British cellist and producer Oliver Coates is a visionary musician, pushing the boundaries of what his instrument can do. On his critically-acclaimed 2018 release, Shelley's on Zenn-La, Coates explored an accessible sound, playing masterfully atop clean beats. However, on his new album, skins n slime, Coates breaks those clear song structures down, smearing distorted noise across movements while embracing a darker, heavier tone.
The first set of songs on skins n slime are grouped together in a five-part suite under the title Caregiver. Here, Coates leans fully into his new sound, which he aptly calls "cello slime" and builds up cacophonous walls of distorted strings. At times the noise can feel fully-saturated to a deafening point, but within the suite, Coates also peels back layers to breathe moments of calm. The standalone tracks that follow mostly continue the heavy mood, but each differ a bit. On single Butoh baby, Coats plays a discernible melody over top a drone, and both Reunification 2018 and late-album highlight Honey almost sound like mournful bowed guitar riffs straight out of another recent release. The tones on Still Life evoke theremin, and album closer Soaring X (featuring vocals from Malibu) ends the work on a surprisingly light note.
Having close ties to Thom Yorke and Radiohead, but citing musical numerology and Dutch musician Enno Velthuys as primary influences on skins n slime, Coates has produced a unique sound, and a shift in mood from his own previous works. The album is available this Friday through RVNG Intl. and at request of the artist, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Down's Syndrome Scotland. Preview a track below.