SkyDive Trio - Sun Sparkle [Hubro - 2018]SkyDive Trio is a jazzy instrumental rock outfit that immediately conjures up thoughts of 1970's krautrock, fusion and progressive LPs with their instrumental timbres and playing style. Their 2nd album "Sun Sparkle" was released on Hubro this year in 2018.
Though not overtly technical, there is a precision to the band's musicianship that is distinctly 'progressive rock', the way the music moves intentionally from section to eclectic section, connecting the shorter tracks into a long, flowing arc. They simply sound fluent and comfortable in the language they are using, stepping effortlessly into a dense flow of ideas with a very logical and tasteful ebb and flow of melody, counterpoint and accompaniment.
It's much like hanging out with a genius guitarist who excitedly wishes to show you riff after riff, and yet , none are overthought or indulgent; each is a simple yet expressive melody, could nearly have a complete song to itself. Musicality and feeling are at the forefront throughout the album. The band has an uncanny knack for giving ideas just the right amount of room to breathe while keeping momentum very high.
There are climactic moments not unlike the great post rock bands ("Descending"), but SkyDive Trio doesn't engage in long build ups, instead keeping their music fast paced and more tightly structured. Improvisation comes primarily in the form of solos, with the progressions of the songs decisively locked in place.
The clean guitar tones are absolutely gorgeous, and perfectly re-adjusted for each new section of the music. Fans of gentle electric jazz solos will weep at Thomas Dahl's wonderful lead passages (see the album's loungiest moment, closer "Camera (Wish I Was Who?)" ). The performances of the drummer and bass player are admirable, but it is undoubtedly the guitarist Thomas Dahl who carries this album, and is responsible for its tremendous emotional impact. He has distilled all the nostalgia and longing from a great many genres into one a smooth radiant cocktail.
"Surface Stride" is an excursion into jazz fusion territory, with eerie Holdsworth-esque complex chordwork from Dahl and swelling dynamic fills from the drummer. It's the loosest, most 'out' piece on the album, a nice bit of space to contrast the dramatic through-composed crescendos of the other tracks.
The beauty and harmonic nuance of "Spruce" is closer to classical music than anything heard in the rock genre. The filmic finality and heart aching penetrative emotion of this piece are enough to move even those jaded by all of the usual tropes (myself). Most the album is comprised solely of drums, bass and guitar, but strings are utilized for this track as well. The Morricone style tremolos are truly beautiful. It is tracks like this that set this album apart; just when you may think you've heard all the band can do, something totally new comes along with great dramatic effect.
This album is an absolute pleasure to the ears and mind. An expressive, soulful treat of rock music with a rare grasp of melody, and the thoughtful finesse of jazz and classical. I look forward to hearing more from this group, especially guitarist Thomas Dahl.