Polish jazz rebels sneaky jesus are back with their second studio album For Chaching Taphed.The highly imaginative quartet out of Wroclaw comprising Maciej Forreiter (Guitar), Matylda Gerber (Saxophones), Ben Łasiewick i(Bass) and Filip Baczyński (Drums) have won fans around the world for their restless, quirky brand of jazz which takes in breakbeats, twisting chord progressions and improvisation as well as a wealth of musical influences.
The band have been touring their asses off ever since they surprised the world with their debut album For Joseph Riddle in 2021. From out of nowhere their debut LP of 500 copies sold out in a month and they quickly went on to sell close to 1,000 CDs of the album. Fast-forward to 2023 and the band are sharing stages with artists such as Ill Considered and Theon Cross.
For Chaching Taphed was created in complete isolation. The group locked itself in a barn at the Museum of Agricultural Technology in Piotrowice Świdnickie. It worked on its sophomore output surrounded by machinery, trucks and carriages. These new compositions mirror the abstract conversations which the group frequently has just for fun. Contrary to For Joseph Riddle, this album is simple and does not rely on ongoing grooves. This enabled the group to be much more experimental. The band was joined by friends Flautist Mariya Mavko on Piękno Niemożliwe (Impossible Beauty) and her playing is sampled in Hipotetyczny Taras (Hypothetical Terrace). Pięciu Pszczelarzy (Five Beekeepers) closes the album featuring EABS' Jakub Kurek on trumpet. His fiery solo is one of the most intense moments of the album.
Spacer Po Nadodrzu (A walk around Nadodrze) opens the album and is inspired by one of the districts of Wrocław. It is a sonic story depicting a walk through Nadodrze late at night. A steady bass rhythm imitates a careful pace and the responding sax line is a spooky theme that might pop to oneʼs head in a moment of uncertainty.
The album's first single Krztusiec (Whooping Cough) finds the group diving head first into their most recent influences. The trackstarts with drum improvisation, rolling into a solid hip-hop backbeat provided by Ben Łasiewicki on Bass and Drummer Filip Baczyński. Sax and Guitar weave steady but dissonant lines, written by Maciej Forreiter after many hours spent listening to the Ethiopian jazz greats. The track takes off right after that. Matylda Gerber delivers a fiery Sax solo, while the group picks up the tempo and quickens the groove. The essence is the middle section, a dubby collective improvisation. Forreiter, Gerber and Baczyński take turns playing both classic dub phrases and fierce avant grade lines. Łasiewicki keeps everybody in check with a steady bassline. The energy slows down until Baczyński's drum solo, which explores phrasing detached from the rest of the tune.
Second single Chiński Sprzedawca Smażonych Kasztanów (Chinese roasted chestnut seller) is a fusion of breakbeats, energized songo rhythms and motifs inspired by South African melodies. Presenting the group with spacious and rhythmic horn lines, guitarist Maciej Forreiter wrote a chord progression while Beniamin Łasiewicki and Filip Baczyński took care of the rhythm section. This first part of the track suddenly drops out and explodes into the dramatic main motif which includes double sax and fierce guitar playing in harmony, plus the rhythm section playing more and more jungle-esque. Powerful guitar and sax solos feature before we return to the main theme with a completely different rhythmic backdrop.
W Klatce z Bykiem (In a cage with a Bull), starts like a race. The music plays with an incredible nerve and when the theme is right on edge it suddenly stops. It is followed by an animalistic growl on the saxophone and a doom metal-esque bash of downtuned, distorted guitars and heavy drums. In this heavy fashion it slowly approaches the finishing line hitting one final metallic clang.
Piękno Niemożliwe (Impossible Beauty) features wonderful flute playing of Mariya Mavko (Kadabra Dyskety Kusaje). Her work in the opening motif evokes sounds of Polish and Ukrainian folklore. This brief mellow moment serves as a contrast to the usual frantic sounds of sneaky jesus. It is an appreciation of thepolish jazz music of the past, intrinsically-linked to folklore. The band took this idea and reworked it into their own unique style.
Hipotetyczny Taras (Hypothetical Terrace) is built on top of a lengthy vamp in an unusual 7/8 time-signature. The bass anchors the quartet in a simple line, while the rest of the quartet share an emotional conversation. This track is the most open of the whole project and it ends accordingly. The final burst is a call back to the basics ofspiritual jazzand the whole band shows every emotion simultaneously and gracefully fades out.
Pięciu Pszczelarzy (Five Beekeepers) is For Chaching Taphed's conclusion and is a non stop assault of heavy horn lines, punk rhythms and noise. The band is joined by the extraordinary trumpeter Jakub Kurek from EABS, who blends in perfectly with sax and guitar. His exchange of solos with Maciej Forreiter is a combination of classic jazz phrasing and discordant clatter. In the same fierce manner the whole group works within the motif, switching up accents and breaks.
In the short space of two years, sneaky jesus has gone from ambitious upstart looking to break out from its home city playing spit and sawdust venues, to touring Europe as well as prestigious Jazz clubs such as Jassmine in Warsaw. In the process, it has delivered two full-length albums that don't stay in lane or pander to established jazz sub-genres as so many groups do. Some artists make the same record twice or even more than that, but not sneaky jesus. For Chaching Taphed shows the band as restless, experimental, fun, irreverent but purposeful as never before.
“A lot of over-hyped improv / jazz projects out there at the moment and Sneaky Jesus are genuinely excellent and out on their own. Drawing on the expansive atmospherics of a barn as the recording's setting, the album immediately pulls you in with the unsettling 'Spacer Po Nadodrzu' and lifts off on 'Krztusiec', effortlessly moving from angular, abrasive jazz to trippy dub and cinematic intrigue. Tempos shift and intensities shift naturally. The whole set warrants a deep listen from start to finish and watch out for two great guest features from flautist Mariya Mavko and Jakub Kurek bringing some mad fuzz licks to the boisterous closer. Brilliant album.”
Quinton Scott — Strut Records
Dom Servini — Wah Wah 45s
“The album is absolutely brilliant …. I loooove it Proper futuristic organic chaotic Jazz trip !!!”
Laurent Garnier — DJ and Radio DJ
“Keeping the deep traditions of Polish Jazz movement very much alive”
Daz I-Kue — I-Kue Productions/FSR Radioshow/Sonic Stream Radio/1BTN Radio/BB Boogie Radiosho
“Yes, love these tracks. Perfect for the Illicit Grooves Radio Show. So impressed by Sneaky Jesus”
Bob Hill — Illicit Grooves Radio Show - Blue in Green Radio
“love these tracks!!”
Simon Harrison — Basic Soul Radio