Skyjelly – Black Panthers


Skyjelly is that perfect kind of discovery, the sort of album that falls into my lap when I least expect it. I wasn’t looking for music like this, and I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy it at the moment.

This began as a random surprise, when a Twitter friend of a friend sent me a Bandcamp link after I shared the somnambulent William Basinski track I was drifting off to.  Sure, I was immersed in the most vaporous of ambient excursions, but I was intrigued by the raw boldness of the presentation, as seen above. I saw the cover art, the label, and the band name and thought, this is probably my kind of thing, even though it’s likely nothing like Basinski’s fragile ambient drone sculptures.

Well, I was right. My Twitter friend-of-a-friend was right. I’m really enjoying this set and it could never in a thousand realities sound like William Basinski. I’ve got to applaud such a bold leap of faith.

This is raucous, noisy psychedelia with a sense of delicacy and care at its core. Despite working within similar art-damaged frequencies, the production runs far from the primitive AM gold haze of artists like Ariel Pink or R. Stevie Moore. There’s a nocturnal, dreamlike quality that continually pierces the gauzy veil of the recording, lending tangibility and emotional weight to the experience. There’s a searching, subversive structure that feels more like jazz than the vintage rock those artists mined for inspiration. It’s dark and fierce and sounds like it might be fearless.

I’m keeping an eye on this project. Here’s a fantastic example of why. It’s a song called Seamagnet, which is a great name, especially considering how it sounds.

Black Panthers is streaming on Spotify but Doom Trip Records released a cassette combining it with a newer collection called Priest, Expert, or Wizard, available on Bandamp. The second half of the tape is as good as the first, possibly more exploratory.

5 thoughts on “Skyjelly – Black Panthers

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