Sky Architect - Excavations Of The Mind review
|Album:||Excavations Of The Mind|
|Release date:||July 2010|
01. Deep Chasm Part I: Charter
02. Deep Chasm Part II: Chime
03. Deep Chasm Part III: Changeling
04. Deep Chasm Part IV: Chasm
05. The Grey Legend
06. Russian Wisdom
07. Excavations Of The Mind
This, here, simply put, is the best prog album of 2010. In my opinion, of course. But, hey, who are you to judge my opinion? It is more likely you have heard neither of Excavations Of The Mind album nor the band called Sky Architect. For, you see, this is the début release of this band from Netherlands. And, I tell you, this is some mighty brilliant statement in the world of symphonic prog. And this is not a conclusion I have come to often in recent years. So, go grab your copy now and start listening to it already!
Still reading?! Well, for those of you unconvinced by the introduction I guess I'll have to beat about the bush for a while and say essentially the same thing, only longer, much longer. I'll start off with a warning, though. If you are a fan of power-prog, or something extreme-sided, you might want to save your time, as it won't probably appeal to you. What we have here is symphonic prog, steering in the calmer waters. It's not symphonic like what the world of metal has come to know through symphonic bands like Therion, After Forever, or others. This here is symphonic prog of the heyday, in modern coating with influences from the best. Sky Architect are not Dream Theater, or Pain Of Salvation, or Opeth. They are far from Symphony X. They are not Porcupine Tree, or Riverside either. They are, however, a skilful blend of excellent song writing, masterful playing, and a balance of the best influences of the prog scene.
But before I go on to praise this album more, a small background check. As I already said, the band comes from Netherlands. What is of interest here, is that guitarist Wabe Wieringa, keyboard player Rik van Honk, and drummer Christian Bruin formed the band as an instrumental rock trio while studying at the Pop Academy in Rotterdam. Only later did they team up with Tom Luchies on vocals and guitar and Guus van Mierlo on bass to become Sky Architect of today.
So, what I want to bring to attention here is that there's formal musical education to be found in the band. And you know what, I think it shows. Firstly, it has resulted in an album that flows very naturally. Melodies hitting all the right notes, changes, vocals, instrumental passages - all fit together perfectly. Secondly, and more importantly, Sky Architect are a band that write music. No, that needs a capital letter - they write Music. Nothing is there just for kicks. It's all been put together to form whole and complete songs. All the bits and pieces revolve around the main theme that is the backbone of a song, revolving around and building a song that feels whole and complete. And while the album is by a rough estimate half instrumental, it never is plagued by a feeling of showing off, a trap so many prog bands fall into.
While the general mood of the album is a bit of a gloomy one, there's lots of variation to be found in the details. Excavations Of The Mind is a layered piece of art; varying guitars, keys, piano, Hammond - all add layers to peel off. On top of that, the band successfully and often unnoticeably vary not only the course of the songs but the way instruments are played, employing different techniques on their instruments. Again, something that might possibly have to do with formal education. And the result is that the whole album feels like a complete work, while the comprising songs are ever-changing underneath.
What is also of interest, is that Sky Architect can equally well pull off long as well as short tracks. They've got a knack for all of it. It all fits together. The middle part of "Chime" where it really kicks off, or the middle instrumental passage of "The Grey Legend," or the end solo of the title track - all are brilliant instrumental executions that support the long tracks. While counterweight is being offered by a moody fun piece "Russian Wisdom," and just plain awesome "Gyrocopter" which is short and honestly straight to the point.
Seeing how much I've already talked about it and knowing that in my current state of affection towards this album I am probably nowhere near the end of writing, I'll draw the line here. In conclusion I'll say that by the end of the last year I was kind of missing the Whoah! moment. This here, Excavations Of The Mind, has been my 2010 revelation. Now, just go listen to it already!
Written on 07.01.2011 by
I shoot people.
Sometimes, I also write about it.
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