Regarded by Dominik Fernow as the “best US noise project in terms of texture and composition”, Skin Crime return to Hospital Productions with an immanent inversion of noise convention exploring ideas of tense, slow-burn patience instead of aggressive intensity. Brutally active between the early ’90s and mid ’00s, Skin Crime took a 12-year hiatus until 2016 and the bloodshed of their instantly sold-out, 20CD boxset of archival material. That same year they also issued Ghosts I Have Been, a crushingly bleak album inspired by Japanese mythology and ghost stories which have paved the way for this new one, where the band’s Patrick O’Neil and Mark Jameson continue to refine their instincts into the dankest brand of organic ambient noise. In key with their ghostly Japanese muse, specifically the Bakaneko (1968) or Ghost Cat movies of the ’50s and ’60s, as well as the writing of Lafcadio Hearn, aka Koizumi Yakumo, the author of Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1904) — Skin Crime’s music in Traveller on the Road is all about presence and the suggestibility of hypnagogic and half-awake states. Their cold-fingered sleight of hand is applied to exceedingly fine layers of textural enigma in long, unbroken tracts that hold the listener’s gaze with frightening power. “Avoid Large Places At Night” takes hold with intravenous potency, very subtly drawing eyes to half-mast with its mechanical womb-like ambience, and stealthily introducing subharmonic rumbles and peripheral rustles that suggest unseen spectres lurking in a thicket of ghosts. A lack of sudden movement only ratchets the threat levels to seat-edge. Likewise, with its deeply soporific subs and texturhythms, the B-side’s “Black Cat From The Grove” continues to numb the senses in a noise style, but eviscerated of all open aggression, preferring a dense mode of suggestion that only emphasizes the unheimlich nature of their music. It’s a masterclass in saying it without saying it, and effectively amounts to a missing link between Kevin Drumm, Painjerk, and Mika Vainio, or even Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement and Meitei, that should not be missed by any fans of the above. Clear vinyl; mastered and cut at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin.

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