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SKY CRIES MARY

Crossover Prog • United States


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Sky Cries Mary biography
US outfit SKY CRIES MARY can trace it's history back to 1986, when Roderick Wolgamott Romero first came in contact with performance artist Anisa (later Anisa Romero), sowing the seeds of a musical and personal relationship. Some European complications occured before this relationship bloomed creatively though, and the 1989 debut album Until the Grinders Cease was made with Roderick, John Auer and Ken Stringfellow. Matters were still somewhat complicated in 1990, and for the EP Don't Eat the Dirt Scott Mercado (drums), Alfred Butler (bass), Stephan Byron-Salit (guitars), Mark Ultra (tape AFX), Kevin McCoy (bass, guitar) and Jeff Guess (tape AFX) supplemented the original trio.

Fast forward one more year, and the release of a the EP Exit at the Axis is the first effort of Sky Cries Mary as more of a regular, US-based outfit. Sporting main man Roderick and aforementioned Anisa, with DJ Fallout (scratches, samples), Joseph E. Howard (bass), Bennett James (drums, percussions), Ivan Kral (guitars) and Gordon Raphael (keyboards) making up the rest of the line-up at this point in time.

By 1992 Kral was gone, replaced by Marc Olsen, and this slightly revamped line-up issued the first full length album by Sky Cries Mary as a band unit in 1993: A Return to the Inner Experience. Some more line-up changes was in store for the band though, as a result of the promotion and touring that followed the album release.

When This Timeless Turning was issued in 1994 Olsen and Howard were out of the band, replaced by Juano (bass) and Michael Cozzi (guitars). Tours in the Americas and Japan followed, they appeared on the Conan O'Brian show and had the honour of holding the first ever internet concert to boot. And as the band writes in their biography: 15.000 miles of truckstops. 1996: Even more truckstops.

Moonbathing on Sleeping Leaves follows in 1997, and is their first album for Warner Bros. This was followed by Fresh Fruits for the Liberation in 1998. Cozzi leaves the band the same year, and is replaced by William Bernhard for the 1999 EP Seeds. Shortly after the band decides to go on hiatus, as the individual band members have other projects they want to follow up at this point.

In 2004 they decide to get back together again, and after a legal dispute with their former label they are given back the rights to the band name, and in 2005 they release their first ever live album, the double CD Here and Now. In 2007 their first studio effort for...
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SKY CRIES MARY discography


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SKY CRIES MARY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
Until the Grinders Cease
1989
3.57 | 7 ratings
A Return to the Inner Experience
1993
3.63 | 8 ratings
This Timeless Turning
1994
3.20 | 5 ratings
Moonbathing on Sleeping Leaves
1997
5.00 | 1 ratings
Fresh Fruits for the Liberation
1998
3.40 | 5 ratings
Small Town
2007
3.63 | 10 ratings
Secrets of a Red Planet
2020

SKY CRIES MARY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
Here & Now
2005
3.05 | 3 ratings
Taking The Stage: Live 1997 - 2005
2011

SKY CRIES MARY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SKY CRIES MARY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 8 ratings
Space Between The Drops
2009

SKY CRIES MARY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Don't Eat the Dirt
1990
4.00 | 3 ratings
Exit at the Axis
1991
5.00 | 2 ratings
Seeds
1999

SKY CRIES MARY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Secrets of a Red Planet by SKY CRIES MARY album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.63 | 10 ratings

BUY
Secrets of a Red Planet
Sky Cries Mary Crossover Prog

Review by nick_h_nz
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I listened to a band called Low Pop Suicide, formed by Dave Allen (Gang of Four and Shriekback), and released by Allen's record label, World Dominion. I loved Low Pop Suicide and wanted to hear more from the World Dominion label. The first, and it turned out, only other band from the label I did listen to was Sky Cried Mary. That band was nothing at all like Low Pop Suicide, but they were incredibly impressive. I ended up owning three World Dominion releases from Sky Cries Mary, and their first on Warner Bros. For some reason, that WB release (Moonbathing on Sleeping Leaves) was the last I heard from the band. It is only after picking up the latest Sky Cries Mary album that I've found out the band released one more album on Warner Bros. and a further album in 1999 before breaking up. The band have had an on-again, off-again career since then, and this is their first full album of new material since 2007, as far as I can tell.

