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skallander - Skallander
New Zealanders Bevan Smith (of Signer fame) and jazz guitarist Matthew Mitchell have been quietly causing a merry old stir in their homeland, but thanks to Type Records the rest of the world can enjoy the duo's considerable charms. Anyone who heard the recent "Future Life" Remixes 7" will have an inkling of what to expect from Skallander, although this full-length offering demonstrates the musicians' awareness of more traditional forms. Skallander occupies an alternative universe to the sort of singer-songwriter material that you're likely to encounter elsewhere, fusing electronic trickery and post-production with the more conventional genre staples of acoustic guitar picking and softly spun vocals. After the introductory strums and horn blasts of 'Haala' the Nick Drake styled open tunings of 'Forgiven'. Skallander steer well clear of going through the singer-songwriter motions however, often opting for moments of jazz-tinged psychedelia. 'Flesh Born Constellation' is built around a framework of layered vocal harmonies and cavernous pits of low volume guitar distortion, and 'Surviving In 45 Below' takes the form of an ominous, overdriven raga. Quite apart from all that, Skallander's greatest asset is their knack with a good old-fashioned tune: from the haunting reverberations of 'Misery' to the Beatles-influenced melodies of 'Time Is Only A Revolution' Skallander diverts the listener from Type's customary leanings towards musical experimentation, and much in the same spirit as Mountaineer, the duo provide respite from the more vehemently abstract concoctions spouted by much of the label's roster. What with the chiming acoustic guitars and tightly knit harmonised vocals you'd be forgiven for declaring Mitchell and Smith an Antipodean Kings Of Convenience, and that could well be what Type have stumbled upon in these two. Lovely stuff - Essential Purchase.