When Another Sky first burst onto the scene a couple of years ago with their debut single ‘Avalanche’ they quickly garnered attention for their cascading soundscapes and politically charged lyrics. They’ve now returned with a full length offering of just that. With the group first meeting at London’s Goldsmith University they quickly became infused with creating atmospheres and soundscapes as they “rehearsed in total darkness” allowing the music to fill their lack of vision. But vision is what they have plenty of in this album.
Throughout this album the band blends together elements of post-rock, shoegaze, folk and electronic music. All whilst maintaining a certain cinematic drive that carries throughout, offering an expansive platform for the messages delivered to stand high upon. You can certainly here influence within their sound, there’s the alt-rock power rhythms of Mogwai that drive tracks like ‘Riverbed’ and the summer festival afternoon ballad ‘Fell In Love With The City’. Elements of Radiohead creep into certain guitar flourishes or drumbeats on ‘Life Was Coming Through The Blinds’ and ‘Tree’. And the searing guitar leads of Slowdive come through in abundance on almost every track, coated in reverb to give it that extra whip. They don’t deviate too far away from the initial sound palette that they present on opener ‘How Long?’ but offer enough in the way of memorable anthemic melodies and cascading soundscapes that the album for the most part keeps its pace. Every guitar churn could easily be mistaken for a violin hit as the cinematic compositions could easily soundtrack an independent coming of age film; the themes may be dark but the music inspires movement and change. There can become moments throughout where the sound gets buried within itself as each instrument competes to become the most dynamic. But it soon finds its feet again with a powerful drum surge or an atmospheric pause.
The element of this band that really allows their sound to stand onto its own is lead singer Catrin Vincent’s voice. It glides between the subtle and earnest into the bold and brash. It’s not really like any voice that’s been heard in recent times, with its deep baritone rasps. At first it can seem a little off-putting with its harsh abrasive edge. But once you realise that this voice is coming from a place of passion and desire to convey the stories being told with their true emotion, you soon begin to drawn in; and it’s hard to take yourself back out. Unusual embellishments aplenty some of the best vocal performances come on tracks like ‘Life Was Coming Through The Blinds’ where Vincent’s voice dances over the Lo-fi piano loop. And ‘I Slept On The Floor’, the most minimalistic track on the album, as her voice carries the song over the ambient synthesisers, shaped by the vocoder but reaching one of the highest notes on the album towards the end of the song.
The themes that flow throughout this album range from toxic masculinity on ‘Avalanche’ “When you hold them to account
They’ll spit you out, Just a bad taste in their mouth”. To colonialism and Brexit on ‘Let Us Be Broken’ “Our future’s built on a stolen wealth, By post-money kids raising hell, Selling our lives for the promise of health, We want something beyond ourselves”. Politically charged but they ride the fine line between subtlety and outspoken. As with any heartfelt music there’s also heartbreak that lies beneath many of the songs. ‘Fell In Love With The City’ is a timeless love song of longing and loss. “I Fell In Love With The City, As I fell out of love with you, Stranger’s faces, holding their breath, I can see yours in all of theirs”. The process of creating songs is collaborative says the band, but what really ties everything together is Catrin’s story telling ability. Not just her ability to speak from experience, but her movement to tell the stories of others without a voice, in hope to bring about change.
Whilst their sound may borrow elements from many of the founding fathers of post rock, they stand out on their own thanks to Vincent’s unique voice and sense of empowerment through experience. It’s a gratifying debut that sticks true to what it wants to be. We can only hope that Another Sky continue on this run of speaking the unspeakable, and providing a killer soundtrack to go along with it.