate listener – she frequently describes her record buying as ‘a problem’ as we talk, and is always on the hunt for something new, not something familiar. “Some of the records in this list have a vibe for me where I feel all of a sudden, like, where have I been?! I’m a very passionate person, so whoever played me that record is going to get blamed too – why the fuck didn’t they play me this before?” 


Her Baker’s Dozen traces major influences on her drumming style, from European avant-garde to the afro-centric rhythms of spiritual jazz, from the retro patina of Broadcast to the first live show she saw as a child. “They say copying from one is plagiarism, copying from loads is creativity,” she says, “and every single title in here mixed together is where my drumming comes from.” 

Tomaga’s Intimate Immensity is out now. Valentina Magaletti is one of the artists featured in the Rewire Festival’s 2021 online incarnation, for more information go here. Click the photograph of Magaletti below to begin reading her Baker’s Dozen selection

First Record

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