Monday, December 20, 2010

Best Albums Of 2010: Mikrokolektyw

Over the next two weeks JazzWrap revisits our favourite albums of 2010.

Mikrokolektyw (group; formed 2004)
Revisit (Delmark; 2010)
Kuba Suchar (drums, electronics)
Artur Majewski (trumpet, electronics)

The melding of electronics inside jazz (particularly European jazz) has been a prominent force over the last decade. One of the best pioneers of this fusion is Nils Petter Molvaer, with numerous artists and groups emerging since Molvaer's groundbreaking Khemer release. One group were the Polish quartet Robotobibok. Robotobibok recorded three stellar albums in the mid-nineties--their 2000 debut, Jogging (Vytvornia OM) is highly recommended. After the group split in 2004, Suchar and Majewski carried on as a duo, now known as Mikrokolektyw (pronounced Microcollective).

Mikrokolektyw have created a magnificent piece of Eastern European jazz, electronics and acoustic improvisation with their debut, Revisit (Delmark). More atmospheric and live instrument based than like-minded countryman, Skalpel, Mikrokolektyw present beautiful soundscapes, rich in texture and lyrical expansion. While the absence of a bassist and pianist seem bizarre on the surface, its Majewski's sublime trumpet playing and Suchar's hypnotic patterns of percussion that make tracks like "Running Without Effort" and "Revisit" completely flawless. The listener never realizes that this is a duo (with the added accompaniment of a minimoog) driving the forceful yet melodic nature of the tunes.

This is similar ground that Robotobibok covered during its seven year run, so anyone familiar with those records won't be too surprised. But its the fluidity of Revisit as a whole that makes this one of the best albums of the year for me. The interplay between Suchar and Majewski on "Almost A Good Morning" is infectious and mind blowing all at once. There could be comparisons to Molvaer but that would only be on the surface of the melodic nature of the music. The improvisation and bending of sound of "Lipuko" and "Tar Man" show deep sense of creativity and search for sounds beyond jazz and electronica.

Mikrokolektyw released a companion DVD entitled Dew Point (Delmark) which will really convince you that this is a duo with serious intentions. The performance blew me away. It also includes a few numbers which aren't on Revisit. So it is well worth having both documents.

Mikrokolektyw have definitely made one of the best "boundary pushing jazz" records of the year - one that I can't stop listening to. Revisit builds on the experimental traditions of Miles Davis' latter fusion material and the worldly recordings of Don Cherry (a major influence) but then blast into Sun Ra territory without you ever noticing. This is confident work from musicians who have been on the scene long enough and continue to search and explore new sounds. I urge you if you haven't been turned on to Mikrokolektyw yet--now is the time.

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