Mattia Prete has been at the heart of Techno Jazz, a new musical movement where the freeform improvisation and instrumentation of jazz meets the futuristic and hypnotic mechanics of techno. Prete has been working in this niche as a DJ, live performer, and producer, but also as manager of Jazz-o-Tech, the innovative and well-known label based in Berlin and Milan that is home to many upcoming visionary talents.
Prete now lays out his unique vision of Techno Jazz on a first EP under his own name for Jazz-o-Tech itself. Three of the forward-thinking tracks are collaborations with musicians Prete admires and respects, and one is a remix from Reeko the Spanish techno producer.
We invited him to break down his latest work for another installment of our Extended Cut series.
How to listen: There are a couple of ways to proceed. First, you can listen to the whole album, which you will find below, and then read the notes. Or, read the notes as you listen to each track. This will completely change your perspective on the whole release itself and bring you closer to the artist and their work.
Words by Mattia Prete with contributions from Alberto Fiori, Bada Bada, Uri Gincel, and Daniel Calvi, and Reeko.
1. Moon, Please Don’t Go Away feat Alberto Fiori
Setup: Analog Four, Harmonica, Piano.
Mattia Prete: East Berlin, end of December 2020, I am standing in front of the window of my apartment on the 17th floor. Few cars drive through the intersection, the buildings are illuminated and on the horizon rests a large full moon, almost as if to complete a painting, forming a perfect composition.
Like a painter I decided to recreate the landscape using a computer instead of a canvas, and a synthesizer instead of brushes and colours. "It is it," I thought, the time is right. "Now I'm going to record something." So I set to work and after an intense session of six hours the beat of "Moon, please don't go Away" was born. An ode to inspiration, to that perfect moment that you wish, would never end. Then, I asked Alberto Fiori to complete the work. Alberto has a deep feeling for music and I knew he would be the right person for this.
Alberto Fiori: One day Mattia called me asking for a musical intervention on one of the tracks off of his new EP. He sent me four different tracks, leaving me free to choose the piece on which to intervene. At the first listening I had no doubt that I would have liked to get my hands on Moon, please don't go away. When I told him, he replied: "I was sure you would have chosen that one, I knew it was more in your style." But the track was already very strong and complete, I didn't know what I could add.
One day I sat down at the piano and while listening to the piece I tried to create a kind of harmony. Then I did something with the harmonica, and in a few hours I had found something I was very satisfied with. I worked on it again in the following days trying to find other musical solutions, but in the end, the thing that convinced me most was the initial idea I had. It seemed to me that it rendered well on an emotional level with the work that Mattia had done.
2. The Bright Side feat Bada-Bada
Setup: Deep Mind 12, Trumpets, Drums, Saxophone, Prophet
Mattia Prete: Although at the number 2 position, "The Bright Side" was the last track made to complete this EP, as well as the key to understanding it. I am a lover of soundtracks and mysterious/psychedelic music, but sometimes I feel the need to push out from my boundaries and find out what's on the "other side". So, I asked Bada-Bada to collaborate by playing something harmonious and shiny over a 133bpm groove of mine. The guys understood my intentions right away.
Behind the project, there was great editing work, especially in the arrangement parts. I tried to give space to all the musical instruments enhancing their harmonies and creating different atmospheres. The French trio is an electrifying discovery of electronic music and contemporary jazz, and it was a great pleasure to collaborate in a production with such creative minds.
When we received the track from Mattia, we challenged ourselves to bring a brighter, happier mood to the dark techno feels without affecting the beat. Over the course of several exchanges, we tried to build melodies and grooves using only the horns. The track evolved deeply and eventually, we recorded an acoustic drum kit to create a bridge between the electronics and the actual percussion to link all the elements together. From "Bruce Lee" to "The Bright Side," the evolution of the title says it all.
3. Burning Man feat Uri Gincel and Daniel Calvi
Setup, Deepmind Mind 12, Analog Four, Electric Guitar and Piano
Let's go cinematic! This track was first released on Various Artists "This is Techno Jazz Vol.1" and was intended as an ambient track with dark jazz atmospheres. Once the rhythmic creation process was finished, Daniel and Uri Gincel gave a touch of mystery through the guitar and piano sound.
"Burning Man" is also not just a track but a real soundtrack with a meaning behind it, but I'll let Andrea tell you about that:
Andrea Agagiù (Film Director):
The great challenge, every time you have to create a video clip for a single, is to be at the service of the "song" that the client gives you. But this was not a disadvantage for Burning Man, indeed it was the engine that sanctioned the collaboration between Mattia Prete and myself. We had many dialogues and opinions on what the burning instinct was (Mattia never leaves anything to chance) until we had a common vision. Burning Man is an intimate desire, a passion, a drive... it's an invitation to free yourself from your own monsters, even setting them on fire and looking for one's own intimate salvation amongst beauty.
4. Stein feat Daniel Calvi
Digitakt, Analog Four, Guitar (Electric and Classic) + amps/effects and Sherman Filterbank.
Mattia Prete & Daniel Calvi:
Guitars and tribal electronic grooves mixed together with a dose of "Sherman". This is "Stein" from the German word "Stone", a return to the primitive and to the vent through dance.
It was the first time we were producing music together, but we immediately realized that what we were doing was not just a jam but a track we could release.
After several sessions of recording, we finally found the missing key (acoustic guitar) that stretches the song and totally changes the emotional level of the track.
5. Stein (Reeko Remix)
Reeko: The whole song was made up of very interesting tracks to use, the idea was to give a definitive twist to the song. I finally chose to use the bass/synth part as the main sequence, it hid a lot of interesting options to play with and turned the song into something else.
Grab your copy of the EP here.