The Lithuanian rock band The Skys was formed in 1995. You could say that since then they are the leading band of the progressive rock scene in Lithuania. In the last fifteen years the band suffered from many line-up changes, but that didn't prevent The Skys from recording Civilized (1997), Dreams (1999) and Postmodern Game (2004). In 2008 the band gave a live performance at the annual Progfarm Festival in The Netherlands, but this gig didn't have a big impact on the people who were present then. The band didn't sound that professional and the music was rather mainstream rock with an occasional link to Pink Floyd. Ever since that performance I never heard anything from The Skys until now.
Recently the band's manager offered me the possibility to listen to their latest effort by sending a promo copy of the brand-new album Colours Of The Desert. I agreed, but my expectations didn't run high because of their poor performance in The Netherlands. However, when I listened to the album I couldn't believe that this was the same band that I had seen on stage three years ago. They had improved a lot since then. All nine tracks sound professional and as far as the high-leveled compositions are concerned, I haven't much negative remarks either. Jonas Čiurlionis (guitars, vocals), Aleksandr Liutvinskij (guitars), Bozena Buinicka (keyboards, vocals) and Justinas Tamasevičius (bass) have achieved something that surpassed my expectations. This album contains fine prog rock mainly inspired by the music of Pink Floyd. All songs kept my attention until the last note. The contributions of some well-known guest musicians certainly helped a lot to take the music to a higher level. What to think of Martin 'Frosty' Beedle (drums, Cutting Crew), David Kilminster (guitar, Roger Waters), John Young (keyboards, Scorpions, Fish), Snake Davis (saxophone, Eurythmics, Paul McCartney), Tony Spada (guitar, Holding Pattern), and Anne-Marie Helder (backing vocals, Mostly Autumn, Panic Room) ? The production by John Young did the rest and provided the album with a very professional and international sound!
Judging by the booklet Colours Of The Desert seems to be a concept album. In the booklet we see several beautiful images of a desert. The CD starts very promising with the title track, an up-tempo piece containing a fine synthesizer solo. The male lead vocals of Jonas Čiurlionis are jus fine, but unfortunately throughout the album the female vocals of Bozena Buinicka are poor. The strong female backing vocals, the male vocals and the excellent guitar solo performed by David Kilminster take the music in the direction of Pink Floyd. On the second track Is This The Way? hints of Pink Floyd are present as well because of the fine backing vocals and the sound of a Hammond organ. A beautiful synthesizer solo provides for a more neo-progressive rock sound. Walking Alone contains another great guitar solo this time played by Jonas Čiurlionis. I think he must have listened to Dave Gilmour more than a thousand times. This song also shows traces of Hawkwind, which can be heard more often throughout the album, but also a band as Eloy came into my mind.
When The Western Wind Blows is a fine mellow piece whereupon Mr. Kilminster takes the lead by playing some extraordinary guitar parts. Together with the saxophone parts of Snake Davis the music again resembles Pink Floyd. That's also the case on Calling Out Your Name, but now in combination with traces of Hawkwind. The Pyramid has some eastern influences; the sound of an acoustic guitar fits perfectly here. Early Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett can be heard on the mellow sounding Lethal Kiss. The orchestral parts, well-performed on the keyboards, suit this song well. The last track What If could have been composed by RPWL. However, these Germans are strongly influenced by Pink Floyd either. This track again contains a fine saxophone solo; a guitar solo ends the album in style.
I can only compliment the musicians of The Skys. They recorded a strong album with Colours Of The Desert that will especially be enjoyed by people who fancy Pink Floyd, Eloy, RPWL and Hawkwind.
***+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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