Welcome player, to FINAL SKIN – the taut, trenchant and mind-bending new album by BAKUDI SCREAM. Merging hyperspeed MIDI sequences and sampled elements with electronic keyboard washes and textures, FINAL SKIN fully engages the physicality of the performers to create a sound environment with roots in hyperpop, classical, avant-garde improvisation and video game scores — all with influences of artists ranging from John Cage to Space Afrika.
Rohan Chander, the artist and producer behind the BAKUDI SCREAM alias, uses the album format to introduce a narrative built around an ancient relic, in the form of a keyboard. “The relic is passed down through many generations and wielded by mystics, mages, and heroes,” Chander explains. “Its users implant bits of themselves, and as the relic is passed down, the next user explores, uncovers, or corrupts those things.” The fusion of fantasy and the autobiographical are at the heart of BAKUDI SCREAM's vision, and give life to a sprawling lore that reveals four unique characters, each of whom permeates and elevates the music.
The album’s first single, The Tragedy of Hikikomori Loveless, recorded with Bang on a Can All-Stars pianist Vicky Chow and released in January, drew its early inspiration from a documentary about young shut-ins in Japan, and expands on themes of isolation to create a robust science fiction narrative while contemplating the composer's experiences of body dysmorphia, synthetic identity, and fascination with biotechnology.
The single presents the “Architect Prince,” a reclusive youth who comes to possess the ancient relic, which is imbued with a collective memory and the promise to bionically augment his body. The protagonists who follow — the villainous hacker “somnus,” the mercurial yet virtuous “Hindoo Warrior,” and the angelic “Bakudi” — are brought to life with the help of guest musicians Yaz Lancaster (violin), Dorothy Carlos (cello), and Dani Strigi (guitar, drums, bass), and as the narrative arc unfolds, it gradually becomes clear that FINAL SKIN is more than just an audio experience. In the end, it’s rather akin to a quest, with the listener riding shotgun, that harnesses elements of myth, magic and fleeting glimpses of possible futures along the way. Climb on board and buckle up!