For a few years now there has been a buzz about SKY H1. A few early EPs let us into her world of murky basslines, catchy melodies and guttural beats. Then she went quiet. Appearing on a slew of comps. Now its clear to see what this self-imposed exile was about as her debut album ‘Azure’ is here. This is a personal album being dedicated to the memory of her mother and also referencing the Access Virus synth. A piece of kit that helped define electronic music around the turn of the century. At times ‘Azure’ has its feet in the past, but its eyes on the future.
There is something quite sinister about ‘Azure’. Parts of the album wouldn’t be out of place in an 1980s horror film, or an episode of Stranger Things. ‘Silk’ has a very John Carpenter vibe. Dank synths drone on while skittering beats keep things moving forward. Its unsettling but incredibly enjoyable. This is pretty much the MO of the album. To prove its dark sensibilities ‘Arctis’ has a crow sample on it. It works better than you’d expect. At first the cawing sounds out of place. Almost alien. However, the more you hear it, the more it just works.
Another standout moment is ‘Elysian Heights’ with its scattershot d’n’b beats, harrowing synths and haunting melodies. It comes at a time on the album where the beats have been largely used to keep things moving and not the main event. On ‘Elysian Heights’ they are front and centre. Impossible to ignore. And this is what ‘Azure’ does so well. SKY H1 organises her songs in a way that means you have to sit up and take note. Passive listening is not permitted. You either engage or you go elsewhere. But why would you leave something this much fun?
There is something self-assured about ‘Azure’. It isn’t cocky, but it has a swagger to it. The reason is how the album is crafted of catchy melodies and devastation basslines. During ‘Blade’ filigree motifs dance gracefully over shuddering hulks of bass. It’s a combination that works incredibly well, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from SKY H1. ‘Azure’ has been a long time coming. The ‘Fluid EP’ was released in 2015. Over the intervening six years SKY H1 has released a slew of tracks and singles, whilst honing her craft. ‘Azure’ is the sound of an artist, and I used that word in its truest sense, delivering something that has only been hinted at before. This is an album to get lost in. Waves of surging music pull you in every direction while the melodies give you something tangible to grab hold of.
Words: Nick Roseblade
– – –
– – –