Quick Pick: Waltz for Koop

Posted on October 24, 2008

The androgenyous duo put out some pretty mean nu-jazz.

What do we call it? Nu-jazz, trip-hop, downtempo, chillout? The debate rages on...

The first time I heard the Swedish duo Koop (Magnus Zingmark and Oscar Simonsson) on Last.fm, I thought something had gone colossally wrong with the site. In a desperate attempt to wean myself off Massive Attack‘s dangerously addictive album Mezzanine, I had been tuned into their similar artists station, hoping to find other electronica and trip-hop artists to serve as the soundtrack to my coding.

For the first few minutes, I got the usual suspects – Theivery Corporation, Portishead, Lamb, and Tricky – all excellent artists in their own right; great for getting the blood pumping and the neurons firing just before the clock strikes noon. But then the next track took me completely by surprise. For one thing, the background strings were unusually lush, as if they were lifted straight from some forgotten Paramount film noir. I happen to have a soft spot for those, so I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, except for something else – the music sounded incredibly organic – as if nothing had been sampled at all!

Don’t believe me? Listen to the title song from their album Waltz for Koop. It sounds like it was produced in a smoky studio sometime back in the ’60’s, alongside the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. And yet, there are only two guys on that album cover – surely they couldn’t be playing a whole orchestra’s worth of music? As it turns out, they’re just incredibly good at sampling (post-sampling, says their MySpace page), and putting together clips from hundreds of songs until they’ve created a truly surreal melange – an authentic jazz tune with a definite sense of time and place. Adding to this effect are some excellent, well-matched vocalists, such as Yukimi Nagano, whose easy, breathy voice is a frighteningly dead ringer for Astrud Gilberto’s.

Chances are, if you’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy, you’ve already heard their song Come To Me, which infuses swing with a bit of Christmas spirit, and takes it somewhere to the Caribbean. The result is a joyful lilting as light as iced tea and smoother than a piña colada, definitely worth a listen (or two, or three).

» Filed Under Everything and Nothing


One Response to “Quick Pick: Waltz for Koop”

  1. JNezNo Gravatar on October 24th, 2008 1:10 pm

    hey thanks for the koop rec! downloading it right now and expect it to be my weekend binge! good stuff!

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