Alien Skin

REVIEW Creature with the Human Face


imageSTEREO STICKMAN This 2014 album release from Alien Skin, although somewhat similar to the style of songwriting featured on this year’s European Electronic Cinema, is a vastly different audio experience. The opening and title track alone is a moment of true and unusual beauty. The artist’s uniquely creative approach to composing and producing music is instantly notable, and what’s more, the concept of this piece, the ideas put forth, and the mind expanding ambiance on the whole, is all emphasised further by the thoughtful way in which the song has been crafted and structured. It presents listeners with a new kind of peace, a sense of it being ok to wonder, to think freely, to let your mind run away with you sometimes. It’s a wonderful and relevant introduction to the collection.

This particular array of musical substance suits the sound of the artist’s voice beautifully. "And Through The Clouds" is the first moment at which everything is utterly gentle to begin with, so the song feels much like how you might imagine floating in space would – another of George’s brilliant artistic moments of expressing ideas through far more than just lyrics. The sounds that have been created and selected and incorporated into this particular project have in fact built up a rather breath taking experience for listeners. I described Alien Skin’s most recent album as a beautiful and thought provoking trip. I now realise that this is something you can rely upon the artist for again and again.

You can also rely on Alien Skin for real feeling. Despite the somewhat out-there nature of this album, conceptually, there is so much humanness in there that it’s overwhelming at times. "Temple Bar In Dublin", for example. It’s a song that begins in the way that any song of love or loss might, but it develops into something much more unexpected, and yet with each and every turn the honesty and the openness is immense. The lyrics are the sort that make you want to hang on every word, yet they are always unfamiliar, they are always something new – or occasionally, something regular, but expressed in a completely unheard of way. And despite the unfamiliar presentation of the lines, they feel important, and they’re comforting, particularly when performed by the artist himself, with his soft and calming voice, and woven in amongst such blissful and peaceful music.

Following this, "Darkness Knows No Shame" is a crucial moment within the project. The beat has a distinct thickness and energy to it, and the concept is striking, so the whole song really stands out as something that should be paid attention to. And then at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, "Amelia" takes you somewhere new yet again.

What really struck me about this album is the songwriting. Alien Skin writes songs that appeal to the human heart and mind, songs that are melodically attractive, seemingly easy to listen to, but always unpredictable, and always so very complex. "In Liquid Glass I Float" seems to fall from the sky after listening to "Amelia". It hits you, and it’s a welcome hit. The melody is beautifully hopeful, but the lyrics are so unexpected, and the music once again makes you feel like the theme is a part of you and a part of your existence for a while. It’s a fascinating form of artistic expression, and it’s clever, powerful – it brings about real feelings, it opens the mind, it relaxes you, all within just a few minutes, and all without leaving you uncomfortable or perplexed. You’re likely to feel more and more comfortable and relaxed in fact as the collection progresses, though your thoughts are likely to be running wild by the time it’s all over.

"Last Man In The World" follows next with a well suited mood, and afterwards, "Melancholy Song" steps into the spotlight at just the right time; with it’s half-melancholy, half optimistic energy – as is often the way with Alien Skin’s writing. And then,  for one last moment of deep thought and pondering, "Doctor in Space" brings things to a close with a gentle sort of intensity.

It’s a deeply thoughtful, unusual and beautiful collection, and as a complete project it’s one of the most interesting and out there releases of the past few years.

Listen to the whole thing in full. Make an evening of it – it’s an extraordinary experience. Listen to European Electronic Cinema as well. [Rebecca Cullen for Stereo Stickman, November 14, 2016]

click to read the original review here


imageNO MORE DIVISION  Just recently George Pappas released the exceptional Winter On Mars which we reviewed. A couple of years before that he released Creature with the Human Face. Creature with the Human Face is arguably a more accessible album. Pappas does implement warm overtones with a number of different types of synth sounds as well as transition and parts which those who don’t explore the fringe of what music might not be accustomed to but also throws in a couple of songs that you could see working in a dark goth dance club.

‚ÄčTake for instance the beat heavy “Darkness Knows No Shame” which may be the catchiest song on the album. The song implements a 4/4 beat with a thick bass drum that really drives the groove. Pappas isn’t lazy when it comes to production on songs like this. You can easily bob your head to the groove or put on some headphones and explore the subterranean synths that provide an extra layer of energy.

The following song “Amelia” is more subdued but also one you can dance to. “Amelia” is a little more dark and mystic sounding but not something the club kids would veer away from.

There are plenty of songs which are much more atmospheric with not much backbone. “In Liquid Glass I Float” is one of those songs that relies on airy vocals and arpeggiated synths. The title track is a song that is a near perfect blend of catchy vocal melodies and experimentation. It’s warm and dark but his vocals create a unique juxtaposition that works out quite well in the long run.

Pappas continues to showcase ingenuity when it comes to thinking outside the box. Take for instance the very unique breakdown on “Life on Earth”  or the descending synths you hear on “At Night She's Dark.”

