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splendid > reviews > 10/12/2005
Sky Saw
Sky Saw
Self-Titled
Lithiq


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "The Garden of Forking Paths"

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Sky Saw's psychedelic freak-out begins almost immediately: after a fairly long intro of shivering feedback and world-ly percussion, "The Garden of Forking Paths" segues into driving rhythms that provide a dynamic backdrop for the gentle weep of the soloing... zither? The hell?

Sky Saw consists of zither and drums (needless to say, a combo you're not likely to find in many other places). Core Redonnet, who holds down a day job as principal zither in the Boston production of the Blue Man Group, cajoles a truly amazing variety of sounds out of his custom-made electronic instrument -- from the aforementioned feedback squeals to gauzy, distorted chords to spacy plinking. Sky Saw plucked their name from a Brian Eno piece, so their sound -- completely instrumental, moderately hallucinogenic, improvisational yet structured -- shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Redonnet and percussionist Yuri Zbitnoff have wonderful musical rapport, pulling off prog-o-licious 20-minute-plus sonic journeys (they began their own sonic journey together in the prog-rock band Xixxo) without resorting to (much) wankery.

Sky Saw's four "songs" ebb and flow through various emotional states, the feeling heightened by the expressive contributions of guest violinist Jonathan LaMaster. The tracks usually begin sans violin -- as with "Infinite Dave"'s chugging bass and quirkily swishy loops, or the tribal drums that open "Samurai" -- and progress rather whimsically for a while, finally breaking down into mysterious and melancholy intervals in which LaMaster can do his thing. And do it he does, with intensity. Beads of sweat practically ooze from the speakers.

LaMaster is the album's only outside collaborator, but Sky Saw have temporarily welcomed several other guest artists into their fold during live performances (which by all accounts are something to see). This recording probably sells the duo short; it can't completely avoid the awkwardness of semi-improvisational music, as when "The Garden of Forking Paths" rudely awakens us with an abrupt end-of-song return to the intro. However, occasional missteps aside, Sky Saw is a very intriguing act.



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