George Pappas aka Alien Skin has released a stunning amount of material in the last couple of years. If you haven't yet, check our reviews of his previous albums Creature with the Human Face and Winter On Mars. His latest is another full-length entitled European Electronic Cinema which contains ten tracks. Is it his best? It’s certainly arguable but I actually prefer not to think of it like that. There are new songs with a slight different feel but Pappas holds on to the foundation that made his previous efforts his own in the first place.
There are still a lot of synths and the songs still have a slightly otherworldly, ethereal vibe to them, Pappas who I still think sounds like a combination of David Bowie and Scott Walker post-the drift does not cut any corners. The songs are fleshed out while still often feeling atmospheric. The songs feel as if they float away if it wasn’t for the percussion and his vocals.
The album opens with “June Is the Coldest Time” which combines a subdued beat with sine waves. There is a bit a dubstep vibe that reminded me of James Blake at times. There are some inventive sounds on this song. The nightmarish, processed vocals which sound as if they could be from your latest nightmare were simultaneously frightening and enjoyable in some way.
“Terror Ist” has an initial trip-hop vibe that gets augmented with filters of some sort which creates distinct patches of textures and tones. There is movement on this track but it still doesn't take over the atmosphere on the track. At one point Pappas does some speaking in a very Jarvis Cocker kind of way.
“All Tomorrow's Cares” is perhaps the closest Pappas will ever get to a smooth R&B feel. It’s a catchy jam in a lot of ways and was one of my personal favorites. “Prettiest Flower” is another song that despite the alien sounding synth is a catchy song at least in terms of the vocal melody. The chorus may have you singing along even though there are some dissonant synths which seems to be a couple semitones off from each other.
“The Emperor's Tram Girl” is a song that has a fuzzy bass and beat that drives the song. Cinematic swirls with pitch bends and chorus like effects eventually accompany the beat. He closes with “My Polaroid Friend (Thin White Duke)” which at some point submerges into a sea of sound that mimics what you might think of when transporting to an extraterrestrial planet.
Pappas doesn't overstay his welcome. At ten songs European Electronic Cinema feels just about perfect and is another addition to his unique sound.
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