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The Skys - Colours of the Desert CD (album) cover


The Skys

Crossover Prog

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3 stars The leading Lithuanian band with this, their second album. I interviewed them earlier this year and they came across as a highly professional band with a vision and a drive to succeed. Something I am sure they will do with this album.

Crossover is the right word here. The Skys is perfectly comfortable outside the prog rock genre as inside our genre. This album is a crossover album in the true meaning of the word. Which makes this album a big mouthful. It is a big, big album.

Where do I start ?

Good question !

Seriously, where do I start ?!?

The music here crosses includes so many elements and genres it is difficult to really make a review here. Also mainly due to me reviewing it as a proghead I am. I am not that keen on commercial rock. A type of music that bores me to death & beyond. This album is a very commercial album to a large extent. No, it does not have any bubblegum teenybop hit singles. But it will appeal to the middle of the road rock/pop fan out there. So this album lifts itself out of the prog genre.

Music wise, The Skys has lifted a lot from Pink Floyd, post Roger Waters. I am thinking A Momentary Lapse Of Reason here. The sound, the wailing female vocals, the saxophone and the male vocals; this is the A Momentary Lapse Of Reason sound. Which worked well for Pink Floyd. They sold 10 mill of it and that sound is as popular as ever. The Skys has tapped into it and the result is very good.

Then they strays off into straight rock territory too. That does not go down that well with me. But The Skys also does a lot of modern rock with electronica and jazz ever present. That goes down very well with me. So does the few prog metal stuff here too. In short; this album taps into a lot of genres. Something that should go down well at the tills and in particular; at festivals and gigs. Because the music here is probably far better live than on record. Yes, I would not mind enjoying this band live on a festival. This band is a festival band, through and through.

The Skys uses both female and male vocals. Both are very good. They also uses the usual prog setup with bass, drums, guitars and keyboards.

The quality....... well, this album is such a big mouthful that it is hard to digest. It is kind of tucking into one of these two and half kilos big Texas beefburgers they sell in USA. And I have both my legs planted in the prog rock camp. This album does not, though.

This is difficult. Really difficult. I am tempted to award four stars. It is borderline four stars album. But a three and three quarters award will have to do. I may come back later to upgrade it, though.

If you like big melodic rock with one foot in the prog rock world and the other foot somewhere else, this is the album for you.

3.75 stars

Report this review (#557528)
Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Colours of the Desert is both a unique and impressive effort from leading Lithuanian progressive rock act The Skys. In addition to sporting a decidedly modern take on art rock, the band has also managed to incorporate various styles of jazz, rock, prog, and even touches of pop and soul into their distinct sound. You can definitely spot influences from Pink Floyd, Spock's Beard, and Marillion in their sound, but The Skys manage to retain their unique brand of neo-progressive art rock throughout the full duration of Colours of the Desert. There are also enough solid compositions here to keep most listeners coming back for more, and even though I wouldn't venture to call this an entirely flawless effort, it is a solid outing from this promising band.

While not all songs here are excellent, there are definitely a few great tracks found within this 57 minute album. "Colours of the Desert", "Lethal Kiss", and "Walking Alone" (the longest song on the album) especially stand out as fantastic pieces of music, and these are the three songs that I always remember most fondly when the album ends. "Is This the Way" and "Calling Out Your Name" are a bit too chorus-based for my tastes, even though they both have a few killer aspects. I especially like the former's keyboard playing and the latter's Pink Floyd-ish middle section. The David Gilmour-styled guitar solos throughout the album, matched with female vocal sections and occasional saxophone solos, do tend to give Colours of the Desert a significant Pink Floyd flavoring from time to time. The musicianship is also really impressive across the board, and I especially have to mention that the guitar solos performed throughout the album (by guests and full-time members) are spectacular.

I do think that Colours of the Desert would've benefited from a more professional production and a few more killer tracks, but this is generally a very solid offering of modern progressive rock from The Skys. People who take a liking to art rock that's both original and still accessible should definitely find plenty to love on Colours of the Desert. I'd say 3.5 stars are well-deserved for this impressive album.

