Review – “Skydome Hotel” – Skydome Hotel

reviewed by Jack Derricourt

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You have to be a certain kind of brilliant to name your Toronto-based ambient psych band Skydome Hotel. That selfsame structure towers out and into Rogers Arena — but really still the Skydome, despite whichever corporate backer might be putting up the dough — a strange, monstrous facility, cradled between the shoreline and the main rail arteries of Toronto. The band finds a stillness between mechanical motion and the tides in their stellar, self-titled sonic outing.

The recordings are improvisational, which is a very open-ended description for what is obviously a carefully melded collection of pristine instrumentation. With no hesitation, the players contribute to each other’s direction and influence with aplomb. Twists and turns in the sound grow orgaincally, making the whole experience of listening to the record a very sombre, but engaging one. The drums are particularly well recorded by Ray Cammaert at the Tin Shop, providing a swaying body over the course of the album — especially on “Yes I Said” and “Yes I Will.”

There is an abundance of things to like on this record. Ornithologists will delight to the birdsong found at the start of “I Really Did Feel Rejuvenated.” Santana maniacs will adore the guitar wailing featured in “Bored of Canada.” Cool synthesized tones bleed through the tracks, enticing the ambient tech nerd in us all.

However, one must have a favourite. “Peter Gabriel” is an astonishing bit of jam, spread over scintillating, improvisational toast. There’s too much to like about this track: the drums shuffle like pure, moving water; the guitar lines build and evolve until a gorgeous crescendo of dynamic peaks and keeps on peaking. If Skydome Hotel found this groove by accident, it a was a happy one indeed. I don’t care how much I hate Peter Gabriel — I honestly believe he’s the tax cut for the rich of all things musical — my ears are all the better for this piece of Skydome Hotel.

Today is opening day at Skydome. The brogrammers will flock from the hills to dispense beer and abuse all over each other. Nine innings will be played, though few will be there to pay attention. And corporate hacks will line the windows of the attached hotel, drinking it all in, watching the money roll. I will be watching in the crowded stadium, and perhaps, as the loudspeakers sing to me, instructing me to “Clap my hands,” and “make some noi-oise,” I will think back on the driving grooves and wide open spaces of Skydome Hotel. Perhaps, they’ll help me make it through. Perhaps.

Top Track: “Peter Gabriel”

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*

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