Sebastián Maria ~ Through the Skin of the World

On Through the Skin of the World, Sebastián Maria continues to develop the intricate sound world he introduced on last year’s ÁeÁe, while keeping the tracks to single length, as in January’s Lunitas II.  In the whole time he’s been releasing music, dance floors have remained closed, with only a brief window of opportunity during the planet’s premature euphoria.

This leads to an interesting conundrum for all club producers: how to test out the tracks?  Alternatives include dancing outside, dancing in one’s home or playing the music on the highway.  Is one actively engaged, pressing the accelerator, bobbing the head, daydreaming of crowded dance floors?  In this case, the answer is yes.

Through the Skin of the World is comprised of fragments that together form a whole: vocal snippets, slices of instruments, disjointed beats that land on tempo while existing in lattices.  This world, the narrator begins, before being interrupted by large chords and keyed choirs.  Paradise is collapsing.  The two-part title track starts with a whoosh like a needle pulled across a record, swiftly followed by arcade beeps, four piano notes and a tiny vocal sample.  These introductory abstractions lead to a propulsive part two, impossible to slow, like the accumulated speed of a rollercoaster.  “thursday night at the jumping bee” contains so many counter-rhythms that it would be hard to keep track without multiple metronomes.  “it’s kind of like a necessity, like a compulsion,” admits a sped-up voice.  But what is the compulsion?  In this artist’s case, the drive to make dance music without dancers, in opposition to the track’s opening command:  do not move.

If “scene 1” is a scene put on pause, the next piece is a restart: big beats, begging the doors to open, the DJs to play, the people to dance.  Maria is dreaming of an alternate world that once existed and will (soon) exist again, which makes this album a statement of hope, a homebound answer to the question of isolation.  In sci-fi fashion, Maria gazes through the skin of the world, but his hopes are grounded in reality.  (Richard Allen)

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