I remember well my first musical encounter with Soap&Skin because her debut album was my very first purchases on iTunes and, at that time, I was excited by the fact that it was becoming so easy and immediate to discover and acquire music from virtually unknown artists. It was 2009 and I still remember that I read an intriguing review of Lovetune for Vacuum on an Italian music magazine (“Mucchio Selvaggio”) and I was so curious to listen to this album that I decided to inaugurate my iTunes account by downloading it. After a short while, however, I realized that despite the LP was for sure a promising debut from a young musician, it resulted – at least for my tastes – less exciting than what I expected after reading the review. Since then I started to be a little more careful before proceeding with online purchases, trying to listen as much as possible before finalizing the download.
The kind of experimental music that has been conceived by Anja Plaschg for her career as Soap&Skin was since the beginning profoundly evocative, and also quite original. What didn’t convince me of her early works was that alongside some very good songs, objectively emotional and exciting to hear, there were many other tracks that resulted extremely intimate and overly personal, fragments of experiences that for sure represented something very important in the life of the artist but that were translated into music in a way that resulted, in my opinion, little communicative and poor in emotions for the external listener.
In the recent years I lost sight of this artist and therefore I was a little surprised (and curious) when I received the news of her new album, called From Gas to Solid / you are my friend. But more than the news by itself, I was particularly impressed to discover how Anja Plaschg gained in confidence and maturity in years that have passed since their first two records.
Soap&Skin’s new LP is characterized many positive features. The style of her music is still experimental in nature and also permeated by a general atmosphere of darkness and anxiety. The palette of sounds, however, is much more varied and alongside the usual fragments of piano and other classical instruments we have today chamber choruses, lots of different percussion instruments, ambient noises and delicate layers of synths.
Flashes of light come from time to time to illuminate the darkness, and this makes the LP definitely more dynamic and enjoyable to hear. It’s as if a vein of positivity has been grafted into the music of the Austrian artist, and the resulting contrast between light and shadows makes the overall picture much more compelling. The delicate song Italy is maybe the perfect example of such more positive approach to music, and perhaps to life itself.
From Gas to Solid / you are my friend is the album that in my opinion marks the maturity of Soap&Skin. Some songs continue to be a bit too cryptic and not really comunicative, but for all those who appreciate dark wave songs, experimental neoclassic music and ambient atmospheres, this album will result definitely interesting to listen.
Soap&Skin’s new album can be streamed from Spotify.
Standout tracks: Italy, Safe With Me, Athom and the nice cover of Louis Armstrong‘s What a Wonderful World, which closes the LP.
Soap&Skin is featured also in CRESTS OF WAVES, the playlists that I’m curating on Spotify with all the best of indie and art pop.