Soap & Skin is the name taken by Anja Plaschg, an 18 year old Austrian woman, for her spellbinding music. Her music is darkly gothic and seemingly intensely personal, a combination of Bjork, Cat Power and Lisa Gerrard. And definitely Nico – she appeared in ‘Nico - Sphinx aus Eis’ in Berlin last year, she sounds like her a lot, and her titles are very Nico-ish: ‘Thanatos’, ‘Extinguish Me’ and Marche Funèbre’. Looking, on the sleeve, like some rebellious heroine in a Bronte novel, her art appears drawn from her life: the daughter of pig farmers near Graz, she had unconventional looks and ignored music until her teens when she practiced piano and violin compulsively, wrote her own classical pieces for school and enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna when 16.
These songs were composed between 2005 and 2008. Mostly it’s her with piano and electronica backing. ‘Cry Wolf’ has a folky charm, akin to Cat Power, with lovely flutes and piano, while the following ‘Thanatos’ is a polar opposite: “nature’s own delirium/ cause of my oblivion” she sings in a deathly monotone redolent of the Femme Fatale herself. ‘Cynthia’ is gloomy but the darkness hides a sweet melody and 'Turbine Womb' has the same classical elegance as Dead Can Dance, while ‘Spiracle’ has bizarre lyrics but the most accessible construction. This is a haunted debut that paints the most powerful crepuscular tones you’ve heard in a long time.