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(77:13, Galileo Records / Gonzo MM)
TRACK LIST: 1. Treebird 9:14 2. Melody of the Air-1 6:16 3. The Campfire Ghost's Song 10:00 4. Woodcutters Vile 12:58 5. Melody of the Air-2 11:14 6. The Breach 11:05 7. Hitodama's Return 6:37 8. Melody of the Air-3 4:38 9. A Dying Man's Hymn 5:11 LINEUP: Tom Luchies – guitars; vocals Wabe Wieringa – guitars Guus Van Mierlo – bass Christiaan Bruin – drums; b/v Rik Van Honk – keyboards; b/v
Prolusion. Judging by the names of all five of its members, SKY ARCHITECT is a band from The Netherlands, although there is a hint in the CD press kit that it’s from Sweden. Either way, “A Dying Man’s Hymn” is a follow-up to its debut album “Evacuations of the Mind” (which I haven’t heard), and exceeds 77 minutes in length. Three of the nine tracks here, Treebird, Melody of the Air-2 and Melody of the Air-3, are instrumentals.
Analysis. The press release for the album sort of assures potential listeners that it’s a must for fans of Gentle Giant, The Flower Kings and Pain of Salvation, implying it brings together symphonic Art-rock and Prog Metal along with the avant-garde breed of the former genre (which it never does). It is always hard to resist the temptation to challenge a statement like this one, since it has almost nothing to do with the real state of affairs. Much of the album is Symphonic Progressive in style, and, while listening to it, I wasn’t reminded of either of the above outfits. Sky Architect is in fact influenced by Pink Floyd. All over the first one third of the album the band is undoubtedly operating in the legendary band’s shadow – one that may encompass one of the largest areas for a ‘classic’ modern prog rock outfit. Occasionally the influence is on the entire track, namely the disc opener Treebird, where it sometimes breeds near-plagiarism in addition, the music being comparatively mellow throughout. The implied factor is most apparent in the guitar work of Tom Luchies, who uses a lot of soloing clearly in Mr. Gilmour’s specific manner, albeit some of the further tracks will show that the man has a bit of old David in him as a vocalist as well. Here they are, all following one another right after the disc opener: Woodcutters Vile, Melody of the Air-1 and The Campfire Ghost's Song, all being better than that, though. On the first of these Sky Architect blends classic era Pink Floyd, circa ’73-’75, with their own vision (at times combining heavy electric guitar licks with soft, almost fragile, passages of acoustic guitar and vintage-sounding keyboards as well), and it does work. Melody of the Air-1 recalls the English band within its first third, but the strict comparison ends there, besides which its second half is faster and heavier, with nice soloing from every musician. As to the latter piece, it is largely instrumental, and the influence is only used here as a springboard to a more diverse style, one that will sure to find wide appeal among the connoisseurs of the genre. The same words would’ve been relevant to Hitodama's Return had it contained fewer vocal sections. Anyhow, the group is at its best when it totally gets rid of its influences, driving forward full-scale thematic development, such as on The Breach and the title track, both of which spotlight keyboard and – often distinctly heavy – guitar leads, building into majestic symphonic Prog-Metal, or on Melody of the Air-2, which, while free of any heavy elements, deploys some tasty Eastern motifs, at times even entering the RIO realm! Finally, Melody of the Air-3 is a ballad, only featuring vocals and acoustic guitar, but is rather tasty and original alike.
Conclusion. I believe most, if not all, of those who prefer moderately complex progressive rock music will be pleased with this album, albeit diehard fans of the Pink Floyd-style staff might be disappointed after entering its core part. As the group deploys a few different approaches to their sound, at times going to extremes in terms of complexity (recall Treebird and Melody of the Air-2), I have the impression that they’re still in the process of developing their style, but moving forward, that’s for sure. They only should concentrate on their own musical ideas and be deaf to any fashionable trends to get into the major league of the movement, at least as I personally see it.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: November 5, 2011
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