Tomat Petrella

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Sometimes magic happens. Sometimes, emotions enwrap you in a way you’ve rarely experienced before. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of freedom: the freedom to create, improvise, process, and re-process, without specific references, deadlines, or obligations to please whatever markets or audiences with clear-cut styles and sound signatures.

Actually, this Tomat Petrella affair is quite unexpected. It’s a game of two: Turin-based Davide Tomat, who has over twenty years experience as a multi-instrumentalist, band leader, and sound designer in several Italian projects (Niagara, N.A.M.B., and founder of the Superbudda collective); and musician Gianluca Petrella, hailing from southern Italy but in fact a citizen of the world and – more importantly – one of the most revered and inventive jazz trombone players in the world from the last decade or so (as stated on several Down Beat Critics’ Polls and proven on his Blue Note and ECM releases).

“Kepler”, their collaborative effort, is a beast of a different nature. It has so many textures, intuitions, and complexities that you can hardly list this simply as a “jazz-meets-electronica” project. So much cheesy, well-educated, nicely predictable music has been produced under that moniker, but so far none of them have had “it”.

Not this time. Because freedom comes into play here, as mentioned before. Tomat and Petrella used that freedom to shape an “objet extraordinaire” that goes quite far beyond the usual pre-determined paths. If we would have to describe this project (…shall we?), “Autechre meets ECM Records” would somehow work: digital, adventurous, and angular landscapes meet ethereal melodies and harmonics, while shades of robotic electro, Detroit-ish techno, and contemporary avant-garde unexpectedly surface & interfere – all culminating in a sonic trip that’s driving, surprising, and deeply emotive at the same time. It’s not “experimental” for the sake of it and yes, it’s really hard to define. To a certain extent, there’s something analogous with the darkest, cinematic, industrial ambient joints that have so successfully re-surfaced in the recent years within the most authoritative electronic music audiences and festivals. But listen, that’s just half of the story. The other half is Tomat’s and Petrella’s sensibilities, generating a carefully crafted interaction with each other’s respective artistic backgrounds and spreading beyond that of an average laptop producer.

Their first encounter dates from 2014, when Petrella was playing a dj-set at a Turin bar which happened to be a local hangout for Tomat. They immediately roused a mutual interest and appreciation, and the inevitable outcome was a studio session at Tomat’s Superbudda headquarters shortly after. It proved so fruitful that both musicians didn’t want that specific outcome and peculiar sonic chemistry to be lost. More sessions were added, using Petrella’s trombone lines (raw & simple, or processed by several effects) as its primary source. Then maniacally accurate editing sessions were developed, both by sending sonic chops back and forth through digital file transfers and by working together physically in the studio.

Time was never an issue. Davide and Gianluca wanted their music and ideas to flow in the broadest sense of the word. This led to a surprising and moving piece of art where dynamics are never too harsh yet landscapes are never static, stale or predictable.

You may have thought, when you started reading this press release, that the word “magic” was exaggerated and overindulgent. That’s fine. We don’t blame you. We invite you to put your headphones on. Press play. Listen calmly & carefully. And come back and talk to us after hearing the very last note.