As Nels Cline points out in his liners to this long-awaited (by me at least) debut album from The Skein, aka Andrea Parkins (electric accordion, laptop, keyboards and voice) and Jessica Constable (voice, electronics), "it is easy to think of these pieces as composed songs: they are at times quite melodic, exemplifying coherent extemporaneous form. And no matter how unpredictable the sonic content, implicit in all of these pieces is the presence of the human cry: the blues." Those of you who dream of a real experimental album by the likes of Beth Gibbons, Joanna Newsom or Björk (who's very good at recruiting musicians from leftfield to boost her avant garde street cred but never gets very far out herself), will find much to enjoy in Cities And Eyes. I'd willingly trade the last three Björk albums for Constable's "backroom / no introduction" at a moment's notice. Her raw, folk-inflected singing, with or without the effects boxes she routes it through, is arresting and haunting, but set against Parkins' colourful backdrop of mangled samples and dense treatments, it remains deliciously unpredictable; none of these eleven songs, only four of which get beyond the five-minute mark, goes where you'd expect it to. Bass riffs, chord progressions and even backbeats appear and disappear without warning, but despite the music's refusal to sit still, nothing sounds out of place or arbitrary. Cities And Eyes is a thrilling ride; get on board.
Review of Cities and Eyes: Paris Transatlantic
February 9, 2010 | Posted in Review | Tagged andrea parkins, cities and eyes, jessica constable, the skein