by Tony Dale
Skye Klad II Skye Klad come like Viking marauders from the musical twin cities of Minneapolis-St Paul – the Sodom and Gomorrah that gave us Hüsker Dü and eats hardcore for breakfast as well as spitting out apocalyptic kraut-psych like TVBC and Salamander for good measure. Their first CD was like a sparring match with Dante – furious and burning and overloaded with nearly too much of everything but cool nonetheless if you were in a self-abusing frame of mind.
This second outing is shorter and sweeter and like some kind of bubblegum noise perhaps the kind Satan uses to get little children started on the road to ruin. From the opening bars of ‘Reign Song’ it is evident that any progressive leanings have been eschewed for the giant pendulum swing of massed psychedelic guitars in the service of some kind of garage rock extremis. The cookie-cutter guitar riffing of Jason Kesselring and Erik Wivinus (Salamander) is fittingly monumental in scope, as modern recording technology is directed towards supercharging the kind of daft but compelling psych-pop one might have expected to uncover on a lost second album by The Open Mind (yeah we all wish). It’s no accident they have recorded an as yet unissued version of possibly the greatest psych single of all time, ‘Magic Potion’. Think I’m kidding? Just listen to the magnificent silliness that is ‘Sunwheel’. The “Lunar Rabbits” might be fictive figments of their overheated or drugged psyches but I swear I saw them too.
The greatest strength of Skye Klad II other than its unapologetic intensity is its structure. Wisely deciding to keep it moving and keeps tracks short – the band wisely never get bogged down and the occasional move into overly bombastic territory is quickly forgotten in the fury of activity. The incandescent chainsaw pop is interspersed with brief electronic atmospheres (‘To The New Dawn’) and acoustic gems (‘Meechmit’) and occasional detours into heavy-prog (the standout instrumental ‘Lex Talionis’) and this is all just as well because Kesselring’s vocals will certainly not be to everyone’s taste. Strengths and weakness combine to ultimately triumph on a brace of fine tracks in the home stretch. ‘Fall Angel’ exists deliriously on the verge of falling apart; ‘As It Is So Be It’ is another one of those proverbial parallel universe should-be-hits with a scorching solo for good measure, and, like ‘Sunwheel’, ‘Blue Skies’ further mines the UK psych-into-prog sunset zone to create a equivalent for 21st century dreamers to enjoy.
Tony Dale is the mastermind behind the excellent Camera Obscura record label.