Eugenio Caria is an Italian electronic musician and producer based in Sardinia. Since launching his Saffronkeira project in 2008, he has released six LPs with German label Denovali Records. Blending IDM with ambient minimalism and experimental electronics, Saffronkeira’s music is often underpinned by a strong narrative and an expansive cinematic sound.  

A revered musician on the contemporary international jazz, roots and even ancient music scene as attested by one of his recent project, Paolo Fresu has always thrived on collaborations, having worked alongside artists as diverse as Richard Galliano, Dhafer Youssef, Omar Sosa or Carla Bley. Also a native of the island of Sardinia, Paolo Fresu is a musician Eugenio Caria has always been eager to work with. The opportunity came when the electronic producer sent a few demos to the trumpet player, asking him to pick one track for a potential collaboration. The trumpeter liked them all and the pair ended up recording 10 tracks for a new full length LP. In Origine: The Field of Repentance was released on 30 October 2020 last on Denovali Records.

Saffronkeira with Paolo Fresu: In Origine: The Field of Repentance (2020)
Saffronkeira with Paolo Fresu: In Origine: The Field of Repentance (2020)

It is time for man to set a goal for himself. It is time for man to plant the seed of his highest hope. His soil is still rich enough for it. But that soil will one day be poor and exhausted, and no lofty tree will any longer be able to grow on it. Alas. There will come a time when man will no longer launch the arrow of his longing beyond man – and the string of his bow will have unlearned to whir! I say to you: one must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.

Most of Saffronkeira’s work is concerned with wide-ranging themes such as human behaviour vs artificial intelligence (Automatism – 2019) or cosmic cycles and the evolution of the universe (Cause and Effect – 2013) with Sardinian trumpet player Mario Massa and Synecdoche – 2015.

Introduced this time by a Friedrich Nietzsche quote from “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, In Origine: The Field of Repentance is “a concept album dealing with the origin of man and its impact on the cycle of creation and destruction which drives the evolution of the universe” in Eugenio Caria’s words. Echoing perhaps the latent climate and environmental anxiety felt by many in the current context, the entire record plays like a modern lament. The two figures shrouded in a veil of dark latex on the cover artwork (Mustafa Sabbagh) evoke the classical Pietà represented in Christian art and Renaissance sculptures throughout central Europe and frame the spirit of the record.

Denovali · Saffronkeira with Paolo Fresu – The Field of Repentance

Norwegian trumpet players like Nils Petter Molvaer and Arve Henriksen – both following in the footsteps of Jon Hassell (with whom Paolo Fresu already collaborated and recorded) – have pioneered an extraordinary nu jazz sound over the years, magically blending electronic soundscapes with the brass instrument but eventually lending the genre a Nordic stamp. But so too have Erik Truffaz and Murcof with Mexico. The Saffronkeira and Paolo Fresu collaboration is a wonderful attempt to shift this sound towards the warmer climates of the Mediterranean, as epitomised by Paolo Fresu’s trumpet emerging from a backdrop of wind and waves field recording captured on the Sardinian coast on the album’s first track “Ghosts”.

On trumpet and flugelhorn, both acoustic, muted, processed and sometimes on the verge of saturation, Paolo Fresu singlehandedly intertwines his multifaceted voice with Eugenio Caria’s machine-driven beats and textured layers. Constantly alternating between electronic and acoustic tones, dark ambient drones and luminous trumpet, In Origine: The Field of Repentance is a brilliant and hypnotic experiment in chiaroscuro sound effects.