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Sky Cries Mary - 2009 - "Space Between the Drops"

(73:57, Trail Records)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Cornerman 5:30
2.  Elephant Song 8:03
3.  Rain 8:10
4.  These Old Bones 4:01
5.  Slow Down Time 5:51
6.  Four AM 14:47
7.  An Ant, the Stars, an Owl and It's Prey 5:48
8.  Want Extended Version 6:04
9.  Gliding Remake 5:07
10. Land of All 5:12
11. Missing 5:24

LINEUP:

Anisa Romero Ц vocals
Roderick Romero Ц vocals
Gordon Raphael Ц keyboards
Juano Ц bass; keyboards
Michael Cozzi Ц guitars, keyboards, programming
William Bernhard Ц guitars, keyboards, programming 
Ivan Kral Ц guitars
Marc Olsen Ц guitars
Ben Ireland Ц drums, percussion
Todd Robbins Ц synths, samples, rhythm machine

Prolusion. The US outfit SKY CRIES MARY has been around since the late С80s, founded and spending its first years in Europe and then relocating to the US and continuing with a new line-up throughout the С90s. It went into hiatus at the tail end of that decade, then reformed again a few years later. The band's latest studio effort hails from 2007. "Space between the Drops" is a compilation album featuring their most progressive oriented material, which was issued by the US label Trail Records in the autumn of 2009.

Analysis. This production is the second release I've come across by the indie company Trail Records, and it seems like this is a label which those with an interest in psychedelic progressive music should be following closely. The first album I encountered from this label was by the veritable unknown band Siddhartha from Turkey, which was a truly pleasant surprise to explore. Sky Cries Mary is another band that at least for me has stayed under the radar until now, and like the aforementioned act from Turkey an act well worth investigating by those who enjoy psychedelic spices to their musical enjoyments. This time around we're dealing with a band taking on a more laid-back and meditative sound, though. The dreamier parts of Hawkwind, Eloy and Pink Floyd may have influenced this act, and while obvious resemblances are few and far between, the moods and atmospheres explored are of a similar nature to some extent. One of the most characteristic traits of this band is the guitar. Lazy, subdued, psychedelic licks are a common and constant feature throughout, on occasion with a swirling expression added in. Atmospheric soloing not too far removed from David Gilmour in style takes its natural place in this environment, and the occasional acoustic guitar provides even more mellow and contemplative atmospheres in the gentlest movements. Even more laidback and lazy are the lead vocals, with the dual delivery of the Romero couple in harmony, taking on separate roles in different segments of a composition or with Roderick Romero providing a talk-over while Anisa caters to atmospheric backing vocals. But no matter what variation is utilized on the different compositions, a languishing, somnolent delivery is the norm rather than the exception. Synths have their place inside these dreamy musical landscapes as well, adding lush textures and washes as well as sound effects of various kinds. And while rarely dominating the proceedings, they do flesh out the sonic tapestries and add sophistication to these excursions, at least to some extent catering for subtle disharmonies and contrasts to provide nerve and tensions to the tracks. Drums and bass are arguably more important in that context though. In particular on tracks like Elephant Song and Want, the world music-inspired tribal antics of the drums chosen for these specific endeavors add levels of finesse to these tracks that take them to a higher plane, and for the former the theme explored by the bass guitar is just as important in that area, resulting in what may arguably be the best effort on this disc. Elsewhere the rhythm department provides less elaborate aspects to the compositions, but also when only providing a more ordinary and steady delivery this is a vital backbone to the sleepy psychedelic waters Sky Cries Mary has chosen to inhabit.

Conclusion. If you like meditative, dreamy and laidback psychedelic progressive rock that mostly stays out of ambient territories by way of subtle finesse and elaborate constructions, Sky Cries Mary may be a band you would like to get to know better. As this compilation has been assembled specifically to appeal to a progressively-inclined audience, it should be a good point of departure for exploring the works of this band for those unfamiliar with their albums from the previous two decades.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 8, 2010
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Trail Records
Sky Cries Mary


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