Skye Klad - "Plays the Musick of Cupid's Orkustra Asleep in the Magick Powerhouse of Oz" (Hand/Eye 2004, H/E013)
Satyrswitch - "The High Lonesome Sound of Satyrswitch" (Camera Obscura 2004, CAM069CD)
From Aural Innovations #31 (June 2005)
The latest from Minneapolis based psych rockers Skye Klad really took me by surprise. These guys are forever evolving, and instead of the heavier space oriented rock we've come to expect we've got both acoustic driven, exploratory psychedelia and strong folk influences. The band is still Jason Kesselring on acoustic & electric guitars, saz, ukulele and vocals, Erik Wivinus on acoustic guitars and witchfynder (a sitar-like instrument), Dave Onnen on bass and Matt Zaun on percussion, along with guests on french horn and flute.
Get into your favorite lotus position and put on the headphones for this one folks. Among the highlights is "Fleeting Faunus and the Prophecy of the Fields". Strumming acoustic guitars, flutes and drones create a dark and intense raga psychedelic mood to create 6 minutes of pure trippy atmosphere. "Mary Magdalene" is the first track with full bass/drums rhythm section and electric guitars, but really picks up where Fleeting Faunus left off, keeping the mind expanding raga styled psychedelic voyage sailing along smoothly. The bass is full frontal head throbbing and the percussion has an equally pounding but nicely paced tribal feel. The tracks are transitioning seamlessly from one to the next on this trip and "Mary Magdalene segues smoothly into the 9 minute psychedelic soundscape throb-fest, "Beyond the Ice and Storm". Do NOT listen to this while driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery... it's really THAT hypnotic! "When the Hounds of Spring Are On Winter's Traces" is another lengthy trip track that will give you plenty to focus your mantra on and unlock the unexplored recesses of your mind.
Skye Klad don't release albums often but when they do it's clear that these guys are always moving forward, never content to rehash or merely build upon past efforts. But the album also includes a handful of psychedelically tinged folk songs. It had jumped out at me reading the promo sheet that references were made to Bert Jansch, Davey Graham and Robbie Basho. Which brings us to the Satyrswitch CD.....
Satyrswitch is a solo project from Skye Klad guitarist/vocalist Jason Kesselring created to explore his interest in Jansch/Graham/Basho styles and other acoustic music. I like the note on the Satyrswitch web site which says, The Satyrswitch is Jason Kesselring's acoustic project specializing in Folk Baroque and Cowboy Raga with touch of Wormwood. Cowboy Raga.... an interesting term huh? It'll all make sense when you hear "Angel Of Wolves", which marries folk-psych and country to produce beautiful results. And the cowboys come out in full force on his cover of the classic "Ghost Riders in the Sky". Jason plays a combination of originals and traditional songs, with psychedelia lurking beneath the surface throughout the album. I've long admired Jason as a guitarist, but much of what I enjoyed about this album was just getting to hear this very different side of his interests and influences. He continues to impress me as an accomplished and multi-talented musician. Really outstanding acoustic guitar songs and instrumentals.
And though the spotlight is on Jason due to this solo album, I have to point out that one of the things that makes Skye Klad such a great band is that his fellow guitarist Erik Wivinus is equally multi-facted, having been involved in a variety of projects himself, notably Salamander, Barlow/Petersen/Wivinus, and others I'm probably forgetting at the moment. Check out the web sites below and explore their world.
For more information you can visit the Skye Klad web site at: http://www.skyeklad.com.
Visit the Hand/Eye web site at: http://www.SomeDarkHoller.com.
Visit the Satyrswitch web site at: http://www.satyrswitch.com.
Visit the Camera Obscura web site at: http://www.cameraobscura.com.au.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz