Skin For A Canvas

The brainchild of Ian Mortimer, Skin For A Canvas – one-man acoustic ambient project – tries to deliver something to the ears of its listeners. What it tries to deliver though, I’m not too sure. Don’t get me wrong, the album is good.

Throughout the songs, acoustic guitar interweaves piano, strings, and amidst a storm of other instrumentation, the acoustic guitar helps give a sense of cohesion to the album, and allows one song to flow into another. Like the tide, this album ebbs and flows in dynamics, and this combined with Mr Mortimer’s dulcet tones, you end up with an album that you, the listener, can’t really complain about.
Dynamics and tempo dodge and weave about the place in “Like Rising Tides”, and it’s this ebb and flow in the dynamics which – like the tide – reminds the listener that you’re going on a journey throughout this song; but you’ll end up back where you started, with your feet on solid ground.

Skin For A Canvas

For me, the first four tracks – one of which is “Like Rising Tides” – chases after the ambient feel, and almost achieves this, but perhaps at the loss of some variation between the songs.

After this point, you get introduced to Steve, a man who “hates motherf*cking cupcakes”. I like weird music, and I like strange lyrics, but for me, “Steve the Cup Cake Hunter” is the low point on the album, not musically – but because it’s just so out of place. I find the swearing a bit unnecessary and un-needed. I find the lead guitar (whilst very tasteful and well executed) a motif of the song that isn’t stylistically repeated throughout the album – but it should have been.

Complaint over. “Stay ft. Dani Burnett” harks back to the earlier days of Skin For A Canvas when they were a duo, and the harmonies are well thought out, and the arrangement is praiseworthy: simple, not overcomplicated, but not too bare. It’s most certainly one of the more beautifully haunting songs on the album, but definitely a high point.

Sticking out head and shoulders above the rest in terms of sheer length, “Reflections” weighs in at 7:10. Spectacular, this song has quality and quantity closely interwoven. That lead guitar which I liked so much earlier is back again, and gives this song at times a vibe harking back to Meddle era Pink Floyd (just without the progressiveness and psychedelic “out-there” attitude).

Skin For Canvas

There’s nothing like closing an album on a downcast note, and “Blame Me” does just that. Featuring Dani Burnett once again, this song, starting stripped back and raw is a true display of emotion. There’s nothing like ripping open your chest and showing your heart to really get your point across. The album’s climax does just that. Ripping everything unnecessary and superfluous away, the emotion is blatant. As the song progresses, the emotion builds up, and with it, the tension in raised by the sudden, increasing appearance of bass notes. The tension builds, the emotion builds, and it finally resolves with a dynamic explosion of pure emotion. And what better way to do that than with a distorted guitar and a guitar solo? The solo climaxes and the dynamics settle back down again before closing the song – and the album – in a very stout and dignified manner.

For me, any songs within the ambient genre are the soundtrack of dreams. The songs should be the aural accompaniment to a dreamscape, a soundscape beyond this mortal realm. But here, Skin For A Canvas don’t quite manage to achieve this. Instead, you find yourself constantly being awoken by the emotion and energy of the songs. Skin For A Canvas is too angry, to emotionally charged to be that sort of ethereal, whimsical ambient we’ve all grown to expect. As I was listening to the album, there was the odd spot of clipping, and the acoustic guitar was too compressed at times. The arrangements were the majority of the time well thought out, but a bit loose around the edges in places. The initial tracks were a bit repetitive and sounded not too dissimilar from one another, but apart from this, all in all, a very pleasing, and easy to listen to album.

Track Listing
Holding Back
Like Rising Tides
To The Edge
Talking To Ian
Steve the Cup Cake Hunter
Hello My Missing Pieces
Stay ft. Dani Burnett
Winter Warm Spring
Blame Me ft. Dani Burnett


Words By Ashley Gannicott.

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