Various Artists
Recycling Records Presents: The Best of Polish Smooth Jazz... Ever!

[Recycling Records,]

Yasushi Yoshida
Little Grace


Nicola Ratti
From the Desert Came Saltwater

[Anticipate Recordings,]

  Don't be expecting to hear Polish jazz on Recycling Records compilation "The Best of Polish Smooth Jazz... Ever!". The title is misleading to say the least as no jazz artist makes an appearance within the record's confines. What we get though is something else that is even better than initial expectations. Twenty very anonymous artists [they remain anonymous for all the right reasons] re-mix, re-live and reconstruct twenty Polish pop hits. By reconstruct, what I mean to say is literally plunder, which is why the record is released under the Creative Commons license and why the whole piece in its entirety can be downloaded from the Recycling Records web-site. Harsh, abrasive and jittery is how I'd describe most of these tracks. If you're not familiar with original pieces that form the backbone of the record, you probably won't be laughing as hard. Then again, the mish-mash of sordid borrowed sounds has a ton to offer. You get a glimpse at the real underground of [I assume] Polish audio artists at work as they plunder through pop music's back-catalogue. At certain moments, I'm surprised at how restrained some of these tracks are. The harshness of electronic barrage slows down to elicit quasi-ambient feel on Ramyla Dorowicz and her rendition of "2 Swity". Not for the faint of heart, "The Best of Polish Smooth Jazz?.Ever!" surfs a thin line between cacophony, electrifying plunder-land and joyous freedom of sound.

  Moving to Japan, we catch up with audio artist Yasushi Yoshida. With the release of his second album "Little Grace", we find him move further into a film-work quilt. Nearly everything he comes in contact with here reminds me of a movie soundtrack. The themes are grand, the instrumentation is lush, while emphasis remains high on the use of live instruments. Wind and string instruments, piano, saws all meet up with austere computer-generated world. Great deal of melancholy and pensiveness permeates this music. I'm not sure if this is because it was made during the rainy season, or whether Yoshida feels most comfortable working in that sort of an environment. His use of saw is especially conducive on "Under Calf, Winged Steps". As the melody is drawn out, one gets a sense of real drama unfolding, which leads the piece into a great climax of sorts. His use of piano and flute is sparse, but when these two instruments are featured in the mix, time comes to a stand still. Every note is punched delicately, to make it stand out all the more. I'm not going to say that "Little Grace" is transcendental but it's certainly not far from eliciting a state of calmness, peace and serenity.

  Flying halfway around the world, we find Italian audio sculptor Nicola Ratti. His 45-minute "From the Desert Came Saltwater" is an exercise in wide-open spaces; make that working from scratch in a hollow, open space that is populated by minimal instrumentation. Guitar pluckings on the release are sparse. Each time, the strings are touched in fact, one gets a sense that Ratti put a lot of thought into the process. Percussive tinkles are light, allowing maximum allotment of space to the hushed, guitar strumming. Introspective moods emerge as the music flows naturally, if somewhat lethargically. That's the beauty of this release. The haunting, introspective hushed glory is what makes the pauses between the notes on this CD so precious. Highly recommended!

  - Tom Sekowski

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>> Various Artists - Recycling Records Presents: The Best of Polish Smooth Jazz... Ever! / Yasushi Yoshida - Little Grace / Nicola Ratti - From the Desert Came Saltwater
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