Read, Listen, Enjoy

An article by, Aaron Burton

When listening to music I always try to base my opinion on the album as a whole. The way the artist chooses and orders the songs has an important effect on the listening experience. Much like a story, an album of songs takes the listener on a ride of ups and downs. A great song can have a greater level of impact when the audience knows where it fits into the artist's catalog.

This is one reason why I have always loved concept albums. My favorites include Protest the Hero's Kezia, Masta Ace's A Long Hot Summer, and anything by Coheed and Cambria. I love being able to put on an album at the beginning and listen to it all the way through. Personally, the songs feel more powerful when serve a specific purpose in regard to storytelling and concept discussion.

Skin and Earth is a combination comic book series/music album created by a multi-talented artist known as LIGHTS. The first issue was released in July of 2017 with the final issue coming out in December of 2017. The album was released in September of 2017. A trade paperback of the six issue series should be available this April. The book is published by Dynamite Entertainment. Skin and Earth is an adventure story that combines elements of  both science fiction and fantasy. You can listen to the album here or buy the comics here.

Enaia is part of the red population. These people make up the lower class of her society. They live in a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by pollution. The pink population makes up the ruling class of the society and is responsible for the destruction of the land. Enaia is given a strange tattoo by a lover shortly before their breakup. This begins Enaia on a fantastic and surreal journey to find the truth about her society and herself.

Skin and Earth provides a bleak setting for its story to take place. The writing and art combine to create a world that feels truly helpless. Enaia tries to find the beauty in little things. For example, she enjoys how the horizon shimmers like diamonds. In reality, the landscape is glistening due to its reduction to nothing but sand. Enaia's focus on beauty and love sets her apart from a world that destroys everything in its path.

The accompanying album is filled with catchy electronic pop tunes. Though the songs are fun to listen to they also serve to enhance the darkness of the story at hand. LIGHTS' powerful voice and lyrics make it easy to become immersed in the comic book. The tracks line up perfectly with the story both in sound and content.

Each issue covers two songs on the album with the last issue taking on three songs. The series does include a chart which lines up the songs with the correct issue. That said, it is not difficult to follow along without it. The song titles and lyrical content align with the sections of story. Many of the chapters are named after songs on the album. The songs themselves contain main nods to what is happening in the comic.

There are music videos for the singles on Skin and Earth. These videos play out the corresponding scenes from the comic book. I was very excited to watch my favorite scene from the book come to life. Issue four is not only my favorite part of the series but also lines up with my two favorite songs on the album. The music video for "We Were Here" portrays this part of the story with stunning accuracy. The video looks and feels like it was shot in the story's universe. Many of the shots directly line up with panels.

 I have never heard of LIGHTS before picking up this comic book, but I enjoyed the comic so much I am now a fan. I really hope there is a sequel to Skin and Earth. Though the storytelling wraps up the main plot I feel that there are still a lot of interesting concepts to be explored in this universe. Skin and Earth does a great job of blending science-fiction, fantasy, and post-apocalyptic storytelling. The concepts of the story vary from romance  and relationships to philosophy to religion. Skin and Earth has a little bit of something for everyone. You can buy the album and comic here.

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