This 2014 album release from Alien Skin, although somewhat similar to the style of songwriting featured on this year’s European Electronic Cinema, is a vastly different audio experience. The opening and title track alone is a moment of true and unusual beauty. The artist’s uniquely creative approach to composing and producing music is instantly notable, and what’s more, the concept of this piece, the ideas put forth, and the mind expanding ambiance on the whole, is all emphasised further by the thoughtful way in which the song has been crafted and structured. It presents listeners with a new kind of peace, a sense of it being ok to wonder, to think freely, to let your mind run away with you sometimes. It’s a wonderful and relevant introduction to the collection.
This particular array of musical substance suits the sound of the artist’s voice beautifully. And Through The Clouds is the first moment at which everything is utterly gentle to begin with, so the song feels much like how you might imagine floating in space would – another of George’s brilliant artistic moments of expressing ideas through far more than just lyrics. The sounds that have been created and selected and incorporated into this particular project have in fact built up a rather breath taking experience for listeners. I described Alien Skin’s most recent album as a beautiful and thought provoking trip. I now realise that this is something you can rely upon the artist for again and again.
You can also rely on Alien Skin for real feeling. Despite the somewhat out-there nature of this album, conceptually, there is so much humanness in there that it’s overwhelming at times. Temple Bar In Dublin, for example. It’s a song that begins in the way that any song of love or loss might, but it develops into something much more unexpected, and yet with each and every turn the honesty and the openness is immense. The lyrics are the sort that make you want to hang on every word, yet they are always unfamiliar, they are always something new – or occasionally, something regular, but expressed in a completely unheard of way. And despite the unfamiliar presentation of the lines, they feel important, and they’re comforting, particularly when performed by the artist himself, with his soft and calming voice, and woven in amongst such blissful and peaceful music.
Following this, Darkness Knows No Shame is a crucial moment within the project. The beat has a distinct thickness and energy to it, and the concept is striking, so the whole song really stands out as something that should be paid attention to. And then at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, Amelia takes you somewhere new yet again.
What really struck me about this album is the songwriting. Alien Skin writes songs that appeal to the human heart and mind, songs that are melodically attractive, seemingly easy to listen to, but always unpredictable, and always so very complex. In Liquid Glass I Float seems to fall from the sky after listening to Amelia. It hits you, and it’s a welcome hit. The melody is beautifully hopeful, but the lyrics are so unexpected, and the music once again makes you feel like the theme is a part of you and a part of your existence for a while. It’s a fascinating form of artistic expression, and it’s clever, powerful – it brings about real feelings, it opens the mind, it relaxes you, all within just a few minutes, and all without leaving you uncomfortable or perplexed. You’re likely to feel more and more comfortable and relaxed in fact as the collection progresses, though your thoughts are likely to be running wild by the time it’s all over.
Last Man In The World follows next with a well suited mood, and afterwards, Melancholy Song steps into the spotlight at just the right time; with it’s half-melancholy, half optimistic energy – as is often the way with Alien Skin’s writing. And then, for one last moment of deep thought and pondering, Doctor in Space brings things to a close with a gentle sort of intensity.
It’s a deeply thoughtful, unusual and beautiful collection, and as a complete project it’s one of the most interesting and out there releases of the past few years.
Listen to the whole thing in full. Make an evening of it – it’s an extraordinary experience. Listen to European Electronic Cinema as well. Visit Alien Skin’s Website for more music and information. Stay updated for new releases and news over on Facebook and Twitter.