Instrumental music can be hard to write about since the very task of ‘describing’ music is like trying to explain a mountain view with a one line drawing.
Where do I even begin.
‘Up into the Ether’ sets the tone for a sprawling and intense ride that really builds on all the sheen and shine of the previous album and singles that have come before it. The word ‘cinematic’ is not out of place describing the feel here. As a lead single it’s a perfect choice..i see it like a 5 minute album trailer. Everything you’re getting for the next 30+ minutes compiled into one preview minus spoilers.
Second track ‘Journey to Aurora’ continues the post-rock lead line with the underlying shredding and power chords. It works a treat and feels like a positive, uplifting tune that will sit nicely in my gym-playlist. Think ‘Sleepmakeswaves’ meets ‘Periphery’..but happier! Same again with ‘Light Pillars’, just feel good-music that happens to be metal-ish! (*note fancy new guitar)
The first ‘half’ of the album is thematically consistent in this way. It’s full of great drumming and Rob Brens worked with Ro to do a fantastic job of writing equally impressive tub-work without ever competing for the spotlight. Which…let’s be clear..he could if he wanted to. If you’ve seen the man live, you know.
Bass also has a few featured moments where it ventures out from beneath the shadow of the guitars and while they are brief…they count. What I will praise is the mix and absolute anchor which bass plays on this album. You notice it, you can hear what it’s doing and doesn’t get buried. A notable achievement.
Then we get to ‘Stars and Darkness’. Shit gets real here. Like another level. If you long for the intensity and technicality of Ro’s music more-so than the gloss and style of his more accessible pieces.. this is where you really begin to pay attention.
‘Zenith Rise’ hits ground zero. Title track..mid way point on the album..and absolutely nobody can be ready for this. I will regard IBUILTHESKY in two ways from here on:
Before I heard this song – and after I heard this song.
Album highlight. Career highlight?
To close out the album Ro goes the familiar wind-down road with his other musical personality seen in his previous collaborations with Tim McMillan & Rachel Snow. (*for the new arrivals: google the vids)
‘Diamond Dust’ is the first of 2 acoustic numbers that showcase Ro’s talents as an artist who can discard the gear use just 6 strings on a bit of wood to make magic. The added violin is only sweetening the deal and those parts add an orchestral sentiment as they support the part, not over-take.
‘Moonbow’ goes even more stripped back to wind further down and soothe the listener with an assortment of harmonics, chords and taps which I have no doubt could have been done as a band piece. It only further cements the position I hold: good music will sound good whatever instrument it’s played on with/or without the extra touches. Extra bonus points awarded for the leaving the barely audible ‘click-track’ at the end. I don’t know why..but to my taste it was the smallest thing that just felt honest and exactly perfect at the end of such an incredible album.
You wont find another album like this today. There are peers and contemporaries sure, all doing like-minded and incredible music BUT this is wholly unique and un-mistakenly IBTS at a gold class high standard. I fear for those who endevour to learn this. The tablature book will be reminiscent of an old Yellow Pages.
Well done Ro, this is an outstanding achievement!