REVIEW: TUESDAY THE SKY – “Drift”
Guitarist Jim Matheos needs no introduction to fans of progressive metal. Whether he is acting as the main composer and leader of his legendary band Fates Warning, working on his side project OSI, or coming in as a guest, his tone and composition style is unique and instantly recognizable. Now he has a new solo project, Tuesday The Sky, and the first album ‘Drift’ will be hitting the shelves June 30th. The project began when he wrote a bonus track for Fates Warning’s last album, ‘Theories of Flight,’ and it didn’t fit. He liked this ambient, spacey track however, and decided to make an entire album of similar music. The result unsurprisingly is a very solid example of instrumental prog.
The album begins with “Today the Sky”, which sets the tone and vibe of the rest of the album. It begins quietly with atmospheric guitar work and continues in that manner for the majority of the song with only a few moments of subdued, yet crunchy guitar riffs. The album can then be best described as atmospheric, ambient, prog-tinged rock, with only occasional moments of metal coming through. The music and style of composition is very similar to the quieter songs of his OSI project.
It is only fitting then that fellow OSI collaborator (and occasional keyboardist for Fates Warning) Kevin Moore, is featured on keys on two tracks – “It Comes in Waves” and the final title track. “It Comes in Waves,” is stylistically very similar to much of their work together. Moore’s subtle key work is perfectly balanced by Matheos’ floating guitar work and features one of the few moments that can accurately be called a solo. Not a shredding solo of course – that would not fit in with the music – but a melodic and emotional solo that blends with the keys in perfect harmony. And holding it all together is the effective drumming and rhythmic backbone of the band: Lloyd Hanney of God Is An Astronaut fame.
The highlight of the album for me is certainly “Dyatlov Pass,” a track that almost begs for the addition of Kevin’s vocals as is done on OSI. The first half of the 7-and-a-half minute track (the longest on the album) begins with the sound of crickets before layered soundscape-style guitars begin to float over the top of it (not dissimilar to the work Robert Fripp has done with Brian Eno), slowly building until it explodes into crushing riffs and pounding drums. It is the lone, truly metal moment on the album, and it grows to a thrilling and perfectly timed crescendo. Fans of any of his heavier work are sure to find familiarity in the track and enjoy it.
The other contributor to the album is vocalist Anna-Lynne Williams, who adds wordless, ethereal vocals to two tracks: “Vortex Street” and “Westerlies.” The latter is my favorite of the two and is a peaceful and lovely meditative track. Her voice melds with the music seamlessly and invokes for me an image of someone walking through deep woods on a light-filled, warm summer day. It has a positive, almost spiritual vibe to it, and will surely please anyone looking for something to brighten their spirits.
‘Drift’ is a very well-composed and superbly-played ambient prog album put out by a master of atmosphere. And with Tuesday The Sky, Jim Matheos has created another outlet for his abundance of creativity. While not the most innovative album he has done, it is an album perfectly suited for quiet days and restful evenings. His playing is subtle yet superb, and the guest musicians tie his vision together neatly. Highly recommended.