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Monday, 3 February 2014

Sky Architect US review


Sky Architect
A Billion Years of Solitude
Review by G. W. Hill


If I’d heard this disc in 2013 (the year it was released) it might have made my best of list for the year. It’s that good. Of course, I really have a thing for music that combines a lot of different sounds in original ways. This is definitely such music. It’s progressive rock for certain, but the type of sounds incorporated under that heading are extremely diverse. It never really feels like it’s strained or pushed, though. This is extremely satisfying progressive rock to please fans of modern prog. Still, it has a lot of classic sound built into it, too. 

Track by Track Review
The Curious One


There’s a dramatic percussive build up to open this epic (over eighteen minutes) piece. Then some killer classic prog serves as a majestic opening fanfare. From there, though, it drops to weird space music that’s sparse and quite trippy. That sound takes the piece through several shifts, changes and variations before it works to mellow space music that feels a bit like the soundtrack to some science fiction film merged with Hawkwind. Eventually that changes to something more like a progressive metal band merged with Genesis. The first vocals come in around the five minute mark. This is a expansive cut that has a real classic progressive rock vibe to it. There are some jazzy elements to the piece, too. It fires out after that into a jam that seems to combine King Crimson and Yes. Then more fusion oriented sounds take it for a bit before it gets some Kansas in the mix. As odd shifts and changes keep coming, I’m reminded of Pentwater quite a bit at times. Around the eight and a half minute mark it moves out into a killer space rock jam that seems to have elements of both Hawkwind and Pink Floyd. They work through a series of variants on that basic sound as they continue. There is some killer jamming and it gets heavier at times. After another vocal section it drops way down again. This time it comes up with a mellow, but steadily growing prog section that’s more melodic. There are no more vocals before this ends, but they pack a lot of musical twists, turns and drama into this. It works up to a really rocking jam before it finishes. It’s really one heck of a ride. 
Wormholes (The Inevitable Collapse of the Large Hadron Collider)


Powering in with a harder rocking sound, this feels a bit like a cross between Yes, Hawkwind and Nektar at first. It works out to a jam that has more modern progressive rock at its heart with real space rock elements circling over the top. This keeps shifting and changing and there are some killer, dramatic fast paced jams built into it. It drops down to a mellow, slower moving bit of psychedelic prog for the first vocals. Then we get a bit of a fusion sound with some elements that make me think of Santana just a bit as it moves outward. They really cover a lot of musical territory on this smoking hot progressive rocker. 
Tides
I love the killer riff that drives the opening section of this. There are definitely comparisons to Dream Theater to be made. They drop it way down to mellower territory for the first vocals of the song. As it works out to heavier sounds later I’m reminded a bit of groups like Giant Squid. 
Elegy of a Solitary Giant
At over ten and a half minutes in length, this is another extended cut. A mellower section that still manages to be a bit weird opens it. From there it fires out into some smoking hot sounds with some of that Pentwater weirdness in place. It drops way down to mellower sounds for a while and then builds back out from there. This thing just keeps shifting and changing and there are even some symphonic elements in place at times. Around the five minute mark a classical piano solo takes over. From there it launches out into another fiery jam that’s part King Crimson, part Dream Theater and part Giant Squid. It evolves into some stuff that’s more melodic and more fusion oriented. The piano takes over again from there. Sort of a space music meets jazz and classical section takes it from there. They work out to psychedelically tinged prog from that point. King Crimson, Pink Floyd and more seem to merge later. It gets rather heavy, while still remaining pretty purely progressive rock. There’s a killer jam that has elements of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath while also feeling like King Crimson and Pink Floyd with perhaps some of the heavy side of the Beatles added. That section takes it to a crescendo that ends the piece. 
Jim's Ride to Hell
At a little less then two and a half minutes in length, this is the shortest cut here. It powers in heavy and rather slow moving, but then works out to a frantic jam with some space rock keyboards over the top. There’s a section beyond that with a lot of that Pentwater vibe in place. It’s freeform and a little weird. It alternates between heavier sounds and mellower, more sparse ones. All in all, though, this instrumental is very cool. They really pack a lot into a relatively short number. 
Revolutions
The opening section on this actually makes me think of a specific song from Pentwater’s debut disc. Still, the treatment here is different. They work it out into different directions from there, too. There’s a cool section that comes out of that with some great keyboard sounds. That gives way to a crescendo and then a much mellower movement serves as the backdrop for the first vocals of the piece. It’s got a psychedelic progressive rock vibe. We are taken through a number of shifts and changes beyond that point. This is quite a dramatic and powerful piece of music. It’s also very dynamic. It’s one of my favorites here, really. I love just about everything about it. It gets heavy when it needs to. It’s mellower at other times. Parts of this have a real symphonic element. Other parts seem closer to space rock. 
Traveller's Last Candle
Another extended piece, this comes in with one of the most mainstream sounds of the whole set. Even the first vocal movement feels a bit more straightahead rock than some of the other music here does. There are definitely plenty of the space rock meets prog moments here as this continues, though. Some weird spoken vocals are heard over the top of a more fast paced prog jam as they continue. That works towards fusion. Then it drops to a mellower movement that is quite classic progressive rock with space elements. It stays in a similar fashion but gets more energy in the mix as they continue. Melodic space prog builds out from there. Speed and intensity are gradually ramped up as it works out from that point. Then it crescendos and drops to a bluesy kind of jam that makes me think quite a bit of Pink Floyd. The guitar weaves some great melodic lines of sound. It drops back for a short time to a more straightforward rock sound. Then it fires out into a fast paced, hard edged progressive rock jam from there. A metal meets King Crimson vibe takes it. It’s a killer riff driven jam that feels a bit like Red era Crimson turned more metallic. Space sounds are added to the mix as this continues. It essentially serves to take the piece out with a bit of a fade down at the end.



CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AT GONZO:

A Billion Years of Solitude
CD - £9.99

A Dying Man's Hymn
CD - £7.99

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