By his mid-teens, Will Skol had adopted a post-punk headspace that would inform all of his projects that followed. He quit his weekly guitar lessons, and along with a daily intake of Cabaret Voltaire, (early) Simple Minds, Skinny Puppy, Gang of Four and Killing Joke (to name just a few) it made sense to do what his idols seemed to be doing: abandon convention.
A Creative and Critical Breakthrough in the 90s
Skol’s pursuit of his own electronic-driven sound, and his desire to use guitar as a contorted element within it, brought him to Toronto’s Queen Street scene. It was there that he collaborated with post-punk and industrial-influenced bands in the early 90s. By ’95, he and his musical allies had set off on a mission. Dubbing themselves Transformantra, their interest in commonplace musical structure was nil. They were big on groove, and even more determined to cultivate a head-spinning palette of sounds on each and every track. It’s no wonder the band earned so much acclaim for their 1998 debut CD. With praise from Urb, Alternative Press, XLR8R and Canada’s Exclaim!, the future was looking rosy indeed.
This was not to be the case, however, as both of Transformantra’s record labels went belly-up. And by the end of the decade, the group had split. But, as the cliché goes, every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case it was the release of Skol’s remix of Everything Is Vapour (the “In The Moment Mix”) by synthpop legends Rational Youth. This rare release is available once again at iTunes and eMusic.
Spiral Into The Storm:
A Solo Project Yielding His Most Powerful Work To Date
Following stints as a producer/engineer/musician-for-hire in the early 00’s, Skol began formulating what would prove to be his most adventurous and genre-defying endeavour yet: Spiral Into The Storm.
A self-titled EP was issued in 2007 while Skol worked toward completing the 75-minute A Futile Veneer album (2008). That disc featured a tight, but diverse, cast of special guests including jazz/r&b chanteuse Julie Mahendran, drummer/percussionist Giampaolo Scatozza (whose previous collaborators include Groove Armada), and Gibbs and Mellen (Toronto techno mainstay Mike Gibbs and composer/producer Gaz Mellen) who contributed a rugged and whimsical remix on the closing track.
A Futile Veneer reached #6 on Canada’s national Earshot Electronic chart, and cracked the American CMJ RPM top 40… twice. The album soared into the top 10 ranking of electronic charts, and (in some cases) overall charts, of 20 North American campus stations.
Skol's output over the following year featured a more overt dancefloor aesthetic, as heard on the New York City People EP. A collaboration with yet another veteran Canadian electronic artist, Arthur Oskan, the NYCP EP is "an audio picture rich in juxtaposition... a record that covers a widespread and varied area of music and emotions." (Exclaim!)
The Future Is In Dub
Later in 2009, Spiral Into The Storm's unofficial remix of Friendly Fires' "Kiss Of Life" was championed by numerous blogs, and received a bang-on review from Pitchfork: "Spiral Into The Storm bathes slinky synths in acid, dissolves vocals into halos of breath and light, and nudges quick flourishes from the source material into motifs. It's a pretty extensive overhaul... To SITS's credit, those nine minutes feel pretty action-packed..."
Friendly Fires - Kiss Of Life (Spiral Into The Storm remix) by Spiral Into The Storm
Considering the creative success of that remix, it's logical that Skol has now chosen to revisit his own work; deconstructing, and filtering his tracks through what he likes to call the "dub prism". A session for the UK's Dandelion Radio features three such remixes, in addition to a new ambient piece, and will be aired on Dandelion each day during July, 2010. For those that miss the broadcast, the entire set will be released on September 28 (as UK Radio Session In Dub).
...to be continued!