Personnel: Andrea Parkins (piano, synthesizer, sampler); Jessica Constable (electronics).
Audio Mixers: Andrea Parkins; Tony Maimone.
Liner Note Author: Nels Cline.
Recording information: 2004.
Taking cues from shock, horror, and the macabre underground, the Skein creates sonic sculptures and thick multi-layered spontaneous compositions that only hint at tuneful constructs. A purely improvisational concept executed by multi-instrumentalist Andrea Parkins and vocalist Jessica Constable, this project concentrates on dense sound, quirky mood changes, themes based on raw emotions, and the kind of contemporary socio-physical attitude based in the frustration of various elements life continually dishes out. The electronic nature of this music also humanizes it, from the depths of soul on the keyboard, laptop, and accordion Parkins wields, to Constable's duality in using two microphones -- one processed and the other only amplified. This is a deep music, delving into the darkest form of the blues, and comparable to only one other but clearly referenced artist -- Diamanda Galas. While not nearly as demonic as Galas, there are frequent signposts that addresses those kinds of unspeakable and exiled sounds far removed from daily public experiences and consciousness. "Jingle Bitch" starts the album off with a flurry of percussion and electronic vocal sounds, Constable sounding as if she is speaking in tongues. Beat, no beat, male vocal, and operatic samples signify "Elegy" in various strung together segments. A churning motion with mechanical bass, perhaps processed by recording engineer Tony Maimone (ex-Pere Ubu) identifies the war-like sounds of "Orlando in Bayonne." Backwards loops and a more instrumental idea underscores the grim mood underneath the accordion of Parkins during "Harrow," with Constable in late. This music emphasizes angst, deep seeded feelings of remorse, and non-retaliated violence, whirring in cycles during "Lmnop," howling and funereal on the definitive dirge dream sequence "Nothing/Otherwise," and via small piano and sawing sounds for "Amble & Fell In." Stomped down lyrics based on the theme "he is" in a 5/4 accordion drone shape "Backroom/No Introduction." There's a hymnal quality within Constable's high voice on "Mini," and a snap theory used for "Zobeide" can at once and individually be serene or pained. "Ides for Two" closes the set with spoken words blended into crazy invention and a circus motif à la Kurt Weill. Cities and Eyes is music in the broadest sense, made for a specific, not generalized audience, evoking the stark nakedness of metropolitan rat race life. At once industrial, futuristic, and multi-cultural, it represents musique concrète performance art taken to the extreme. ~ Michael G. Nastos