So, not having listened to Sky Cries Mary for many years, and not having heard how their sound may have changed since Moonbathing, what do I think of 2020's Secrets of a Red Planet? Well, I was initially quite shocked on first listen, but I've actually come around to thinking this is probably my favourite Sky Cries Mary album yet. And if this is a signal that the band is back, then I'm happy to go along for the ride and can't wait to hear what's next on the journey! Or, should I say trip, for Sky Cries Mary remains a glorious progressive mix of psychedelic and trance. I admit I've never taken drugs of any kind, other than those prescribed by a doctor, but for my non-addled mind (at least non-addled by drugs, as I've never been known as "normal") this is a trippy delight, and it's so easy to get lost in the music. I can leave this album on repeat very happily.

The first thing I noticed when listening to the album, is that the upbeat electronic and trip-hop elements of the earlier Sky Cries Mary albums I know and love are almost entirely absent, or at least, subdued. This, I guess, is why I found the sound, as aforementioned, rather shocking. However, there was no doubting that this was the same band ? even though, once again the membership has changed. Like many bands that play this sort of psychedelic music, Sky Cries Mary are less of a band and more of a collective. There has always been a revolving door of members coming band going (including for some years, a certain Jon Davison who found more fame singing for Yes), but in this incarnation are still founding members, Roderick Wolgamott and Ben Ireland, so there is some continuity.

Also present, even if the female vocalist is different, are the wonderful male/female vocal harmonies. I really like Debra Reese's vocals, which I find very reminiscent of Norma O'Malley from seminal Dunedin (New Zealand) band Chug. From my experience of the band, Waves of Mourning started in an incredibly relaxed manner, but as soon as those characteristic dual vocals kicked in, in an almost ethereal chanting manner, I knew I was listening to the same band. The same, but different, and it's a difference after several repeated listens that has completely won me over. The song beguiles and enchants as the psychedelic factor increases over its seven and a half minute duration.

The following song, Die of Laughter, is even longer (almost twice the length), and this gives it ample opportunity to change throughout. It sounds almost chaotic and was born of improvisation, but it's an incredibly clever and almost structured chaos, if that makes sense. There's a lovely collision of the English psychedelia of Pink Floyd and American psychedelia of The Doors, wrapped up in the more modern psychedelic sounds of Porcupine Tree. The guitars of Kevin Whitworth and Jack Endino can be quite intense, with lots of meanderings into quirky and spacey noises along the way. This is definitely another trip, with only the drums of Ben Ireland seeming to keep things in check. There's an awesome extended instrumental passage that comes in about halfway through which crescendos then falls away with only two or so minutes of the song remaining before it rises again for the final vocals. In fact, because of this instrumental passage alone, Die of Laughter might be my favourite song.

The short Intermezzo that follows is an entirely necessary comedown. I say short, but at three and a half minutes that's a fairly lengthy interlude. In no way is it filler though, and I definitely enjoy it. After the pounding of Die of Laughter, the more subdued sounds of Intermezzo are a welcome relief. It's not a track that would necessarily work in isolation, but in context it is perfect ? like the sorbet that cleanses one's palate between courses at a restaurant. In addition, it helps bridge the gap perfectly between the quite disparate sounds of Die of Laughter and Trapeze Dancer.

