Skyjelly/Solilians: In the Running 1 – EP Review

Today’s musical curio is, well, kind of curious. It’s In the Running 1, available from the I Heart Noise record label, and it’s a collaboration between Skyjelly and Solilians, each group getting three tracks on each side of the vinyl release.

Skyjelly are described on their Bandcamp page as “plays psychedelic, middle-eastern blues” and I’d agree with that. Solilians, on the other hand, are a bit more doom/drone than the comparatively upbeat Skyjelly. Of the two sides, Skyjelly are definitely my favourite, so let’s take a look at the three tracks they bring to this particular meeting of musical minds.

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Track 1, ‘Seein’ It’, is a great little chanty-type track and my favourite of all six on offer. Distorted, grungy, compelling and kinda psychedelic, with a catchy riff and a chorus that’s easy to hum along before it eventually devolves into feedback and a last, lingering few guitar notes.

Track 2, ‘Blakey’, is something altogether more trippy, bringing to mind drug-addled figures twisting and spiralling in the dingy lights of some underground nightclub. The repetitive vocals joined with sludge-like guitars and some whining electronic noises circa 1960s pulp sci-fi.

Track 3, ‘Woke Up With a Smile’, continues this slow descent into the deconstruction of music. Lazy, trance-like lyrics joined with sloppy drums and an occasionally noodling guitar. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect to hear droning out over the crowds if you watched performances from Woodstock ’69.

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This trio of tracks make up an interesting little musical journey, each growing increasingly less coherent than the track before. Track 1 is definitely the standout here, but taken together they form an interesting little triplet.

Over to Side 2 and it’s time for Solilians to take over. If Side 1 was the trippy underground Saturday night dance party, Side 2 is most definitely the day after the night before, the Sunday morning comedown from the high. Altogether more darkly-themed laid back, we open with Track 4, ‘There is No Michigan’, which is all breathy vocals and sombre, growling bass.

Track 5, ‘Gowron Breaths’ – and I am vaguely disappointed this isn’t some strange salute to everyone’s favourite bug-eyed son of Qo’noS. Instead it’s another breathy, distorted little medley. It’s an easy segue from Michigan into this one, another droning, bass-driven song. It’s definitely a very different feel to Skyjelly, the two tracks blending together into one ambient soundscape.

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Track 6, ‘Planet’, has a bit more oomph to it. Sharp, metallic drums backed by heavy synths, distorted vocals weaving between the instruments in an electronically-accented wail of words before devolving into a sludgy mess of noise and staccato thumping which ends, surprisingly, with a round of applause and cheering. It sounds damn good for a track recorded live so props to their producer.

This EP has a bit of something for everyone. The more upbeat, psychedelic sounds of Skyjelly and the grungy, doom-laden drones of Solilians running the musical gamut and hitting plenty of beats in between. Available for download on Bandcamp and on vinyl through I Heart Noise, it’s a great little sampler for those looking to either dip their toes into some more off-beat music, or to investigate the particular styles of these two bands.

In the Running 1 is out now from I Heart Noise.

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