The World of Skin - Ten Songs for Another World (1990)
Track listing: 1. Please Remember Me 2. Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes 3. The Child's Right 4. Everything for Maria 5. I'll Go There, Take Me Home 6. Black Eyed Dog 7. A Parasite and Other Memories 8. Dream Dream 9. You'll Never Forget 10. Mystery of Faith
The World of Skin was the project of the core members of Swans, Michael Gira and Jarboe. Originally going by the name Skin, this project was conceived in the 1980's to record two albums, one each to showcase the strengths and singing of Gira and Jarboe respectively. Ten Songs for Another World gives us a new take on this approach, with Gira and Jarboe instead taking turns singing.
Dominated primarily by acoustic instruments, this album is a continuation of the musical style found on the first two Skin albums. Having always shown an ability to adapt and combine different musical ideas, Gira and Jarboe come up with a unique blend of acoustic folk music and the post-punk soundscapes of Swans. This album has a very intimate feeling, although the warm sound often contrasts with the often dark lyrics and vocal performances.
Gira brings along his refined baritone singing and provides some very memorable and moody pieces, with "A Parasite and Other Memories" being a favorite of mine. One of many songs that deal with unsavory people who have earned a bit of personal dislike from Michael Gira, the lyrics absolutely seep with bile:
Now you imitate and you vulgarize Everything you'll never be And you're rewarded by the crowd for your fake and ugly mediocrity So go, fat parasite, go But be sure to be obscene Go lick the poison from your fat fingers And suck your purple money clean
And you who were so careful Not to every really cross the line Your violence was insipid And your bliss, it was plagiarized So go, you never knew me, go Be sure to make the scene Go mistake me for a fool Now your memory's forever tainted to me
Gira is at his most morose, also performing excellently on the great "Please Remember Me" and "You'll Never Forget." His vocal style is particularly suited to this style of music, and he would continue to explore intimate folk music in his later work, including The Angels of Light.
Jarboe is her usual twisted self, singing songs as diverse as the beautiful "Everything for Maria" and a disturbing freak folk take on Nick Drake's "Black Eyed Dog." The last song on the album is "Everything for Maria," which is my favorite Jarboe contribution to the album and a wonderful way to end such a diverse and haunting work of art.
Gira and Jarboe unsurprisingly succeeded once again in evolving as musicians and creating a new and unique album that is worthy of being including in the Swans-related project back catalogue. This often overlooked album comes totally recommended to any fans of Swans, Michael Gira or Jarboe's work, or open-minded listeners who are looking for an intimate album that evokes a wide variety of feelings.