Written by Drew East, posted by blog admin
Kansas blood brothers Gabriel and Daniel Traknyak have spent years assembling their debut full-length, Oculus. Though a few of the tunes were composed during the actual album sessions, others were cultivated over years and years of playing together with the groovy soul/funk/blues of “Breathe Easy” dating back the farthest at 7 years of age. With only two men behind this project they still put out a ton of sound and make up for the lack of additional instrumentalists by knowing their musical abilities inside and out; applying them with the passion and prowess of seasoned industry pros.
Some of the material is dark and dreamy, other times they indulge in genuinely uplifting fare and they even break it down acoustic whenever the situation calls for such tactics. The pushing, pulling dirge of “The River” starts the record off and it’s overflowing with electronic-smattered beats, rolling tom drums and a haunting piano hymnal. Gabriel’s guitar doesn’t enter the equation till the end with some electric riffing but his stellar melody vocals lift this piece to great heights. “Sneakers” starts off much of the same way but catapults itself over the introspective buzz and hum with a midsection alive and riff with hard-edge guitar riffs, industrial rock’s machine-syncopated madness and a bombastic vocal performance that really cuts to the meat of the song’s matter. “In the Fire (Part 1)” makes use of trembling, glimmering clean indie-rock guitars and rollicking drum pulsations for a tune that plays off much like “The River’s” lighter and brighter younger brother. There’s enough variation to separate the two tracks from one another and this one really shines bright with its melodic and harmonic qualities with numerous counterpoints between the different instruments. Stripping down to a smoky acoustic duskiness,
“Wildfire” harnesses shades of country, folk and blues for one of the most poignantly unique sounding jams heard on the entire record. The brothers switch things up yet again with “I’ll Stop the World (Part II)” and its fuzzy, riff-dusted punk grooves and etherized gothic rock textures. It’s a super catchy track that’s lively and worth a spirited sing-a-long or three. “Lex” burns the atmosphere in a campfire of swirling, ember-lit guitar melodies, surreal keyboards and another striking vocal performance. “Breathe Easy” and “Take It All” kick off the dust off some blues and quirky, grooved out rock and rhythm n’ blues that’s all soul, sweat and swagger. “Yesterday” sends us back to a watery grave of reverbed and delayed-affected ruminations, while closer “Fortify” remains a modicum of the same bleak, ambience.
Sky Orchid really has it going on throughout this record. Oculus simmers with drippy textures, layered grooves and unpredictable structures. The material on this album is varied and dynamic with many unique ideas firing off in every single direction. Folks that are into the trippy post-rock of the 80s and experimental 90s groups, though they add many of their own ingredients to the brew that makes Sky Orchid a sonically unique proposition that all died in the wool music fans should easily enjoy!