SKYND - 'Chapter One' EP Review
1. Elisa Lam
2. Gary Heidnik (feat. Jonathan Davis)
3. Richard Ramirez
It started almost like a scene from Japanese horror film, quite appropriate looking back on it now.
"Give them a try on Spotify" he said, "I think you'll like them." He said the band name again, spelling it out for me so I wouldn't forget it before he left.
Walking home I remember and brought up Spotify on my phone. One EP in their catalogue, called "Chapter One". I suppose it's a good place to start as any. I quickly search online for the band to check out any information I could find. Investigations yielded little information and what I could find just furthered my curiosity.
SKYND are a studio based duo revolving around SKYND and F. SKYND is the band's vocalist. She's thin, her face adorned with pale white make up that also suggests a strange David Bowie androgynous appearance, her eyes burn right into me from my phone's screen almost as if......she's judging me? I then look to her left, a black PVC gimp mask, it's mouth sewn together with think white stitching, X's keep the lips together tight. This must be F, the musician and producer of the band.
What the hell?
The faces disappear from my screen as I flip back to the Spotify app and, cautiously, select the play icon on "Chapter One".
The electro opening of 'Elisa Lam' echoes through my ears as I also hear the faint laughter. Not the catchiest song title I think to myself. A heavily treated vocal drifts into the song. It could be a man, it could be a woman. The voice describes it's surroundings, a cold, wet dark place that sounds suffocating. After a few seconds a child like voice appears chanting a series of numbers "4 2 6 2 10 5 1 I told you not to play my game 4 2 6 2 10 5 1 now you're gone" and then the music explodes into a pulsing ball of sound, keyboards stabbing away at a percussive melody. There's someone screaming as if they're trying to get away from something and then what sounds like a news report. A missing young woman's lifeless body has been found after being trapped in a water tower. Four minutes and three seconds later and the silence from the end of the song overwhelming.
What the hell was that?
I'm confused. What is the song trying tell me?
I enter the words Elisa Lam into Google and search. I see news reports from February 2013 telling the story of missing Canadian student Elisa Lam, her body being found in the water tower of the hotel she was staying at several days after she was reported missing, the circumstances reminding me of the Japanese film "Dark Water". She was apparently obsessed with an urban myth that if you entered a series of numbers into a lift you would summon an evil spirit, a dark lady who, if you look at, will take you to hell. The code?
4 2 6 2 10 5 1.
What is going on?
I bring up the next track 'Gary Heidnik' which features an appearance by Jonathan Davis, the well known lead singer of the band KoRn, a man known to have a taste for the dark sinister side of life. Again, gentle electro percussive beats pull the pulsing ebb of keyboards as a deliberately masked voice singing it's dark narrative, blending the vocals of SKYND and Davis around each other, each overlapping and wrapping around each other as they tumble into your ears. The music pops with an almost dance like keyboard line. I've always wondered what Lady Gaga would sound like if she was fronting "Mechanical Animals" era Marilyn Manson and now I know.
I've learned from the last song. It's getting darker outside as a search for the name Gary Heidnik reveals some answers, all of them macabre. Heidnik fancied himself a bit of a preacher but was arrested and convicted for the kidnapp, imprisonment and torture of six women, two of whom he killed, dismembering their corpses which he apparently fed to his dog and other victims.
This leaves a final track from the EP. I recognise the name 'Richard Ramirez' immediately. Ramirez, dubbed the "Son of Sam" by the press, was active for fourteen months in the eighties and was known for violent attacks on people in their homes, torturing, raping and killing his victims. His conviction of 13 murders, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries earned him 13 life sentences from the judge to which Ramirez is quoted to have said "see you in Disneyland", showing absolutely no signs of remorse.
The song starts gently, almost seductively, as the processed vocals paint the warped view of what possibly went through the killer's mind as he broke into this victim's homes. The music is woozy and fuzzy, less catchy than the previous two but certainly more sinister. It's odd to describe, almost poppy with hints of bands like Depeche Mode and their pioneering use of synthesizers and drum machines. Then there's that voice of SKYND. Hypnotic, soothing, luring you in deeper to the darker underbelly that's festering under it's sugar coated exterior.
"What are they trying to achieve?" I wonder to myself. It feels like they're almost channelling this twisted evil direct from hell itself but presenting it in such a way that you succumb to it without question.
I search some more, finding a few articles on the mysterious duo. I find an interesting quote from F, the musician and producer behind the EP:
"The music picks up this concept of the boundary of humanity perfectly. That’s why her vocals are so defamiliarised. You can tell this is a human being, but it sounds grotesquely inhuman. Listening to these tracks, you should feel like you’re in a tiny room and the walls are closing in from all sides. In her lyrics, SKYND is the perpetrator and us as listeners are cornered victims. Nobody can escape this kind of dynamic.”
It's getting cold now as I decide to dig deeper into the duo. YouTube reveals a video floor each of the tracks, each one a lurid take on the their respective narrative. Social media teases cryptic messages from the artists, drawing you deeper into their lair. And then, on Instagram, I see something, a warning that this is just the beginning as twisted, kaleidoscopic videos run with words that both captivate and chill me in equal measures: "Chapter Two."
What have I succumbed to?
To be continued........
Website - www.skynd-music.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/skynd.music/
Review - Scott Hamilton