Review Summary: Soap&Skin acts as a tour guide for some place called darkness once again.
Desperate cries in the dark, a woman is screaming and struggling to get out of this…this terrible mess. You can't really understand her words anymore, but you're pretty sure it's not English. A German would later tell you that she actually screams
"Ich fühl mich nicht mehr!" and "Hilfe, das ist er!"
and he’d thankfully translate it to
"I can’t feel myself anymore!" and "Help, it’s him!"
And suddenly you recognise that the whole time there was this hammering, echoing beat and some sinister synths overshadowing the whole scene, striking through the silence, hitting you as hard as possible.
That's the story of Sugarbread
's very first seconds. Yes, the title track to this EP starts out as a haunting experience in what could be called some sort of musical terror. It's depressing, disturbing, dark. Soap&Skin's absolute trademark after not even a decade in the business. Unsurprisingly the song is a triumph in every way, taking you to a dark place from the very beginning, just to grow into a transcendant performance led by a pulsating bass drum and the most unrythmic electronic melody. Her singing is precise, strong and yet calm, seems peaceful and yet as commanding as if she could crush you every second. The background choir only adds to the epic feeling of those three and a half minutes. It's a masterpiece, a quite simple one structurally, but all the more complicated in its mysterious depth.
But there's more. To compliment this song, Anja Plaschg presents her rather playful version of classic track Me And The Devil
. Driven by its distinctive string section and the gentle plucking in the background, the morbid lyrics fit her well and make for an atmosphere somewhere between a requiem and just some good old black humour. It doesn't reach the heights of the opening title track, but with the calm horn in the second half and Plaschg’s vocals that have become more and more practised over the years, it is time very well spent.
It's the third and last song that weighs the EP down a bit. Pray
seems too calm, too defensive for the longest, almost feels like an outtake. Which is disappointing, since Plaschg showcased one quality more than enough by now: Her perfectionism. Not everything she delivered over the years was perfect, of course, but one could hear in every note that it was thought through. Pray
doesn't really get there and still it is a sweet song, returning back on the path of pure goodness with its damn great piano & horn outro.
So, what more to say? Oh, yeah: If you want great music, this is the way to go. That, of course, isn't too much of a surprise, looking at Plaschg's earlier work. She experiments a little this time, but still maintains her primary features and serves yet another truly perfect track. Mission accomplished!