Second Sufis - Sea Of Sky

Year of Release: 2006
Label: B9 Productions (independent)
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 110:29:00

Even four years ago, it was clear to all who cared that Second Sufis was a band that had come a long way from the barely-listenable vortex of chaos that the band's Seven Rays album was. James Mott and Mike Gorman had become luminaries of persistence, evolving and morphing their style without forsaking their integrity, and bettering the results a thousandfold. Each new effort, up to Infectious Substance, was an improvement upon its predecessor. Yes sir, the future looked bright for these two musicians and their discography thanks to a slow-but-sure progression towards higher plains. So what the hell happened with Sea Of Sky? I mean, it seems like Mott and Gorman simply forgot about their gradual evolution and decided to skip most of it.

Why would I write such a thing, you ask? Because Sea Of Sky is a marvelous album; a crowning jewel in the unstoppable progress of Second Sufis; and an effort that comes years early, given the previous rate of improvement in the duo's music. Every single compositional glitch had been addressed, structure has now become second nature, and if it wasn't for Jerome Pier's dreadful vocals on the otherwise fine "Ocean Mirror" and the pretty generic "A River Runs Through It," I dare say this would have been mighty close to a five-point kicker. That's right, boys and girls, Second Sufis is now on top of the world, and Sea Of Sky is irrefutable proof. Sorry that I kind of fooled you on that first paragraph ? you see, it was all too tempting.

Why would I write such a thing, you ask? Because this is the kind of evolution that requires the undivided attention of everyone and their mother, and which is more than deserved by the members of Second Sufis. Sure, one could describe the music on this album as a sort of 80's King Crimson-like minimalism under a world music filter, but that would hardly be doing justice to an album with subtle diversity and a clearly distinguishable style. There is the gorgeous lightness of overlapping guitar patterns in "Conference Of Birds," the spiralling loops in the upbeat prog of "Wheels In Wheels," and the darkly caressing mystery of "Midnight Express," for instance. Ah, what the hell. Truth is, these guys have made it hard to describe their instrumentals in a laconic manner without doing them injustice. If anything, the entire thing is held together by this main recipe: intensely dense, but subtle, loops of percussion serving as introduction and support to building layers of Chapman stick grooves, guitar flourishes, keyboards, and other instruments.

And why would I write such a thing, you ask? Because the approach is, in its description, not too far away from that of previous Second Sufis outings. In practice, however, the introduction of precomposed ideas, riffs, and structures has spun the ball completely around. Four years ago, the percussion web that begins "Mosi-au-Tunya" would have dragged on for too long. Now, it is joined by some superb modal Chapman stick playing at the very spot when things are in danger of becoming boring. Likewise, poignant guitar adornments begin to flow in when the Chapman stick themes need foreign help. And such is the nature of the album: an approach that for the vast majority of the record's tracks consists of slowly building up at key structural points. If anything, it's beautifully done. And to top it all off, Sea Of Sky displays a kind of meditating transcendence that might be hard to describe, but which is impossible to miss as it flows through the listener's psyche. You wanted pointers? These are all I can give you without boring the hell out of you with a dozen other paragraphs. So good luck. You're on your own in this wonderfully absorbing adventure.

Similar artists: Might Could, 80s King Crimson, Gordian Knot

Disc One: Water, Wood, Skin, And Clay (1:44) / Ocean Mirror (8:08) / Conference Of The Birds (7:04) / Mosi-Au-Tunya (11:20) / Break Before Dawn (10:48) / Perpetual Motion (4:23) / Sojourn II (8:51)

Disc Two: Midnight Express (4:44) / Sohbet (5:09) / In Sight Of Kathmandu (5:45) / Wheels In Wheels (7:33) / Circling Curl (6:25) / Sea Foam (6:27) / Reason Came In And Sat In The Corner (4:01) / A River Runs Through It (14:07)

James Mott - Chapman Stick, percussion,, didgeridoo, horn, Chinese bowl, horn drum, Irish bronze age horn, Buddhist prayer drum, Burmese gong
Mike Gorman - percussion, guitars, Tibetan bowl, oud

Guest musicians:

Jerome Pier - vocals, keyboards, percussion
Eric Farantino - drums

Slave Labor On Mars (1993)
Soft Clock (1995)
Air Guitar (1995)
Seven Rays (1997)
Pearl (2002)
Infectious Substance (2002)
Sea Of Sky (2006)

Genre: Various Genres

Origin US

Added: July 30th 2006
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 2623
Language: english


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