‘Skin is In’ is a collaboration between Steve Bug’s Dessous label and photographer Sacha Dean Biyan. In-demand fashion photographer Biyan contacted Bug to contribute music for his Eccentris website and it turns out the stylish, sexy house of Dessous was the perfect partner for Biyan’s photographic explorations of beauty (which tend to feature scantily-clad, gorgeous women in sometimes suggestive poses). The success of the project encouraged Bug and Biyan to work together again.
In a time of digital downloads, ‘Skin is In’ reminds us of the importance of packaging, not as advertising, but as something that enhances the music, evoking a mood and creating an experience that involves the listener. The release features a thirty-six page booklet of Biyan’s photography and an uncompressed version of the Eccentris website, enabling you to experience Biyan and Bug’s first collaboration in all its lush audiovisual glory. Biyan’s images are much like the party at the start of this review: sensual, suggestive and glamorous.
The packaging ably sets the scene for the “deep sexy house” promised on the CD cover. The first disc, a collection of ten tracks compiled by Steve Bug, is clearly the better of the two. Opening with Steve Barnes’ gently flowing remix of Nathan Fake’s ‘Coheed’, Bug treats us to an impeccably selected and wonderfully sequenced collection of smooth and deep downtempo house. Pulsing basslines and rhythms rock you from side to side, sometimes becoming jazzy and funky (such as on Jake Childs’ ‘Pure’), while gliding synths take you softly by the hand and lead you forward. The CD is filled with gems, but the highlight is perhaps Future Beat Alliance’s remix of Chateau Flight’s ‘1973’, a smooth chocolate treat with a deliciously sweet, achingly nostalgic centre. As the cover promises, this is indeed a sexy collection, but it doesn’t attempt to have its way with you dirty dancing style; instead it gently caresses you, easing you into plush cushions with a glass of champagne in hand, whispering soft promises into your ears.
If the first CD softly nibbled your earlobes on the sofa, the second pulls you to your feet and tells you it’s time to dance. The party has begun. At the controls are Âme, mixing twelve tracks that sustain the sensual mood established by Bug, and the mixing is solid, but fails to build any sort of narrative; tracks slide neatly into place one after the other, but don’t build anywhere. It’ll do just fine playing in the background at a party, but it won’t engage and involve your partygoers like the best mixes do.
From the photographs to the music, ‘Skin Is In’ offers us a dream of sophistication and glamour. Half naked supermodels aren’t necessary at your next party, just this CD.