This is a review of "Fenestrae EP" recorded by Blue Sky Project. The review was written by Maria Pinto-Fernandes in 2007.
‘Fenestrae’ is, quite simply everything one could possibly want from a proper debut, and more. The band lure you in on ‘Splitlips’ with Joe Wingfield’s piano setting a false tone of an EP that’s going to give you an easy ride before inescapably This Et Al-like guitars encroach on the sound. And this is no bad thing. Blue Sky Project aren’t trying to ape Leeds’ unsung heroes, they’re taking inspiration from unparalleled musicianship that they’re not far off matching or, dare I say, bettering it. So far, so impressive… the musical arrangements on even the first track astound me and the tempo hasn’t even been upped yet. A crescendo builds and when the quartet create a beautiful up-tempo fusion, the feeling experienced is nothing short of cathartic as they prove that soaring, epic soundscapes are not above them at all. In fact, the band take them to a new height. I don’t like to submit to lazy journalism but since Blue Sky Project themselves freely admit to being influenced by Queens of the Stone Age, Wingfield, Antony Wright and Lewis Denby’s heavy guitars and Alex Greaves’ pounding drumbeat pay Josh Homme well, homage. Denby’s aggressively distorted vocals mark a departure from his solo material and show that he had only tapped the iceberg of his true talent and creativity. Seriously, overdubbed vocals have never sounded this good.
‘Trancing’ continues where the previous track left off, but paradoxically the band seem to take things to a whole new level as the heavy rock vein pervades throughout, never letting up for a moment. Denby’s tantalising vocals are given a chance to shine on their own too, his direct questioning ‘And would you answer to a lover?’ interjected by sharp guitars and relentless drums that are still sounding fresh. Aha and a tickling electric guitar solo just keeps me yearning for more. Lord only knows why the song finished with Wingfield showing off his grade 8 piano skills along with the effects pedal to make a sort of jazz-engine revving combination but its surrealism only acts as a testament that there ain’t nothing Blue Sky Project can’t do.
Third track of five, ‘Smiles’ hits the listener where it hurts until smooth guitar moulds itself around Denby’s singing which leaves him beautifully exposed. But what’s this? Greaves going at the drum pedal like the clappers and overdubbed vocals kicking in: the winning formula returns albeit with a few alterations here and there. You see, this is why I love Blue Sky Project and why you will too, their inherent ability to reinvent themselves endlessly and avoid churning out the same old shit like many of their contemporaries. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the song is its hidden meaning, ‘When everyone smiles the same’ is sung and then almost shouted by Denby thus highlighting a frustration at people’s general hypocrisy. Bands engaging in a little social commentary and revealing their political consciousness never hurt anyone and in this case it merely demonstrates another of the outfit‘s many dimensions. A venture into the experimental ends a third track of a genuinely mind-blowing debut EP.
‘Refresh’ is surely the track to showcase Greaves’ drumming abilities, beginning as an echo of himself before proving that his percussion can more than cut the fucking mustard. The verses soon become a battle between Greaves and Denby for the musical higher ground however and it could have sounded so shit, but this is Blue Sky Project. The two manage to transform this into a war that they’re both capable of winning and either way, the result is absolutely mesmerising. Tentative guitar that can only be described as a sort of bouncing soundtracks Denby’s ‘Refresh me’ which is just too tempting to resist. The band fuck with my head as a jazzy drums and distorted echoing vocals enter into what’s already a genre-transcending musical experiment. And a successful one at that. Why chilled, jazzy drums fade out to provide the penultimate track’s finish is beyond my comprehension but this is what I like about ‘Fenestrae’, it compels you to think, attempt to understand and above all appreciate the carefully crafted music that you’re listening to. Especially when you’re lucky enough to own the first pressed copy, ahem.
I’ve never heard such an apt EP closer as ‘Rosen’, quite literally a drum roll to herald the triumphant end of a genuinely groundbreaking EP. The guitarists ensure they don’t lose out on the final say though as once again all four members put in their equal share without which Blue Sky Project just wouldn’t be the same. Thank goodness their egos don’t get in the way then, as this allows for a breathtakingly barren sound against which Denby’s vocals can’t mask the pain of real life. ‘Well I am a prince but a failure’ pretty much articulating for us those mixed-up feelings that swim around the back of our minds however hard we try to quash them. A classical break leads into a reminder of the outfit’s essence, heavy rock and acts as a sure-fire sign that Blue Sky Project are unpigeonholeable, no matter what their MySpace says.
Blue Sky Project will transform your life.