REVIEW: skinxbones – “Distances and Xanax” (2016)

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Most of the time, we hear records that are nothing more than a collection of songs that somehow work well together. But every once in a while, a record comes along that is so much more. And what separates these two kinds of records is one thing: intent. Part love letter and part journal entry, “Distances and Xanax” is the latest record in prolific producer skinxbones’ oeuvre. And yet it is also his most emotionally resonant work yet.

“Distances and Xanax”, as the title implies, is an ode to long distance relationships and depression. And while it’s not perfect by any means, you can’t really dismiss the record because it managed to do what it set out to do in the first place. That is the power of “intent”.

Comprised mostly of instrumentals, “Distances and Xanax” is a sample-heavy work. And as such, it suffers from the pitfalls of sample-based music, which is that sometimes things don’t add up perfectly… but when they do, the results are staggering. A perfect example of this is the track “need u”, a track built upon Brand New’s “Play Crack the Sky”. It starts out shaky, as if it’s about to fall apart any minute but as soon as the beat kicks in, it matches up quite nicely.

It’s hard to talk about “Distances and Xanax” in a track by track basis because this is clearly a record that demands to be listened to in its entirety. However, there are some standout tracks including “collider”, “bohemian grove” (which uses The Flys’ “Got You Where I Want You” as its backbone), and “how so?” featuring rapper Nemesis Q.

My earlier comment about the tracks being in danger of falling apart at any minute seems apt, considering the record deals with topics like loneliness. Because life is like that ain’t it? In the end, despite all its faults, “Distances and Xanax” is more than the sum of its parts. It is a cathartic and affecting listening experience, and once in a while you have to ignore all the technicalities and just appreciate a record for what it is.

 

You can stream and buy “Distances and Xanax” on the skinxbones Bandcamp page

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