Scalper – Nadeem Shafi to friends and family – is a creative genius. Crafter of dark poetry, mood master, rapper, visionary… his music is a potent brew of words and magic. Originally from the UK, where he was part of the band Fun-Da-Mental before forging a solo career in 2000, Scalper first visited NZ in 1997 for WOMAD, returning to live here permanently a decade later. A first album ‘Flesh & Bones’ was released in 2010 on CD and digital, and, criminally, the fantastic 2012 follow up ‘Butchers Bakers’ was digital only. Similar to the intriguing intelligence of the UK’s Tricky but with his own fearless flavour, Scalper is a sculptor, a wicked wordsmith, a painter of ideas writ large with almost-whispered words and minimal musical accompaniment. Most tracks on ‘The Emperor’s Clothes’ clock in at around three minutes, and aside from the electronic loop, I count only two other instruments on each track. Less is more here. It’s amazing how powerful this is, without an overpowering soundtrack or shouting. Recommended on every level, the limited edition vinyl especially.