Having produced one of the most critically acclaimed releases of 2020 in the form of the incandescent Satellites, Silent Skies have proven that lightning does indeed strike twice in this sophomore follow up, the aptly named Nectar.
Silent Skies – Nectar (Napalm Records)
Release Date: 4 February 2022
Words: Paul Monkhouse
It’s doubtful that you’ll hear a more seductive and heartfelt album than this all year, the duo of Tom S. Englund and Vikram Shankar once more working their magic on ten tracks that are breath-taking in their beauty.
It’s a soul-searching journey indeed and one that is utterly shorn of any cliché or obvious moves, the project a labour of love for both musicians. You’re brought into their world by listening to Nectar, one made of shimmering delicacy on the surface, but one listen to the lyrics, and you immediately understand that there is something so much more profound.
Certainly, this is something to sit back and listen to properly, the exquisite arrangements flowing like a river, but this is no chill-out album. The care that’s been put into every note shows, but there is also humanity at its heart, an organic feel that is far from clinical stitching together of well-used tropes in a cynical effort to create something suitable for a thousand dinner parties.
With the uniquely plaintive vocals of Englund still echoing with the power he displays as Evergrey frontman, his partnership with piano virtuoso Shakar proves as solid and fruitful as ever as the opening track Fallen From Heart seeps from the speakers and directly into your heart. While there is a little assortment of effects on both the keys and vocals, this is generally stripped back to the barest minimum, adding delicate atmosphere layers.
The heartrending Taper and soaring Neverending draw you deeper, their spell transfixing. A cello is added to the mix in Let It Hurt and Leaving, its sombre tone adding warmth to the shimmering patina. The One is almost painfully gorgeous, its gently climbing notes euphoric.
It would be pointless to dissect every single track here as the experience of listening to Nectar is so singularly rewarding upon its unfolding, and by the time you get to the last notes of the titular instrumental that closes the album, you may find yourself moved to tears. As with the difference between seeing pictures of a stunning vista and being there in person, our emotional reaction is greatly amplified and individually intense. The sonic waves hit us at differing angles as they fire off our synapses.
Irrespective of how you look at it, here is something that should be treasured and whilst the two musicians have back catalogues to be envied, their partnership as Silent Skies is something so unutterably sublime that it almost defies description.
In a world of such present darkness, we need to clasp tightly all that makes us human and alive. Nectar does exactly that, standing as a beacon of light that seemingly encapsulates the indefatigable spirit of who we are.