'Quarantunes' with Skinshape

Over lockdown we got recommendations from our favourite artists, seeing which tracks, or 'Quarantunes' had been helping them traverse this strange new world. As the series draws to a close, we've got the enigmatic Skinshape sharing his deep cuts.
Posted: 20 July 2020 Words: John Bell

Though you might not recognise him on first glance, there's probably a good chance you've heard the music of Skinshape. Having once played bass for the sulky alt-rock band Palace, William Dorey left the group in 2017 to pursue the sound he had been cultivating as a multi-instrumentalist, producer and record collector for many years. 

Over the past six years Dorey has released five full-lengths under Skinshape, each taking a different turn along the international trail of soul, funk, jazz, dub and psychedelia, but linked with a panoramic grasp of sound and analogue production. His latest, Umoja, is a global affair, recruiting vocals from the likes of D'Alma, Idd Aziz and Modou Touré to sing in five different languages throughout the album. 

Skinshape's songs all have a slick, crisp veneer and a somewhat intoxicating flow that has helped them find a way onto many a 'Modern Psychedelia'-esque Spotify playlist or a sync on TV; 'I Didn't Know', from 2018's Filoxiny, featured on the Netflix film All the Bright Places back in February. 

But despite the rich orchestration of each record, Dorey has never found an appeal in performing live, preferring to sticking to the confines of his bedroom studio or his space at The Arch studios in North London. Unlike for the huge majority of his peers, then, lockdown had almost no effect on his musical career. Quite the contrary, he tells me, "It was a very productive time for me. I got most of a new album recorded." With a lack of touring pressure and a desire to keep self-promotion at a minimum, Dorey may even release this as his second record of the year. 

As you might expect by now, Dorey's Quarantunes selection dabbles in soul, funk and reggae from all over the globe. 

Shuggie Otis – 'Inspiration Information' 

I have known Shuggie for a few years now but somehow I hadn't really listened to this song, or appreciated it until mid-lockdown. It really got me! Such a sweet funky groove.

Evinha – 'Esperar Pra Ver'

A stunning funky killer from Brazil. I thought this was a modern production as that groove has a modern feel but I was surprised to discover it's an old 60s or 70s track. 

Black Savage – 'Kothbiro' 

Much like the Evinha tune, I was surprised to discover the era of this tune is 1970s, and not only that but it's from Kenya! A very unusual and cool downtempo track.

Nora Dean – 'Peace Begins Within'

Being a massive reggae head, I couldn't believe I had missed this deep killer tune for so many years. It was a joy to discover and I was blasting it many times in my car driving around during lockdown. 

Quincy Jones – 'Love And Peace'

This song really hit the 'muso' within me. Classic gospel chord progression and incredible harmonic layers. Plus that damn funky drum beat ... Mmmm!

Bobby "Blue" Bland – 'Turn On Your Love Light'

An old favourite of mine that I recently rediscovered. Does it sound like they have 2 drummers on this? Well they just might. That would be where Grateful Dead got the idea.

Umoja is out now on Lewis Recordings. Listen to more Skinshape here

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