Artist: The Skyspeakers
Album: Echo Hall
Release Date: September 23rd 2022
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis heavy psych/occult rock act The Skyspeakers recently presented us with their debut EP Echo Hall, an album that slipped through the cracks for me initially.
Luckily for me Chris Latta (the band’s vocalist, bass player and rhythm guitar) brought the release to my attention because this is a truly unique offering. The band’s sound is not easy to define by any means. I call them heavy psych/occult rock but there are also doom, stoner, jazz, and folk rock influences in the mix.
The band’s dual vocal style is a defining factor of their overall sound and the harmony achieved by Chris and Jessie Browne-Michaels works extremely well. Their tones and styles are highly complementary with Chris providing a lower, more doom focused register and Jessie giving us a haunting yet beautiful almost siren like offering. By layering the two over each other it makes both that much more impactful thanks to their obvious contrast.
Another element that gives the band a unique essence and energy is the heavy use of saxophone from Jessie. The band did this the right way though and toned it down in the mix. I love saxophone but I feel like many bands don’t compensate for how powerful and at times shrill the instrument can be, allowing it to dominate the mix. Here the instrument is used primarily to add texture, tone and atmosphere to the mix and works alongside other elements to achieve this. Don’t get me wrong, at times it takes the lead and becomes the star of the show, but these moments are clearly well planned out and not an afterthought.
The other elements of which I speak are Leah Andrews’ stunning keyboards and synthesizers which while subtle at times are crucial to the end product. These elements give the whole album additional depth and add to how immersive of a listen it is. We also have Patrick Phillips to thank for the hypnotic drum work on the album. People need to recognise how challenging it is to play drums in a minimalistic manor but make every hit and crash feel impactful: something that Patrick does extremely well. Lastly we have Cicatrix to thank for all of the excellent guitar work on “The Ghost House,” as well as the solos on all other tracks.
While this is a relatively short offering, only having four tracks, it’s still somewhat hard to pick a favourite song. Each has its own charm and takes a different approach to the band’s blend of styles. I think for me personally my favourite is The Ghost House. Not only is this the longest track on the album but it covers the most ground as far as variety of styles goes. It has an epic feeling to it while also coming across as mournful and emotional. Following this is Learn to Feel, as I find the track soothing and honestly quite moving. There’s a beauty to the song that is evident from start to finish that I don’t think you can find elsewhere on the EP.
Overall this is a fantastic first offering and makes me excited for what comes next. Having spoken to Chris about this matter I can say that the next album should be a very interesting listen. If you enjoy unusual psychedelic doom them, I highly recommend giving this a listen.
Listen to and order the album: