This is the fourth album from Rotterdam based Sky Architect, following up 2013’s ‘A Billion years of Solitude’, and while 4 years may seem a long time to make a record, in this era of everything now and instant gratification it is wonderful to hear the sound of a band who have taken the time, and the energy to put some real thought into their music.
And real thought indeed, as while this is a musical pot pourri of sounds and influences, not so much crossing genres, but tearing down the musical boarders and playing what fits the song, let me answer the bloody annoying question that seems to be hitting every single internet forum for intelligent well thought our music, is it prog? No it isn’t, it’s far better than that.
I do despair sometimes of the current scene where old bands continue to milk their fans dry for every last penny (enamel badges anyone?) whilst new young vital bands like this almost slip under the radar.
This five piece of Tom Luchies (vocals/guitar), Rik Van Honk (keys/horns) Wabe Wieringa (guitars) Gus van Mierlo (bass) and Christiaan Bruin (drums and percussion) are one of those bands where you know they have spent so long working together that they play by instinct and feel, no note is wasted, and the way they musically spar and bounce of each other (like in the wonderful opener Wasteland for instance) brings a big smile to the face.
Endless Roads evokes elements of classic 70’s rock with it’s wonderful mix of guitar and horns, and some fantastic keys, whilst the propulsive percussion and production sound roots it in the contemporary, and the astonishing extended coda with the way the instruments work together is fantastic before the chorus kicks back in, it’s absolutely OK to be influenced by and pay a homage to certain sounds of certain era’s, and then make something new from it, which Sky Architect do with aplomb, it’s not OK to get stuck there and bring nothing new to the table.
The title track Nomad mixes some wonderfully squelchy synth sounds and a great beat, crossing jazz, rock and who knows what to pull together a wonderfully anthemic chorus, and in certain elements, reminds me very much of Ritual, another band who weren’t just pushing boundaries but tearing them down.
Dune shows that the band aren’t just talented instrumentalists but that they can also pull some big riffs out of the bag, and whilst I’ve not mentioned Tom’s vocals much, they are the glue that binds the songs together, and he has a great range going from the higher end for the anthems to being able to rock out, and it is one of those brooding songs that builds and builds, with some great guitar work, whilst the drum and bass anchors the sound, allowing the riffs to grow and grow until the whole band just kick in with another piece of complex and intricate music, that is the hallmark of their sound.
What I love about this band is that there is no obvious musical ego, no one person pushing themselves going ‘me,me,me’, it is all about the music, and whatever works best for the song, and on tracks like Sandwalker, with some sublime guitar playing to the fore, this shows that they are a band, and not just a front man and some session musicians, and the music is all the better for this. The great guitar riffs, and wonderful keyboard sounds make this song for me.
Race to the Sun is probably the ‘pop’ song on this album, being one of the shortest tracks, and it has some fantastic musical moments, with elements of harder rock and funky breaks making a perfectly fitting contrast to each part. In less skilled hands the counterparts would sound forced or jarred, with Sky Architect it just works.
The final track, the epic Into Singularity rounds this excellent album off in style, brings all the elements that make them such an exciting band together in one glorious blast of sound, with some amazing horn work and vocals, an absolute belter of a song that is allowed room to grow and build.
As a reviewer I love getting albums like this because it brings new music into my life, and refreshes me as I listen to something I have never heard before, and it also saddens me somewhat to know that whilst these bands are making amazing new music it won’t get anywhere near the attention that *insert name here’s * latest boxed set of recycled music that we’ve heard a thousand times before will get more likes and shares and purchases than fresh, vital and vibrant music like this.
Sky Architect are a joy to listen to, pulling together complex and intelligently written songs that bounce across genres with ease and joie de vivre, and are one to add to your must hear list.
Before being sent this to review, Sky Architect weren’t a name that had tripped into my play list before, and that has obviously been my loss, as I always say there’s only three types of music in this world, that which I like, that which I don’t like, and that which I’ve not heard yet, and I’m happy to move Sky Architect from the third list to the first category. I think you should too.
All band photographs by Maartje Dekker.
Released 16th June 2017
Buy ‘Nomad’ in Europe from FREIA Music: