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Nine Skies - The Lightmaker CD (album) cover


Nine Skies



4.03 | 38 ratings

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4 stars A collection of six uniquely individual full-length songs and two short instrumental expressions, all expressly (and quite skillfully) composed with the intention of representing several archetypical roles or conditions common to the human experience.

1. "An Fanai (Intro)" (2:46) wind noises. Weave of picked acoustic guitar and glockenspiel-like instrument slowly fade in to take over. Nicely melodic yet interestingly discordant at key moments. Fades out on the other side of the pan (right). (4.5/5)

2. "The Explorer" (6:13) opens like a sensitive SATELLITE song with church organ and sensitive male voice singing before the full band bursts into a complex weave of full progginess. At 1:30 all bombast ebbs away leaving delicate piano, synth wash, and eery female vocal "swipes" while Riccardo Romano continues singing in his perfect voice. At 2:30 Riccardo amps up his voice: a very smooth and effective (and kind Peter Gabriel-like) transition. At 3:15 the full band jumps back in for a bit but then disappear for some guitar and strings behind Riccardo's delicate, plaintive voice. At 4:28 an instrumental shift occurs into a more rhythmically-diverse motif while Riccardo also adapts before jumping into full voice with the band's re-amping in the beginning of the sixth minute. This is a very polarized song, dynamically, but, for some reason, it works. I think Riccardo's skill and proficiency is the key to that. A very well composed and realized song that reminds me of the passionate story of Breton's SEVEN REIZH's four-part rock opera about the magical stonecutter Enora in the land of Ys. My second favorite song on the album. (9/10)

3. "The Dreamer" (8:01) Very beautiful music with all instruments on ultra-delicate mode as raspy-voiced Martin Wilson sings his impassioned story. Nice guitar solo at the three minute mark before things dial down for a spoken word passage. Delicate weave returns for another verse of Dreamer Martin's story. Unfortunately, Martin's impressive edge is lost a bit in the chorus. Another nice lead guitar solo--this one better than the first--in the seventh minute. This actually plays out to the finish. Nice. My favorite song on the album. (14/15)

4. "The Chaotic" (7:21) a little more aggressive, but still quite bombastic music within which doubled up muted voices of two (or more) male voices semi-rap. Then regal stage-acting vocal performance (Laura Piazzai?) fills the third minute before the band returns to filling the sonic field with aggression as the muted men discordantly chant about "ego," "action," "fear," "intrusion" and the like. At 4:19 we tone things down for a sequenced synth track over which pitch- bending synth solos (Adam Holzman?) for a full two minutes--even while the music is ramping back up beneath him in the second minute. Angular chords and rapid fire guitar notes begin the arduous journey of taking us out of the synth world at 6:23 gradually emerging into a full on guitar-fest of hard rock 'n' roll to the finish. A weird and difficult-to- like/enjoy song--though I do appreciate the creativity involved with its conceptualization as well as the extraordinary skills necessary to pull it off. (13/15)

5. "The Lost" (9:19) Singing in a passionate raspy voice as Kristoffer Gildenlow does while riding exclusively over some fairly nondescript Spanish guitar play for almost three minutes is a tough call--especially when you're trying to please the ears & brain of someone like me who doesn't hear words/messages of the lyrics except in terms as another instrument in the mix. In fact, it's not until the seven-minute mark that the band fully commits to a full-metal jacket for the musical style being presented here--and even then the resultant effect is questionable at best. (The loud flange effect in the final minute may, in fact, be the best thing about this song.) (16.875/20)

6. "The Wanderer (Interlude)" (2:00) interesting choice of bass sounds to use within these eerie space-voices and their ghostly vocalise. (4.25/5)

7. "The Haunted" (11:32) Nice relaxed pastoral sound palette for the opening of this, with lots of time given to establishing several of the instrumental hooks, but then things switch completely into solo acoustic guitar picking to back the arrival of singer Charlie Bramald's Geoff Tate/Peter Gabriel voice. Some interesting motifs are inserted here and there giving the music a theatric suite-like feel. Unfortunately, the lyrics really do little to draw me in--do not seem deserving of the Peter GABRIEL/DOROCCUS (Babylon)-like delivery. And the rhythmic patterning of the song is a bit too constant and wavy for me--I find it annoying from the start but then to hear it maintained (even in delicate solo "classical" guitar-like passages) is almost cloying. At 8:45, after the last of these acoustic guitar solo motifs, a spacey atmospheric soundscape is established over which Charlie reads a long poetic passage about how and why he doesn't panic in the face of chaos and stress. This, unfortunately, is, for me, the best part of the song. (17.25/20)

8. "The Architect" (11:32) wonderfully delicate instrumental mix--almost jazzy--beneath Achraf El Asraoui's remarkably nuanced and sensitive vocal over the first 2:40. As the music ramps up into more dynamic realms Achraf's voice keeps pace--continues to be effective. The music looses a bit of my interest in these middle-sections, however, for me, this is the most interesting song on the album for its dynamic diversity, unpredictabilty and wonderful vocal performance. John Mitchell's guitar solo needlessly extended fails because he is not an emotionally-impactful, singer of heart-felt notes; he's a technical wizard, yet there is very little of his technical wizardry in this solo and absolutely none of the David Gilmour-esque magic that one would expect from this length of time dedicated to it. This is what I would call (excuse the pun) and epic fail! My third favorite song on the album. (18/20)

Total Time 58:44

I must say, the match-making of singer/vocalists with each song is quite masterful--especially for "The Explorer," "The Dreamer," and Charlie Bramald's poetry reading at the end of "The Haunted" as well as Achraf El Asraoui's wonderfully sensitive vocal in "The Architect."

B/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's modern music collection.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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