Photo: CB Stewart
Nocturnal Habits marks a return for influential guitarist/vocalist Justin Trosper. His work in the seminal post hardcore band Unwound and more recently the angular rock of Survival Knife are evident in the overall sound of New Skin For Old Children, however there is a new tone, focused more sharply on the songwriting and production. The angles have been softened to create crushing, blunt force blows rather than sharp cuts.
Recorded throughout the world from Italy to Los Angeles and the backwoods of the Northwest New Skin For Old Children reunites Trosper with Sara Lund, his Unwound collaborator and so called “secret weapon,” as well as Dale Crover (Melvins), Sherry Fraser, and Scott Seckington (Two Ton Boa).
The first track “Echophilia” turns a clever trick introducing Trosper’s recognizable voice but pairing it with Fraser’s vocal mimickery. The effect is a sonic depth deeper than previously explored that immediately resonates with past fans and simultaneously forces the recognition of an entirely new voice.
On the frenetic “Good Grief” you’re assaulted by a horror movie piano melody before being kicked in the teeth by Trosper’s love for the old fashioned distorted guitar turned to 11. Again matched with Fraser’s haunting voice, the pummeling is never too much. The correct timing of an aural assault is something you can only learn over time standing in front of your own amp feeling the pain.
The deconstruction and experimentalism that have been the foundations for much of Trosper’s artistic output are evident but maturation sets the tone throughout. The breakdown yelps and screams of “Ice Islands” are there but you’re going to need to meander through a wash of cymbals and droning guitar to hear it. It won’t disappoint when you arrive!
Trosper handles the bulk of the writing duties which allowed him the time and space to explore a multitude of instruments and recording methods. New Skin For Old Children employs synths old and new, acoustic and electronic strings, traditional drums, bass and guitars, ambient noise, and a multitude of voices giving each song a unique texture.
The tune “Dog Meets Wolf” exemplifies the new methodology. Uniting the operatic voice of Anna Huff with everything from piano, keyboards, the plaintive barks of dog, cello, and Crover’s pounding rhythm, the whole piece moves along dissonantly but steadily and drops you right back at the beginning for a safe landing no worse for wear.