Having broken through with two jazz-infused, sample-based albums for Ninja Tune, Polish DJ/production duo Skalpel have just released their fourth LP, Highlight (opens in new tab).
While the jazz influences remain, Skalpel - Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudło - have now broadened their sonic palette, citing influences ranging from Miles Davis to avant-garde artists and trip-hop. The result is an album that offers everything from frenzied breakbeats to lounge grooves.
Here’s Igor to tell you a bit more about how the record was made, as he shows you some of the most valuable contents of the Skalpel studio.
“We started simultaneously as producers and DJs, or rather turntablists playing 4-deck sets and routines. When we became part of the Ninja Tune family we felt at home, especially while we were touring with Coldcut, Kid Koala and DJ Kentaro.
“Our first two albums were sample-based, so turntables were essential hardware at the time. They are still useful when you want to add a secret ingredient to a tune.”
“Q: Why is cheap wine good? A: Because it’s good and cheap! The same goes for this inexpensive piece of gear, which has some delicious sounds. Very user-friendly and honest - not pretending that it is something more than it really is. You can hear it on Highlight.”
Bit Shape TC-11
“TC-11 is a very helpful soft synth when you need that kind of sound design stuff in the studio and want to add vital, or even spectacular elements to live sets. It’s so cool and intuitive that it makes you believe you are a real musician.”
Roland Rhythm 77 TR-77
“This was Roland's first product, released in 1972, and a gift from a friend. It’s too inconvenient and unstable to use it live, but in the studio, you can have fun with its crazy rhythms and vintage sound. It was designed for simple, cheesy music and now it has become an object of experiments.”
Elektron Digitakt and Novation MIDI controller
“Sequencing was always a big part of my digital ego. The Digitakt with Novation controller is a great addition to my iPad’s music apps when I produce sounds.”
Patchbay and PreSonus FaderPort 16 DAW controller
“These are at the heart of our production headquarters. I've always used a mouse to set levels but, since FaderPort 16, everything seems much faster and easier.”
Electric bass and guitar
“Virtual instruments aren’t always a faster way to compose. Sometimes, tweaking and having fun with real instruments can be source of a great inspiration.”
“Skalpel is about the rhythm - a little percussion set gives additional flavour to finished productions. Even if it isn’t used in the final tracks, playing with it develops imagination and helps to feel the rhythm for future music.”