It's with great pleasure that I introduce this album after just a three-year wait this time, I'm just pleased that Harald and co. continue to create great music for us to enjoy. This album picks up right where Teenage Poetry
left off with Julia Beyer on vocals over a mix of somber dream-pop sounds. We're presented with fourteen spellbinding tracks here across about an hour's worth of music that leaves the listener breathless and longing for more.
After a short introductory instrumental piece in "Stars Can Frighten", we're launched into the dreamy world of "Shadows Fade". This piece is the definition of what Chandeen is about, we have dreamy vocals, layered electronics creating an atmosphere to match and carry the vocals, and on this piece we have slower moving, yet somewhat bombastic heavy percussion. The entire album drifts along through a mix of dreamy ethereal pieces and other more upbeat selections. Interspersed here and there are short instrumental, ambient interludes like the introductory piece which divides up the album a bit and gives us even more diversity.
Favorites on this album are nearly every piece. As I listened to it over and over again, trying to choose the best tracks to present on the radio shows, it was hard and I could easily play the entire album and even include a couple on our club mix for the dark-clad folk that enjoy dancing to the more beautiful, dreamy sounds with a less obvious dance-friendly beat. I'll touch on a few of these more remarkable pieces here, starting with the aforementioned "Shadows Fade" which after the instrumental introduction, becomes the standard and first impression of the album. There's also a video-clip for this piece you can find on the band's Youtube page which served as something of a teaser before the album was released. As we drift along and hit the title track "Blood Red Skies" I get goose bumps all over. This piece has all the ingredients of a darkwave anthem. It kicks off with driving percussion and layer upon layer of synths, breaking off for the dreamy vocals on each verse, then building back up for the chorus in this bombastic, driving force. This piece has quickly become a favorite for listeners as well, launching it into our top ten as soon as it was presented. Following this up is an absolutely dreamy, almost folk piece "Kiji" which has been a perfect fit for our ethereal collection with a soft and subtle guitar, various electronics and a slow-moving beat all carrying the angelic vocals. Later we get a bit of a treat with "Citylights", starting off as more of an ambient, minimalistic piece with soft piano and subtle background noise with the slow, emotionally drenched vocals. The background noise builds to a powerful grinding guitar for a powerful accent to this piece and a really nice touch to the album overall. With fourteen pieces, we have plenty of ground to cover and as the album starts to wrap up we hit some more real gems in "Sunset Serenade", the instrumental piece "Floating to the Stars III" and a short vocal finale "Until Dawn". Each of these present their own unique style from soft, vocal dream-pop to spellbinding, futuristic space ambient music to a final, short vocal-led ambient finale.
Any pieces I've left out are still incredible as this album is really a true gem for fans new and old. Julia has done a great job with the vocal lead expressing the thought-filled lyrics and the music is absolutely captivating. This is really a great album with some good dynamics, but most of all ethereal and dream-pop fans will absolutely love it, don't hesitate to check it out and pick it up! Rating: 5/5
Three years since Chandeen's last album, Harald Löwy and Julia Beyer have returned with their new offering entitled Blood Red Skies
(Kalinkaland (Germany) KAL40, 2011). Between this and their last studio album, Chandeen released a digital album entitled Pyramids
with demos, unreleased tracks from their Bikes and Pyramids era.
Chandeen continues to evolve in their band's eighth, and certainly their most mature sounding, album. They call it "a delicate, devotedly arranged sound adventure." We are told that an elaborately designed tri-fold Digipak with a 16-page full color insert containing lyrics, photos of the musical artists and another booklet girl. Harald told us, "The [booklet and the other] girl emblematize the visual aspect of our music on this album."
Julia Beyer's lead vocal work fronts Chandeen on Blood Red Skies. Guitars on the album are played by Florian Walther except on "World Between I" and "New Morning II," where they are played by Harald Lowy. Florian Walther also plays drums on the album. All tracks were written by Chandeen/Löwy, except "Stars Can Frighten," written by Löwy/Walther. All lyrics by Chandeen/Beyer. The album was recorded, mixed and produced by Harald Löwy.
Asked about the influences for Blood Red Skies, Chandeen mastermind Harald Löwy names, "Brian Eno, Generation X of Douglas Coupland and the cult movie Donnie Darko." The eveolution of Chandeen's sound is evident as band acknowledge these elements of the past culture movement on their new album, to the fullest.
Blood Red Skies is a tremendous album and a significant development since Teenage Poetry while remaining reminiscent to the style that the band has developed since forming twenty years ago. Kalinkaland suggests that Chandeen have created a tribute to their development on the album calling it "a blissful indulgence in nostalgia, that takes the listener to different spheres in beguiling ways."
The shimmering guitar-laced instrumental "Stars Can Frighten" serves as a warm introduction to Chandeen's new album. Dense keyboards and crisp percussion provide a foundation for Julia's first vocal appearance in the sensual ballad "Shadows Face." The contrast between her powerful lead vocal part and the highly textured multilayered choruses is outstandingly produced. Vocalise carries the melody through the keyboard washed instrumental from the instrumental bridge to the song's conclusion.
An extended brooding instrumental introduction precedes the piano-laden torch ballad "Farewell To Love." Julia's solo is joined by very lightly layered harmonies when the keyboard wash is added to the mix. In sharp contrast, "Blood Red Skies" is an accessible and highly memorable rock tune with delicate keyboards providing the backdrop for Julia's powerful soaring lead vocal. Electric guitar and drums add volume with textured harmonies in the verses.
The acoustic guitar backed ballad "Kiji" highlights the singer's talent at mesmerizing listeners with her sensual vocal delivery but is an equal testament to Chandeen's songwriting. Julia's vocalise is added to the delicate electronic arrangement of this track. The acoustic guitar and piano backed foundation of "Air" gives the song an indie sound. Coordinated with the lyrics, lush vocalise layers and electric guitar further define the material clearly as Chandeen's. "Rabbit, Run" is a brief piano backed ballad sung entirely solo. Lush keyboards in the brief "World in Between I" instrumental provide the segue into the next chapter of the album.
Warm harmony vocals and keyboard washes set the mood for Julia's lead in the light piano-backed ballad "Citylights." Guitars enter the mix in second half of the song adding depth and power to the production. The singer is brought right to the front, sensually delivering the lyrics way on top of the light arrangement, in "The Longing." Electronics and percussion add texture in the instrumental passages.
The keyboard washes, light acoustic guitar and atmospherics in the "New Morning II" instrumental set the stage for the extremely delecate "Sunset Serenade" ballad. Only keyboard washes and chimes back Julia's evocative vocal delivery. Listen for atmospherics and the additional harmonies tucked behind her lead. "Floating to the Stars III" is the powerful keyboard-laced instrumental preceding the album's very brief ballad "Until The Dawn." Julia's vocals make a final tug on heartstrings in the album's stunning conclusion.
There is a significant evolution in Chandeen's sound on Blood Red Skies. In this album that is all about the sky, Chandeen have clearly moved on from the darkwave resurgence of Teenage Poetry to develop a more mature sound that favors sensitively delivered ballads over upbeat electronic numbers. While the mp3 version will satisfy many, the physical will have a booklet that long time fans will prefer. This enchanting album was clearly worth the wait. 5 stars!