Soap & Skin is the musical alter ego of 19 year old Austrian, Anja Plaschg. Although comparisons with Nico are unavoidable due to her very germanic vocal delivery and her use of European classical musical styles within her songs, her compositions are a lot more concise and focused.
Essentially Lovetune for Vacuum comprises of piano based songs augmented with Warp-like laptop textures, synth, strings and Anja Plaschg's vocals; sometimes amassed, sometimes very naked, making a virtue of their flaws and limitations.
The opening Sleep makes Plaschg's intentions clear. Its confessional, confrontational and stark tone playing with atonal, and hushed elements drawing the listener into the minutiae, only to fire a gorgeous bunch of ugly at you for getting too close, while the very pretty Cry Wolf with its clockwork-like elements, nursery rhyme melody and playful vocal processing beats Sigur Ros at their own pastoral game.
An influence worth discussing is that of Xiu Xiu. Like Jamie Stewart, Plaschg wields her vocals in a way that is both tender and embarrassing. Something similar to Stewart's popular style of vocal ejaculation such as the one in fan favourite I love the Valley OH! gets an airing on album highlight, the fable-like Spiracle. This is particularly evident and impressive in live renditions of the song. Elsewhere her use of synth noise, angry blasts of recorder and whistle and physical unmusical textures within a song exposes the influence further.
Similar in title though not in sound to Xiu Xiu, Mr. Gaunt Pt 1000 gives way to Marche Funèbre which is composed mostly of clipped orchestral samples and imagines a nightmarish meeting of Coil and Enya!
On DDMMYYYY Plaschg perhaps gives in a little too much to one of her influences, Autechre, but the results are very pleasing.
Brother of Sleep closes the album with a pleasant albeit innocuous sounding lullaby, but sinister textures right upon closure indicate that everything is not always as it seems