Artist: Pale Sketcher
Album: Golden Skin
Release Date: 23 September 2022
Location: United Kingdom
Written by Alfred C. Key IV
The ethereal sounds of Justin K. Broadick emanate in my small room while I paint. The album is steeped in beautiful synthesizers and resounding hi-hats and snare hits. There is not a single bad moment on this album, while I listen to his sample work it’s almost impossible to believe that he is the guitarist for seminal act Napalm Death. Golden Skin has its own beat which makes it a highlight in the EDM genre. As it thuds along to the second track A Joy Only We Know‘ I become lost in the bells and chimes overlaid with the massive synth sounds. I find it hard to compare this sound to any other, seeing as he has avoided the four to the floor kick drum of the EDM genre. Most people who listen to this album will find it hard to dance to but will enjoy the spacey synthesizers and mashed samples.
Heart Beat moves with a subtle pulse that resonates in my head phones. The pulse reminds me of a good walk in the park on a sunny day. This music seems to be designed for artists and poets to hone their craft to, not for dancers in the club or at a festival. With this said, is this album a let down? No not really. It’s just what a EDM audience would be used to. There are repeated themes on this album, such as how the track I’m Your Possession picks up where Today left off – the vocal sample is steeped in reverb-laden automation and moves the listener into deep trance.
It’s difficult to review an album like this because musically the artist is asking a lot of questions that simply cannot be answered. For example, is EDM truly ready for an album made without the dancefloor in mind? Are people ready to listen instead of moving their bodies, and do people really have the patience for an album like this? The answer here is harsh: EDM listeners are probably not ready to have their ears tested and not their feet. With that said it is refreshing to know that there is a producer out there who thinks the audience is smart enough to listen to his work rather than letting it become a wash of sound that one moves with their partner along to the beat of repetitive thumping pats.
As I paint away on the floor of my room, I have concluded that the music world of EDM does not wish to repeat itself. By allowing artists to move away from heavy metal to a genre that is made for other kinds of experiences besides moshing, it has created a place in the musical landscape that allows for infinite experimentation. Which this album offers. However, by creating a piece of music that is so experimental in EDM terms it has the potential of alienating audiences within the genre. That is why this music falls under the category of IDM, but even then the experimental drums of this record may alienate some listeners. With this said I can see how Golden Skin may inspire other artists of the genre to experiment with different sounds and electronic rhythms.
The pulse of the album creates a landscape that can only be described as white and glowing. With synthesizers and drum beats that pulse away through the mountains and trees of musical experimentation, I become lost in the haze. My musical feet running through the forest I come across a river overflowing with sound and half naked nymphs falling in love. Golden Skin places in my mind thousands of those nymphs worshiping at the golden statue of musical ecstasy, the fruits of sonic experimentation lavishing the followers with good fortune. As I walk amongst this orgy of drum patterns and tinkling bell-like sounds I become aware that the fragility of life is inherent in all living things. We must protect this musical earth from the influence of, say commercialism. At the climax of the song, a digitally affected voice makes it known to me that we are all connected in a sonic brahma and that the message of our connectivity will be spread far and wide. Others will come to the statue of golden joy and worship together.
Rollercoaster comes into play with a hip hop style beat and sampled vocals pitch shifted to the point of unrecognizability. It sways the wind of the musical forest creating a rushing sound that caresses the golden skin of the idol. Rollercoaster is clearly made for dancing with your lover in a restaurant of an electronic 1950s. Hymn for Light creates a sonic cathedral of simplistic proportions. I imagine the followers of IDM sitting on the benches of this cathedral, listening with all their might to the voice and bass singing away. The sound of the voice paints a picture of a solitary singer whose mosque arches in electronic glory. The singer praises the world which we live in, taking the listener on a path filled with beams of light. I see the masses of those in this cathedral absorbed in sounds that bring the listener much joy. The break beat on this song is subtle with splashes of double snare hits creating patterns of music that fills vessels of sound with ambiance.
I wish to stay forever in this landscape with my feet in the musical current, but alas the music ends, and I am transported back to reality. While I sit in this reality typing away, I make no distinction between the IDM and EDM. I will give you my reasoning – firstly, EDM is made for the dancefloor, and so is this music by the inherent fact that it was produced with breakbeat style drums. Secondly, IDM seems to be rebelling hard against EDM but failing, as EDM encompasses IDM due to the fact synthesized sound is electronic dance in nature. It is because of this that I can see this album either being absorbed into EDM and inspiring more danceable forms of music or being placed on the shelves of IDM and ignored as a footnote in the genre. My hope is this album becomes an inspiration and spawns many producers to take on the banner of IDM by adopting its landscapes of sound.