Szam Findlay

Die Hautfabrik

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For a debut album, Die Hautfabrik (The Skin Fabric) is simply stunning, and all the credit goes to Szam Findlay, who wrote the music, performed it, and supervised every step of the production. First, let's talk about the music. It is presented as a suite in seven movements. The scope of influences runs very wide: Wagner, Art Zoyd, Tangerine Dream, Pierre Henry, and Einstürzende Neubauten, to name but the most obvious. The album opens with the typical kind of apocalyptic landscapes Art Zoyd and Univers Zero recorded in the 1980s: Carl Orff-like choirs, martial drums, heavy piano, and bleak atmospheres. The same reference comes back in "The Tide a Glutton," this time with a more medieval feel, and in "Zeit Segeln." "Blanche" adds early electronic elements the likes of Tangerine Dream and Vangelis meshed into what sounds very close to musique concrète. The whole work commands an orchestral scale -- it is gigantic without being pompous. Contemporary classical meets the dark side of Rock in Opposition meets industrial meets avant-garde electronica. Findlay's proposition is ambitious. Die Hautfabrik still contains weaker or overlong passages but, in general, it makes for a striking listen. One word or two about the packaging: the 14-page steel ring bound booklet contains photographs of Dandilion Schlase's post-apocalyptic sculptures. They alone are worth tracking down this album, a true work of art. Die Hautfabrik was released in a numbered edition of 1,150 copies.

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