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(57:18, ‘The Skys’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Colors of the Desert 7:33 2. Is This the Way 3:57 3. I-He 4:29 4. Walking Alone 9:33 5. When the Western Wind Blows 6:15 6. Calling out Your Name 8:21 7. The Pyramid 7:28 8. Lethal Kiss 6:39 9. What If 3:03 LINEUP: Jonas Ciurlionis – guitars; vocals Aleksandr Liutvinskij – guitars Justinas Tamasevicius – bass Bozena Buinicka – keyboards; vocals With Martin Beedle – drums Snake Davis (Paul McCartney) – saxophone David Kilminster (Roger Waters) – guitar Tony Spada (Holding Pattern) – guitar John Young (Fish) – keyboards Anne-Marie Helder (Mostly Autumn) – vocals
Prolusion. I only can state here that “Colours of the Desert” is the latest release by the Lithuanian outfit THE SKYS, as the CD arrived without a press kit. I have a heavy working schedule and therefore have no extra time to browse the web looking for what a band itself should provide me with to be properly introduced. I’m also not the one to fall into euphoria when seeing a set of more or less well-known musicians listed in a CD booklet as special guests – it's not a big deal today to pay one and ask him or her to play or sing something and then exchange musical files via the Internet.
Analysis. On the four tracks that the album begins with, its title piece, Walking Alone, I-He and Is This the Way, The Skys appears as quite a strong Eloy-style outfit, playing classic symphonic Space Rock – at its best on the former two items where the band develops some interesting, at times highly intriguing arrangements, the synthesizer workouts particularly great. The compositions are very much like classic Eloy. As well as those of his female cohort, Frank Bornemann’s characteristic vocals are imitated finely (only with more accented English than his), as also are his guitar parts, Detlev Schmidtchen’s keyboard and Klaus Peter Matziol’s bass ones alike. Everything is imbued with Eloy’s spirit, and only someone’s (David Kilminster’s most likely) guitar playing or rather shredding reminds me of Joe Satriani. Indeed, for the most part the influence begets near-plagiarism, but on the disc opener it from time to time serves as a springboard for something really innovative – a feature unavailable on either of the other compositions. All in all, even though none of the three tracks that follow the title one are on a par with it (yes, even Walking Alone), the band is undoubtedly operating in the legendary group’s shadow almost all over the first half of the album. As to the rest of it, however, although the musicians are certainly all the same, they seem to be a different band here, a lot more accessible and a lot less varied. The focus now is ballad-oriented with sometimes extended, yet mostly plain, instrumental sections. Only two of the following five pieces, The Pyramid and Lethal Kiss, reveal some truly interesting moments, namely the Flamenco- and Arabian music-inspired acoustic guitar solo on the first and the last of them respectively, but while the former solo is effectually interwoven with the basic-style arrangements, the latter is only accompanied by percussion and female vocalizations, the stuff building over a few minutes with an emphasis on repetition. To put it in a more precise way, The Pyramid sounds like an Eloy-style ballad (a simple, yet graceful one) throughout. Lethal Kiss does so within its first half; then, about 3:30 into its almost 7-minute duration, it is transformed into a sort of ambient world-music pattern which, while obviously overextended, never changes its initial outlines (save the fact that the musicians accelerate their pace closer to its finale), and then the tune’s introductory vocal theme returns to finish it up. When the Western Wind Blows and What If are very simple ballads, using a sax as one of their soloing voices which only total two, though, in both cases. Within the pieces’ vocal sections the band is still faithful to its main passion, otherwise paying tribute exclusively to Pink Floyd. After a typically Eloy-ish intro with acoustic guitar, piano and female vocals the first of them eventually opens up into a relatively long instrumental section – quite a monotonous landscape on which an electric guitar draws simple figures of a bluesy nature. The latter track sounds like Frank Bornemann & Co doing their own, simplified, version of Us & Them from “Dark Side of the Moon”, which comes across as a double forgery. Another filler, the 8-minute Calling out Your Name is a cheesy, heavily monotonous AOR thing with an extremely primitive (verse/chorus) vocal storyline and is trash in the end.
Conclusion. After re-exploring some of the classic creative legacy of Eloy’s, the band has run out of ‘new’ ideas, most of the time sounding stale in all senses. It would’ve been much better if only the first four tracks here along with the seventh one had been used. Then the album would have lasted for about 34 minutes, but would’ve been at least cohesive in composition and style.
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