SPC ECO is the duo Dean Garcia and Rose Berlin. In the last year, the duo has released two full-length albums on Saint Marie Records. The Under My Skin EP seems to have been prompted by the appearance of “Under My Skin” in this last season of the MTV show Teen Wolf. Tracks 1-4 on the EP are from their 2016 release Dark Matter and the 5th track is taken from their 2013 release Sirens and Satellites. These five tracks all have a very cohesive feel when placed together and in this order. They are pensive, reflective, and, in some ways, deeply melancholy. These songs feel like they belong together and experiencing them in this way, divorced from their prior album contexts, really gives them a different feel.
The EP begins with the eponymous “Under My Skin”. It instantly sets the mood for the EP with soft, gentle synths and Berlin’s emotive, earnest vocals. Berlin sings,
Leave love alone
Water under my skin
Looked for a long time
I guess it’s all a memory
I lost a bet, a bet
All I fear is
There is melancholy, sadness, and a sense of desperation in Berlin’s beautiful vocals that only Garcia could compliment with sound. If you are familiar with SPC ECO’s previous output, you would know that Garcia has this incredible knack for undergirding and supporting the lovely vocals and lyrics of Berlin like most composers could not do. They are an electric duo, communicating powerful emotions through sound and words and this composition really demonstrates the power of their collaborative work. “Under My Skin” flows beautifully into “Meteor”. Light synths play with an ethereal higher sound running through the speakers. There is slow percussion on this track rather than the naked synths of the first. It is slow and thoughtful with Berlin’s soft voice effortlessly punctuating the subtle soundscape. The mood of the overall EP flows smoothly into “Meteor” and works wondefully in this new sequence.
“Creep in the Shadows” is the initial song on Dark Matter but, here, it acts as the central piece to this EP. It’s a wonderful placement with a slight change of vibe. The beats rumble with a slight clapping sound keeping the tempo as high-hat swells and fades in the mix. Berlin’s vocals are almost robotic and sci-fi sounding, with an electronic edge to them. That said, the piece is still slow and dreamy but it has an edge the previous tracks don’t. At about 3 minutes in, more spacey synths accent the song, bringing in more textures and tones. “Let It Always Be” begins with inorganic sounds, knocks, and pings that set up an ominous entrance to the song. Berlin’s vocals are otherworldly and add to this feeling. She is ghostlike here among the unfamiliar and unnerving sounds. “Found” finishes the album and it’s the only track from an entirely different record. It begins with soft synths and gliding vocals that really compliment the rest of the EP. It belongs here even though it also belongs elsewhere. It’s a hopeful song that ends the EP on a bright note, moving from the melancholy of “Under My Skin” to the optimism of “Found”. It’s a song about relational alliance and trust, where abandonment is not around and pro-active care is at the center.
The Under My Skin EP takes five prior tracks from two different albums and places them into a new experiential order. Moving from “Under the Skin” to “Found”, the listener is brought on a trip from emotional isolation to the potential edge of fear to the embrace of trust. SPC ECO continue to prove to be consummate songsmiths even in the careful rearrangements of songs.