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Sky Architect - Excavations of the Mind CD (album) cover


Sky Architect


Heavy Prog

3.89 | 301 ratings

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2 stars Excavations of the Mind is the 2010 album by the dutch band Sky Architect. I had a lot of expectations going in, mainly that this was going to be heavy, or interesting. I regret to report that is not the case. In all 51 minutes of this record, there was not a single interesting idea. I don't want to sound like I came in with the idea that I had to critically dunk on Sky Architect. There's just a weird dissonance between what PA thinks about this album and what I heard.

The opening suite is a nice microcosm of what's in store for you. There's some mellotron and atmospheric guitar that seems to want to develop into something intense. Instead we get the opposite, this weird sparse groove with no bass at first. They hammer this to death before going into a guitar solo section. I lied, at 2:15 there's something actually cool that happens, but just for a passing glance. The way this suite has a tendency to just toss out all momentum for something somewhat different is almost as annoying as the way it lingers on the worst parts of it way too long. Part 2 is essentially the same, and it passes so fast because of how forgettable it is. There's another great psuedo-peak at the end of pt 2, which fades into a piano interlude for the entirety of pt 3. Part 4 starts the "song" part, with actual singing (it's not good... more like aimless chanting). There are some moments that verge on something that Riverside has done throughout. I almost liked this song, then the "oh no, do stop! Get me out of here" hook happened. I can understand if there's some translation issues, but this is just about the worst prog hook I've ever heard.

The Grey Legend follows, which might be one of the best parts of this album. The singing is quite hairy on this, so if there was an instrumental version, I might actually like this song. It's not singing with character or conviction, which is really what the instrumental material demands. In effect, this is a 12 minute aural smear.

Sky Architect takes a detour to St Petersburg for some reason, and really gets in deep. I like that this song at least has the conviction to go for something and develop it, even if it's a cheesy russian pastiche. The double time part with horns is another highlight of this album. There's a guitar solo, and then it slows down and ends.

Title track time. Another deceptive opening that screams "something awesome is about to happen" that literally never happens. It picks up, but the way it does it just diffuses the energy. They take this riff and hammer it to death before going into another cliche odd time part and switching immediately to acoustic guitar. The first verse has something atmospheric going, and then WHOOMP we're back into chaotic riffing mode. Then we go back to the same thing again, there's some more nice pleasant harmonies. The singer even says the name of the song, which is pretty important. He just sounds so bored and tired, and not in a good way. Some soloing happens, then it fades out without ever having said a thing to me.

I know I said the opening suite is a good microcosm for this album, but Gyrocopter is too, and it does it in 3 minutes. Cue angular piano riff. Cue addition of guitar, bass, and drums following the same riff. Repeat. Repeat again. Repeat again, but with more ride from the drummer. Follow the same groove, but then add a cool sounding guitar solo. Actually, this is the best guitar solo on this album. There's some variation in this cut time version of the riff, but then it just keeps on chugging. Then a second variation that seems to flirt with a king crimson larks-type thing. Then the opening riff again, some indecisive vocals. More repeating of the opening angular riff, but with an organ swell and make sure to turn that gain up. Repeat the ending tag twice, then do the same thing again like you didn't just do that. Then hit the final chord. End album. I could rewrite this song a million times based on this information, and you probably could too!

Somehow this album is highly rated on here, and I just don't understand why. The musicianship is there, at no point was I convinced that anyone other than the singer is not a good musician. The compositional framework of this album is its crutch and its biggest problem. It feels like there's absolutely no forward momentum, only this teetering motion between moments that should be heavy and moments that are quite boring. If you take small snapshots of this album, I could see how one could mistake this as a great album, but the lingering problem is how these parts come together. The only song that seemed to say anything consequential was Russian Wisdom, which is that they find Russia quite fascinating.

I say all of this with the intention to actually bring forth discourse on what this album is really. It's dishonest to the people who make music to just patch over glaring problems for the sake of progressive unity. I might just be alone in finding this album rather tedious, but I hope this at least brings something new to the table since this record is so acclaimed. I would love for Sky Architect to make another album, if just to have the chance to make a bigger statement. As for this album, I just can't see this being for anyone other than hardcore prog nerds.

mental_hygiene | 2/5 |


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