Having taken some time away from the catalogue, the unmistakable sound of Alien Skin makes a triumphant return this month with an EP bringing together the missing pieces from the Winter On Mars recording sessions. George Pappas has said of these tracks that they’ve been built using only the essential components, however – the sound is still incredibly full and complex feeling, albeit in a very spacious and dreamlike way.
From the opening early draft of Winter On Mars, through to the subtle psychedelia of The Volunteer, the music takes control of the room within which it plays, weaving these thoughtful pools of reflection around you, and fusing them with some of the most considerate, poetic, and provocative lyrics to date. The Volunteer in particular lays out a couple of lines that really stay with you after listening – sometimes she doesn’t come down for days being the perfect example.
After this, Every Colour in my Palette offers up a relevantly colourful and organically driven piece of music and poetry and melody. The song presents equal parts simplicity and complexity, using familiar feeling riffs and short, concise vocal lines, to lull you into a comfortable space, yet consistently surrounding you with the ambiguity of an ongoing metaphor – the likes of which you can quite easily attach your own assumptions and even experiences to. It’s an entrancing few minutes of music and ideas, showcased by the wonderful leading voice of Deity.
Privileged Girl adds a touch of industrial rhythm and a hopeful layer of distant, electronic jazz. The mood is notably brighter; despite the prolonged observations and this underlying concept of the other person, the privileged one, and the quiet unease. As always, Alien Skin uses music effectively to reinforce each passing sentiment. There are moments of joy here, it seems, yet there are also certain chord changes and effects that offer something a little more honest and more closely connected to the ideas within.
The Wishing Well follows on brilliantly, beginning in a manner that feels like a sequel to what came before, later evolving into an enjoyably hopeful and slightly retro soundscape, with a fantastic sense of movement. The details seem to gather in greater numbers as things progress, making it seem as if you’re falling deeper and deeper into this arena of artistry crafted by the songwriter. This is nothing new though for anyone who has ventured many times before into the musical musings of Alien Skin. As is always the case, each song is far more of an experience or a journey than a simple accompaniment to your daily activities.
The distinctly concise and slightly haunting echo of No Life On Mars brings things to a close. A simple poem, a gentle melody, an ambiance that again seems all at once optimistic and melancholy. At less than a minute long, the song begs for you to listen two or three times over – to let it all sink in, to check whether what you took from it, the mood it gave you, the feelings you left with, were accurate representations of what occurred. There’s something incredibly comforting about the song at first – this hiding place, this isolation and intimacy. As things move along though, the sadness sets in, the fear, the reality, the desperation, the unsettling possible truth. You can count on Alien Skin almost unquestionably to provoke certain patterns of thinking that fall far from those of the average person on any average day, and to do so in the most unusually beautiful manner.
there’s a room
behind the wall
my own secret
my hidden place
where i feel protected
from the human race
but i can’t stay here
this won’t last
there’s no love on earth here
and no life on mars
It’s a pleasure to get to embrace these original works. Hopefully many more people continue to discover and connect with them in the near future. A Spoonful of Voices will be available as of March 26th. Visit the Alien Skin Website for more information. Find & follow him on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.