Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Skalpel "Skalpel"

Artist: Skalpel
Album: Skalpel
Label: Ninja Tune
Release date: 20 April 2004
Genre: Electronic
Style: Nu Jazz/Breakbeat

01. High
02. Not Too Bad
03. 1958
04. Together
05. So Far
06. Break In
07. Quiz
08. Asphodel
09. Theme From ‘Behind The Curtain’
10. Sculpture
Total running time: 41' 29"

[Skalpel - 1958 - Video Clip]

[Skalpel - Break In - Video Clip]

"Welcoming Skalpel in its roster with open arms, Ninja Tune celebrates more than the rise of a pair of talented musicians. The arrival of this record days before the European Community opened to ten new countries, if fortuitous, is a perfect illustration that European integration is more a reality today than it ever was, political union or not. Ninja had already given DJ Vadim a place to confront his musical ground with that of musicians from the UK and beyond, and now, it is the turn of Polish duo Skalpel and their exhilarating jazz-infused electronica.

Hailing from Wroclaw, the cultural capital of Lower Silesia in South Poland, a stone-throw away from the German border, Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudlo first got noticed after they interviewed DJ Vadim for a Polish hip-hop magazine and consequently toured the country with him. They then recorded a CDR, simply entitled Polish jazz, which led to the pair being signed to London-based Ninja Tune. Four Solid Steel sessions followed over a two-year period before the band finally got down to record their first album proper. Basing their work almost entirely on samples of Polish jazz records, the band claim to aim at ‘resurrecting the dusty and smoky spirit of 60’s and 70’s Polish Jazz’ by revisiting it and adding a modern touch to it. The result is somewhat reminiscent of Saint Germain’s Tourist in part, yet Skalpel refrain from giving their record too much of a dance floor feel. Instead, Cichy and Pudlo remain close to the original sonorities of their sound sources. Listening to Skalpel, it is hard to make the distinction between what has actually been sampled, and what might have been played especially for the record. And that’s perhaps the main strength of this album: sounding like a genuine jazz record without pretending to be anything special. All the way through, the pair presents a totally classic, yet fresh, soundtrack on which flourish elements of swing, bop and soul, creating an extremely consistent piece of work from beginning to end.

The album opens with the devilishly groovy High, on which the band combines congas, double bass and flute into a whirlwind of sounds and beats. Later on, a voice confirms ‘Let them play their jazz records and dance all night if they want to’ on the equally funky Not Too Bad. Although Cichy and Pudlo alternate between buoyant compositions and more reflective moments, the general mood of this record is definitely upbeat. On tracks such as the stunning 1958, Quiz or the tongue-in-cheek Theme From ‘Behind The Curtain’, Skalpel provide some slices of energy, while at other times, they demonstrates great control over their music. Together, Break In or Sculpture, which closes the album, show Skalpel venturing into more delicate and fragile constructions, yet the band retain the same driving force.

Far from the technology-conscious electronica that we have grown accustomed to, Skalpel draw from the Polish jazz scene that flourished during the Communist era the elements to create a soulful and honest collection of groovy compositions. Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudlo demonstrate all the way through a great understanding of their sound sources and a great control over their music without ever sounding arrogant or pretentious." [source]


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