Regular readers may remember that Under Alien Skies were featured in last year’s Futuremusic profiles off the back of the utterly magnificent ‘Powder’ EP. Their jittery but twinkly soundscapes are hugely compelling and this latest set is a worthy successor.
The use of the voice as an instrument is a fine, fine thing when carefully executed. A drifting, reluctant vocal amidst swirling layers of sound is oddly euphoric, an outpouring of emotion hidden behind a cloud. These tracks – I hesitate to say songs, it seems too conventional – twist and turn in all sorts of different ways, ‘Done Sink’ going all industrially nasty in its final moments, without warning. ‘When She Wears’ follows soon after, restoring the normality of a light, synthetic beat, this time accompanied by layers of vocal to create the wash of sound. Spacious and delightfully unassuming, it is a fine way to round out this EP.
Not that we’re done talking about this release just yet. After opening last year’s ‘Powder’ EP with ‘Fyodor’ it was always going to be a difficult task trying to top it, although ‘Papillion’ is clearly up for the challenge. Sounding like a conventional, harmony-laden song being slowly deconstructed through a fug of electronic disturbance, before a percussion breakdown around the three minute mark, ‘Papillion’ is perhaps not the best place to start for the uninitiated, but it’s quite some statement of intent.
The second track here, and ultimately my favourite of the five, made a quiet appearance over the summer and sounds no less impressive surrounded by four like-minded souls. ‘Overseas’, containing a bleepy pattern reminiscent of a slowed down ‘Around The World’ by Daft Punk, is a languid hiccup of a tune which slowly burrows its way into your mind. You know that feeling when you roll over in bed on a cold morning, safe in the knowledge you have fifteen minutes before you actually have to get up, and everything seems ok? That is what ‘Overseas’ sounds like. And I cannot get enough of it.