The label that gave us that incredible album from Dawuna returns with a gripping debut from Skins; a London-based Tamil-Canadian producer folding dreampop and shoegaze archetypes into moody drum machine edits and ambient soundscapes somewhere between Alex Zhang Hungtai and Yves Tumor.
’Never Cursed ( ஒேபா சபகபடதிைல)’ is an unpredictable introduction to skins’ ethereal, drifting meditations. A onetime producer for Metro Zu and Goth Money, his early, collage-style productions are here mixed with a palette of piano, organ, violin, guitar and washed-out effects. The flux of styles reflects a life in transit from his parents’ home in Jaffna, Sri Lanka to Toronto, CA, where the instrumental parts were recorded at St. James Cathedral, and ultimately to London, where he is now based, and whose mutant underground patently informs his nods to the post-everything scuzz, the radical ends of rap, and ambient-pop-noise.
As debut statements of intent go, ‘Never Cursed’ leaves a heady impression. The plangent, instrumental blooz of ‘my life, my soul, and all that i sacrifice’ sounds like some Sade breakdown wafting over a Cocteau Twins instrumental from another room; harmonised, cascading guitar and whirling sax – blissed and immeasurably sad.
From here, the album runs like a downbeat mixtape, submerged hip hop drums, melancholy, psychedelically-activated texturing. ‘Thick skin’ could almost be Honour jamming with Grouper, and the grungy swag of ‘tidying a tide’ feels like Yves Tumor on a downer, while ‘skin extract’ or ‘hide’ land in the midst of Oxhy or Felix Lee’s emo-tronica.
The final transition from ‘when will the leaves at my window turn green’ to ‘my looking glass’ and the heart-in-mouth denouement of ‘at the altar’ exemplify a knack for harder-to-place, mutant ambient chamber musick á la the c.a.n.v.a.s. label or even James Ferraro. Like pretty much everything we’ve heard from the shadowy O___o? stable, it comes shrouded in a peculiar fog of mystery and romance.