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CLOTMix: !K7/No Paper Records Presents SKALPEL

Text by CLOT Magazine

For the new mixtape, the polish electronic jazz duo Skalpel brings a selection of the main inspirations behind their music. Beats in action includes a delightful selection spanning jazz, avant-garde electronica and hip-hop.

Skalpel, originally from Wrocław, are DJs, musicians and record producers Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudło, who have been making music since the late nineties. Their musical style is a distinctive blend of local, traditional jazz inspirations and new electronica. Citing influences from Miles Davis, leftfield avant-garde, and minimal influences, the duo alludes to roots in Polish jazz and trip-hop. This particular mixture caught the interest of Ninja Tune, the legendary record label founded by Matt Black and Jonathan More (aka Coldcut), where they released two albums: ‘ Skalpel ’ and ‘ Konfusion ’ gaining recognition worldwide. They became one of the first Polish DJs to get recognition abroad. This year they released their third album, HIGHLIGHT, in NoPaper Records/!K7, which has marked a significant shift in their creative technique, a shift away from samples to virtual instruments.

For this mixtape, they want to portray their main inspirations: This is our origin story. Artist inspired by hip-hop and jazz such as The Herbaliser, Amon Tobin, Madlib and Jimi Tenor. Pioneers like Pierre Henry, David Axelrod production and Vangelis. And a section of Polish fusion, soul, avant-garde and broken beat including our postmortem collaboration with outstanding drummer Jacek Olter. Stylistically and technically this mix is ​​inspired by the Solid Steel Radio Show – so it’s archaeological digging in the crate. Some tracks are heavily edited, some are blended (Sandy Nelson with Johann Johannsson and Penderecki), and the whole mix is ​​a journey into the sound.

In HIGHLIGHT, there is a range of influences from the likes of Miles Davis, leftfield avant-garde, minimal, and the extensive legacy of both Warp and Ninja Tune. Could you tell us a bit more about the concept behind its inception? How was the creative process like? 

After over twenty years of producing music, we don’t think too much about what inspired us when we started creating, at least not until we have to co-edit press materials and give interviews. Currently, we refer to our style more, try to modify and develop it, and don’t repeat ourselves. We want to surprise ourselves and our listeners without losing our basic identity, which comes from what was mentioned in this question. We started in the late 90s when artists from Ninja Tune and Warp were the reference point for future music, but they also made us look for inspiration in the history of music.

Your creative practice remains centred on your roots in Polish jazz and trip-hop with a contemporary sound twist. Is it something you consciously developed or that happens more naturally of the intrinsic nature of some components of your music?

In the beginning, we were looking for original source materials for sampling, and we found it on Polish jazz records, which have unique sound resulting from overcoming limits of state own recording, poor studio technology and the unusual musical approach of a very creative instrumentalist. They have some international recognition and success. It was an inspiration, background and very important cultural reference for us. We tried to overcome the limitations of our home studios and to make high-quality music.

What is your relationship with novel musical technology nowadays? What use do you make of it for your compositions?

We started as sampled-based producers, then after a few years, technology has evolved so much that it has helped us free ourselves from dependence on finding samples and focus on implementing our ideas with the help of virtual and veritable instruments. Currently, technology has become transparent and you do not think about it when it is used. For music producers, it is the air they breathe.

Pierre Henry and Michel Colombier – Masse Pour Le Temps Present – Prologue (Philips)
Krzysztof Scieranski – ‘Wieloryb Basawy’ (Poljazz)
The Cinematic Orchestra – ‘Diabolous’ (Ninja Tune)
David McCallum – ‘House of Mirrors’ (Capitol)
The Cinematic Orchestra – ‘Continuum’ (Ninja tune)
Vangelis – ‘Hypothesis’ (part 1) (Affinity)
The Herbaliser – ‘Mrs Chombee Takes The Plunge’ (DJ Food Re-Bake) (Ninja Tune)
Wendy Carlos – ‘Fall’ (CBS)
Vangelis – ‘Hypothesis’ (part 2) (Affinity)
Niemen Enigmatic – ‘Kwiaty Ojczyste’ (Skalpel edit) (Polskie Nagrania)
Skalpel & Jacek Olter – ‘Zero Gravity’ (Polskie Radio)
Jimi Tenor & UMO –‘Sahkoinen Lali’ (Herakles Records)
DJ Cam – ‘Voodoo Jazz’ (Inflamable Records)
Zura – ‘Waz Fryzjerki’ (U Know Me Records)
Amon Tobin – ‘Fast Eddie’ (Ninja Tune)
Sandy Nelson – ‘Beat From Another World’ (Sunset)
Johann Johansson – ‘Xenoanthropology’ (Deutsche Grammophon)
Krzysztof Penderecki – ‘Dimensions Of Time And Silence’ (Polskie Nagrania)
Medeski Martin & Wood – ‘Pappy Check’ (Blue Note)
Madlib – ‘Slim’s Return’ (Blue Note)
Jimi Tenor & UMO – ‘Ghost Warrior’ (Herakles Records)
H.P. Lovecraft feat Ken Nordine – ‘Nothing’s Boy’ (Philips)

(Artwork by Stephen McLaughlin)

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