Morrow vs. Hajduch: Mikrokolektyw’s Revisit

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Mikrokolektyw: RevisitMikrokolektyw: Revisit (Delmark, 6/15/10)

Mikrokolektyw: “Running Without Effort”
[audio:|titles=Mikrokolektyw: “Running without Effort”]

Hajduch: Mikrokolektyw (pronounced micro-collective) is the Polish duo of Kuba Suchar and Artur Majewski. Together, they make a very primal sort of experimental jazz, rooted in Suchar’s one-man rhythm section of drums and Moog. Atop this framework, Majewski adds restrained, thoughtful trumpet lines. The result is head-nodding and hypnotic, and at times would not sound out of place in an Italian horror film scored by Goblin.

It also sounds like classic Chicago jazz fusion, like what Rob Mazurek‘s Isotope 217 and various Chicago Underground ensembles have accomplished.  The sparse, melodic trumpet playing owes a lot to Miles DavisIn a Silent Way, and there’s a punchy moment of ensemble playing (here, “ensemble” means Majewski doubled) in “Watermelon from the 80s” that sounds like a riff from a Fela Kuti song.  This guy would definitely call the cops on this album.

Morrow: The comparisons to Mazurek and Isotope 217 are right on, but I feel that Mikrokolektyw emphasizes the loops and electronics much more.  There are also elements here, with the loops and jazzy, circular beats, that remind me of DMS, a one-man operation (later a duo) by American Football drummer Steve Lamos.  The later DMS material, which really never was released, was criminally unheard.  And the earlier stuff, in fact, included a great cover of “In a Silent Way.”

Really, enough can’t be said for the importance of Mikrokolektyw’s loops.  Whether it’s the trumpet, drums, the marimba melody on “Running without Effort,” or a Moog that acts as a bass line, they’re a vital component to each song.  They keep the whole thing grounded for Majewski’s improvisations, yet they leave enough room for Suchar’s beats, which quickly repeat but are impeccable — particularly his rapid drum rolls on the toms.

Hajduch: Yeah, the looped nature of the music is what keeps the whole thing together.  The music has hooks everywhere, which keep it from being some sort of impenetrable riff fest.  Not only is it hooky, but it’s also sparse, so the tracks have a lot of room to breathe.

Restraint is important.  I love Ken Vandermark, for example, but a lot of his compositions with The Vandermark 5 or his gigantic Territory Band come off as so crazy that you get overwhelmed by listening.  Mikrokolektyw understands restraint.  The music is uncluttered not because they’re a duo — plenty of jazz duos overplay — but because they are patient, accomplished musicians who know when it is best to be quiet.

Morrow: For sure, and restraint is something that wasn’t as evident in their last band, Robotobibok — a four-piece contemporary-jazz ensemble that was much busier.  The music was great, and it crossed into electronica and groove, but it got a little too loaded at times.  Mikrokolektyw’s Revisit strikes a great balance, and it’s one of those gateway albums that can get your friends into some jazz crossovers.

Hajduch: This album is excellent.  Delmark, if you read this, please consider vinyl pressings of more of your releases, starting with this one.

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