Vastness –  Christopher Sky (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Space, the final frontier. Yes, we all know the tag line from that famous sci-fi franchise, but it is a phrase which is also relevant to music. Many artists and composters, songwriters and creators are so focused on filling the void in front of them with all manner of sounds and musical substance that they often miss a trick. That trick being that silence itself, when correctly framed, can be a useful tool too. And if such artists are the equivalent of oil painters covering the whole canvas with vibrant musical colours and sonic images, then Christopher Sky is the water-colour artist using the sleekest of lines and the bare minimum washes of paint to turn the white background into the desired design.

Often feeling as much like an ambient soundtrack as it does a collection of instrumental songs, Vastness collects everything from drifting electronica to classical piano lines, shimmering beauty to harsh edged frequencies and from sunlit sounds to brooding minimalism and scatters them spaciously across the canvas. And the sparing nature of the way these elements are used means that more often than not they feel like they are merely framing the atmospherics and ambient noise of the natural world.

Gold For Silver sits at one end of the spectrum, more rhythmically driven and employing devices that are just recognisable as hooks whilst at the other, End of An Era is more a collection of sonic textures woven into a strange and beguiling musical thread of anticipation and slow burning development. And between such extremes the album plays out sometimes strange and hypnotic, linear and translucent, sometimes glitchy and rough, sometimes almost fading into nothingness, but all the time remaining wonderfully engaging.

This, Sky’s third album, is a reminder that so much can be done with so little. It isn’t always about making big, bombastic statements and that sometimes you can say so much with just the right few sonic strokes. Vastness is the perfect title for what is found here, a word implying immense size but also often inferring emptiness and it is just such a juxtaposition that Christopher Sky excels at.

 

Pre-Order album here

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