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Nine Skies - The Lightmaker CD (album) cover


Nine Skies



4.03 | 38 ratings

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5 stars Album number four for this talented band from Southern France, who found the bravery and the will to soldier on after the unfortunate passing of Eric Bouillette, who was not only a tremendously gifted multi-instrumentalist but also a wonderful person with loads of personality. He will remain eternally forever more in our hearts, for all of us in our global little community. While their earlier recorded efforts were excellent in all facets, this one just blew the roof off the domed arena! The spirituality that emanates from one of life's most traumatic experiences such as the death of a loved one, has always been a source of profound emotion and intense creativity. With this opus, it becomes clear that there surely are nine skies, as there is undoubtedly a seventh heaven. When people new to prog ask me, somewhat mockingly at times, "What is so special about Prog?", my perennial answer through the past half century has always been: It is a soundtrack to a movie that is playing in your mind, where you are the producer, director, and cinematographer, and you decide how if makes you feel". The theme of this ceremonial tribute to life has been studiously expressed by my esteemed colleague Lazland in his astounding review (visit There is no room or need for repetition using synonyms. The only thing I would add, is that just reading the various titles of the chosen lives among the 1001 suggested by the expansive Rudy premise, it becomes apparent that each mature individual who has lived (or continues to do so) a full existence , would have at one time or another, been a WANDERER, an EXPLORER, a DREAMER, an ARCHITECT and perhaps would also have been LOST and HAUNTED by the CHAOTIC experience. While paying attention to the story, I could not help being reminded of that Robin Williams movie 'the Bi-Centennial Man', as it also dealt with human eternity and its rather rare limitations. My teammate has done a painstakingly thorough track by track analysis, so I will defer my thoughts and words to his as they run absolutely parallel (it's a spiritual connection!). With well-chosen and seemingly enthusiastic guest vocalists for each track giving their finest performances, each life/track has its own unique inherency, and the ensuing passion and overt intimacy is simply beyond mere utterances. As with all great classic prog albums, the audition is an introspective journey, a surrender to the senses that requires channeling out all the outer distractions and concentrating on the rush of emotions, the adamant warmth of exquisite melodies and the expertise of instrumental adornments that defy the laws of the routine. It takes one to a celestial level that cannot be explained and frankly, should never even be attempted. Anne-Claire Rallo, Alexandre Lamia, David Darnaud, Achraf El Asraoui, Alexis Bietti and Johnny Marter have created a musical masterpiece that every progfan should endeavour to listen to, and surely own as it's a mantelpiece urn of utter beauty. The presence of gifted guests such as Adam Holzman, John Mitchell, Kristofer Gildenlow and Marco Minnemann, as well as incredible singers like Riccardo Romano, Charlie Bramald, Laura Piazzai, Martin Wilson, and Arnaud Quevedo stamps this with dripping crimson wax of quality and will certainly sit at Everest levels in the 2023 prog album lists. Beautiful cover art, pristine sound, a deeply profound story, and great performances will do that without much resistance.

Finally, I only wish to steer the spotlight towards the final two 11-minute plus epics that encapsulate the reason why this recording will go down as one of the very best of the new millennia. The majestic "The Haunted" is an intoxicating lament that is the owner of an off the charts vocal from Charlie Bramald, dripping with unabashed emotion and suave sensation, a crystalline electric guitar lead that scours all nine skies, and some solid atmospheric foundations. The ebb and flow is astounding, what with the mid-section eschewing classic an old school Genesis feel (acoustic pastoral guitar amid the fluttery bucolic canvas), where no panic is to be demonstrated, just wise advice and a sense of overcoming the anguish of fear, verging on a eulogy to the departed. The equally imposing "The Architect" is a solidly built structure of sound and melody, atmosphere, and passion. With the athletic Minnemann on drums and Mitchell on his trusted guitar, Achraf is inspired to deliver a suppliant vocal that also incorporates some pungent narration, as it launches from serene beginnings and detonates into symphonic bombast that gets weightier as the structure solidifies into shape. A moment of shimmering reflection as to verify the status of the construct, Mitchell expressing his inner Hackett with fluid lines that exude grace and elegance, slowly elevating the arrangement into an imaginary upward vortex of ecstasy. I mean, wow! Yes. Stellar like the stars in the universe. Yes, essential like the air that gives life. Don't be a sinner and forego the pleasure of having this marvel at your disposal.

5 Provencal Luminosities

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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