Soap and Skin
Lovetune for Vacuum


4.5
superb

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
March 20th, 2009 | 81 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Austrian singer-songwriter delivers.

There is certainly more to Anja Plaschg than meets the eye. The Austrian singer-songwriter's image is shrouded in darkness; case in point, her press photos are dark, her press release states, among other things that the "Girl Monster will save and devour us", and the album art for her debut full length album, Lovetune for Vacuum, conveys an atmosphere that is as cold as it is depressing. So it wouldn't be all that unreasonable to assume her music follows the same general direction. And yet, wonder of wonders, it doesn't. Well, not completely. Plaschg utilizes dark elements in some of her songs, and others maintain a clear dark wave influence. But Plaschg's first album as Soap&Skin is more than a gloomy collection of songs.

Though Lovetune for Vacuum has been described by certain individuals as "ambient music for torture chambers", tracks such as "Mr. Gaunt Pt. 1000" and "Cry Wolf" suggest otherwise. It wouldn't necessarily be accurate to label said songs as happy, but they convey an intimate sort of atmosphere one wouldn't expect. "Cry Wolf" is the most exceptional of such tracks, serenading the listener with a warm piano melody that comforts as much as it mesmerizes; Plaschg isn't so much concerned with impressing listeners with virtuosic talent or macabre lyrical imagery as she is with crafting gentle, enthralling musical environments. Plaschg's singing even plays second fiddle, as "Extinguish Me" demonstrates. Following a similar template to "Cry Wolf", though perhaps a little sadder, the track places greater emphasis on Plaschg's piano and violin work than her wispy vocal efforts, though the latter compliment the instrumentals exceedingly well.

That isn't to say that the more sinister elements that Soap&Skin seems to have become most well known for don't play a significant role in Lovetune for Vacuum. The album opens with minor chords in "Sleep", giving a preview of what is to come, but such elements are not capitalized on until the jarring "Thanatos", a track that disposes of the quiet sentiment of "Cry Wolf" in favour of louder piano and a more intense vocal presence. "Spiracle" explores themes of insecurity and regret, though interestingly the song is Lovetune for Vacuum's catchiest, most cordial piece, and certainly the most memorable. The frightening "Marche Fun├Ębre" is the album's darkest song, throwing violin and synthesizer to the forefront and relegating the piano to a more rhythmic position. It's a stylistic change which effectively maintains Lovetune for Vacuum's fresh soundscapes. Plaschg completely foregoes classical instruments with "DDMMYYYY". Changing things up again, the song incorporates IDM and glitch elements to a surprising degree of effectiveness. "DDMMYYYY" carries a more robotic overtone than of Lovetune for Vacuum's more emotive tracks, making for an interesting contrast.

Overall, Lovetune for Vacuum leaves very little to complain about. I suppose the short song lengths may disappoint some, as the average track is just under three minutes, but the shorter run times help keep the record concise. Anja Plaschg allows each track enough time to fully develop before picking up and moving on to the next one, creating a sense of mystery. In any case, it works exceedingly well, and ensures that Plaschg never descends into needless repetition. As it stands, Soap&Skin should have a bright future (Plaschg is only 18, believe it or not), and given the quality of Lovetune for Vacuum, it'll be interesting to see where she takes it next.



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user ratings (105)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
taylormemer
March 20th 2009


4917 Comments


Very nice review.

Mendigo
March 20th 2009


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

very, very nice review. this has to be the best album from austria in ages.
sadly I missed the chance to see her at the presentation of her CD in Vienna, the whole thing was sold out like a month before.

BallsToTheWall
March 20th 2009


44378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good work Mike. Great album is great, although you seem to love it more than me.


I would also like to mention, the lady looks like Elizabeth Bathory in the album cover.This Message Edited On 03.20.09

Digging: Pharmakon - Abandon

thebhoy
Emeritus
March 20th 2009


4459 Comments


hmm, sounds interesting.

Mikesn
Emeritus
March 20th 2009


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sadly I missed the chance to see her at the presentation of her CD in Vienna, the whole thing was sold out like a month before.
I know a lot of people are raving about this, but that still kind of surprises me. Have you gotten the chance to see her live?

jrowa001
March 20th 2009


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

awesome review! this is one of my fav albums of the year so far. i wouldve liked the album to be a bit longer, but it doesnt take away from how amazing it is.

rasputin
March 21st 2009


14544 Comments


want this

jrowa001
March 21st 2009


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

yes you do!

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2009


17213 Comments


I'm only halfway through the first song and I'm hooked.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2009


17920 Comments


can't decide ifi want this

jrowa001
March 21st 2009


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

youll love the whole album then redsky. it truly is a magnificent album.

chan, just go to her myspace and listen to Spiracle. i believe its myspace.com/soapandskin

rasputin
March 21st 2009


14544 Comments


zomg sordo doesn't even have it how am i going to find it

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2009


17920 Comments


sordo sucks

rasputin
March 21st 2009


14544 Comments


no way

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2009


17920 Comments


alrite downloading this it better be good

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2009


17213 Comments


woah, the electronics in fall foliage caught me off guard.

rasputin
March 21st 2009


14544 Comments


whatThis Message Edited On 03.21.09

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2009


17920 Comments


mhmmmThis Message Edited On 03.21.09

rasputin
March 21st 2009


14544 Comments


thanks man

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2009


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

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