Album Review // Skee Mask - Pool

An experiment in music “review”. I typed down my impressions of the songs while listening to them in a very free way, and some short final thoughts on the overall album.

Track by Track

01. Nvivo

The intro is like being sucked into a soundscape. Then it stops and this intricate beat pattern starts. So groovy. There’s some sort of riff or melody as well, but not predominant. It’s like a bass playing in the background somehow, it’s so tight to the drums that it’s barely audible. In one word: tight. In the background the soundscapes sucking in and out continues. It never stays still, constant change throughout the whole track. Very close to some Aphex Twin stuff. A braindance for sure, but also an actual dance floor song. Here comes the bouncing steel balls hi-hat sounds. And laser zaps! A tasteful intro to a tasteful album. 5/5.

02. Stone Cold 369

A huge bass pattern comes from the distance, menacing but so tasteful. Almost like a real electric bass lightly slapped. The ambient sounds grow around the riff in circles. This is basically an ambient track made of synth noises. Captivating soundscape overall. A real sense of texture and physicality on this track. A joyful church organ like major chord shows us the exit. 5/5.

03. LFO

This one starts out pretty industrial. There’s an actual harmony that guides the piece. the beats are made of static discharging sounds. Very deep and soft bass line. almost soothing. There’s an interesting contrast between the harshness of the beats and the softness of the other sounds. Great soundscaping work here as well. The song is in constant evolution although it’s just a repeating pattern of three notes. 5/5.

04. Rdvnedub

Flanged sound of an obsessive beat pattern. An echoed synth breaks the wall of beats. Some nice enveloping effects keep the track interesting. The rhythm sets in a more distinct pattern that feels like it will do good on a dancefloor. Interesting overall, albeit a bit repetitive. 4/5.

05. CZ3000 Dub

Ethereal soundscape and 4/4 kick drum. Very dance oriented track. Makes you bob your head. This could be out of Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92, easily. One of the best tracks on the album for sure. Simple but beautifully crafted. 5/5.

06. DJ Camo Bro

I love the broken up sound of the pads in this track. The beats as well are fantastic. Very upbeat song in its own way. Hypnotic and energizing at the same time. One of my very favourites. A masterpiece of drums programming really. 5/5.

07. Collapse Casual

Weird intro like from an old movie. Nice drumming, groovy and catchy. Otherworldly echoes in the background. Quite a tense atmosphere. Glacial, like being inside a beached metal ship. There’s kind of a jungle feeling to the beats. Not my favourite on the album but still well crafted. 3/5.

08. Breathing Method

This is a relentless beating monster. Again, like jungle but more minimalistic. Haunted by echoes that sound like weird screaming voices in the background. At some point an actual sample from a rapping voice appears. Ominous atmosphere overall. I like the drop at halfway of the track. Sometimes those screams remind me of Firestarter from The Prodigy. An ominous triphop/jungle minimalistic song. Nice. 4/5.

09. Ozone

This is more of an ambient track. Somehow a resting place after the previous song. Relaxing and bright. At some point a very barebone drumming starts. 4/5.

10. Rio Dub

Another ambient track with what sounds like some jazz sparse drums in the background, more like brushes on a snare. Also there’s some kind of bass line as well. Everything is suspended in the air. You can almost see the smoke. Some robot voices push the Blade Runner atmosphere even further somewhere along halfway of the track. This is the best ambient piece of the album, but I still prefer other songs. 4/5.

11. Testo BC Mashup

This is weird. I can hear a distorted sample of an Italian radio that says “Colosseo” at some point. The beats start inside this dreamy soundscape. Impressive. Phenomenal drumming that reminds me of Aphex Twin once again. This could be on RDJA. At half of the track there’s a crescendo and the tempo picks up like it’s flying away. So good. Really nice beats samples. One of the best tracks on the album, indeed. 5/5.

12. Dolan Tours

Deep drum kick in between dreamy pads. Nice beats a la Aphex Twin again. Calm and tense atmosphere at the same time, very enjoyable. Really nice sounds again. A constantly changing song that turns around these very open repeating pads. 5/5.

13. Absence

Beatless ambient track - sounds of static electricity and pads in the background. Quite creepy. 3/5.

14. 60681z

Clap and heavy kick drum, pretty intense rhythm and synth riff. Nice atmosphere - when it gets a bit boring some extra elements get in. Dance oriented anyway - or as a sort of ambient track with beats. Really nice drumming overall. Towards the end there’s like a synth solo which is interesting, albeit a bit random. 4/5.

15. Crosssection

Another beats driven song. Some interesting sounds, like a vocoder creeping in. There’s an actual simple harmony in the background. Pretty groovy track. Overall the song sounds like it likes to keep its cool. And it is indeed pretty cool and chill. Upbeat in its own way. 4/5.

16. Harrison Ford

(retro)Futuristic. Intense groove, claps and old school synths. Nice openings behind the main groove, ethereal soundscapes in the background. Trippy kind of mellow braindance. There’s even what sounds like an electric guitar solo at some point. Marimbas as well, very cool sound choices. Everything sounds so crisp and fresh too. It’s always the same small pattern but everything around it changes constantly - also its own sounds change quite frequently. One of my favourites. 5/5.

17. Pepper Boys

Claps and groove. Very interesting drumming that makes you wanna dance. Very cool openings and closings in the sounds - overall ethereal pads again, creating a sense of open background which is so refreshing and contrasts well with the groove that’s leading in front of the song. Another one of my favourites. 5/5.

18. Fourth

Starts as an ambient track, background noises and a kick here and there. Reverse pads gives this summer night feeling. A simple structure creeps out all the layers. It sounds almost like a very minimalistic hip hop track. The sounds choices as always are excellent. Great texturing work. It feels more like a painting than a song. Towards the end comes in something that sounds like an acoustic drumkit playing a few bars of the groove. Very evocative track. 4/5.

Final Thoughts

An overall great album. Many different kinds of tracks, never boring. From ambient soundscapes to dance floor hits to intricate braindance compositions. A very tasteful selection of sounds and samples - an airy and precise production that conjures these huge evocative mindscapes. Some creepy interludes and sci-fi moments have been put into the mix that contrast well with the more techno songs. A very visual album overall, cinematic. A black and white play of shadows and lights. The work of a virtuoso that never indulges into his technique for the simple sake of it, but who’s instead focused into crafting these magnificent soundscapes and relentless beats. It really grows on you with every consecutive listen. One of my personal favorite electronic music records of all times. 5/5.