your skin, my mask
reviewed in "yeah i know it sucks"
here are many drone orientated albums out there, but there are very few that pushes the boundaries music wise. Like for example this one over here, made by Anne Sulikowski also known as building castles out of matchsticks. This lengthy name on itself might make a person wonder, but when you hear the actual music you will know that the artist name is saying it all. The music pieces sounds so big and yet so fragile, each and every ‘castle’ has a new angle, a new design and approach, but all of them are sounding graceful and worked out in full details. Normally I won’t mention or drop the artist’s conceptual idea behind them within this space, but reading them (and getting fascinated by it) I thought to include it here for you to read:
A collection of slasher drones
The premise of these recordings are the traumatic histories involved with horror movie “slashers”. In real life I work as a nurse on a forensic assessment unit and have seen how dissociation can lead to major psychosis, which then paves the way for violent offending. When a judge feels a psychiatric evaluation is required they are seen by the team that work on my unit. I have worked with many violent/sexual offenders who have incredibly horrific and painful past histories.
I often wonder if removing these histories would have resulted in a totally different person.
Now don’t get the wrong idea, as slasher movies might not be your personal cup of tea, but that certainly doesn’t mean you should miss out on this album! I just thought it was a interesting approach and giving weight and volume to these pretty sounding melodic approaches to this genre of music. Of course some hit those eerie notes, but in general it feels as they are all coming together for a hangout in care and enjoy the nursing soothing abilities that music potentially could bring to a troubled and non troubled person.
I will not go and do a walk through to each and every track as available on this album, simply as that might be a lengthy read and you might just have to trust me on my word; it’s much better to just plug in and play this album without spoilers and preconditioned ideas. The whole point is that the music done by building castles out of matchsticks sounds much nicer and friendlier than the textual information might imply. Creative wise each and every slasher drone will tickle the imagination, never letting the listener down with a repetitive trick, but always deliver a completely new fresh approach to the music. Personally I did not experience them as being scary or creepy (which you might think they would be…) but rather pretty, original and even beautiful. When the artist drops her surprising voice in there it becomes even more touchable and human, like a refreshing taint on the whole droning atmospheric scene.
They all come with great detail, with a sense of respect to each source of inspiration that does reflect each slasher movie theme but seem to praise it with love and care, like only a true fan could create and make as only they see the real beauty through the fake gore and blood of these things. The quality of them that magnificently glued them all together is mostly the speed and tempo, all calm and relaxed, even if some are short and others are a bit more lengthy they all feel the respectable urge to stay far away from sounding rushed or in a hurry. The magical mystery over here is that the entire album in its entirety passes by so very quickly, always a good sign that music captures the full attention and makes you feel a part of it as you listen along. They simply keep on entertaining and surprising with so much differences among each other and so much successful experimentation in each different approach you simply cannot be bored.
From reversed materials, intriguing melodies, field recording snippets, mellow sound effects, unexpected audio snippets and overall sedating production qualities. It almost feels like a day out, experiencing a lovely slasher movie fest in which you explore the interesting nicest side of them, comforting the listener with intriguing beauty along the way. You might not like the genre ‘drone’ of ‘slasher movies’ but that definitely might not mean that you won’t really enjoy this album; probably the far opposite! You will love this album and it will grow much more and more as it flows and parades by to tickle your fancy!
Your Skin, My Mask
CASTLES, MASKS, AND THINGS YOU CANNOT SEE
published in Ruix Zine
May 07, 2018
The work of Anne Sulikowski (the artist behind building castles out of matchsticks) is a world of synth and guitar loops, often times utilizing only a handful of effects pedals. She has a youtube channel showcasing her talent of building up drones or soundscapes and over 70 tracks on soundcloud and bandcamp.
[Full disclosure I have a release on Histamine Tapes but that is immaterial when one listens to an album such as Your Skin, My Mask. Histamine Tapes is a label that uses recycled cassettes and art, not unlike the recycled tape series from RRRecords. Each run of tapes has its art made from a magazine, brochure or a catalogue, so there is a loose theme for each release. This album has a theme of airline safety pamphlets.]
