Noise Floor

Skinny Bones

Trimtab, 2014

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


Hailing from Jamaica Plain, Skinny Bones is the folktronic duo of Jacob Rosati and Christopher Stoppiello; their latest release, Noise Floor, is an ambient, nine song collection of atmospheric soundscapes that breathe with tension but still manage to stay melodious. The album’s title refers to the level of background noise that is captured when trying to record any sound – the incidental, underlying hums and electronic whirs that engineers try to eliminate as best possible. Here, those sounds are all over, creating a stilted yet ethereal collage.

Starting with the lead single “Wanderlust” after a brief intro, the duo establishes the dynamics of their sound on this record, their second following last year’s Skinni Dip. The song gently rises and swells, buoyed by Rosati’s distorted, plainspoken vocals on quietly lovely lines like, “This morning I took my bike out of Jamaica Plain / I thought about how I’d be happier if I could be okay with just the same, and same / Even if I leave I still need to love the present.” Catching up with Rosati about the inspiration for this release, he described my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Noise Floor as “exploring a struggle to be happy, and trying to find happiness in moving to a new place versus learning to be happy where you are.” The songs themselves capture that pull; they seem rooted in a sense of impermanence, all the disjointed threads of instrumentation and weird noise made concrete by Rosati’s captivating lyricism.

This is no better illustrated than on “Sleep In,” my personal favorite from the disc. It’s a rich collision of elements: electronic crackles flitting through the chorus, a shiveringly odd bassline, the backing vocals shifted to an eerie pitch as they intone, “Sleep in.” It’s understated yet urgent, building towards its surging close, a perfect encapsulation of the mood of the album.

For a collection that is so experimental, it’s surprisingly accessible. “Sieve” is the catchiest moment here, the shimmering guitar blending well with Stoppiello’s assured drumming and Rosati boldly announcing, “I need to fix the way I live / Because my goals have holes like a net or a sieve.” It’s an assured pairing of light as air instrumentation and these confessional blocks of poetic lyrics. Meanwhile, “Leave” is aloft on restless energy and spare lyrics that capture the thrill of escapism and the ever-elusive task of contentment in the moment: “It’s the thought that destroys who I am, who we are / If I’m happy now.”

Noise Floor is a short yet powerful entry into the Skinny Bones sound, a sound that is all their own. It’s easy to pick out standout tracks, but it’s even easier to fall into this album as a whole. Keenly and atmospherically, Rosati and Stoppiello have put to disc the ephemeral, eternal struggle to understand how our present is inextricably intertwined with the past and the future. Of course, Rosati says it better himself on closer “Blue Hills”: “I’m making memories that I’ll miss / But what about now, where does that fit?”

Rating: A-

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© 2014 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Trimtab, and is used for informational purposes only.