Skys, The: Colours Of The Desert
Colours of the Desert is the first time that I've encountered Lithuania's foremost Prog Rock act The Skys (not to be confused with the US electro-pop-rock outfit of the same name), although it is in fact the band's fourth album. Bringing together influences such as Pink Floyd (the strongest flavour), RPWL, Fish era Marillion and Eloy, The Skys have created a Neo-Prog album of quite some stature, with bold musical themes being boosted by intricate, yet grand arrangements. The album itself appears to be conceptual, with the desert and the life the passes through it being the central theme - something backed up by the cohesive nature of the music, which uses similar sections to Pink Floyd, or Misplaced Childhood era Marillion to link the songs and make them flow seamlessly from theme to theme.
The album starts inauspiciously, and I'd go as far as to suggest that the initial passage of the album's title track are completely underwhelming. It is a shame that such a convincing collection begins in such an unexciting manner. However things pick up quickly, with Arena like dynamics building the song through clever use of keyboards and a multi-vocal approach. Both guitarist Jonas Ciurlionis and keyboard player Bozena Buinicka provide vocals, with the male-female interplay adding depth to the excellently crafted guitar and keyboard themes. That said while both are interesting singers, Bozena is consistently outshone by the wonderful backing vocals courtesy of Anne Marie-Helder (Mostly Autumn/Panic Room). Helder isn't the only guest to turn up, with Roger Waters guitarist Dave Kilminster, Scorpions/Fish keyboard player John Young, Cutting Crew drummer Martin Beedle, Holding Pattern guitarist Tony Spada and Eurythmics/Paul McCartney saxophonist Snake Davis all adding their weight to an already excellent album. The band themselves are no slouches though, with Jonas combining with second guitarist Alex Liutvinskij and Bozena's keyboard to great effect across the nine tracks on show, while Justas Tamasevicius and Ilja Molodcov show great restraint and poise on bass and drums respectively.
What really raises Colours Of The Desert above the many albums that contain similar Neo-Prog ideals is the way that The Skys have created selection of music that really flows beautifully from start to finish, but in a way that still spins off on tangents to keep you completely focused on what is going on. The songs vary from introspective and atmospheric, to full on Neo bombast, with "Walking Alone" coming on like prime time Floyd, especially in the guitar solo, whereas "Calling Out Your Name" provides a gloriously catchy chorus that will see you singing the song's title long after the album has finished. "The Pyramid" takes things into a more film score like direction, with strings underpinning a poignant guitar line, while the saxophone and vocals take us deep into RPWL territory during closing track "What If?".
Colours Of The Desert is an album that improves with numerous listens, maturing and enthralling as you become more familiar with it. I'm off to become even more acquainted right now!
1. Colours of the Desert
2. Is This The Way?
3. I... He...
4. Walking Alone
5. When the Western Wind Blows
6. Calling Out Your Name
7. The Pyramid
8. Lethal Kiss
9. What If
Added: March 23rd 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Skys Web-Site
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|Skys, The: Colours Of The Desert
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-03-23 11:35:03
Life is like crossing a desert. It can be difficult at times and there are many obstacles in the way and like the Lithuanian band The Skys, we will persevere. The Skys have been around for almost twenty years now and are still somewhat unknown in progressive rock circles which is a real shame. Their first album Postmodern Game was released in 2004. This review is of their 2011 effort Colours of the Desert.
The Skys are one of the better Lithuanian bands I have heard in what is becoming a pretty hot market in the world of progressive rock. In the band are Jonas Ciurlionis (vocals, guitar), Bozena Buinicka (vocals, keyboards), Alexandr Liutvinskij (guitar, backing vocals) and Justinas Tamasevicius (bass). There are also many guests including the splendid voice of Anne Marie Helder (Panic Room).
From the cover (has an Hypnosis feel to it) to the music, this album has Pink Floyd written all over it. This may be good or bad depending on your point of view. Personally, I am really digging this one.
The title track starts the record in excellent fashion with a gentle space-like intro and Pink Floyd style acoustic guitar. The riffs get heavier with cool acoustic breaks and synths used for atmosphere before the song takes the occasional twist and turn to keep the listener on their toes. More stellar lead guitar and nice female backing vocals conclude this excellent piece of art rock/prog. My only complaint is the lead vocals, which are quite nice but seem to be set too far back in the mix.
"Is this the Way?" continues with the Floyd vibe with lovely background vocals and some biting lead guitar.
"I…He…" has darker toned guitar riffs with pleasant female lead vocals. A very nice melodic tune with the riffs taking on an Eastern theme. In a perfect world these last two songs would have tremendous crossover appeal.
Another excellent tune is "Walking Alone", the longest track here. The Gilmour influenced guitar work is one of the main highlights throughout the disc and this is one of the best examples. Dark Side of the Moon anyone?
"Calling Out Your Name" is another slice of catchy rock with a strong a '80s Yes sound, particularly in the vocals during the chorus. Nice organ and background vocals as well.
It is hard to believe just how much quality music is being produced these days and The Skys are a prime example. Their music is not as complex as many other bands but that's not what this band is about. Colours of the Desert is an excellent platter of art rock with enough progressive moments to make this very enjoyable from the first note to the last.
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