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Thursday, January 26, 2023
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Skinshape: Nostalgia

There are many scandals at the moment, from Michelle Mone pocketing £130m of taxpayers’ money to buy a yacht to Jeremy Clarkson being offensive, but it’s also moderately scandalous that this fine album from Skinshape has garnered barely any reviews.

Admittedly Skinshape operates in a niche field, is a bassist and played with a band called Palace, which online reviews mention as if we all know who they are, but we don’t. His solo material is all good; the fact he plays bass gives his music a natural rhythm.

As the name might suggest, Nostalgia is about the past, specifically about lost happiness and trying to recapture that feeling. The sound is of dreamy music from a lost 60s French classic movie, probably involving young people, mopeds, fountains and Dirk Bogarde. (We also like the PR which says “For fans of Bonobo” – we are the only Bonobo fans we’ve come across, and we only found him because one of his songs is the music for Maritime Noon on Canadian radio).

Theme for Lazarus opens, a gentle summery tune with bass to the fore and shimmery guitar, gently psychedelic with lots of space, some vocal oooh aahs, and strings being plucked. Better Chances is a slow indie love song rendered dreamy, again with strings and some brass (and all real instruments). Dreams of Panama opens with shimmering string and Christmassy brass then mariachi trumpet, which give way to guitar and heavenly female vocals. Moonlight walk is darker and funkier, music for a late-night meeting down by the railway arches.

Standout is Albion, and we guess Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending has memories for Skinshape, as that famous violin melody or something very like it is woven into the tune, accompanied by wordless vocals and gentle acoustic guitar. A lovely track.

Of the rest, there’s a couple of dreamy pop tunes. Bad Dreams is more funky late night action and closer Dawn offers more pastoral violin. Sonic panoramas, as they say. Not a classic but a gentle listen and always a pleasure.

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