Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review: Sky Stadium - Ancient (Lava Church, 2011)

„See the dawn before the rest of the world”.

When I first heard the name Sky Stadium, my very first thought were that it’s yet another project of a) Jeff Witscher (Marble Sky) or b) Josh Burke (Sky Limousine). But it turned out it was neither – Sky Stadium  is the moniker to the (relative) newcomer to the scene (at least compared to the aforementioned seasoned players) by the name of Jeff R., who resides in Trenton, New Jersey. But the similarity in project names is not entirely coincidental – R. represents the minimal ambient sound Witscher used to make as Marble Sky before he abandoned it to create IDM-ish abstractions as Rene Hell or what Josh Burke used to churn out before he went for the even more New Age sound (complete with tacky album artworks).
The sound of Jeff R. brings up yet another “sky” related project to mind – namely Mark Pollard’s Pale Blue Sky. It seems that sky, without any clouds, is an inspiration for a minimal, obstruction-less sound, filled with gentle gradients and slow melody progressions. Ancient, a 20-minute long cassette released on a Florida label Lava Church Records, is a prime example of such thinking. Containing three tracks, two on side A and one on side B, Ancient flows by effortlessly, and before you manage to properly sink into the lo-fi sound, the tape is over. You just have the feeling to repeat, repeat, repeat and think “this should’ve been a c30, at least”.
The tape listens like a mini-collection of three distinctive moods. The strongest track is unfortunately the shortest, a three minute opener “To Be Free”. Almost foreboding, the track begins Ancient with a darker tone, before it is lightened and given a calming edge in six minute “Down”. The side B burner, “Ancient”, appears to be slightly quieter (as if it was possible!) than the two preceding tracks and is almost comatose in its relaxing qualities.
Jeff R.'s Sky Stadium is a rather new project, yet he’s already making ripples in the tape drone/ambient underground with tapes being released by Hooker Vision, Monorail Trespassing, 2:00 AM Tapes, Gold Timers Tapes or Existential Cloth, and now Lava Church. Watch this guy. He might start really expanding soon (or maybe even exploding!).

1 comment:

Kevin said...

He also has a new tape at, and we have a new split together on Existential Cloth as well.