A while back i reviewed the first two releases from a really cool spacey, electronic dreampop band called Project Skyward. Really good stuff. Then their
website went down for a while, and i sort of thought that the band had broken up. But out of the blue, this full length album appeared in my mailbox: no press sheet, just a CD in a mailer. I guess it is in keeping with their "mysterious" image.... So here it is, the first full-length release from Project Skyward, and picks up where their two EPs left off. Overall, this is very similar to their previous work, so if you enjoyed that, you will enjoy this. Let me go over a few of the high points on this disc.
The album opens with Into the Orion Nebula, which is a wandering spacey instrumental with a killer beat. This is fine music, and i can sit and listen to this kind of stuff for hours. It sounds ultra modern, like i should be driving a hover car through downtown Atlanta late at night as i play it loud on the stereo. Good stuff.
The next tune, A Flash of Light, uses that tinkling rain keyboard
sound that i will always associate with the Eurythmics tune Here Comes the
Rain Again. It gives the song a hint of an 80s feel, as this is layered
with echoed guitar, a wonderful synth bass line, and dueling vocals. I especially
like the female voice here, as she lays down a nice ethereal vocal line. The
beat is also rather nice, a crunchy little thing buried underneath the layers
of keys and guitar and voice.
And the album goes from there, combining elements of electronica (the rave beat in Blind) with shoegaze (especially the guitar line in Distant Blue) to great effect. The male vs. female counterpoint vocals really work. And there is even a version of their epic Shine here, although sadly not the remix version i liked so much on the
second of their EPs.
They even have another truly epic track added to their catalog here, a tune called Between Two Worlds. This song builds slowly out of very old school sounding synths that honestly remind me of the synth tones in the movie Flash Gordon (he'll save every one of us!). It grows and grows, adding multiple layers of synth, keyboards, and guitar to wonderful effect. Project Skyward work very well in this long, swelling song format.
One other tune stands out to me: An Afternoon in Sedona. I like this brief instrumental because it sounds a lot like a Seefeel tune. That is, there is a nice drum sample looped over echoed guitar and wavering key tones. Very nice.
My only complaint with this album is that, towards the end, some of the songs
get a little generic sounding. That is, they don't add anything to the Project
Skyward sound, and actually sound like they were working from a formula (or
perhaps a limited set of samples) to make few extra tunes to flesh out the
album. Now, on repeated listens on headphones, there are some interesting things
going on there, especially The Alien, which sounds really creepy on
headphones, but the creepiness is so subtle that when i play it on the big
stereo, the tune just sounds unremarkable. The last quarter of the disc is
like that, and listeners who aren't patient will be disappointed. Overall though,
this is a rather solid album that i enjoy muchly. Fans of electro shoegaze
will need to pick this up.