Ptaki (meaning ‘birds’ in Polish) are Jaromir Kamiński and Bartosz Kruczyński (aka The Phantom), the Warsaw based production duo who’ve caused a considerable stir in the past year with their inventive Disco edits, being championed by the likes of Jose Padilla, Bradley Zero, Julio Bashmore, Move D and Mixmaster Morris to name a few.
Their debut album is out June 12 on fast-rising Transatlantyk records – the sister label of The Very Polish Cut-Outs, who released Ptaki’s debut 12″ and Phonica Records bestseller ‘Krystyna‘ in 2013. The new LP, assembled between 2013-2015, is a confident culmination of their varying influences, blending Eastern European Dub, Ambient, Yacht Rock and experimental Hip-Hop – all explored through a decadent Balearic lens. The record was constructed entirely from samples and is a captivating insight into the minds of the two music aficionados. Jaromir and Bartosz flip excerpts from Polish comedy skits, soundtracks and children’s music albums as well as cuts from their personal record collection of leftfield Hip-Hop, Bossa Nova, Funk, Big Band, Polish Pop and more. The result is an intricately assembled tapestry of sounds and themes that manages to retain an impressive cohesion throughout despite the far flung musical sources.
Stream the album in full below and read on for the processes and inspirations behind each track…
1. CZUŁA JEST NOC
Bartosz: We wanted an opener that would set the right mood for the whole album. It evokes summer nights at the Baltic sea or Polish lakes.
Jaromir: ‘Tender Is The Night’ was the last track done for the album, produced during a wintry weekend in Warsaw. We were chilling at Bartosz’s home studio and in between producing some dance tracks together and eating dinner, he started chopping one of the samples I’d brought from Berlin. It was a long guitar solo lifted from a weird Prog record from Italy, that served as the base for the rest of the track. I sat down on the couch and didn’t interfere, Bartosz seemed really inspired. I knew it would be special. He wrote the core of the track then we arranged it together. The title comes from Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s book of the same name.
2. NIE ZABIJAJ
Bartosz: It’s a good of example of changing the context of the original sample. The vocals come from a Polish Pop/New-Wave track, which we eventually turned into a digi-Dub track. It’s also the only track on the LP that features some additional recorded instruments – piano and bassline.
Jaromir: “Don’t kill in me that, what can give you strength” vocal sample comes from a little known Polish Pop LP. I came across it through Wojtek Gofer, a record dealer from Warsaw who lent me a copy. I took it to Bartosz’s home studio, he played the amazing bassline underneath the main sample and added chopped drums.
Jaromir: The main sample comes from a cheesy Polish Big Band record from late 80’s, showcasing different styles of dance music. I bought it just because it had a Disco track on it, although this sample comes from the Mambo track. Again Bartosz performed his magic with marvellous chopping skills and tuning additional samples to it and I did the arrangement and dubbing. It’s one of our best tunes.
Bartosz: The track appeared earlier on our ‘Kalina’ EP (released by Young Adults in September 2014), but it fits the album perfectly with its relaxed but melancholic mood.
4. OSTATNI KURS
Jaromir: I looped a Moog sample lifted from a Polish Pop LP and added drum sounds from 4 different sources. The basic sketch was done during a quite dark period in my life and I wanted to evoke that atmosphere, hence the taxi driver story. Bartosz added his own touch with the beautiful guitar and piano samples.
Bartosz: It’s a very cinematic track. The basic idea was a thriller about a taxi driver, hence a lot of skreechy, gloomy sounds that might evoke Kieślowski’s ‘A Short Film About Killing’. I also recalled the taxi scene from ‘Angst’ while arranging it.
5. SKIT 1
Bartosz: Diving into the darker part of the album – an interlude about a lost person.
Jaromir: It’s a logical step after the previous tracks. We’re both fans of spoken word and wanted to include non musical links between tracks – to add a cinematic feeling to the whole album and give it a misty, unclear narrative.
6. STACJA ZAGŁUSZANIA
Bartosz: Sonar sounds and war explosions, which for me (being a film fan) might be an alternate soundtrack to ‘Das Boot’.
Jaromir: I had this idea for a gloomy, overwhelming track in my mind for years, but had to wait for a certain wintry night when it all just happened. It’s less ‘Das Boot’ in my mind, and more like a soundtrack to a really bad dream. Bartosz added some ambient soundscapes to it. It’s a logical progression from ‘Ostatni Kurs’.
7. ZA DALEKI SEN
Bartosz: A warmer track with lyrics about dreaming. Dispelling all the tension.
Jaromir: A psychedelic Southern Hip-Hop beat done with Polish Country samples. It’s all about nostalgic lyrics “only the dream (…) that waits (…) too far away (…) without you”.
8. SKIT 2
Bartosz: It’s actually the very first track that was made for the Ptaki project. The lyrics are about travelling the oceans, which links it to the next track (opening with the sound of the sea hitting the beach).
Jaromir: In June 2012 Bartosz asked me if I want to participate in his new and then unnamed sample based project, utilizing obscure, cheap Polish records from bygone eras. When I arrived at his house with some records, he played me this little sketch. I knew it had to be on our future album. It took us two and a half years to finish it, but I’m more than happy with the result. The lyrics are quite deep and depressing – “so far from the stars, the futile scream (…) in the dirty, blue water”.
9. SŁONECZNY PYŁ
Bartosz: The general idea (based on a sample from a children’s record) was to create a beatless, Balearic (or Baltic beat) House track. It was done on the spot, we were just messing with various samples, laughing at some of the sources and this loop just clicked with us.
Jaromir: Bartosz played me this loop from a Polish children’s music album. Both of us had the same idea of doing an ambient mix of filter House records and 6 hours later we had a full track. It’s one of my favourites on the album.
Jaromir: Same story as the previous one. Bartosz played me a small loop from another Polish children’s record and two sessions later the full track was ready to go. It’s a psychedelic, abstract piece – the longest track on the album and one of my favourites as well.
Bartosz: The original sample was actually like a five second interlude of a story about a mysterious girl appearing in the rain.
11. GDY NADCHODZI KSIĘŻYCOWA PORA
Bartosz: It started with a loop from a New Wave record, that reminded me of a day at the beach. The intro is really expressive, it’s like a gust of wind. The early Dubstep sounds and mix felt very natural – what with us being fans of Lofeah, Digital Mystikz, early Skream and Benga etc.
Jaromir: The intro is based on a Hungarian Disco record, and what started as another Ambient piece, quickly turned into a kind of gangster sample-based Dubstep track with lots of samples lifted from unexpected sources. The Ptaki album is deeply inspired by The Avalanches, DJ Shadow’s first album, Quiet Village and similar sample-based LP’s, but we didn’t want to recreate same ideas again and again, hence the Trap, Grime and Dubstep influences.
12. JUŻ TYLE
Bartosz: We grew up with some of the 90’s down-tempo music, including Trip-Hop and its more commercial sound. This track is about that sentiment. The very first version was a bit more 80’s sounding actually.
Jaromir: One of the last tracks created for the album. Another piece of Bartosz’s magic, which sounded great from the start but I just hated the banging, gated-reverb drums in his first version. I re-did the drums 3 or 4 times until we both agreed on final version. Creating tracks together is not always a smooth journey – sometimes we do have our passionate arguments.
Jaromir: Jelitkowo is a seaside resort in my home town of Gdańsk. We tried to evoke the atmosphere of a beach resort during rainy November. That’s why we combined smooth Jazz guitar samples with more edgy, psychedelic sounds – so it isn’t just soft and relaxing but also quite reflective. It’s a mix of nostalgia with expectations of something new.
Bartosz: It’s the most dense track on the album. It combines samples from about 40 vinyl records. The whole intro and the bridge use around 20 of them. The weather report in the middle of the track actually comes from a comedy skit, but sounds very gloomy in its new context.
Jaromir: I wanted to evoke the feeling of spring and anticipation of something good happening after all the dark and dreamy tracks – it’s a good album closer. I started it after a night of partying in Berlin, that loop cured my hangover! I added drums inspired by New Jack Swing, Bartosz added the chopped vocal, helped tune the Moog sample in the middle and gave the tune fat bottom end it deserved.
Bartosz: It’s the most fun and direct track on the record I think. It really cracked me up when Jaromir sent me the rough version. We really wanted the album to be natural, we wanted it to be complicated and satisfying on a technical level (there about 300 samples used on the record), but emotions are just more important.
‘Przelot’ is out June 12 via Transatlantyk. Pre-order a copy here.