Friday, 2 March 2018

Arp Life - Jumbo Jet / Z Bezpieczną Szybkością (2014 compilation, rec. 1975-78)

In 1975, library music composer Mateusz Święcicki (1933-1985) teamed up with film soundtrack composer Andrzej Korzyński (b. 1940) to start off a studio ensemble for Polish Radio.  The name given to the project, which Święcicki had been using a couple of years earlier, was Arp Life: he'd liked how the Arp Odyssey synthesiser sounded much more refined compared to the rougher Minimoog.

For the next three years, additional musicians associated with the radio studios, most of their names lost to history, would come and go to add strings, brass or percussion as desired.  And ironically enough, Arp synths were scarcely, if ever, used - pretty much everything electronic here is either Fender Rhodes or Minimoog.  The best known artefact to emerge from this arrangement, and a mainstay of crate-digger blogs for as far back as I can remember, was the Jumbo Jet LP, released by Polskie Nagrania in 1977, and featuring new core member Maciej Śniegocki as writer and arranger.

Whether on a vinyl rip, or a remastered CD like this, the sampling appeal of Jumbo Jet is undeniable - wah-wah guitars, funky Rhodes and nifty bass & percussion riffs are everywhere, along with a handful of great fuzz guitar leads and melancholy disco strings.  Vocals are either wordless or limited to the track title; only the title track has more than that.  Only two tracks top the four minute mark - Jumbo Jet is basically a library LP par excellence, and a few tracks saw use in film, with Baby Bump and the gorgeous Hotel Victoria featuring in Andrezj Wajda's Man Of Marble.
original cassette cover, 1978
The following year, the Wifon label released a series of cassettes specifically promoted for in-car use, with the titles encouraging Poland's motorists to 'have a nice journey', 'don't dazzle [with your headlights, presumably]', and 'drive at a safe speed'.  That last one - in Polish, 'Z bezpieczną szybkością', was effectively Arp Life's second and last album.  Three tracks on the tape were taken from Jumbo Jet (Motor Rock was presumably a no-brainer to open the tape with), and the remaining ten were never released in any other format until this 2014 CD, which was followed by individual vinyl reissues.  The sound of these tracks is much the same as on Jumbo Jet, although Korzyński is the dominant writer rather than Śniegocki, leading to a bit more brass in the arrangements.  A couple of non-album singles and an unused signature jingle written for the Tonpress label round out this great compilation.



  1. Nice timing. I'm currently in the process of hauling down several hundred library LPs. This sounds like a nice little standout addition to the pile. There are many UK legends, but the continental Europeans rule at this stuff.