the critically-acclaimed 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. His debut album, “Sketches of Spam,” the 16-track, 69-minute, genre-surfing release from (Bad Egg Records, 30003), was 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. In 2020, Cataldi followed this with a trio of acclaimed atmospheric singles that have been heard around the globe, “Her Lemon Peel Raincoat – Because It’s Raining,” “Peace Within” and “And This is Their New Hoax,” a COVID-19 musical editorial featuring samples of President Trump’s most noted denials to Cataldi’s soundpainting guitars and synths. His February 2021 release, “Blues for A Lost Cosmonaut,” is a well-reviewed nine-minute plus maxi single again in the ambient mode while October 2021’s, “Solo Guitar Score for 2x2x4,” is a bold solo electric guitar score to a dance piece recorded live at the Avant-Garde Arama Festival in Woodstock, inspired by his work with the guitar orchestra of Rhys Chatham and his love of Fripp and “White Light, White Heat”-era Velvet Underground. In June, Cataldi will release a new single in the acoustic singer-songwriter mode, “I Believe In Love,” a preview to an all-acoustic song-centric EP, “Turpentine Valentines,” coming in September 2022.
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 says “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” while Chronogram Magazine labels Spaghetti Eastern “cool, inspired, sophisticated, melodic and transcendent, a wave of sonic warmth and light.” 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 recently called Cataldi’s music: “Part Sergio Leone fever dream, part Ravi Shankar raga, a whirling dervish of musical creation,” while Psychedelic Baby Magazine labeled it “the perfect sonic tonic for these troubled times.”
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 “charmingly 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, 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!
Sal’s other current project, Hari Karaoke Trio of Doom, is a duo co-lead with Kansas City-based drummer D. Hitchcock, which includes guest appearances by legends like Eno/Brand X bassist Percy Jones. HKToD has released two critically acclaimed discs, “Escape Velocity” (1999) and “Geolago” (2002). Collector, Cataldi’s former “heavy metal bebop quartet,” released another genre-leaping critic’s fave, the all-instrumental “Almost Live” in (1999). Both of these bands have performed frequently in New York and beyond, at progressive clubs like the Knitting Factory. Cataldi recently teamed up with Alaskan playwright and poet Mark Muro as the Vapor Vespers for a critically-acclaimed new album of sonics and storytelling called “One Act Sonix” released in January 2020. He is also half of the edge-pushing improvisatory/ambient electric guitar duo, Guitars A Go Go, with Hudson, NY-based guitarist Rick Warren, which released their debut disc, “Travel Advisory” in May 2020.
Cataldi is also remembered for the role he played in one of the most popular, kamikaze bands of the early-to-mid-90s downtown scene, the “clown pop princes of Brooklyn,” Frank’s Museum. This band was a popular attraction at New York-area clubs including CBGB, The Ritz, Tramps, Coney Island High, Lone Star Roadhouse and Maxwell’s in Hoboken. Cataldi’s guitar work and songwriting with the Museum can be found on four Brooklyn Beat compilations and two full-length CDs, “Den of Antiquity” (1992) and “Make Coffee, Not War” (1993). Cataldi was also featured on the 2010 release of Rhys Chatham’s 200 guitar orchestra, “A Crimson Grail” (Nonesuch) Live at Lincoln Center.