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  The Sky Above the Roof  
  Solus 3  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Indoor Miner  

Solus 3 are Hami and Ian Blackaby, two thirds of the London based band, Lunar Dunes. The missing member is guitarist Adam Blake who is also pursuing his own side project, The Recidivists, ahead of the forthcoming second Lunar Dunes album. Solus 3, however, finds Blake being replaced by harpist Julia Thornton who has previously worked with Bryan Ferry / Roxy Music. I'm not going to get into a "which is better" argument as Blake was responsible for some searing guitar work on the 2007 album, From Above, but I will say that Thornton's harp playing works wonderfully well over what is, after all, a fine rhythm section.

The Sky Above The Roof opens with Shapeshifter, a reasonably tasty starter which features wailing over repetitive bass-lines and harp plucking, but things move into a different gear on B5 Bounce. Drummer Hami is, of course, also a member of Transglobal Underground, and there's a definite TGU feel to this one. "Turn the music up," sings Krupa over Blackaby's reggae-styled bass, whilst Eli Geba pops in with some throaty mumblings before it ends beautifully with a lone trumpet courtesy of James Williams. Blow Harp with its Wobble–like bass-lines and almost Banging The Door-like drums is arguably even better as the rhythmic bliss underpins the harp whilst allowing the track to breathe rather beautifully. Indeed there's a lovely use of space on this number. Sprezzatura ploughs a similar territory, but as Thornton plays those arpeggios over a typically percussive piece, the result is almost nightmarish.

Romance De La Luna Luna Luna finds a solitary trumpet competing almost mournfully with Thornton's harp over a clattery beat and some bass playing that allows so much space you almost feel that Blackaby is attempting to hide his playing. Listen closer, however, and it's there – deep, subtle and only when required. Williams then puts down his trumpet and mutters throatily over the backdrop. It's effective stuff.

Personally I could manage without the almost operatic title track as this is just not my cup of tea at all, but the album ends on a high with Mobius Trip. This is a twelve minute freeform closer which, given its length, takes its time and allows itself to meander much more than the other tracks here resulting in an atmospheric and chilled ending to a fine album. And for those looking forward to the next Lunar Dunes album – apparently it will feature both Blake and Thornton, which sounds like the best of both worlds. One to look forward to I think...

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