Skist is the experimental song unit of Samm Bennett and Haruna Ito. Their music addresses an expanded capacity of the ear and emotion, through a less linear use of sound, rhythm, melody and words than the conventional pop song: a bridge in an open-ended relationship between performer and listener.
Their performance methods are ever-changing, as they are keenly interested in exploring untried strategies in making music together, and adamant about not falling into easy patterns and systems.
Their first release (Ellipsis) featured mostly programmed beats, but more recent live shows have seen a shift toward more live playing of electronic percussion (notably, the WaveDrum) as well as an increasing use of acoustic percussion such as Talking Drum and Frame Drum. combined with their trademark translucent sonic textures and Haruna's airy vocals.
Though they have been likened to and share characteristics with song-based electronica and IDM, Bennett, who is essentially a funk drummer and former student of African drumming, lays down an intricate percolating rhythmic bed over which Ito composes and develops strangely organic digital feedback-based textures that crackle, whistle, buzz and hum, unfolding a curious landscape evoking both nostalgia and unsettling. Through this rich fabric, Haruna's clear voice and nebulous poetry weaves as another thread, balancing against rhythm and texture rather than as the music's focal point, distinguishing the sound of Skist from most other forms of "popular" music with vocals.
Skist's further developed sound, reflecting their more recent explorations in live rhythm, can be heard on their new second album Taking Something Somewhere, released this fall 2006.