Released towards the end of 2021, Close To Nearby is the debut album from Octarine Sky. The eight songs on offer here were born from the creative minds of Dyanne Potter Voegtlin and Jan Christiana (both from Potter's Daughter) and feature music heavyweights Simon Phillips, Guthrie Govan and Amit Chatterjee. It's very much a collaborative album with each musician adding their own unique sound textures throughout. The name of the band is inspired by the work of author Terry Pratchett and their music reflects that same feeling of escapism you would get from reading one of his books. It really does transport you to a colourful and magical realm. The artwork by Armand Cabera also looks great and captures this vision perfectly.
Deliciously playful opener One sets the scene nicely. An instrumental track in which the piano and drums dance around the listener's ear canal like the soundtrack to a cartoon chase scene. The bass holds everything together like a rhythmic superglue. As one would expect, the musicianship across the album is insanely good.
Next up is Rosewind. This is a great example of how they've successfully blended ambient sections with an anthemic touch in their own unique way. Night Sky/Into The Dream with its atmospheric beginning guides us into some lovely acoustic guitar playing. The piano and bass sounding slinky whilst the electric guitar and drumming are just epic. When Dyanne sings "You raise me up to the night sky" it really does lift your spirits. The intro to The Mask sounds like the theme music to a thriller - suspenseful and eerie. What follows is a mixture of beautiful acoustic guitar flirting with Simon's jazzy drums and Dyanne's calming vocals which all fill the space in such a classy way. Next up and nestled together are my two favourite tracks on the album - 5 and Midnight. 5 has great energy from the start and again shows us that playful side to their music. I absolutely love Guthrie's guitar playing on this one - it just soars right out of the speakers. Jan's bass playing on Midnight is just fantastic. It has a sexy quality about it and really gives the song an extra boost. The vocal delivery is so expressive and is my favourite on the entire album. VII is the longest song on the album and is the perfect companion piece to opening track One. A wild instrumental ride with every musician firing on all cylinders. Dyanne's piano playing is majestic here.
The final track on the album is Hold which features Amit Chatterjee on guitar. A dreamy song that melds gorgeous keyboards, gentle vocals and Amit's sweet guitar playing to great effect. It makes you feel as if you're floating high up in the clouds. A beautiful way to finish the album.
It's a quirky album that delivers moments of rich ambience, jazzy flourishes and yet still knows how to rock when needed. A highly recommended musical adventure that demands repeated listening to really soak up all of that sonic goodness. I do hope they continue to conjure up more music with this line-up. A jazzical, progressive rock gem. Look out for the artbook and limited-edition vinyl releases of the album.
****+ Rickalonius Monk
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