Skeltr: Dorje


From Manchester, UK comes the band Skeltr with their second album ‘Dorje’ released on Ubuntu records on October 9.

The line-up for this band is

  • Sam Healey – Alto Saxophone, Vocals, Keys
  • Craig Hanson – Drums

Skeltr started as an experimental late night session and their first UK live show was at the 2017 Manchester Jazz Festival, where the band made an auspicious start, leading to performances across European jazz festivals, including Reykjavik JazzFestival, InJazz, Rotterdam and the famous Osloscene Club in Norway.
All six originals on the album are compositions by multi-instrumentalist Sam Healey and guest appearances are made by Hayley Williams on ‘Siren’ and Manchester rapper KinKai on ‘KinKai’s Question.’

The album starts with ‘Cheef Beef’ a song with a steady groove dominated by a multi-layered saxophone creating a really full and pushing sound. The lyrics of this song are about reflecting where we can find happiness. I guess the answer is given with this positive and cheerful song. Great start into the album.

‘Braila’ is the next song, named after the hometown of Sam’s wife. Long notes in the melody create an elevated feeling, like an anthem, but also with intermissions where Craig Hanson and his drumming is featured. A long and intensive saxophone solo leads to a magnificent end. One of my favorites on the album.

‘Siren’ features Hayley Williams on vocals, no lyrics, just her voice, the melody comes in unison with Sam Healey’s saxophone. Hayley’s singing has a great bluesy contrast to the clear composition.

‘KinKai’s Question’ is the next song and it features rapper KinKai in a fantastic song. Fender Rhodes and drums are laying the ground for the words of KinKai, another highlight of this album. The lyrics are inspired by the preface of the book ‘Modern Buddhism’ which Sam Healey presented to KinKai for this song.

‘Fjord’ starts with long synthesizer chords and a saxophone melody with very long notes, the middle part has harmonies that remind me of the Brecker Brothers.

‘Nesodden’ the last song is named after a small island near Oslo, Norway, where Sam spent some time and got the inspiration for this album watching the beautiful scenery and reflecting on the importance to work on his internal and external world. The melody comes again in great long lines, reducing to give space for an extensive saxophone solo, nicely supported by Craig Hanson on drums.

‘Dorje’ is a great album with a unique sound based on the saxophone playing of Sam Healey, the compositions are all convincing and the rich tone and the various stylistic elements are the main characteristics for this positive overall picture. Definitely something new and interesting, so please listen to this album.

Sam Healey produced also a nice little video going through the album and playing a little bit:

And finally the album as a playlist on Spotify:

Sylvain Luc: Sylvain Luc by Renaud Letang

Sylvain Luc by Renaud Letang

Today’s album comes from French guitarist Sylvain Luc, one of my favorite guitar players. The last few albums he released were all in duo setup, one with Richard Galliano on accordion, another with Marylise Florid on guitar and the last album with Stéphane Belmondo on trumpet. This time Sylvain Luc teams up with producer Renaud Letang in a studio duo setup.

Sylvain plays all the instruments mainly different guitars, bass (he is also an excellent bass player) and some keyboards. The album contains new original material composed by Sylvain Luc and Renaud Letang.

Renaud has some more details on the production process:
“The production of this album was carried out in several stages.
I first asked Sylvain to compose themes specifically for this project, giving great importance to the simplicity and effectiveness of the melody.
Secondly, we jointly chose the compositions that could suit the style of production that I imagined. The next step was to record demos only with Sylvain in order to get the best of himself without the intervention of other musicians.
This approach led us to glimpse what the identity of the album could be. At this stage it seemed obvious to us not to use drums or percussions in order to keep the intimate side of the production. The limited choice of instruments and sounds was ultimately decisive (electric guitar, midi guitar, acoustic guitar, electric bass, Roland Juno 60 and a multitude of old and modern effects pedals)”.

And Sylvain adds:
“Apart from an acoustic piano, a few old synthesizers that Renaud owned, and a handful of bass parts, there is only guitar. But I arrived with a whole arsenal of pedals with singular sounds, in particular octavers, the idea being to “derive” the guitar from its usual sound palette”.

The result is a fantastic album with Sylvain’s distinctive guitar style combined with rich sounds and textures.

The album starts with “La source des castors” where Sylvain Luc already pulls out all the stops of his guitar and bass effects with a little bit of synthesizer background setting the stage for the things to come.

“B-Beach” is the next song and this song is one of my favorites on the album. Great guitar groove, nice harmonic and rhythmic surprises and a cool bass solo.

The album continues with “Ne vois-tu rien venir”, another beautiful melody and a great guitar solo with a few kicks with octavers added.

The next song “80 vs 2000″ is the hidden motto of this album, the combination of analog sounds and effects of the ’80s combined with the listening habits and expectations from digitally created music. In the middle an easy floating guitar melody. This is definitely the highlight of the album.

“Bolero langoureux” comes in strict opposite with an acoustic guitar opening and guitar and bass in dialog in this gorgeous ballad.

The next song “Funny Blues” is not a blues as we would expect it, however is another example of Sylvain Luc’s skills to compose beautiful melodies. “What was surprising was that I have positioned myself as a singer, ultimately”, summarizes Sylvain Luc.

“Vue du septième” comes more like a children’s song, very easy going and harmonic with a nice and steady groove.

“Indie souvenirs” is an evocation of an Indian tour of 2009, offering a kaleidoscope of syncopated rhythms with string glissandos. The theme is dubbed with a bottleneck guitar and the steel-drum solo is played on a guitar-synth.

“Pensée nomade” is in contrast acoustic, played on a classical nylon string guitar.

The album closes with a last dance “Transe 18″. A hypnotic motive is the base for this song, an obvious melody does not exist, only a sparse bass pattern and some synthesizer harmonies added with a long fade out. A perfect ending for this album.

Overall this album is outstanding, it breathes the extraordinary guitar playing of Sylvain Luc but also the current “Zeitgeist” where you are thrown back to yourself with all those limitations during the pandemic. The collaboration between Sylvain Luc and Renaud Letang worked perfectly and I can highly recommend this album.

More information about Sylvain Luc, upcoming concerts and links to his albums and videos are found on his website:

And finally the Spotify playlist with the complete album: