Skalpel Konfusion

[Ninja Tune; 2005]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: Polish jazz-hop, downbeat
Others: Mr. Scruff, Cinematic Orchestra, Quantic, Bonobo

I'm not sure if the well-observed sophomore curse applies to electronic, sample-based genres as well as it does to rock bands, but a wiser man than I once said assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups so you might as well just listen to the fuckin' thing already. I can't see how anyone would think the second album from this Polish crate-digging duo is not as good as or better than its predecessor. The differences between Konfusion and the self-titled debut are minute, really, while there is no confusing these CDs for work by any other Ninja Tune act. But (and that's a fairly impressive but) because their first album a year and a half ago was such a high-quality, chill outing, that's not a bad thing at all. As I'm sure most of us are with Portishead, Skalpel could make the same album every year and I'd still buy it. The power and passion of those dusty communist backlash recordings speak to the spirit of a repressed freedom, freshly liberated through altruistic jazz by people who knew and lived a time that forced the meaning of music — a time where, by the words of George Carlin, it's not so important you know what notes to play as to why they need to be played. Yet, despite the seriousness of the originals, Skalpel's music has been and remains its own brand of unmistakable frosted jazz. "Deep Breath" is a sure highlight, with the subtle build-up of female vocals joining in at the beginning. It is certainly Konfusion's catchiest track, but I wish you the best of luck in trying to figure out those lyrics stoned.

1. Shivers
2. Flying Officer
3. Long Distance Call
4. Hiperbole
5. Deep Breath
6. Konfusion
7. Test Drive
8. Wooden Toy
9. Split
10. Seaweed