austrian soap & skin heads for big time. thats what the guardian say: There are some great female artists making laptop pop at the moment, but even in such company Anja Plaschg stands out. Not that she's one of the current spate of solo synth-girls, although much of her debut album, Lovetune for Vacuum, does find her programming sounds normally the preserve of glitch techno/clicks+cuts musicians or purveyors of IDM (so-called Intelligent Dance Music). The rest of the time she's singing self-penned atmospheric ballads that cry out to be described as eerie, haunting and fragile but are possessed of an almost neo-classical power and grandeur. The lovechild of a Sapphic union between Sinead and Björk, Enya on depressants or a Dead Can Dance for the digital age? Something like that. Plaschg – who goes by the name of Soap&Skin for her recordings for the fairly incomprehensible reason that "soap and skin are two substances which react on each other in different ways – not only does soap clean skin but it also protects it, and foam is as beautiful as it is vanishing rapidly" – is only 18. She was born in 1990 on a farm in the tiny village of Gnas in the south of Styria, and today lives in Vienna. Her music, a jarring juxtaposition of the delicate and dissonant, has about it such an air of mystery, drama and quiet insanity it's hard to separate the myth-mongering from the truth when it comes to the details of her life, but apparently her parents own a pig farm and the young Plaschg, instead of devoting herself to the joys of pork production, was classically trained in piano and violin while learning to navigate basic sound programmes on the computer from her brother. At 16, she began studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna before uploading some songs to her MySpace, earning the attention of the Berlin underground – specifically, acclaimed techno-punk T Raumschmiere, who got her song Mr Gaunt PT 1000 released on the electronic label ****katapult. Listening to the disconcertingly gentle tinkle of piano, smudge of violin and Plaschg's old-before-her-time, damaged-child vocals, it's easy to see why the piece will form part of the score to an Austrian horror film called Dead In Three Days. Indeed, hearing the album as a whole, it's not hard to imagine why Plaschg was picked to play Nico in a play, staged late last year in Berlin, about the life (and death) of the legendarily doomed Velvet Underground heroine. Scary, but scarily good.