building castles out of matchsticks – Your Skin, My Mask (Histamine Tapes)

The work of Anne Sulikowski (the artist behind building castles out of matchsticks) is a world of synth and guitar loops, often times utilizing only a handful of effects pedals. She has a youtube channel showcasing her talent of building up drones or soundscapes and over 70 tracks on soundcloud and bandcamp.

[Full disclosure I have a release on Histamine Tapes but that is immaterial when one listens to an album such as Your Skin, My Mask. Histamine Tapes is a label that uses recycled cassettes and art, not unlike the recycled tape series from RRRecords. Each run of tapes has its art made from a magazine, brochure or a catalogue, so there is a loose theme for each release. This album has a theme of airline safety pamphlets.]

The album starts with a fluttering, almost damaged, tape loop drone. The theme is of horror movie slashers and the trauma behind each character. Anne’s work as a nurse dealing with psychiatric evaluations of violent and sexual offenders is the basis of this album, or in her own words, “how dissociation can to lead to major psychosis, which then paves the way for violent offending.”

This hissing dreamlike state is omnipresent, and while beautiful, there is a looming sense of danger. Touches of sadness are never far when the guitar makes a mournful piano sound or a loop swells up, causing unsettling feelings on headphones. Freddy Krueger, Pennywise, Jason, Norman Bates, and Dr. Loomis are some of the characters that Anne creates a new film score for. The album title, while an obvious horror nod, can also be a way of expressing the dissociation felt by these slashers.

On both sides of the tape the phrase “something you cannot see” is repeated and emerges from the haze. There are no clear answers given (nor would one expect any from such a project) but it does invite repeated listens. Albums like this should propel Anne to the forefront of guitar/synth soundscaping.

– Jeff Brown

Histamine Tapes –
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