Today’s Song: Skullcrusher Asks Ghostly Questions in Her Stunning Debut Single “Places / Plans”

Skullcrusher © Silken Weinberg
Seemingly emerging dreamily from a swampy lake, “Places / Plans” is Skullcrusher’s delicately dark exploration of identity and solitude – a stunning debut.
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Stream: “Places / Plans” – Skullcrusher 





It’s all in the atmosphere: a lonely peacefulness that sweeps along in shades of grey and the melancholic whisper of a voice like sharing secrets in the night time. Music in this way evokes a picturesque eeriness similar to the aestheticization in horror movies. It also makes you think of battered hard-covered books with their antique font, stained and discreet in the midst of a stacked bookshelf.

In the case of “Places / Plans“, the debut single by Skullcrusher, all of these elements are brought together. The video is carefully set up and washed with a haunting home-filmed haziness (the re-watching of old family footage), with the lyrics incorporated book-style, and the song itself is compiled of a pretty loneliness.

Places/ Plans - Skullcrusher

Places / Plans- Skullcrusher

Could we?
The window’s open and I’m lying alone
We’ll see
Cause I don’t have any plans for tomorrow
I don’t have any plans for tomorrow

The song and music video work side by side. It’s just one camera shot of a back garden, the house being white and grand and likely host to supernatural goings on. Skullcrusher sits on a blanket in the middle of the beaten lawn, having a picnic with herself like a child having an imaginary tea party with their toys. Another Skullcrusher sits swinging moodily on a swing, and a third stands on the steps by the backdoor sawing a piece of wood. They are clones, fragments of herself, lost in solitary thought. All while this is taking place, the lyrics appear at the bottom of the recording in gothic font- journal style questions such as ‘ Does it matter if I’m a really good friend?’ And ‘Can I make it up there as I am?




An Atwood Magazine Editor’s Pick, “Places / Plans” is short. It’s 3 minutes 14 but feels shorter, over before it’s barely even started, and that’s because of its monotony and the stream of questions upon timid strums of acoustic guitar. It’s ghostly in its visuals and its sound- having a strong presence but in a really unassuming way.

Do think you could look up to me that way?
Do you think that I’m going places?
Does it matter if I’m a really good friend?
That I’m there when you call and when your shows end?
Can I make it up there as I am?
Without my name on a door or a headline band?
Could we?
The window’s open and I’m lying alone
We’ll see
Cause I don’t have any plans for tomorrow
I don’t have any plans for tomorrow

As a debut single, presentation is key. Skullcrusher is the musical identity of L.A-based singer/songwriter Helen Ballentine. She quit her job in an art gallery and spent her newly unemployed period reveling in solitary creativity, particularly the music of Nick Drake and the Czech new-wave film Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. In imagery, she crouches and stands by a swampy lake and she’ll stare straight faced accompanied by a skeleton or skull axe. It’s allowing music to be a medium for creative expression, playing with identities and imaginary personas.




Speaking in the song’s press release, Ballentine states “I thought a lot about my self-worth during this period of uncertainty. “Places / Plans” attempts to communicate the beauty and vulnerability of being alone and what it means to let someone else in to see that”’. She then adds, “It is a song for being alone in your room, lying on your floor with a book and the window open, but also for letting someone in to lie with you.” This is highlighted through the questions that make up the lyrics- they are personal but opening up some kind of relationship.

“Places / Plans” is taken from Skullcrusher’s upcoming self-titled EP, which is due out June 26th. Other than this single, little is known about Skullcrusher – and it’s this dark secrecy around the music (that’s seemingly emerged suddenly as though dreamily rising from the lakes in which she photographs) that makes it all the more intriguing.

Stream: “Places / Plans” – Skullcrusher



 

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Places/ Plans - Skullcrusher

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Editor’s Picks: April 29, 2020


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Francesca Rose

Francesca is a writer currently based in Montreal who considers music a form of storytelling. She's fascinated by the connections that songs can form, whether it's relatable lyrics or the personal associations a sound conjures up.