The current music industry is based upon quickly releasing singles (no longer than four minutes in length of course) that follow whatever topic is trendy at the time. Often times very little thought is put into this music and its purpose is to instantly satisfy the needs of the masses with catchy beats and sing-along choruses. While this is not entirely bad, it provides very little room for experimentation and progress in the music scene. Also, with songs rarely lasting for the aforementioned four minutes, it is difficult for songs to develop and really capture the listener’s attention. Newcastle-based band Kylver aim to change things up a bit by providing a massive album with plenty of room to lose yourself in. With only five songs lasting for over 40 minutes, The Island is far from accessible. However, this album was not recorded for the purpose of being accessible. It was crafted for those who want to make listening to music an experience. So the question is did they accomplish this?
The Island is wide open and vehement in its will for exploration, clearly plotted but sounding off the cuff and based heavily on the organically-presented chemistry between drummer Barry Mitcheson, guitarist Jonny Scott, keyboardist Neil Elliott and bassist James Bowmaker that has only developed further since the band’s debut long-player, 2013’s The Mountain Ghost.
The new album continues to oscillate between laid back jams and powerful rockers, creating that lovely rich atmosphere, already a trademark of theirs. It’s clear the band has been working on dynamics.
Starting real strong with “The Great Storm of 1703” and “Hy-Brasil,” these two cuts share all the strengths into firm doses. The former’s groovy bass line, enhanced by the hypnotic percussion paves the way for several solos among lush keyboard touches. There are multiple waves where the band builds and then falls into peaceful, soothing moments. Contrasting the opening number, “Hy-Brasil” is one of the hardest tunes here, boasting pile driving riffs.
As we dive further into The Island, we find a couple of lighter tracks. On almost 10-minute “Monolith” the spotlight goes to the drum/bass interplay, as they playfully drive into proggy territories. The guitar and keyboards embellish with several layers of sustained leads and chords, but they tease by building tension, at times keeping it for minutes before explode into a powerful jam. “The Abyss” continues the flow in the same tempo as its predecessor, while the final “The Great Race” feels considerably subdued when compared to the rest of the record. Like a recap, it fervidly peaks one last time before gently fades away into thin air. This is a really nice, atmospheric ending to such a strong album.
Kylver has crafted a very solid album that can truly take you on a musical trip. Overall, The Island proves to be a very worthwhile journey and any fan of progressive or psychedelic rock music should check it out.
The album is available here.
1. The Great Storm of 1703
4. The Abyss
5. The Great Race
* Jonny Scott – guitar
* Neil Elliot – Hammond organ & keyboards
* James Bowmaker – bass guitar
* Barry Mitcheson – drums