Nine Skies - The Lightmaker

(CD 2023, 57:32, Independent)

The tracks:
  1- An Fanai (Intro)(2:46)
  2- The Explorer(6:13)
  3- The Dreamer(8:01)
  4- The Chaotic(7:21)
  5- The Lost(9:19)
  6- The Wanderer (Interlude)(2:00)
  7- The Haunted(11:32)
  8- The Architect(11:32)

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The French band Nine Skies didn't stop after the death of co-founder Eric Bouilette. Au Contraire! Eric's wife Anne Claire Rallo (keyboards, music and lyrics) and guitarist/keyboardist and arranger Alexandre Lamia continued with the music that Nine Skies is known for, a mix of neo prog, jazz and classical music. Nine Skies has a reputation for working with guests on their albums. Craig Blundell, Clive Nolan, Dave Foster, Riccardo Romano, Pat Sanders, Steve Hackett and John Hackett and Damian Wilson joined the band on previous albums. Achraf El Asraoui (vocals), David Darnaud (guitars), Alexis Bietti (Bass) and Johnny Marter (Drums) are, with Rallo and Lamia, the core of Nine Skies.

Their fifth and latest album The Lightmaker is a concept album about Rudy. Rudy enters his 1001th and last life and the seven songs (plus an instrumental intro) describe some of his lives and characters. They're all sung by different singers. This means that Achraf El Asraoui only sings the last song The Architect. He is assisted in this by drummer Marco Minnemann and a great John Mitchell on guitar. Also present are singers are Riccardo Romano (The Explorer), Martin Wilson (The Dreamer), Laura Piazzai and Arnaud Quevedo (The Chaotic), Kristoffer Gildenl÷w (The Lost) and Charlie Bramald (The Haunted). Adam Holzman delivers one of his signature and beautiful synthesizer solos in The Chaotic. With all those different singers it's a bit of an opera. The great compositions and intelligent lyrics keep the story going beautifully. The guest singers and all musicians are fantastic. This is an album that you really have to listen to a few times and preferably with the lyrics. Then you hear and see Rudy's different lives unfold in front of you. Wonderful concept, brilliantly executed. Nine Skies is up for the future.

***** Arne van Os van den Abeelen (edit by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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