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

EXCAVATIONS OF THE MIND

Sky Architect

 

Heavy Prog

4.01 | 216 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
5 stars "It's everything you feel right now."

"Excavations of the Mind" by Sky Architect is an incredible labyrinthine musical journey that merges so many styles into its 50 minutes of prog excess. Immediately I was in awe of the virtuoso musicianship and vocals. It is full on prog with no holds barred inventiveness throughout. It was love at first hear and I would say this is one of the finest albums of 2010. The sound is similar to Riverside, Haken or some Pain of Salvation. The jazz fusion influences blend with metal riffs and symphonic passages of sheer beauty. The vocals are easy to understand and are pleasant overall. The inventiveness o the band is astonishing. The glorious quivering Hammond sound, blistering guitar breaks, spacey keyboard phrases, pulsing bass and jazz drumming are all here in one tight package. And that is only the first track. It begins with such gentle vocals harmonised perfectly; "dice games in my head, vice versa or to be me, locked between these wall of eyes and friendly paranoia." This is the unforgettable phrase that I couldn't get out of my head or days. The opening epic 'Chasm' is broken into 4 mind bending phases, and builds with King Crimson time sigs on piano and finally it ends with a narrative; "Now I can find my way out of my soul". "Oh no! Do stop, get me out of here" is repeated. It is very weird like Gentle Giant or Gong phrase.

Next is 'Grey Legend' with a hypnotic riff, and compelling lyrics; "He rides the shadows of your past, The lanes in your head, to the part, Where you cast out yourself at night, He's always there yet never here." Who is he? The lyrics are vague but I like the slowed down section with vocals "I look down on all you did, To all the things my life made sense, After you took control of all, The things you destroyed." The pace quickens and the lead guitar break is excellent. The band are incredibly tight changing time sigs constantly and a new feel towards the end changes everything delightfully. The melody at the closing section is haunting and creative.

'Russian Wisdom' is a rhythmic up tempo 4 bar track, with a wonderful mix of Hammond and wah-wah guitar phasing. The lead break in the intro is exceptional. It changes into circus jazz and a trumpet sound, very humorous, quirky and a bit like cardiac. The tempo slows considerably as the vocals begin, over an ambient dreamscape; "Green olives are closing in on me, It's a Sunday at a party in a morgue, Some Russian died, I don't care, Chance is I don't want to dare, To take that last green olive, Meteors will light the sky, Heavens will fall, oh my, Please don't tell me I'm just scared." After a while the song returns to another scorching phased lead break.

'Excavations Of the Mind' is next and it starts with an eerie melody on piano, reminding me of Atomic Rooster for a while. It finally locks into a very unusual time shift and a shimmering Hammond blesses my ears. An acoustic guitar drowns out a spacey effect, and some harmonies before the first verse. The melody is beautiful, hooking me instantly and caresses the ambience. The lyrics speak of the beauty of what we have right now is in our mind; "it's you in this freezing air, it's everything you feel right now." The time sig speeds into a frenzied chaos and then returns to the slow tempo effortlessly, and more vocals about "trouble on a highway", and "dreams of your empty lost." The next section is psychedelic prog. It then changes to a fractured signature, and an instrumental break of organ, acoustics, fuzzed guitar blasts, strong percussion, and then a lead guitar break fades it out. The musicianship is stunning here, a real moment of the album.

Last song is 'Gyrocopter' with a great piano motif and bass and drum rhythm off sync beautifully. It breaks into a pitchy soaring lead guitar solo, and the bass is magnificent changing into a chaotic tempo. The lead guitar continues and it is joined by unusual instrumentation in a change in direction. The vocals are kind of phased like speaking through a megaphone about a gyrocopter "hot steel whirling" and "fiery engine gyro burning." It is so short I have to listen to it twice to gain fulfilment. What an incredible track and only 2 minutes 53 in length. That lead guitar is once again mind bending.

As soon as it is over I immediately want to hear the whole thing again. That's the marks of a masterpiece for me. I absolutely love every moment of this, and I can't bring myself to rate it less than 5 stars. It is everything I love about modern prog, strong melodies, amazing intricate time sig changes, shimmering Hammond, catchy guitar riffs, scorching lead breaks, pleasant melodic singing, thoughtful lyrics, throwbacks to the 70s, textures of dark and light and sheer full blown progressive creativity from start to finish. It is not often so many aspects of music are blended so perfectly. I can say that Riverside and Haken do it and now Sky Architect.

"Excavations of the Mind" is up there with the greatest 2010 albums without a doubt!

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |

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