It’s a truly wondrous time to be alive if you love tech/instrumental heavy music, the best I’ve ever known in my well over, three decades of progressive music fandom. From sleepmakeswaves to Plini to Intervals to Chimp Spanner (who must be due to put something out soon) to Animals as Leaders, there is a veritable plethora of stunning sounds and amazing music at your fingertips if you dig this type of stuff. And you can very much add the name I Built the Sky to that illustrious and ever-growing list.
Similar to the aforementioned Intervals, Chimp Spanner, Plini and several others, I Built the Sky is essentially one guy doing everything, a true solo project, a ‘one man band’ in every sense of the term (obviously these guys recruit hired guns on drums, bass etc when they tour). It is remarkable how advances in recording technology have allowed these prodigies to sit, locked away in their home studios in their bedrooms, lounge rooms or garages, and create world-class instrumental alchemy, majesty and mayhem all by themselves.
I Built the Sky is a Melbourne bloke by the name of Ro Han, and if this album is anything to go by, he can stand with his head held proudly when in the company of the luminaries of instrumental prog. Yes, it is that good.
Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely adore the hyper-technical, ‘million notes a second’ approach of bands like Animals as Leaders and Scale the Summit, but Ro Han’s approach here is refreshing as well. He utilises a more open groove style of writing that lets everything to breathe very nicely, allowing the listener to simply thrust his or her fist to the sky and rock the hell out and enjoy his tasteful melodic lines.
Taking that one step further, my absolute favourite track on the entire album is the sweet and hypnotic ambience of Floccus. Quieter tracks are often a little bit of a hit and miss on these types of records, but he nails this with sheer class. It also lends the album a very welcome moment of dynamics and contrast.
Overall, however, this album is a great ride. It is almost free of what some might call the ‘widdly-diddlies’ of heavy progressive music (although he techs it up just a touch on a track like Aviaticus, just for fun, and absolutely crushes it), and choc-full of pounding, adrenaline-pumping grooves and ultra-catchy lead lines.
Listen to this album, love it, then file it alongside some of the great instrumental rock/metal records of our time.