The album starts with a fluttering, almost damaged, tape loop drone. The theme is of horror movie slashers and the trauma behind each character. Anne’s work as a nurse dealing with psychiatric evaluations of violent and sexual offenders is the basis of this album, or in her own words, “how dissociation can to lead to major psychosis, which then paves the way for violent offending.”
This hissing dreamlike state is omnipresent, and while beautiful, there is a looming sense of danger. Touches of sadness are never far when the guitar makes a mournful piano sound or a loop swells up, causing unsettling feelings on headphones. Freddy Krueger, Pennywise, Jason, Norman Bates, and Dr. Loomis are some of the characters that Anne creates a new film score for. The album title, while an obvious horror nod, can also be a way of expressing the dissociation felt by these slashers.
On both sides of the tape the phrase “something you cannot see” is repeated and emerges from the haze. There are no clear answers given (nor would one expect any from such a project) but it does invite repeated listens. Albums like this should propel Anne to the forefront of guitar/synth soundscaping.
– Jeff Brown
Your Skin, My Mask
Published in Raised By Gypsies
May 07, 2017
This begins with an ambient FNL vibe. Reverberating guitar notes give this a post rock feel. As the notes come through more, they are also manipulated in a frequency manner. More somber now on the second track, this is minimal in ways and also has the feeling of the soundtrack to an independent movie where the main character has some great realization. By the third track this picks back up to where the first track was but they all seem to share these same majestic tones which make me feel like I am walking on clouds.
It can whirr as if we are all alone on a long stretch of highway. There are some screams and footsteps heard now. This leads into singing a few lines: "Don't think you cannot see me" which have an eerie feel to them. This turns into something quieter, which builds and the static comes through choppy. There are definitely haunted sounds in the background and for the first time this cassette is giving off that horror vibe I read about. Certain tones make this sound like it's in space, but the crackling static sounds like someone is about to get stabbed.
Dark whirrs seemingly trail off as guitar notes provide the scary now. This remains with that FNL feel which is kind of strange because you have to imagine a soundtrack to such a movie but then also have it being scary. Imagine if they made the movie "Friday Night Lights" but the kids were zombies. Or imagine the kids were being terrorized by Jason Voorhees. In a perfect world, you'd take each of the characters and have them brutually slaughtered by a different horror villain. That would be a comic book I would love to read (Please?)
On the flip side now we have some warmer electronics which make me feel like we're going into a song by The Who. This is overtaken by a dense cloud of fog. Tones are back and forth now. Whispers are kind of sneaking through the static and now it has a higher pitched sharpness with whirr frequencies which can sound like an angelic choir singing at first. This has a definite horror feel to it now-- it is an intensity. This takes a turn into atmospheric where it feels as if we are lost in space and nothing good can come from it. Not for us anyway.
Darker tones come through now. This has a telling vibe to it, like "JAWS" you can feel the music move through the water, ready to strike at any moment. This brings out electronics which can come through as beeps and frequencies and though they have this certain feel to them (like something out of the 1980's) they still have that hollow breathing behind them and as such can imply just as much horror as we've heard up until this point. Singing comes out once again through the whirrs and it's just as haunted as that old woman in that Metallica video that still gives me nightmares.
The singing does seem to go along with the last time we heard singing, as it is along the same lines. This drops us off into a pool of laser whirrs and seemingly haunted moans. Those ambient guitar notes return as if the cast of FNL is in danger once again, but you know, not football danger. The synth drone feel comes through a bit more choppy by the end but it has this overall feeling of something which on the surface is supposed to be relaxing because it's ambient drone but if you're really paying attention it can be quite horrifying.
This cassette has song titles and the themes of each song is based on a horror movie. Some are more easily recognized like the first song "Pennywise drone" is not about the Epitaph band but rather the clown from "IT" and, well, "Christine" just speaks for itself. Mentions of Patrick Bateman should be easy enough so should "Norman, I Think Your Mother is Calling", though not everyone might be able to figure out all of these titles unless they are true horror fans in a sense. "Loomis", for example, is something you might either know or you don't know while "Crystal Lake" feels a little bit more obvious but that's up to you. I'd love to see a horror series theme come out in more music and if building castles out of matchsticks was so inclined a cassette dedicated to the works of Alfred Hitchcock could also be right on.