Nine Skies - 5.20

Kev Rowland, Nine Skies - 5.20

This is the third album from Nice-based progressive rock band Nine Skies, but somehow, they have passed me by until now, even though I can see that quite a few musical friends of mine took part in their second release (Dave Foster, Pat Sanders, Clive Nolan, just to name a few). They also have some guests on this album, with Steve and John Hackett both involved as well as Damian Wilson singing on one song. The band itself is quite a large one, with Eric Bouillette (guitars, mandolin, violin, keyboards), Alexandre Lamia (guitars, keyboards), Anne-Claire Rallo (keyboards), David Darnaud (guitars), Achraf El Asraoui (vocals, guitars), Alexis Bietti (bass), Fabien Galia (drums, percussion), and Laurent Benhamou (saxophones) along with two more guests in Cath Lubatti (violin, viola) and Lilian Jaumotte (cello).

There may be a lot of musicians, but what surprises the listener when getting into this is just how pastoral and acoustic it is. The arrangements are key here, with the different instruments wonderfully spaced and a real feeling of lightness. It is a relaxed album which feels very English indeed, with piano and acoustic guitar often at the heart. The percussion is interesting as Galia has a wide remit and is often using hand instruments as opposed to a standard drumkit and this provides a different underlying feel. Achraf El Asraoui has a lovely voice, full of emotion, and he can easily move into falsetto when he feels the need which again provides the band with a bigger palette. There is no rush here, it is all about the music and it is an album where it is very easy indeed to get lost inside and is definitely one which benefits from being played on headphones with no distractions.

I find it interesting when looking at ProgArchives that although this has picked up some reviews, none have been from the official collaborators, yet with 49 ratings and four reviews this has a very healthy 4.0 average which has it at #5 of French releases from that year. There is both a simple complexity and a complex simplicity within this album which makes it thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, and the mellow pace and style really does make this an album to savour. I can see I am going to have to look backwards into their other releases as this really is a delight.

MLWZ album na 15-lecie