Pappas manages to create a cohesive album that is also quite eclectic. The palette of sounds feels like it coming from the same place but each song's attention to detail feels unique. If you’re new to Alien Skin Creature with the Human Face may be a great introduction but I’d also make sure to give Winter On Mars a spin as well. [Ted Rogan for No More Division June 10, 2016]

Click to read the original review here

KAGE ALAN  'The Next Layer of Alien Skin Unleashed' It’s difficult to start this off without making a comparison, which is something I generally prefer not to do. “This has a similar plot as…” or “This sounds just like…” Well, yes, it may, but it’s also not. For purposes here, though, let me start off by comparing this release to the releases of Enigma. Why and how so? Each album by Enigma is unique in its sound and the musical journey it takes us on, yet it’s also unmistakably Enigma. The same can be said with the Alien Skin albums. Each is unique unto themselves, yet unmistakably Alien Skin. Does that clear things up?

Now, singer/songwriter/musician George Pappas last took us through 'The Secret Garden' after serving up some haunting melodies in 'Ghost in the Rain'. We leave all that behind here, thematically speaking, and head elsewhere in this, his fifth album. Things get very alien very quickly with the title track, "Creature With the Human Face", and it sets the album off with a perfect combination of melancholy and melody, plus the theme of loneliness. It also raises questions about whether the artist is describing the entity that is Alien Skin (while speaking through that entity) or himself. There are no shallow lyrics in the Alien Skin repertoire. It’s poetic and not always with a direct meaning.

"Life on Earth" is an impressive second track in that while it sounds sparse, the more you listen to it, the more you pick up on with the layers of sounds. This is one I came back to several times. "And Through the Clouds" is a bit lighter in tone and airy in texture, expanding the setting the first two tracks establish, which is also carried over in "At Night She’s Dark". "Temple Bar in Dublin"—I love the title of this one—continues the theme of loneliness while I felt a tiny bit voyeuristic in "Amelia".

The remaining tracks all support the themes established in the opening track and continue to expand the world we gaze at through the creature with the human face. Funny enough, I used the term ‘melancholy’ to describe the album without remembering there’s actually a song titled "Melancholy Song". There is a sadness to the tracks, but also the hint of hope that all is not lost or explored. It’s a nice feeling and I can’t say that it doesn’t quite describe the world we currently live in.

There’s a lovely sci-fi feel to Creature With the Human Face (especially with titles like "In Liquid Glass I Float" and "Last Man in the World"), but it’s a subtle one. Okay, there’s also a song that includes the phrase “time lord in space” in the lyrics. But when all is said and done, this is an artist’s album through and through. The melodies retain their haunting feel, the lyrics give us a glimpse at a much larger story, and we leave it knowing we haven’t yet reached the end of our journey.

Creature With the Human Face is another glimpse into the Alien Skin universe and I look forward to another. [Kage Alan, 10 April 2014]

Click here to read the original Cdbaby review.


SALIHA GUL  After learning ‘The Secret Garden’ (the previous Alien Skin CD album) by heart, I was wondering, what else could be made after such an excellent work? But of course, Alien Skin has amazed and fascinated me one more time, with another new excellent album, ‘Creature with the Human Face’. This outstanding album brings just one word to my mind to define it best 'sophisticated'. It’s definitely an exclusive, top level album; in other words, a masterpiece.
All the characteristic features I admire concerning Alien Skin music are gathered in this album as well; captivating fluent melodies, impressive lyrics that give meaning to melodies and the powerful Alien Skin sound.

As you listen to the album in the quiet of your room, the unique Alien Skin music immediately surrounds you, and each song makes you run another movie in your mind, pushing the limits of your imagination; sometimes you are the actor/actress, sometimes the spectator. In each song you witness another state of mind.

You inevitably find yourself walking in the dark sky as a ‘Creature with the Human Face’, feeling alone and abandoned in cold space. You feel the isolation and loneliness… You start running movies in your mind. And suddenly your room becomes a spaceship and it takes you on a mind trip, in order to explore whether there’s ‘Life on Earth’. You feel the wonder... You want to find a home after floating in space for a million years. ‘And Through the Clouds’, you see the earth in marble blue; you feel it take your breath away, and wonder whether it might be the place you make home. You feel the hope... You can imagine her pureness like the rain from a summer sky and the sunlight on morning eyes, but ‘At Night She’s Dark’. You feel the contrast…

You read the card from the ‘Temple Bar in Dublin’ and find yourself looking up to the North. You feel the longing… You hear colours tell you about how it feels to be red, to be green, to be blue, and that ‘Darkness Knows No Shame’. You feel the difference… You watch the rain from your window, rub your eyes and then breathe deeply, like ‘Amelia’ on a Sunday afternoon, oceans away from home. You feel the regret… You play daydreams in your mind with ‘In Liquid Glass I Float’. You feel the despair… You wonder what might be the answer to the question of the ‘Last Man in the World’.

You feel the doubt… You are in the quiet of an afternoon room and drawn into your thoughts by the ‘Melancholy Song’. And you love the pleasure it gives you. You feel the unbearable lightness of melancholy and solitude… You board the spaceship and become the traveler of ‘Doctor in Space’, who will save you from harm, as you’re just human in space. You feel the confidence and peace of mind…

Finally, your timeless and spaceless cosmic travel to the limits that your mind can take you, and further than your eyes can take you, ends, and you turn back to the quiet of your room again. So the ‘mind trip’ is over and you come back to life on earth. You have been to the universe with Alien Skin, but it was only your mind in fact. That’s the way it is; don’t we live what we live and feel what we feel within our minds in fact ?

Now I’m waiting for the next mind trip Alien Skin will take me, because I’m his traveler and he’s my doctor in space…