May - 2005
Otherwise individually: Track No.1 Track No.2 Track No.3
The Collision of Coincidences
When building music from samples, you have to be able to instantly dissect any given sound you hear into component parts. Songs become collection of noises strung together, each tiny element waiting to be plucked from the larger organization to suit your need. You have to take a sound and love it, know it inside and out in order to visualize its usefulness in the sonic symphony floating in your head. You have to be ready for the accidental coincidences that reveal the lattice underlying the world. Jonathan Ray, who records as Skincage, is sensitive to the tide of coincidences and it is his flexibility towards the possibilities of random chance that allow Skincage to sound as organic as it does. Skincage started a decade ago as an means of articulating thoughts and dreams that could not be adequately captured by words. Using an amalgamation of hardware and software in the studio and an assortment of tape loops, found objects and homemade instrumentation in live settings, Skincage seeks to bring about hypnogogic trance states in the listener where fear and doubt and the creeping mystery of the unknown darkness are all present.
Skincage's first record, Axon, was released in 2000 by the fledging Antibody sub-label of Malignant Records and was warmly received by the post-industrial, experimental underground. Composed of unusual vocal samples, warped bell trees, rumbling drones and metallic percussion, Axon was a dark ambient work steeped with psychological dread. Sinister in decision and spooky in execution, Skincage's work is dark ambient music filled with ghosts -- eidolons who manifest themselves through kirlian sparks and magnetic pulsations -- with tracks like "Tulpatulku" where Tibetan drones haunt a field of creaking machinery and sparking batteries and "Struck by the Arrows of Artemis," a cacophonic improvisation of bells and gongs as played by an orchestra of randomly spasming body parts.
Since Axon, Jon has contributed to the soundtrack of The Resurrectionist, a short horror film set in a "west that never was" (a perfect visual environment for his music), and is scheduled to release one of the chapters in Objective-Subjective's thematic soundtrack to Alan Moore's Watchmen (wherein each chapter of the graphic novel is scored for music by a different experimental artist) as well as contribute to Mile329's "This is What We Do!" compiliation.
Jon comments on the MP3s that he has hand-selected for this OPi8 showcase.
-"Calling Home" is an excerpt from a live performance at Club Congress in Tucson, AZ. The track is built around a found answering machine tape in which a man tries to reconnect with the woman he lost, but has only her machine for company. I collect answering machine tapes from old phones in thrift stores and this one is my favorite; something is very beautfiul about his voice and what he says.
-"12th Fragment" is a piece from my score for Jason Soles' film The Resurrectionist. Some of the source material came from the Foley effects I recorded for the film, and some was sampled from improvisations with various objects and instruments in my home. The complete score was composed in a series of unintentional trances after weeks of discouraging attempts to write in a fully conscious state. This is the way I work best, though I am still trying to discover a way to get into this state at will without excessive deprivation of sleep.
-"Tulpatulku" is another example of a trance-written song. Built around a Tibetan lama's prayer for the long life of his teacher, it was made with various metaphysical struggles in mind. Other layers were created by sampling household objects with contact microphone and combining them into loops. This track (as well as "Household Gods") is from the album Axon. Axon serves as both a response to my mother's illness and death and an exploration of the forces that have shape all human lives. It was composed over a period of two years in various states of consciousness.
-"Household Gods" is about the secret lives of everyday objects. The source material is a blend of sampled Tuvan music and sounds recorded from metal and glass via an inverted speaker. This track went through many mutations, including starting over, as I struggled to find its voice. Seeing a friend's son dance around to it made the effort completely worth it. It is also my wife's favorite Skincage song.
Whereas previous outings felt like scorching hot screams shot from the throat of insa[amazon.com] [amazon.co.uk]
Convenience: an industrial pop political statement, a sonic sermon on the horror of b[amazon.com] [amazon.co.uk]