Review: Barnacles – Air Skin Digger (Alma de Nieto, May 30)

On Air Skin Digger, Barnacles (a.k.a. musician and sound cannibalizer Matteo Uggeri) embarks on a ridiculously eclectic musical journey. The record is constructed from a colorful menagerie of sounds, ranging from rolling tribal drums to mysterious field recordings to tension-filled string arrangements. Though the description does not explicitly corroborate this, the track titles would imply that Air Skin Digger is a concept album about a person who is captured and eaten by cannibals – which isn’t too much of a leap, due to titles like “II. Of the manner in which the savages ate a prisoner and carried me to the feast.” It’s certainly a bizarre and unique experience all around, but the record doesn’t draw its power from novelty. The real strength is in the ways Uggeri fuses unrelated sounds together, the unlikely pairing of the rhythmic with the arrhythmic, the uncanny progressions within the songs. One need not look further than than the album’s conclusion, “IV. My prayer to the Lord God when I was in the hands of the savages who threatened to eat me,” for examples; the composition transitions between an unsettling conversation sample to ominous strings that are supported by driving percussion and never feels forced or unnatural. Thankfully, I’ve never actually experienced what it’s like to be at the mercy of a tribe of cannibals…but I guess thanks to Air Skin Digger I don’t have to.