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(54:19, ‘It's Twilight Time’)
TRACK LIST: 1. September Song 9:29 2. Antartica 9:07 3. The Byways 4:18 4. Orange Ice 10:21 5. Concrete, Glass, Steel 4:39 6. Four Faradays in a Cage 16:25 LINEUP: Don Sullivan - guitars, MIDI John MacNeill – keyboards Mike Marando – bass John Orsi – drums
Prolusion. The US band INCANDESCENT SKY describes itself as an "inventive improvisational instrumental ensemble". It became an active recording outfit back in 2001. "Four Faradays in a Cage" is its fourth production, and was released in June of 2010.
Analysis. Instrumental improvisational music can mean a lot of things. It is a description that fans of jazz and avant-garde jazz will be rather familiar with, followers of instrumental virtuosos of any styles just as much, and in various kinds of electronic-oriented music they aren't strangers to this approach either. And a small cottage industry has been built around such ventures for psychedelic-oriented acts, and in particular those actively exploring the expression usually described as space rock. And then we have acts like Incandescent Sky of course, an outfit that touches upon many of the aforementioned approaches without establishing a home in any of them. At least if this production is a fairly representative specimen of their output. One artist that seems to be a warranted name drop for this band is Robert Fripp. This is due to the motifs provided by guitarist Sullivan first and foremost, his array of fragmented, drawn-out and occasionally droning textures a dominating aspect of the sound explored by this quartet, sometimes gentle and ethereal, even fragile, at other times with a tighter, darker and more dramatic delivery. It is a constant presence, and only occasionally does the man venture into slightly different territories. The main example of the latter are the opening parts of final and title track for this CD, Four Faradays in a Cage, where the dampened staccato riff patterns explored initially bear a slightly stronger resemblance to early 80's Killing Joke. The supporting cast for his sound constructions is provided by tangents man MacNeill, who'll wander freely between tranquil new age-oriented, rich, but gentle soundscapes and swirling, fluctuating textures and noises of a nature closer to what one might find in a space rock outfit. While bass player Marando and drummer Orsi add the occasional jazz flavors to the proceedings, as well as some thundering distorted bass chops in the case of the former and sophisticated, energetic, intense percussion bombardments courtesy of the latter. The music is well-performed and the album well-produced, but what I miss on a few occasions is a sense of momentum and drive, or perhaps direction. A track like Orange Ice is an elongated visit to a mood and one specific atmosphere to a much greater extent than a musical journey with a defined start and end, and as such not quite fulfilling my personal requirements for musical satisfaction. It is a beautiful landscape indeed, and I can easily see that quite a few listeners will be compelled and hypnotized by it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all or at least in the ears and the mind in cases like these. Personally I find this production at its most intriguing on the piece Concrete Glass Steel – one of the few items with clear development and direction, and also the subtle but very much present alterations utilized on opening effort September Song managed to keep my attention and entice my musical appetite.
Conclusion. "Four Faradays in a Cage" is a production I'd describe as a gem for the chosen few. Instrumental, improvisational music that focuses on specific moods and constellations to a greater degree than alterations and variations, elaborating subtle changes over time rather than moving towards a sound or a different variety within the same construction. Experimental guitar 80's Frippian-style and space-tinged keyboard motifs backed by mostly energetic rhythms are the main components, and for a key audience I'd suggest any nearby space cadets to get on to this shuttle to sample this particular environment, alongside diehard followers of Fripp's guitar antics and those inspired by them.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: September 6, 2011
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