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Alien Skin: “European Electronic Cinema” – The miracle of its impact is the otherworldly sound

Alien Skin is George Pappas, long-time keyboardist and co-songwriter with legendary Australian band Real Life who had a multi-million selling ’80s smash in “Send Me An Angel”, which still remains a regular on radio playlists worldwide. Emigrating to Australia from Greece at a very young age, Pappas eventually became a guitarist, serving apprenticeships in various local rock bands of the day, before the Post punk and especially synthesizers became the in thing.

His switch to all things electronic was consummated by the early 80s, the decisive influence being the electro modus operandi and songwriting of Gore/Wilder, version Depeche Mode.

Pappas’ alter-ego, Alien Skin saw the light in 2007, resulting in the release of the debut album – “Don’t Open Till Doomsday”. Eight albums have since been released, with the latest being 2016’s “European Electronic Cinema”. The instrumentals are soothing yet intense, often at the same time, on this new album.

This album is one of the most beautiful soundscapes I’ve heard in recent times, sounding somewhat like post-rock evolving to its most beautiful level possible. Even though this is only one guy, with an occasional extra instrument, it sounds bigger than your local philharmonic if it needs to. Not that Pappas needs to or wants to, as he keeps the music fairly spacious, dreamy and mellow.

The album cover

The album cover

Add those, oh-so-hypnotizing vocals to complete the sound, and it’s hard to listen to this album and not feel like you are not only listening to something entirely new and unworldly, but also in some entirely unfamiliar awe inspiring landscape.

While ambient or post-rock may be the closest label to try to fit on “European Electronic Cinema”, those terms ignores Alien Skin’s passion, rather easily accessible beauty, and even the vaguely catchy and melodic quality of some of the songs.  Pick your adjective: ethereal, enigmatic, sensuous, trancelike, alluring…any of those would fit the description of this music, but it wouldn’t nearly be enough though.

Yes, the overall feel of the music counts, but it’s you’re reaction to this music that truly defines the sound. How do you react to standouts like “June Is The Coldest Time”, the falling bass-synth induced, “I Love Art Deco” with its fantastic string arrangements, or the slowly building “Platinum Good Looks”, and then the mellow bounce of “Prettiest Flower”?

Alien Skin’s instrumentation is layered, yet relatively straightforward: The miracle of its impact is the otherworldly sound channeled through these instruments and into the ears, heart, and soul of the listener. This is particularly true on “Sterile in Blue” and My Polaroid Friend (Thin White Duke)”, where Alien Skin’s textural beauty is most affectingly showcased.

Alien Skin is incomparable in a playing field all of his own. No one is even approaching this type of musical expression in the current music scene that I can think of. The electronic music arrangements, effects and sounds, are key elements to the Alien Skin sound, but it is also true that George Pappas’ voice plays a vital role in enhancing and creating the music.

I can tell you that “European Electronic Cinema” is an evocative, emotional release that is warm at times, and melancholic at others, but with a universal genius readily apparent.

The album will be officially released on September the 2nd.

OFFICIAL LINKS:  WEBSITE

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