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Thursday, 21 November 2013

REVIEW: Sky Architect: A Billion Years of Solitude

http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=15379

From Rotterdam in the Netherlands comes Sky Architect, and their third and latest effort, A Billion Years of Solitude, introduces a space rock/science fiction element into their brand of melodic progressive rock. Hints of Genesis, Porcupine Tree, Hawkwind, Gentle Giant, Eloy, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, and King Crimson pop up from time to time, especially on the rousing 18-minute opener "The Curious One", which kind of combines all the influences of the band into one killer epic. But, before we really dive into the music, let me report that the current line-up of the band consists of Tom Luchies (vocals, guitars), Wabe Wieringa (guitars), Guus van Mierlo (bass), Christiaan Bruin (drums, backing vocals), and Rik van Honk (keyboards -Mellotron, Grand piano, Hammond organ, Rhodes piano, - Clavinet, Moog synth, Wurlitzer, plus flugelhorn, trumpet, backing vocals).

Back to that opening epic, it's an explosion of space rock and heavy prog musical & lyrical themes, with waves of Mellotron and various keyboards floating over throbs of bass, jagged guitar, intricate drumming, and layered vocals. Gentler than Hawkwind but more explosive than Genesis, it's a perfect half-way meeting point of both styles, and there are some sizzling solos here and plenty of haunting atmosphere. It's easily one of the 'must hear' songs of the year. "Wormholes (The Inevitable Collapse Of The Large Hadron Collider)" is a more rocking piece, but still firmly in the prog camp, reminding at times of Spock's Beard as well as Todd Rundgren's Utopia, and it's a real workout for guitarist Wieringa but also containing some great vocals courtesy of Luchies. "Tides" is one of the shortest tracks on the album, but it's also one of the heaviest, as churning guitar & keyboard riffs blast away over intricate rhythms, eventually giving way to lush acoustic guitar and floating vocals, before succumbing once again to Dream Theater/Gentle Giant styled complex bombast. The mighty Mellotron comes back for the engaging "Elegy of a Solitary Giant", another lengthy number complete with sci-fi drenched lyrics and plenty of spacey sounds, a perfect trip for all the Hawkwind/Eloy/Nektar/Pink Floyd fans in the house. After the quick little heavy space rock instrumental "Jim's Ride to Hell" (an awesome piece that I wish was longer), the band deliver one of the quirkiest numbers on the album, the complex "Revolutions". With plenty of keyboard textures from van Honk and acrobatic guitar from Wieringa, this one is a wild ride that zig zags from intricate prog-rock to ethereal space rock and back again. Closing 13-minute epic "Traveller's Last Candle" is another sci-fi yarn with some incredible musical passages, and the way the band go back and forth between lush atmospheric sections, to spacey explorations, to rumbling, bombastic heavy prog is just amazing.

There have been a lot of excellent albums released here in 2013, and A Billion Years of Solitude certainly is among those and will be looked at closely when people are putting together their 'best of the year' lists. I just love the way this band perfectly meshes heavy progressive rock with the more otherworldly sounds of the space rock genre, making for a truly intoxicating listening experience. Stunning stuff really, and highly recommended.


Track Listing
1. The Curious One (18:06)
2. Wormholes (The Inevitable Collapse Of The Large Hadron Collider) (5:52)
3. Tides (3:24)
4. Elegy Of A Solitary Giant (10:43)
5. Jim's Ride To Hell (2:27)
6. Revolutions (8:00)
7. Traveller's Last Candle (12:43)

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