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Skalpel - Skalpel


Review: Jack Foley

SKALPEL duo, Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudlo, have DJ Vadim to thank for this debut long-player - and so do we.

For fans of leftfield beats and jazz-like grooves will no doubt lap up this long-player, which arrives with all the kitsch-value you might expect from two Ninja-signed music afficionados from Poland.

Vadim discovered them while on his Eastern European tour, and straight away took to their keen ear for the native jazz of their homeland, as well as the atmospheric music that Ninja has become famous for.

And so, too, might we. Recent single, 1958, is a strong indication of what to expect, an offbeat, chirpy, dancefloor filler, that boasts a terrifically breezy set of female vocals to offset the swinging spirit of Polish jazz, from the 60s and 70s, in all its dusty, smoky glory.

It marks the album at its liveliest and most ambitious, with tracks such as Quiz, a garage-based jazz number which features some terrific piano moments, and opening track, High, with its conga playing and flute stabs, following in typically rousing fashion.

Elsewhere, however, the album drifts into more sombre territory, and more pensive.

Tracks such as Sculpture evoke memories of recent Blockhead material, which is deeply brooding and almost surreally beautiful, while the occasional vocal interludes, from a mystery announcer, provoke comparisons with the likes of Lemon Jelly and The Avalanches.

Indeed, on several tracks, that same quirkiness is obviously apparent, lending it a more western influence than its Polish roots suggest.

That's not to say that Skalpel is all about imitating, rather it knows how to keep things hip without becoming too eccentric, so that in more experimental, or thoughtful, places it remains just as listenable.

Skalpel's trick is to hook you with familiarity, and then blow you away with some retro-styled jazz grooves of a bygone era, and it's this mix of the classic and the contemporary which makes it so appealing.

It won't be to all tastes, but for anyone who likes the idea of having the sound of, say, Miles Davies and Lalo Schiffrin combined with the David Holmes of Ocean's Eleven, this could provide a suitably stylish go-between.

Related review: Konfusion - Skalpel

Track listing:
1. High
2. Not Too Bad
3. 1958
4. Together
5. So Far
6. Break In
7. Quiz
8. Asphodel
9. Theme From ‘Behind The Curtain’
10. Sculpture
11. 1958 (video)
12. Break In (video)
13. Sculpture (video)

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