Now here is my biggest surprise. Trapeze Dancer is easily the song most similar to the Sky Cries Mary that I was used to. For that reason, it was the first song that really took my fancy when I initially listened to the new album. And if you're listening to the band for the first time and wanting an indication of their earlier sound, this is a good place to start. And yet, as much as I still definitely love this song, it's gone from being my favourite on Secrets of a Red Planet to my least favourite! But if this is my least favourite, that only goes to show the overall quality of the album as this is still a great song. The vocals of Debra Reese soar over the top of those of Roderick Wolgamott, taking the song with her as the listener floats away with the psychedelic guitar runs and drum fills. It's another long number, so again expect quite a few changes along the way. I'm reminded again of Porcupine Tree with this song, particularly the second half, which is somewhat reminiscent to Voyage 34 (to me ? your mileage on this trip may vary), before the chanting of the final minute or so.

I suspect Drunken Pilot may be too much for a lot of listeners. Not because it is too heavy or brutal (this is psychedelic trance, remember), but because it is so minimalist, and if anything more indicative of a bad trip than a good one. The vocals become more and more manipulated, and less and less harmonious. The instrumentation, what little of it there is, becomes equally more and more desperate and disturbing. I have a feeling it's not meant to be an entirely pleasant listen, but I guess I may be a masochist because I love it!

The final track, Born From My Mouth, is far more appealing though, and Curt Eckman's bass introduction to the song, while still fairly minimalist, is entirely groovy. And if you were not already aware of the more upbeat nature, some birdsong is added, and it's a lovely touch. From there, we are slowly and steadily taken into the Šther. The vocals are the softest and most ethereal so far. I'm reminded of So Gently We Go by I Mother Earth, and it's definitely a gentle, if very spacey, groove. This is probably the catchiest song on Secrets of a Red Planet, and the most accessible. But just in case you were wondering why it wasn't the opening track for that reason, the song blasts off at the halfway mark, jettisoning any pretence of gentleness. This is a perfect closing number, and the crescendo and climax provide a truly glorious final passage.

And it's straight back to the beginning for me. When Born From My Mouth ends, I find it incredibly difficult not to hit play all over again. Once I'm in the groove, I really don't want to leave it. And as much as I've enjoyed previous Sky Cries Mary releases, I've never felt that compulsion before. There's something terribly addictive and enjoyable about this release. It's a more mature Sky Cries Mary, but aren't we all after 30 or so years? I suspect I wouldn't have enjoyed this so much in the 1990s, but I love it now. I also suspect many people probably still get more enjoyment from Sky Cries Mary with a little assistance from certain illicit substances, but I find my mind enjoyably bent with the music alone. More where this came from, please!

 Secrets of a Red Planet by SKY CRIES MARY album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.63 | 10 ratings

BUY
Secrets of a Red Planet
Sky Cries Mary Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars US band SKY CRIES MARY has a career that stretches back to the tail end of the 1980's, and were active in their first phase of existence until sometime around 2010. A few years back a new version of the band was formed, and earlier this year they released their first album of new material since 2007. The album is called "Secrets of a Red Planet", and was issued through US label Trail Records in the spring of 2020.

"Secrets of a Red Planet" strikes me as a fine comeback album and a good way for the band to kick off the next phase of their existence. A bit rough around the edges, maintaining some of their core traits while also arguably moving closer to what relatively traditional improvisation based space rock bands are doing. Hence fans of space rock bands as outlined as well as existing Sky Cries Mary fans strikes me as a likely key audience for this band as of 2020.

 Secrets of a Red Planet by SKY CRIES MARY album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.63 | 10 ratings

BUY
Secrets of a Red Planet
Sky Cries Mary Crossover Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Never ever expected! For quite some years the band's trademark was presented due to the congenial front couple Roderick and Anisa Romero, no doubt ... but then they unfortunately divorced. After that SKY CRIES MARY occasionally appeared live on the stage, a regular studio album though seemed to be far away. Now finally in 2020 the renewed band line up was capable of creating a fantastic rebound, featuring rather extended tracks, yeah! Debra Reese is dedicated to fill the position of the appropriate female singer now. Partially the vocals are departing from the known familiar standard to a way more spaced out expression. And the compositional and instrumental scope is enhanced, strikes more than ever I would say. Concerning that I suspect Ben Ireland (drums, keyboards) has a bigger share than ever, for the good of all.

