https://www.underdog-fanzine.de/2019/04/22/big-john-bates-skinners-cage/

When I look at the cover for a while, depicting an oil painting by Santiago Caruso, I think to myself: feed my ego. However, the visual interpretation of the album title Skinners Cage suggests that “we push the button, spend truth to buy some comfort”. Reflectively we’re fed with all kinds of shit to manipulate us and our thoughts, because we’ve stopped questioning and are swallowing everything … until life becomes a single lie.

Well, Big John Bates faces up to this challenge. To be poisoned further and devoured by the demons or to face the fears and fight to overcome crises? “All the devils rise” and the darkness casts long shadows. “Satan take my hand, Jesus take my hand, let’s fly”. So who can you trust? Little angel, little devil or your inner voice. The covers of Broken English (Marianne Faithful), Dead Moon Night (Dead Moon) and Moon of Alabama (Weill) fit seamlessly into the concept and prove the Sensemannian mood that one decision can change everything. But what if we make the wrong one?

The versatility and creativity build, both exciting and organic, but the credo remains: loss, death and loneliness as a motive for an independent stylistic culture, rich in contrast and dramatically equipped to measure the symbolic questions of the everyday as a possibility of a significant quality of experience.

Big John Bates and fellow musicians have created almost musical-like structures to reflect the implementation of these contradictory worlds of thought. Spooky effects, triggered by violin and wafting rhythms, run like a thread through the songs, a mélange of klezmer, punk, country, classical music, a performance that produces dark, bizarre sound images, but also with languishing ballads (“Halcyon”) that could be performed at the ESC.