Boomkat Product Review:
One of the UK’s most distinctive, innovative duos of the past decade, Tom Relleen (RIP) and Valentina Magaletti’s Tomaga pack their sought-after EP1 and first vinyl press of EP2 in a sweltering double header.
Also acting as a posthumous tribute to Tomaga’s bassist and electronics wrangler Relleen, who passed away in summer 2020, ‘Extended Play 1 & 2’ frames some of the freakiest and most interesting acts of the duo’s inimitable catalogue. Intersecting free jazz, no wave noise and experimental tribalism; Tomaga’s compound sound is hard to pin down, but rife with a loose and psychedelic energy that distinguishes all their work from the contemporary crowd. Their use of analogue electronics and instruments places them in a time out of joint, historically hailing early Gruppo as much as Can or even the likes of The Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble, while inherently linked to the likes of Raime and Moin via Valentina’s in-demand stick work, or the likes of Christos Chondropoulos and CS + Kreme in Relleen’s enchanted electronic texturing.
Now fetching steep 2nd hand prices, 2019’s ‘EP1’ depicts the duo’s coherence in variegation across six cuts spanning the deeply urbane blooz of ‘Bluest’ to the dub-folksy regression of ‘Lilith Wakes’, taking in the rhythmelodic gamelan and rich overtones of ‘Il colore della memoria’, jazz noir of ‘Rabbits of the Void’, and skronky clatter of ‘Let’s Twist Again’ in their stride. 2020’s self-released ‘EP2’ then finds Tomaga’s energies knit tighter, starker yet. The thrumming, rhythmelodic battery of ‘Ersangerkrieg’ sets the stage for a cinematic stygian procession of distant drums foregrounded by Relleen’s swaying wind arrangements, and ‘Departure From Zona’ careens into muscular but sensuous Giallo-esque tribal-dub, ultimately shoring up in the bellicose battle scene of ‘The Octagon’ which would surely befit some carmine-stained claymation fantasy video sequence.