If I’m honest, I hadn`t got a clue as to who Another Sky were. As with most things these days a quick trawl on the web and I find that the band Catrin Vincent (vocals), Jack Gilbert (guitars), Naomi Le Dune (bass) and Max Doohan (drums) formed while studying music at Goldsmiths University and their name came from an Emily Dickinson poem. They appeared on the influential BBC Later with Jools Holland last October and have their debut album “I Slept On The Floor” due out this week.
Opener `How Long` is predominantly an instrumental that seems to come awake as the song progresses with singer Catrin only joining in for the latter part. What does hit you is Catrin`s enthralling vocals which reminded me of Anohni or Antony Hegarty. I found the lyrics difficult to understand and thought that what was being shared was verbalized emotions not unlike Elizabeth Fraser from the Cocteau Twins, but I think it was just down to my hearing. There`s a much more expansive feel to `Fell In Love With the City` which was written after the singer`s move to London from a small town in the Midlands. It seems to move led to a relationship breakdown which is addressed with a lyric repeated throughout “Fell In Love With The City, As I fell out of love with you” The shimmering guitar riffs and piano tinkling with underpinning bass and drum throughout were a joy to behold.
`Brave Face` a song that Catrin said was written for a friend ending a bad relationship begins with a beat similar to a heartbeat before a beaten drum signals a more anthemic passage, This sets a platform for the singer to reclaim and transform the platitude of putting on a brave face into a war cry, which was her stated intention and in which she succeeds. A song that explores “feeling like you’re at the bottom of a river but being told that everything is different. You’ve sunk to the bottom but you’re being told that you’re actually flying” follows with `Riverbed`. A mix of shimmering guitars, mesmerising vocals, subtle bass inflections and a steady drum beat throughout almost leads you into a trance like blissful state.
I thought `The Cracks` was really interesting musically. It had a jazzy vibe and really came alive at the chorus with the lyric of “The cracks let the light in” almost defiantly exclaimed. I read the band said that the song was “an ode to our generation, one that is more self-aware and being forced to have the difficult conversations that lead to progress and evolution”. We have quite a stripped back number with `I Slept On the Floor` with distorted vocal and synth sharing how the singer`s move to the capitol city has impacted on her.
`Life Was Coming In Through The Blinds` is quite a cinematic reflective piece, a trippy almost other-worldly composition with music and words competing to be heard. The song was inspired by the book ‘The Wisdom Of No Escape’ by Pema Chodron. A spiritual guide to making the most of life, through bad times as well as good, There was a deep mysticism to `Tree` a quietly potent offering in the beginning which grew in intensity as the lyrics altered from fighting for to demanding an equal if not superior voice regardless of your sex.
`Avalanche` is a song inspired by Tracy Chapman`s poetic accounts of injustice. Catrin shares that the track is “about toxic masculinity bleeding into every other oppression. The song is trying to tie all oppression together. There’s this disbelief around women, and a taught violence around men, making them feel like they can’t be emotionally vulnerable, and then this anger builds up and damages everything.” It reminded me of Radiohead`s Paranoid Android at times with it`s stop start nature and tumbling guitar riffs.
There`s a real upbeat stadium feel to `Let Us Be Broken` in that I could see this being sung and clapped along with and danced to at a large venue or festival.
The penultimate number `All Ends` is quite stark and stripped back with an almost repetitive drum beat and shimmering guitar. “We wrote ‘All Ends’ in a dark place” vocalist and lyricist Catrin Vincent had to say on the track. “As a kid, I was bullied, so I moved to London to try and prove everyone wrong. In London, I saw a mural on a wall that said, ‘we are only individuals in the context of each other’ and realised my whole worldview had to change.” The album closes with `Only Rain` which is another hypnotic, spellbinding sort of ambient number, an interesting piece to end on.
This was a curious, captivating, and enchanting album. The band have a real asset with a vocalist who has a uniquely different ethereal compelling voice, but that voice seems to have found a perfect home with talented musicians who together blend an interesting sound. The subjects that the lyrics cover can be a challenging listen at times but are sufficient to promote debate and stimulate your thought processes and that, to me, can only be a positive outcome.