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The Xanni Blog reviews 'The Unquiet Grave'

The Xanni blog reviews 'The Unquiet Grave'

18 March 2010

As music is such a huge part of my life, when I set up this blog I decided that it wasn't going to be purely technical; I figured I'd review the odd music album here and there. These reviews are mostly going to be positive, as I tend not to buy rubbish music; and if I do, I never really feel the need to write about it.

I'm a huge fan of Synthpop, modern and from the 1980s. A Different Drum is an underground Synthpop label, and puts out a huge wide range of diverse music by many different groups, groups that have either started in the late 80's and are still going, or groups that have stayed alive for a couple of years, then fade into obscurity. Some CDs are fantastic, others, not so fantastic.

Anyway! I'm going to talk about a fantastic new album put out by A Different Drum, by a musician from the Australian 80's new wave group Real Life, George Pappas, also known as Alien Skin.

The new album is called The Unquiet Grave – Alien Skin's Second album, next to his first, Don't Open Till Doomsday. When I saw this album put out on A Different Drum, I ordered it straight away, and have waited eagerly to listen. I will attempt to describe Alien Skin's sound: ethereal, floaty, disturbing… big. Those are just some of the words that come to mind when I think of his music.

I found out after a little Google research, that the album name, also the name of the first track on the album, is an english folk song. The first track sets the mood for the album. The mood is old, ethereal, yet more closer to earth than Don't Open Till Doomsday.

The two albums share one theme in common however – vast, emptiness. This is the only way I can describe it.

Tracks that stood out for me were the melancholic "Cold" and "After The Funeral", the downright disturbing "The Birthday Party" and the particularly uplifting final track "If" (is it not usually the case for Synthpop/New Wave groups to end albums on a low, depressing note, rather than a high? :) ).

The soundscapes are complex, and cause the mind to wander. Probably not the best type of music to place in your car to listen to as you drive ;) Pappas' smooth unique vocals blend perfectly with his poetry and his excellent synthesizer programming. The drums used are not intrusive (don't get me wrong, I love a big reverbed Snare, but would not suit Alien Skin), and sounds are delicate. A hell of a lot of care has been put into this album, you can not only hear it, but feel it.

I really enjoyed Don't Open Till Doomsday as well, but for different reasons. Pappas has improved a huge amount since Don't Open Till Doomsday, and The Unquiet Grave sounds simply a lot more smooth, and less rough around the edges.

You can listen to The Unquiet Grave and Don't Open Till Doomsday in their entirety on the Official Alien Skin Website if you are interested. If you like it, why not put in an order for a CD? It's well worth it :)

I can see this album being in my car for a little while longer, I think :)

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