'A cosmic telepathy of sorts evolved our music into orchestral compositions' he tells us. The band intensively goes progressive psychedelic here at any rate. Spacey synths all over, some hidden treasures given, which solely unveiled after several listening sessions. The Drunken Pilot for example is shifting them into really new wayword dimensions. Curt Eckman on the bass as well as both guitarists Kevin Whitworth and Jack Endino are delivering an excellent job too. Trapeze Dancer comes a bit triphop infected. Finally Born From My Mouth somehow sounds like a fruitful collaboration with Robbi Robb. With more than 50 minutes of playing time this album is a recommended sonic journey. Probably you may meet somebody who will claim that the psychedelic space genre is running out of spirit. Just introduce him/her to this item. 4.5 stars.

 Taking The Stage: Live 1997 - 2005 by SKY CRIES MARY album cover Live, 2011
3.05 | 3 ratings

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Taking The Stage: Live 1997 - 2005
Sky Cries Mary Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars US outfit SKY CRIES MARY has been around for 25 years at the time of writing, with a string of albums from the late 80's and throughout the 90's that saw them build a good-sized following. In the last few years the independent US label Trail Records has taken an interest in this act, issuing a compilation disc in 2009, followed by "Taking the Stage: Live 1997-2005" now in 2011. The latter item is a remastered version of the band's live recordings made between 1997 and 2005.

As far as progressive rock goes, this is a disc residing on the border between psychedelic art rock and indie rock. If you're a newcomer to Sky Cries Mary and have an interest in psychedelic music, I'd recommend getting hold of the compilation disc "Space between the Drops" rather than this live CD initially. But if you know and like the band, be it on a superficial level or as a dedicated fan, "Taking the Stage" is a production that can be recommended with ease. This is another high-quality production courtesy of the US label Trail Records, where the level of interest is determined by musical taste alone.

 Taking The Stage: Live 1997 - 2005 by SKY CRIES MARY album cover Live, 2011
3.05 | 3 ratings

BUY
Taking The Stage: Live 1997 - 2005
Sky Cries Mary Crossover Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

3 stars SKY CRIES MARY are an insiders' tip when it comes to rock music coupled with the emphasis on a spacey atmosphere and exceptional vocals Trail Records already had masterfully produced the band's studio compilation 'Space Between The Drops' in 2009 ... so consequently they were also entrusted with the task to elaborate this new one. Cover art is carefully designed by Alexander Tsalikhin and Vlad Milyavsky again. New album does not mean new song material, to make it clear - here we have a collection of live settings, most of it already placed on their sold out double album 'Here & Now', so that points to recordings around 2004/2005 on different locations.

The first two tracks however were taken some years before in 1997 by Krist Novoselic(!). Taking The Stage represents a more straightforward rocking behaviour. The band featuring Ben Ireland (drums). Michael Cozzi (guitar), Juano (bass) and keyboardist Todd Robbins celebrate a short warm-up first, until the Romeros - attended by applause - finally enter the stage. The following Rain then is band typical, speaking of the implemented cosmic vibe, especially due to the gilmouresque guitar and interesting synthesizer gimmicks. Cornerman belongs to their top songs by all means, now additionally featuring William Bernhard and Jill Wangsgard, both are alternating on keyboards and guitar. This, when necessary, guarantees a really lush sound.

Don't Forget The Sky expresses extraordinary vocal presence. As for the main chorus Anisa cares for the lead voice with celestial sentiment where Roderick backs a bit restrained. In between the band jam a little. A brillant implementation which shows great spirit. I would also point out Want in the same breath. The trippy flow - soaring guitar, keyboard patterns sounding like strings respectively mellotron, wow ... and the Romeros are acting with great harmony again. While rocking the venue with much dynamic Elephant Song is leaving the common path a bit. Roderick undertakes the lead, his vocals are more of recitative though.

