A sense of space and pop sensibilities sit harmoniously together on the third Bamboo album ‘Daughters Of The Sky’. They have ramped up their ear for the dramatic but also created soundscapes that engulf the listener in their fantastical world.
Opening track Diamond Springs is stunning.
Xylophone is syncopated with gentle synth stabs before 80s power drums and a classic synth hook push the song into pop mode. The synth work is intricate, using bizarre sounds that sound like vocals, somewhere along the lines of Yello.
Rachel Horwood introduces banjo and a simple melodic vocal line. There are eerie descending stabs that immediately drew us into David Bowie and Trevor Jones’s Labyrinth (soundtrack).
Weeping Idols deserves be a huge pop hit, with its great hooks and chorus. This sees Bamboo play it straight more so than on any other song on the record. It channels Kate Bush through Naughty Boys era Yellow Magic Orchestra.
The title track Daughters Of The Sky is a slower building song, introducing beautifully arranged multi layered vocals with a constantly repeated motif.
There is an Animal Collective-like feel to the song particularly in the last minute.
The vocal melody shifts from drifty to more staccato and backing vocals become a haunting choir. Memories All At Once almost has a “Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence” atmosphere in the intro, the pitch shifted banjo and synths that dance around create gorgeous timbres. The drums are toned down and alongside the vocal melody in the chorus give the sense of a more ethereal Broadcast or Stereolab.
Next up is 11 minute centre-piece East Of The Sun : West Of The Moon. Drifting synths and lush harp sounds slowly give way to backwards strings before a folky banjo hook pulls the song into focus. There is a beautiful tension to this song. There is an almost medieval feel. A sound somewhere close to a harpsicord and percussive bells are even introduced. Nick Carlisle, following Rachel Horwood’s powerful performance, takes centre stage on vocals when the song winds down in the middle. The synths swirl and build before Horwood comes back in with the banjo hook and vocals.
There is also a playfulness with the synth sounds which is perhaps displayed best in The Deku Tree.
It creates a feeling of being in nature with the various textures, later affirmed by what sounds like birdsong samples. A World Is Born with its dark 80s synth sounds, heavily gated drums and powerful synth strings brings things back into odd pop mode – complete with Dirty Projectors-like vocal melodies, with strange timing that works brilliantly.
The album is broken up by a few short instrumentals at well-timed points, namely Off World Colony, Under Larches and Tenebrae. Each track showcases a different side to Bamboo. The first focusses mostly on synth soundscapes, the next on a repeated banjo hook, and the final track (almost like a heart monitor) lulls you back into the real world.
You may enjoy this if you like: Bas Jan, Kate Bush, Josephine Foster, Dirty Projectors, Yellow Magic Orchestra, late 70s and 80s David Bowie, Broadcast
Daughters Of The Sky will be released on 14th June via Upset The Rhythm.