Polish electronic producer Marcin Cichy is best known for his work alongside Igor Pudlo as one half of downbeat jazz-electronic duo Skalpel, who last reconvened in 2014 with their first album in nine years ‘Transit.’ Since first debuting his solo project Meeting By Chance in 2012 with a self-titled EP, there’s been a steady flow of new material from Cichy under this alias, with ‘Inside Out’ finally offering up his debut album proper, after several predominantly self-released and download only EPs. While longtime Skalpel listeners will already have some idea of what to expect here, in truth the nine tracks gathered here come across as quite different from Cichy’s parent outfit. While the duo’s emphasis on sharp edged and highly textured drum breaks remains in evidence, there’s a more spacious and floaty feel to much of this album, with the more overt jazzy influences pared back in favour of downbeat ambience and leftfield electronics.
The gorgeous level of attention to production detail also doesn’t hurt, with the excellent mix offering up some real treats over headphones. ‘Crossroad’ opens proceedings gently as softly ticking programmed rhythms and ghostly female vocals glide against deep double-bass plucks and dubbed-out synth tones, before live drums suddenly reach up out of the background to propel things towards an effortlessly rolling close, the smoky fusion of hazy electronics and downbeat jazz rhythms calling to mind classic era G-Stone more than anything else. ‘Dream On’ meanwhile gets slightly darker and more moody, as sparse handclaps and digitally manipulated female vocals circle against eerie phased electronics and murmuring sub-bass buzzes, the clattering live snares at the track’s core providing the real gravity around which all the other spinning elements sit, and while it’s easily one of this album’s most gossamer moments, the undertone of darkness never really goes away.
‘Watermark’ ventures perhaps the furthest out into ambient territory here as swells of droning tones and wordless accapella female vocals build a dense layer of atmosphere that’s suddenly punctuated by the entrance of downbeat hiphop rhythms and sparsely elegant piano keys, offering up what’s easily one of this album’s most hypnotic moments. Elsewhere, ‘Birdman’ sees more obvious traces of Skalpel’s jazz-noir leanings rising to the surface as swinging live drums provide the backbone to moody double-bass plucks, muted horns and oddly wavering keys that almost sound like they’ve been lifted from vinyl, the entire track seeming to sigh with a sense of resigned weariness. All up, ‘Inside Out’ is an impressive debut album from Meeting By Chance that sees Cichy building upon the foundation Skalpel established, whilst also pursuing his own distinct voice.