Five songs, that’s all I’m basing this on. And one of them is forty seconds long. So, we’ll say four, really. But what magic is contained within those four songs. Under Alien Skies are two lads, David and Danny from Prestatyn in Wales. That’s about all I know at this stage and their minimal web presence isn’t much help when trying to find out a bit more about them. Which just leaves the music on the ‘Powder’ EP for me to talk about.
Fans of the spaced-out, dubby wall of sound style backdrops so beloved of everyone from Animal Collective to Grizzly Bear of late, will likely take to this instantly. Opening track ‘Fyodor’ almost oozes through the speakers, so ‘big’ is its sound. Judicious application of echo makes it feel like you’re lost somewhere deep in the middle of the song itself and yet the vocal, a precisely enunciated croon, is crisp as you like atop this aural tapestry. This really wouldn’t have sounded out of place on ‘Veckatimest’, and not only that, it would have been one of the finer moments on the record. Insane hyperbole though this may seem, it really is that good.
‘Bloodsport’ sounds, at least in part, like Animal Collective after they’ve been introduced to the idea of verses in songs. Ludicrous degrees of repetition are avoided and, instead, the track goes through several phases, gradually slowing to cascading harmonies over a stuttering beat and little bleepy computer noises. It’s a luscious end to the song and it’s made to seem all the more dreamy and delicate by the whirling, careering, largely instrumental closing track, ‘Amine’, the danciest (yeah, I know, but a better word currently escapes me) thing on the EP.
Thoroughly nice bloke and underrated radio broadcaster of great quality, Adam Walton was the one to tip me off about this lot and he wrote an impassioned and possibly even more excited piece about this EP on his BBC Wales music blog in early January. His particular favourite track is ‘Cracks’, by far the most schizophrenic song of theirs I’ve heard. It starts off sounding like two different songs playing at once before gradually coalescing into a curiously mournful sound. Imagine the Beach Boys having to record their vocals just after watching their cat get knocked over by a passing driver and you’ll be somewhere close. Add in a twirling Spanish guitar sound and you don’t know whether to smile or cry. As the music gradually retreats, you’re left with the sounds of nature and a high-pitched loop slowly ascending to a better place. I think ‘Fyodor’ just about edges it for me, but I hear why Adam was so immediately head over heels with it. Even the forty second piece, ‘Caller ID’ is a strangely swelling piano interlude, maintaining the atmosphere and further diversifying the sound of this almost impossible to categorise EP.
I await even greater things from this lot. They’re not, as far as I’m aware, even signed up yet and their aforementioned scant internet presence makes it tricky to get a handle on exactly what we can expect from them and when. You can download the EP for free by clicking through from the picture above, where it’s available for free from Bandcamp, even in lossless if you like it that way. I cannot emphasise how enough how much I urge you to do that. It’ll be some of the most intriguing, engaging and frankly different music you’ve heard in some time.