Albums | Skalpel: Simple and Transit

Familiarity with Polish jazz certainly isn’t a pre-requisite to enjoying Skalpel’s 2014 albums, Simple and Transit.

In May this year, Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudlo, aka Skalpel re-emerged with Simple, marking their smooth entry back into the down-tempo electronic market after a nine year break.

A genre popularised in the early 2000s by artists such as Bonobo and Cinematic Orchestra had certainly lost some of its soul over the years; mostly because of that one guy who kept repeatedly playing their tracks at every house party.

Nu-jazz was on its way to becoming a parody of itself. Simple, well, simplified things by going back to the basics of contemporary downtempo dogma. The album reaches out to the listener as a lost lover to its muse and makes space for the very promising Transit.

Transit was released a few months later in October and it revealed an interesting body of work, to say the least.

Pressing play, an electro-acoustic duality holds your hand and guides you through a distinctly urban, electronic minefield of melancholic rhythms sculptured around hip-hop and afro-beat.

The album brings together some very clever polyrhythmic percussions with a moody brass-and-bass-driven rhythm section. The track Snow will probably have you gazing out the window so be sure to find a good spot for yourself.

A funk-laced upright bass remains the trademark sound. It also seems more apparent that Skalpel aren’t looking to go into obscurity with these tunes, embarking on a tour after the release.

Their London performance at Cargo was an energy-fuelled affair which confirmed that Skalpel’s sound has evolved from its ambient and gloomy bedrocks to something more extrusive, dynamic and powerful.

This one-size-fits-all collection of more than a dozen tracks is a hearty Skalpel meal – a must-have for nu-jazz enthusiasts.

 

Photography by Bartosz Hołoszkiewicz