Skalpel
Skalpel

By Ed Chamberlin

 
I can't remember how they did in the last Eurovision Song Contest. Nevertheless, I can safely say that Poland have not made an enormous musical impact on Britain. Enter Skalpel, two DJs from Wroclaw, Poland.

The duo have created an album of jazz funk-inflected drum and bass (in the traditional sense), plundering their collection of old Polish jazz records for samples. Evidently Poland has a rich history of jazz, and most of these samples come from 60s and 70s recordings, made illegally when the communists thought jazz would bring down the state.

You can hear the desire to break free from such a strict regime, even in the looped samples employed here, and the record comes across as a distinctly less air-brushed version of S Germain. This is no bad thing of course. Together's bassline is darker and funkier than the French outfit have produced, and some beautifully melancholy trumpet lines run throughout the album.

Despite their name, there is nothing sterile or clinical about Skalpel, unless it's referring to the precision of their sample cutting. They treat these old recordings with respect, never burying them under the more modern sounds.

Overall the album is smooth and sexy, although no more so than many of the other bands around making similar music. The level of production is extremely high throughout. But unfortunately, there are just not enough big hooks or standout tracks to give the album the substance it needs.

Granted, the standouts are magnificent: Sculpture, with its shimmering atmospherics, and gorgeous vocal samples, is striking to behold, and opener high has a dirty, sweaty beat that could make corpses dance.

This is recommended to anyone looking for a slightly darker, more orchestral side of to the St Germain sound. This definitely announces a new, distinctly Eastern European approach to sampled music, and hopefully will encourage many more to follow in their footsteps.
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