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Skin Horse : Skin Horse

Skin Horse has experimented with Drone and Funeral doom, thus creating what is closer to a force of nature than music.

Skin Horse got their name from a character in Margery Williams' book 'The Velveteen Rabbit'. The old and wise Skin Horse from therein was once merely a plushy toy whose conversation with the Velveteen Rabbit has become famous in the same way many Winnie the Pooh sayings have. The Horse had been loved by his child for many years and had through this love become more than just a toy, he had also become Real. The young and inexperienced Rabbit wanted to know how all about becoming real, asking many questions and always getting a truthful answer from the Horse. From this conversation comes the following beautifully sad quote that has earned its place as a piece of literary greatness: "Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand". From this there could be drawn a parallel to the band, I guess, especially in the sense that this experimental band require a certain sort of fascination if one is to perceive its beauty.

Their sound is, however, one not in any way fit for a nursery. Like Noothgrush, who named themselves after a character in a Dr. Seuss book, so has Skin Horse made a mockery out of their nominal origin. The truth of the matter is that 'Skin Horse' is a storm - actually, I would claim that this is more so than it is a kind of music. This natural force cares only for melody in the sense that it creates some kind of sonic fluctuation to that constant increase in sheer force which is this release. How better to describe this than in terms of malicious weather? This is a storm brewing, gaining strength as individual lesser winds toss about. Angry screams, the howling of distorted guitars, tribal-ish drums, and a general sense that Laibach must have had at least some influence on 'Skin Horse'; these elements all bring their own to the experimentality of this disc, and yet the music does not sound anything but coherent, as if it was a perfect rendition of what the band wanted to replicate audially.

Namedropping usually helps describe music since a vocabulary usually does not suffice in doing so. In the case of Skin Horse I would start by mentioning Pelican due to the fact that both make massive soundscapes from Drone/Doom, and the similarities between this disc and 'Australasia' are very prominent when one talks about the overall feeling. But on the other hand I feel I have to namedrop a few funeral doom bands as well - Nortt and Funeral should suffice - because of the tuning of the guitars and the feeling of the least intense sections. Then there is of course all the more avant-garde elements, where, with one exception, I think I should avoid doing much namedropping since that would give the impression that those influences were more profound than they are; the exception is Zaraza due to the fact that certain sections of the auditory output does remind me very much of them.

Only 200 copies was made of this disc, thus getting hold of a hardcopy should prove difficult. A pity, since the cloth cover is one of the nicest casings I've encountered. Yet, fortunately, the release is not out of reach as the band put it up for free download on their last.fm page and their Bandcamp page, and I would urge fans of Pelican to do just this as the quality of this disc is just as high as theirs, thus making it a valuable addition to a subgenre that is still in a fledgling state. Unfortunately, Skin Horse appears to have ceased to exist, releasing just one more track in 2009 for a split CD with Nanda Devi, before going quiet. In my honest opinion, that is a pity since I feel that this band had a promising future.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Act I Confined To Shadows
2. Act II Ecdysis
3. Act III Peel Back The Sky

Duration : Approx. 42 minutes

Visit the Skin Horse bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-04-06 by Arnstein H. Pettersen
Rotten Copper
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