Anja Plaschg (for Soap and Skin is really just she) is a pianist and singer who has combined classical piano with gothic indie to produce an arresting and impressive debut album, ‘Lovetune for Vacuum‘.

She recently performed at a showcase appearance in London, to which I managed to gain admittance. It was a strictly press-only affair, (although I was told afterwards that the reason a theatre was chosen to launch her to British audiences was mainly to allow Anja access to one of the capital’s largest grand pianos) but even in this setting she demonstrated why a quiet fuss has been developing.

Hailing from Vienna, she is still just 18. Given her youth, its easier to forgive a slightly indulgent stage persona, with which she seemed determined to convince her audience that she was a demented maniac. The performance, during which she spoke not one word to the audience, was notable especially for her stamping off stage and slamming a door mid way through the set, for seemingly no reason at all.

During the song 'Marche Funebre', she abandoned the piano in favour of a synthetic string arrangement that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a documentary about history’s most horrific massacres and glided across the stage like the titular character in the long running stage West-End production, 'The Woman In Black'.

Okay, so this might all sound a little over the top. But I found it rather entertaining, and there is no doubt that Ms Plaschg really takes her songs seriously.

With the kind of songs displayed on ‘Lovetune for Vacuum’, she is entitled to show off a little bit. Although the electronic elements are occasionally distracting, she presents a strong set of melodies, given gravity by her exemplary piano playing. Although clearly something of a virtuoso, she is often happy just to casually plonk away.

On 'Extinguish Me', she shows just why the press attending her performance were hushed and reverent (not every writer is a cynical old hack yet, you know). With shades of Nick Drake, Kate Bush and Antony and the Johnsons, this beautiful song expertly balances mystique and melody.

Both her album, and a forthcoming performance at London’s Bush Hall (where the press won’t be the only people there, I hope) both come highly recommended. Expect to hear more from Soap and Skin in the future.












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Commenting On: Warehouse, London, 20/2/2009 - Soap and Skin








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