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From Gas to Solid / You Are My Friend is the third album from the woman known as Soap and Skin, and Anja’s first in six years. There are reasons for her retreat, and search for a safer haven, given the preceding intense sequence of events – almost instantaneous acclaim and fame in her native Austria and across mainland Europe leading to intrusive media attention and battling expectations while protecting her integrity; then parenthood, and then beginning a new record, while the world outside continues to alienate and melt down. If Anja’s search for shelter has created something of a restorative oasis, a more balanced adult view than the rawer, angrier aspects of her earlier work, the stunning, wide-reaching From Gas to Solid… still reflects the struggle to find meaning, answers, and a place to survive. The album follows a similar trajectory to her 2009 debut Lovetune For Vacuum and 2012’s Narrow - both Top Ten albums across Europe, the latter topping the chart in Austria. This was unexpected given the music’s quietly devastating beauty, vivid poetry and compositional ambition, fusing classical, electronic, gothic, avant-rock, torch song and singer-songwriter traditions. Over the new album’s opening five songs alone, she embraces becalmed, almost hymnal piano and vocal (This Day). spellbound, electronic-flecked tranquillity (Athom), Italy coloured by organ and militaristic drums, the choral ambience of (This Is) Water and the tense grandeur of Surrounded, ethereal and earthy.
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