Sky Architect is the best kept secret of the Dutch prog scene. I know this is quite a statement, but it is true. Not so long ago I was attending the execution of the graduation project of two young Dutch musicians at the pop-academy in Rotterdam, guitarist Wabe Wieringa and multi-instrumentalist Christiaan Bruin. The guys surprised the present family, students, teachers, friends and press with a flaming gig of their band Sky Architect. That evening they also presented their debut album “Excavations Of The Mind” released on the Galileo Records label.
The foundation of the band are the three students Wabe Wieringa, Rik van Honk and Christiaan Bruin who were all three studying at the pop-academy in Rotterdam. Starting out as an instrumental rock-trio they were later joined by Tom Luchies and Guus van Mierlo, who completed the formation. Reviving the symphonic progressive rock style of the ‘70’s, they make music from the heart with a technical edge.
In the summer of 2010, Sky Architect set out to record a follow up for their debut album “Excavations of the Mind”. In the lovely woods of Sweden they found their new home, where their musical creativity felt no boundaries. The result: A stunning 76 minute long concept album telling the story of a man’s flight to redemption, entitled “A Dying Man’s Hymn”. The artwork is created by the famous rock-illustator Mark Wilkinson (Marillion, Fish, a.o.).
Tom Luchies - voice, electric guitars, slide guitar; Wabe Wieringa - electric & acoustic guitars; Rick van Honk - piano, clavinet, Hammond, other keys; Guus van Mierlo - bass guitar; Christiaan Bruin - drums, backing vocals
Guest vocals on “Woodcutters Vile” and “The Breach” by Maartje Dekker
At that special evening in Rotterdam these young musicians made quite an impression on me. First multi-instrumentalist Christiaan Bruin accompanied by some friends played some compositions of his project under the name Chris. At this time he has already released two solo-albums (“A Glimpse Inside” and “Making Sense”). He is a very talented young man, after playing keyboards and guitars he came back after the break to support his friend Wabe Wieringa on drums for his graduation project. That was the first time I witnessed a gig of Sky Architect and to be honest these guys blown me away. This year I did see them perform at a small festival together with the Belgian band Mindgames and the amazing band Anima Mundi from Cuba (concert of the year!). They played material from their new album “A Dying Man's Hymn”.
“A Dying Man's Hymn” is a concept album about a man’s flight to redemption. The album consists out of three suites; “A Rustle In The Wind”, “Death's Contraption” and “Dream: Revelation”. All those three suites are divided into three parts and every second part is entitled “Melody Of The Air” (“Expositio”, “Explicatio” and “Recapitulatio”). Is it a concept within a concept? I must ask the guys this when they have a gig in my hometown Apeldoorn next Friday.
“A Rustle In The Wind” is divided in the parts “Treebird”, “Melody Of The Air - Expositio” and “The Campfire Ghost Song”. After a aggressive opening “Treebird” develops into a song with delicate guitar and keyboard parts and melodic vocal lines sung by Tom Luchies. In the later part the band sounds more jazzy. In “Melody Of The Air - Expositio” you can enjoy melodic guitar parts that are supported by Hammond. Slowly the rhythm and tension of the music builds up to a beautiful ending with full Mellotron strings. “The Campfire Ghost Song” is the highlight of the first suite. A piece of music with a great diversity that is ending in a nice electric guitar solo. While listening to this first suite the names of bands like Focus, Gentle Giant and Echolyn crossed my mind. But the band is developing a unique own style. “A Rustle In The Wind” is a beautiful suite.
The second suite is entitled “Death's Contraption” and is divided in the parts “Woodcutters Vile”, “Melody Of The Air - Explicatio” and “The Breach”. This is the longest (more than 35 minutes) suite of the album and includes the most hectic and complex parts of the whole album. In “Woodcutters Vile” the hectic parts are combined with mellow parts with beautiful vocal lines (Tom is assisted by guest vocalist Maartje Dekker). In “Melody Of The Air - Explicatio” the mellow and atmospheric opening is followed by a hectic part that has some Echolyn/Gentle Giant influences. But later on the music reminds me of bands like Änglagård and King Crimson. This part ends with a soaring guitar solo. And then it is time for “The Breach” in which beautiful melodies are combined with heavy and sometimes very hectic instrumental parts. “The Breach” is an impressive piece of music. For me the suite “Death's Contraption” is one of the highlights of the album.
The album closes with the beautiful suite “Dream: Revelation” which is divided into the parts “Hitodrama’s Return”, “Melody Of The Air - Recapitulatio” and “A Dying Man’s Hymn”. Except for the ending “Hitodrama’s Return” is maybe the most songmatic song of the album. “Melody Of The Air - Recapitulation” starts off with a beautiful romantic piano melody. After this some melodies are returning. Together with the title track “A Dying Man’s Hymn” this are the most beautiful parts of the album. You can find some very beautiful piano and acoustic guitar melodies in this suite.
Sky Architect's second album “A Dying Man’s Hymn” sounds mature, and is in balance. At some points you find complex rhythms and burning progrock on this album. But the band vary this with delicate and melodic parts. The album has a high diversity. The music of Sky Architect is mainly guitar orientated but you can find also some nice Hammond, Mellotron and piano parts on the album. Sky Architect is a young band with great musical and technical skills.
I’m very curious about the development of this Dutch progband ... the future looks bright !