The Skywatchers Handbook

Skywatchers' first album, The Skywatchers Handbook, was released in September 2010.

Skywatchers: Keep watching the sky...
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Review by Über Röck

Tuesday September 28, 2010 | Filed under:

Über Röck has a nice review of The Skywatchers Handbook.

Skywatchers – ‘The Skywatchers Handbook’ (Twins Of Evil)
by Russ P

I’ve yet to start this review and I’m already getting sidetracked. It all started when I found out that this here CD and this here band are the result of the coming together of I Monster with singer/guitarist Kevin Pearce. And then I started thinking of Oompa-Loompas. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Maybe you’re like me in that the only I Monster song that I’m familiar with is the ubiquitous ‘Daydream In Blue’. Originally written as ‘Daydream’ by the Belgian band Wallace Collection it was covered by the Gunter Kallman Choir and sampled for I Monster’s version. It’s the distinctive vocal harmonies of this that have always transported me back to Loompaland and the Willy Wonka soundtrack tune ‘Oompa Loompa, Doompa-Dee-Do’. I find it at once comforting and strangely sinister.
 
But here there’s not an orange face in sight. To cut to the chase, and to put this album in some kind of general context, we’re talking atmospheric acoustic/electronic chill out. Take something like the first three parts to Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, Peter Gabriel’s ‘Humdrum’ and mix that with Tom McRae’s debut album and you’re not far from getting an overall sense of what this album sounds like.
 
Thematically the album, as hinted at in the title, is about space, the stars and the cosmos. Vintage synths blast off conjuring up images of spacious deep dark skies, wanderlust and universal insignificance. It’s a concept that trip hoppers and prog rockers will be delighted by.
 
The combination of these musicians is a match made in the heavens. Pearce’s plaintive earthly vocals and sparse guitar parts are transported into orbit by Dean Horner’s and Jarrod Gosling’s star studded backdrops.
 
‘The Curious Village’ is a cool little trip hop number which cunningly uses slowly changing delay on the guitar until doubling becomes slapback echo which transforms into swing – it’s as if an astronaut, in his cockpit, is slowly tweaking his dials and levers until things are just right for takeoff. ‘Serves Me Right’ is one of the more uptempo numbers on this CD backed with a undulating sequenced synth rhythm which harks back to Floyd’s ‘On The Run’. The chorus though refuses to be happy and is as down in the mouth as a Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy song.
 
That’s followed by a pretty ditty called ‘The Lunar Tune’ which recalls both Peter Gabriel and specifically Kate Bush’s ‘Hello Earth’: “The Earth she looks so pretty here in outer space”. Coming straight after that is the distinctly folky ‘Do You Want To Go To Space Young Man?’ which, on the surface, seems to mirror the traditional English song: ‘Scarborough Fair’ – coincidence maybe but it does successfully juxtapose the image of unlearned peasants from the middle ages with the knowledge-laden urbanites of the 21st century. Again Kate Bush and her use of unusual and brash percussion is recalled on the final song ‘Keep Watching The Sky’.
 
There may be something here for fans of The Flaming Lips, both in the band’s vocal style and also The Lips’ perceived predilection for concept albums. Indeed it is this feel that runs throughout that is its strength. It’s easy to imagine listening to it after a hard day’s work down at t’mill when all you want to do is forget about earthly toil and strife and, instead, take a journey into the unknown.

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