Report this review (#584433)
Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Alone in the desert, one needs hope

The Skys are one of the leading progressive rock bands of Lithuania, active for over 15 years but with a line-up recently revamped. The release of the new and majestic "Colours of the Desert" should go a long way in attracting new fans outside of their homeland. Featuring a wealth of high profile special guests and an ambitious compositional attitude, this is an impressive hour of prog rock. Other reviewers have mentioned everyone from Floyd to Gathering to Renaissance to Eloy in attempts to describe their sound. As the band seemed amused by these assessments in their interview with Torodd, I'll add my own little nonsensical opinion and say the first comparison that popped into my melon was The Alan Parsons Project. So there.

"Colours of the Desert" falls short of being a masterpiece in my opinion, but it is a fantastically enjoyable and eclectic album. Well rounded, enthusiastic, and engaging melodic prog rock is what we get here, with a consistent theme being pursued: "So far this is our most mature album. It is about the journey to desert. At certain stages of our lives we all go to the desert. And desert is all around us - our cities, our daily lives desert may be inside and outside us. Desert is full of temptations, mirages, thoughts and conversations with yourself. However, each time we return from the desert we are different." -Jonas Ciurlionis, interview with PA

The music tries hard to capture the desert theme, in spots sporting various sound effects along with a slight Middle Eastern flavor. Along with the wide variety of lush sounds and light/heavy atmospheres at times it recalls something like Orphaned Land without the metal element. The weapons at their disposal here are many. The mix of male and female vocals is very effective and of good quality. The main male singer has this slightly gravelly Gabriel thing going, and the female voice is quite ethereal, mixed together and with the backing harmonies they can be wonderful. The tracks are packed with soaring guitar/saxophone solos and keyboards of many textures. Love the airy backgrounds, stately piano lines, acoustic guitars, and even a bit of strings. The rhythm section is suitably aggressive when the music demands it, but able to transition smoothly during the more laid-back moments. The all important quality of the songs is mixed but mostly pretty tasty. I like the ones which leaned eclectic more than the ones with repetitive, catchy chorus parts. The tracks which had the most mystery and mood, where you didn't know what would happen next, were the most exciting. As mentioned, the album reminds me of something like "I Robot" but with longer, sassier playing and a bit more oomph. I really like the fact that despite the obvious talent of the players, my attention is always on the beauty of the sound rather than clinical assessments of their technical prowess. In other words, the members are creating engaging sound rather than showing off.

There are so many talented eclectic/crossover prog bands out there now that the challenge for The Skys will be to get people to pay attention. A beautiful work. Between 3-4 stars but I enjoyed this enough to round it up.

Report this review (#596433)
Posted Monday, December 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars It never ceases to amaze me how music can make the world such a small place. I first heard from Jonas Ciurlionis back in 2006, when I was still in the UK and I reviewed 'Postmodern Game'. Now in 2012 I am reviewing the follow-up 'Colours Of The Desert' which has just been released on CD (it was available as a download last year) and I live in NZ, but Jonas, Bozena, Alexandr and Justines still live in Lithuania where they are recognized as one of that country's top bands. What is also interesting about this release is the quality of the guests who have been involved: Dave Kilminster (I think I have seen Dave in concert on at least three occasions, Roger Waters earlier this year, plus John Wetton and The Nice), John Young (ex-Scorpions, Bonnie Tyler, Greenslade) who also produced the album, Snake Davis (Eurythmics, P.McCartney, Ray Charles, James Brown, etc.), Martin Beedle (Cutting Crew, Sarah Brightman, etc), Tony Spada (Holding Pattern) and Anne Marie Helder (Mostly Autumn, Panic Room). Not bad for a band that have yet to make a huge impact on the wider prog scene.

I do say "yet" as it surely can only be a matter of time. This is a stonking album, with great musicianship and songs throughout. The most obvious comparison is probably with Pink Floyd, but there are also elements of Renaissance, Marillion and others. This is a group that is happy to playing complex intricate prog at speed, or weave a soundscape that beguiles and brings the listener in to its' embrace. The use of female and male lead vocal interplay is particularly effective and overall this is an uplifting piece of work that surely must get them more recognized on the global prog scene. If you enjoy progressive music then you can't afford to miss this as it hits all of the right buttons ? solid from start to finish and a delight to listen to. Not quite 5 stars, but bloody close.

Report this review (#813744)
Posted Saturday, September 1, 2012 | Review Permalink

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