One can hardly say that Austria is the best place to be born when you want to make a breakthrough in pop music, even less so when you chose to sing in your native language. So how did Anja FPlaschg aka Soap&Skin manage to get so much attention for her debut album Lovetune For Vacuum in 2009? She built her own universe without looking around – a mix of melancholic piano tunes and threatening electronic beats and sounds, with a theatrical sense of delivery that makes it all even more intense.
New EP Narrow digs in the same style as previous releases, yet with a more produced sound and crafted songwriting. Plaschg’s voice pours the same cold sadness that her role model Nico used to share so well, and it only take the two minutes of ‘Cradle Song’ to leave the listener amazed. But there is a bit of light, not to say hope, on the second half with the ballad ‘Wonder’, the jazzy ‘Lost’ and although the Desireless cover ‘Voyage Voyage’ sounds great (exactly the dark and disturbing version you’d expect), the real sledge-hammer here is ‘Boat Turns Towards Airport’. Starting with a discreet piano, it builds as Anja’s voice spreads magnificently in a quasi silence before fading out slowly, a chilling experience.
The lesson to learn from this EP is that Soap&Skin is not an artist releasing music to stay in the spotlight, instead content to wait till exactly the right moment (in this case three years). Narrow is just that – a collection of heart-breaking songs that confirm the talent and mystic charms of a unique artist.