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(50:57, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Deep Chasm-I 3:38 2. Deep Chasm-II 8:03 3. Deep Chasm-III 0:42 4. Deep Chasm-IV 6:44 5. The Grey Legend 12:11 6. Russian Wisdom 5:04 7. Excavations of the Mind 11:43 8. Gyrocopter 2:53 LINEUP: Rik Van Honk – keyboards Wabe Wieringa – guitars Chistiaan Bruin – drums Guus Van Mierlo – bass Tom Luchies – vocals; guitars
Prolusion. Holland’s SKY ARCHITECT is a recent addition to the progressive rock scene, initially an instrumental trio consisting of Wabe Wieringa, Rik Van Honk and Christiaan Bruin, and later adding Tom Luchies and Guus Van Mierlo to their ranks. Their debut effort "Excavations of the Mind" was issued in the summer of 2010.
Analysis. Art rock of the symphonic variety has been a popular part of the progressive rock movement since the onset, and Sky Architect is the latest in a long line of bands with a desire to explore this universe. Their stated aim is to revive the genre, incorporating modern influences to the golden sound of the ‘70s, and in most respects I'll have to say that they are rather successful at that. And while the opening 4-part epic Deep Chasm doesn't quite manage to hit the mark for me, the rest of this CD comes across as a tour de force of art rock. Clever use of recurring themes grants the individual creation a strong identity, while the myriad of moods, atmospheres and styles visited maintains a high degree of interest in itself. Variation is something of a keyword for this album as a whole, and the epic-length excursions in particular provide plenty of that - so much so that giving anything near an accurate description without listening to this disc extensively is something of a challenge in itself. If you like surging organ-dominated themes, underscored by darker guitar textures, you're in luck. Gentler jazz-inspired instrumental wanderings can be found too, alongside slow-paced melancholic motifs featuring strings as the most prominent texture. Driving, passionate passages with an almost progressive metal intensity following or followed by elaborate symphonic sequences not too far away in sound from bands like The Flower Kings, and more contemporary sounding motifs, featuring distinctly electronic spices, are just as common. Uplifting Beatles-inspired landscapes are explored on occasion, while other segments herald the influence of King Crimson. Sky Architect isn't among the bands proudly wearing their influences on their sleeves though; they have worked hard to craft their own musical universe. References can be made towards plenty of more or less well known artists I presume, but the end result is a highly contemporary sounding production, connecting the legacy of old with modern-day progressive excursions, at times rather challenging, as they don't hesitate to add in underlying noise layers, disharmonic textures and dissonant sounds alongside melodic parts with an emphasis on harmonies and pleasant atmospheres. Sporting high quality mix and production as the icing on the cake, "Excavations of the Mind" comes across as a thorough, sophisticated and adventurous album – hopefully, the first of many such ventures from this very promising young outfit.
Conclusion. Variety, finesse and solid craftsmanship are all qualities liberally spicing this fine initial effort by Sky Architect, featuring rock-solid compositions given an extra edge through the sheer variety of styles, explored within in each number, and the high quality musicianship provided by each member. Besides a few weak moments on the opening epic Deep Chasm, "Excavations of the Mind" comes across as a brilliant production overall. Highly recommended to art rock aficionados who appreciate an eclectic and diverse take on this stylistic universe.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: September 6, 2010
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