Released early last month Showing Up is the sophomore effort from Victor Haskins(performed by Victor Haskins’ Skein – Randall Pharr: Double Bass Tony Martucci: Drums and Percussion and Victor Haskins: Cornet, EWI, Sound Design and Sound Effects) you can check out our review of Victor’s debut The Truth here. I’ve often considered that in the listening there is a knowing, a feeling that cannot be achieved with any other activity and what I’ve come to learn and know is that Showing Up is aural cinema of the top shelf variety.

I would never claim to be a cinephile but having spent a fair amount in the theater and with many a day spent on Netflix(minus the chill) I know when I’m being presented with the opening credits, the play and end theme of a photo-play. Pressing play on the opening track “Touch” put me immediately in the headspace of now is the time to stop, listen end to end and enjoy the journey and oh what a journey it is…

It often stated(usually from the artist themselves)that a work is their most personal to date etc., Showing Up feels personal in the best way possible to this reviewer. In particular Track 8 “Spite” resonated in a personal, facing the floor in a moment of deep contemplation type of way. Victor describes “Spite” in this way…

“Spite” comes from a similar vein as “Enemy at the Gate”. The two tunes deal with dark subject matter in very different ways. Whereas “Enemy” uses complex, highly-syncopated and slippery rhythms amongst an asymmetrical form to tell its tale, Spite is rooted in a more meditative and disturbed quality. The brooding, ostinato bass line anchors the angular, acerbic melodies from the horn as the percussion goads and exacerbates the collective mood. At various times, each of the members of the Skein flips into a different role, at once destabilizing, and then driving, and suddenly attacking, all the while moving the story forward to unpredictable places.

Another tune that hit me in a very personal way from the set is Track 2 “Grey”. From the opening notes I was transported back to the era of my youth to one of the most influential sounds on my musical sensibilities, the 1980’s era work of The Pat Metheny Group. The experience was familiar and new which is a great combination in my opinion when you can make it work. “Grey” features Victor’s use of the EWI(Electronic Wind Instrument)in approach that is full of emotion with a truly singing quality.

Victor’s press release expounds further… “Grey” is the first piece featuring Haskins’ sound design with the EWI. This tune originally appears in an all- acoustic quintet setting on The Truth, and gets an all new life here on Showing Up. “Grey” is the fictional story of a hero (named Grey) and their journey in a post-apocalyptic/disaster-torn world. Within the Skein ensemble, roles, textures, and environments shift and coalesce to manifest different fates that befall Grey, and from the vantage points of different narrators.

There is an oft recited phrase in the lexicon of Black Vernacular that alludes to an experience that goes far beyond expectations. I think that it is more than appropriate in this setting to use for what Victor Haskins has brought forth on this 10 song set along with the masterful playing of these great musicians: Randall Pharr and Tony Martucci(who far more than play their part, they embody the music and the roles they have been given.)

Yes, Victor Haskins’ Skein did far more that just show up, they musically showed out.

Showing Up from Victor Haskins’ Skein out now!

Website: E