The Ant, The Stars, The Owl And Its Prey convinces with nicely interacting guitars and finally they add an interesting remake of The Mamas & The Papas song California Dreamin' as a bonus track - the sole studio outake and previously only digitally available via download. It all proceeds in an hallucinogenic ambience first and definitely takes some time to recognize this very popular melody.

The compositions are not of a complex respectively experimental nature mostly, so this may not challenge every die-hard prog music lover. SKY CRIES MARY are unique though in any case, those dual vocals at foremost, however the band's instrumental section alone is worth it at all events. Furthermore on 'Taking The Stage' you can listen to songs reworked with top-notch audio quality, so this overall is a real treat if you like dreamy rock songs presented by a technically skilled band - 3.5 stars.

 Space Between The Drops by SKY CRIES MARY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2009
4.00 | 8 ratings

BUY
Space Between The Drops
Sky Cries Mary Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A really nice and at times stunning compilation of tracks from the long career of this US band.

Sophisticated, dreamy compositions is the name of the game for this ensemble seemingly, with drawn out psychedelic tinged guitar licks and soloing as something of a key feature alongside the dual male/female lead vocals.

Rhythms are either subdued and meditative like the rest of the compositions or more energetic, the latter often with world music touches, and symphonic backdrops are used to good effect on select occasions.

While the musical canvas the band explores is a somewhat limited one, at least on this compilation, there's a high degree of sophistication to their dreamy excursions, and on tracks like opener Cornerman and the following Elephant Song the end result are stunning creations, managing to utilize subtle sophisticated features to perfection to create intriguing songs as well as interesting moods and strong atmospheres.

Those who enjoy the dreamier parts of the back catalogues of acts such as Hawkwind and Pink Floyd should investigate this outfit, if they haven't already.

 Space Between The Drops by SKY CRIES MARY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2009
4.00 | 8 ratings

BUY
Space Between The Drops
Sky Cries Mary Crossover Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars SKY CRIES MARY are driven by US couple Anisa and Roderick Romero. Formed in the late 1980s they work out ethereal dreamy (rock) songs often provided with exceptional vocal harmonies. Before I got this album the band was unknown to me - a new surprise quasi. While the Romeros are responsible for songwriting, lyrics and vocals they have excellent musicians alongside. 'Space Between The Drops' is a new compilation including their most spacey/trancy output so far - eleven tracks, predominantly already published material, but some songs are even new.

Starting with Cornerman they immediately catch you with an intriguing hypnotic behaviour. Interesting delayed drums are striking and a stoic bass which rarely gets out of control. Triphop adapted tricky effects, above all male/female vocals and guitars which are lost in reverie. The Elephant Song is puzzling because up-tempo and ponderous at once where Rain convinces with top-notch keyboard work speaking of decent organ, synth and sparkling piano.

The album's gem is Four AM - a 15 minute trippy cosmic example. It all starts similar to a typical soundcheck of a space rock band when opening the performance. Ambient keyboard patterns are initiating and after a while it all fades into a relaxed flow which I really like. Anisa's extraterrestrial vocals give me the shivers really, supported by a sensitive guitar work, obviously inspired by Pink Floyd. Okay, this is applicable for nearly every second album in the meanwhile. But this time they really make it, believe me.

Then I should mention the extended version of Want - initiated by a nice percussion drive - another worthy candidate for the album's crown comprising a cool bass. This is so melancholic and catchy - but dramatic pure as well! Gliding follows as an example for a mainstream psych folk orientation and Missing finally appears with two differing sections - the first wraps you up in a charming dreamy mood supported by trumpet and the second is folksy with acoustic guitar and accordion.

This album features wonderful melodic songs, hand-picked from their comprehensive ouput, provided with excellent musicanship and passion for detail. It's the trippy atmosphere headed by charming vocals and a bunch of psychedelic guitars which strikes. So it could be easily considered as a best-of compilation if you ask me. Would really like to know how this works on a stage. Another big hit offered by TRAIL Records. Suitable for special laid-back moments you definitely need in your life ... and which not necessarily must be proggy the whole way through.

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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