ALBUM REVIEW: Skull Mask – Iká

Iká is the latest release of Skull Mask, a project revolving around Miguel Pérez’s versatile guitar. This time, he teams up with Gosha Hniu for two live shows dating back to August 2022, at Café Oto, London and at Supernormal Festival, Oxfordshire.

While the collaboration between the two is not unexpected, as both musicians have their established place in the art collective Staraya Derevnya, the combination of instruments is surprising. The Skull Mask’s acoustic guitar signature allies with a unique hurdy-gurdy sound. The duo creates mind-expanding soundscapes exploring territories which seem to flow gently up above the world and back down to earth. Iká means wind in the language of the Rarámuri people, one of the last indigenous populations in the north of Mexico. The sonic exploration on Iká is a tribute to the human connection and to its bond with the forces of nature.

© Jo Higgs

Two protagonists, same set of instruments and two different tracks. Iká 1 is a journey that starts right when the hurdy-gurdy goes in motion with a steady vibrato. When the guitar follows, the two begin a search for common ground, each on their own flow but remaining together, picking up tonalities from the other and bringing them back into their own field. Over the course of nearly twenty-three minutes, Iká 1 builds a common transcendence on two different backgrounds that intertwine. The two instruments help each other building a sound with no compromise to their core intentions. The track is energetic, vibrating, unique and complete. It leaves you challenged and wanting more. Iká 2 is different, fast-paced, focused on dexterity and irregular rhythmical forms emphasized by underlying ghostly drones. It employs a range of extended techniques for its execution, combining them with an eerie delivery, highlighting the multitude of possibilities for the conversation between the two instruments.

Iká is a celebration of multifaceted interpretation on acoustic guitar and the soul-stirring radiance of hurdy-gurdy. It creates endless itineraries to explore further. May the force be with the wind.


Released May 18, 2023 via  Raash Records and available on Bandcamp

Miguel Pérez: guitar
Gosha Hniu: wheel lyre

Iká 1 was recorded on 10 August 2022 at Café Oto, London by Billy Steiger. It was mixed and mastered by Hniu.
Iká 2 was recorded and mixed on 13 August 2022 at Supernormal Festival by James King and mastered by Hniu.

Design and artwork by Maya Pik. Map collage based on segments from ACMLA scan 1881 Winnipeg Manitoba bird’s eye view, National Archives of Canada.

Author: ywannish