First released in 2012, Ghost In The Rain is something of a vintage offering or hidden gem from the wonderful producer and songwriter that is Alien Skin. Throughout his recorded collections there is often this vast and unspecific air of creativity, though despite the striking variation between soundscapes, there is always still, somehow, this familiar energy. Perhaps it’s the sound of George Pappas’ voice, or perhaps it’s something more. This unique fusion of the electronic world and the utterly emotional and poetic one is undoubtedly something that has a certain stamp of character about it.
Ghost In The Rain opens with all of these qualities, the soundscape to the aptly named Vintage is all at once dreamlike and industrial. The lightness and wash of the vocal performance dances its way across the surface of the piece, and within that, these snippets of unpredictable lyricism present themselves. Moving forwards, there’s something beautifully crisp about the collection that leaves you with an image of the artist, and the lasting feeling that common thought simply doesn’t search deep enough. The title track is all of this, the instrumentation is minimal yet magnetic. As the music sways between intense and calming, you’re either considering the world or escaping from it entirely at any given moment.
I am a ghost, remember me this way..
It’s been a while since I’ve listened to an Alien Skin album in full. However, by all accounts, this is one of the most mesmerising and artistic collections of his to date. This meeting of the other worldly – the bizarre sound effects, the unexpected samples – and the absolute here and now, is beautiful. There are some real moments of melodic bliss that are often featured within riffs or backing synths. As is always the case, Alien Skin’s inherent creative freedom is incomparable. Stay With Me makes for a wonderful example of all of these points, a soothing and provocative piece that soon evolves into a rhythmic and uplifting indie gift.
As you progress through Brigitte and Perfect World, the sheer scope of Alien Skin’s creative reach and indeed his inner thought process show themselves more and more. I’ve said it before about his work, these are thoughts we don’t often consider, but even those we do – they are, in this case, phrased in a way that shines a completely new light on everything. Candy Lips is no exception; there are lyrical moments that strike a chord, that seem familiar, possible to relate to, but there is always this fresh perspective that makes you question even your own understanding. These are the rare and deeply human moments that show a slight touch of realness and even vulnerability to the songwriter. To say rare is perhaps inaccurate though, there are so many of these moments throughout all of the songs, but the approach is much more interesting and far more unpredictable than is usually the case.
Vanishing Girl plays further with the idea of human connection. At this point, as the music ascends into this hugely atmospheric ocean of sound, it’s clear how intensely powerful and indeed charming this volume of songs is. The journey is breathtaking, to listen half heartedly simply wouldn’t do it justice. These are the sort of songs you can spend an evening with and wake up feeling like something life changing has happened. The experience is exquisite, and the creative variation is unwavering and ever impressively executed.
Vampyra continues the theme a little. The music has a softness here which plays well in contrast to the former track. There’s a guitar like riff that comes with a touch of the orient and again adds a completely new scene within this world of stories. As Cynthia begins, it’s not the first moment at which you’re likely to appreciate the explicitly female subject matter focused upon throughout the album. The more you learn, the more inviting it is to return to certain songs and moments to try to piece it all together. Who is the real ghost in the rain? The artist, the master of intrigue, has done an almighty job with this one.
Ashes to ashes, I want you back..
Music Box Doll is the final song of the project. Again, this wondering about who the ghost is is inflicted upon the listener. Any confusion is beautifully re-emphasised by this unique and uncompromised song that seems all at once explicitly joyful and unbearably sad. The lyrics add to the whirlpool of ideas and emotions, and the music itself cascades and crashes into its latter half. Perhaps it’s difficult to tell how you’re meant to feel, but perhaps there’s no meant to it at all. If you let it in, your own experience will dictate the way it affects you; that’s how real art works. And that’s what Alien Skin gives us, time and time again. Real art. This album is stunning.