Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Intersection: Skyphone

The Intersection is an ongoing feature on JazzWrap that looks at artists that have blended jazz and electronics in new and highly creative ways.

Skyphone (group; formed 2004)
Keld Dam Schmidt (guitars, electronics) Mads Bødker (keyboards) Thomas Holst (bass, electronics)

As jazz, electronica and ambient continue to merge and blur the traditional fabric of our conception of any particular genre, some groups are slowing bringing these influences into focus. One such band is the Danish trio, Skyphone. Skyphone have only released two albums so far, but they have quickly developed into a trio with a panache for acoustic and electronic framework that takes the listener on a journey through territory laid out by such innovators as Michael Brook, Steve Riech or Brian Eno. Atmospherics are part of the program here but also melody and themes.

On their debut, Fabula (Rune Grammofon; 2004) the group explored ice cold and emotional aspects consistently associated with other artists from the Scandinavian region (Alog, Supersilent, Food, et. al.) but Skyphone seem to force through enough gentle melodies reminiscent of early Kraftwerk that make this outing slightly different. "In Our Time" and "Mengpaneel" feature the right balance of acoustic and electronics mixed with various tape loops that show an increasing sign of improvisational thinking amongst the trio. "Kinamands Chance" and "Gossamer" are the real standouts for me; with touches of Marilyn Crispell tweaks, blip and pings at the keys and then delicate percussive instrumentation. Fabula is a foundation record with various enlightening themes.

Their second and most recent album, Avellaneda (Rune Grammofon; 2008) is the "fully operational Death Star" so-to-speak. Avellaneda is an album of new found soundscapes that starts with the sprightly "Cloudpanic" an electronic and guitar driven piece that is the perfect transition from Fabula's experimental moments. "All is Wood" has a Spring Heel Jack, Spiritualized, far Eastern ethos about it that is compelling as well as inviting. "Schweizerhalle" and "Quetzal Cubicle" both utilized some nice acoustic guitar work making these two piece feel almost folksy, like instrumental Beth Orton tracks. The atmospheric remain throughout but are tightly layered with the acoustic instrumentation especially on the two closing tracks "Leafchisel" and "Yetispor" in the a manipulated accordion seems to used with great hypnotic effect.

Skyphone are amongst a multi-handful of artists that are exploring what can be done with live instruments and electronics from a jazz/worldly perspective. It's great to know all of them have various different ideas on what to do, making this almost un-categorizable genre fun and interesting and diverse.

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