no sky can blind us – This Is Not For You – Album Review
Tisk, tisk, tisk…ye olde submission through the backdoor…the ol’ “single” review…yet you’ll see right there in the description that comes along with This Is Not For You that this is indeed, an album. Can you imagine my surprise at finding out this one cut was longer than the average Weezer record is? If only you could see my shocked face. That’s sarcasm btw…this stuff happens all the time. But can you imagine for just one second, that I was the same as just about every other independent music-reviewer out there? By the time I’d be finished this one paragraph, that’s usually where the rest of my peers tap out already in writing about a single three-minute Pop song, let alone trying to cover a song an album that’s over thirty-three minutes long. Surprises can be a good thing. They can also yield intros like this.
So don’t get it twisted y’all, this nearly thirty-four minute song is merely divided into nine movements, not nine totally different songs, that’d be something completely different. While, surprise, there’s some sarcasm in that comment as well – it’s not entirely untrue either if I’m being fair – no sky can blind us has purposely designed this to be one solitary experience enjoyed in total; and if that makes it different than a lineup of cohesive tunes for a set-list on an album, then right on, have at it hoss. Definitions may vary as to what constitutes an album versus a song I suppose…the point is, it’s meant to be a singular experience. Though I do presume that’s what most of you intend the release of a full album to be. The main difference that really occurs when you choose to put out an unbroken record like this, is actually on the listener’s end…there’s less freedom for us to roam – you either accept this as one long tune with all its many styles & sounds, or you’re in for thirty-three plus-minutes of seriously struggling, that’s the reality. There’s no skipping ahead to your favorite part unless you wanna poke around in the timeline and do your best to guess…again, it’s an intentional aspect of the design in making a record like this, but there’s zero question about the fact that it inherently brings in a whole new dimension of risk to the overall accessibility. That ain’t my opinion – that’s how the masses listen to music, straight up. Or think of it this way – when was the last time you gave thirty-four minutes of your undivided attention up to…umm…anything at all? Like, as in, without looking at your phone or anything else. no sky can blind us is undoubtedly asking a lot more of the everyday listener in having this album come out in one piece.
Thankfully, I’m not the everyday listener…but in knowing that I’m not 100% unique in any way, shape, or form as well, also tells me that there’s still an audience out there for creativity like you’ll find here. On an artistic level alone, what no sky can blind us has set out to achieve here, more than has merit – it’s an accomplishment & achievement to be proud of, whether you view it as one song OR one record. It’s ambitious, adventurous, and ultimately, there’s a ton of skill flashed along the distance throughout This Is Not For You – considering that this is all the hard-work & efforts of one dude – Erick Bieger – it becomes that much more impressive. Then you factor in things like how the album is based loosely around the novel House Of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, and that this whole thing was recorded for National Solo Album Month (which is…a thing?) and you can start to see how the serious dedication of this guy plays a significant role in creating an album like This Is Not For You. Essentially, you wouldn’t do any of what Erick is doing without enjoying the journey of making music on just about every conceivable level…records like this one are built out of exploratory curiosity and a pure love of the game. Right on. If everyone had this high degree of inspiration and quality of their ideas, I’d probably be listening to a whole lot more thirty-four minute long songs albums out there, just sayin. The reality is, most don’t.
Erick does…I’ll happily give the man credit for that. He’s also got a wild range of sound & style flowing throughout this experimental record as well…and of course, that’s always welcome. Here are some of his own words to describe what you’ll hear on This Is Not For You that’ll help you understand it better than I could write: “It’s designed to be intentionally jarring, genre hopping from brutal extremes to droning ambient beauty, and taking the listener through their own journey of peace and chaos.” Shortly afterwards, he’ll go on to explain: “It is meant to be experienced. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be enjoyed.” He also makes a recommendation on how to listen to it as well, but I wouldn’t tell a chef how to eat his food either, so I’m leaving that part out completely. If you start compartmentalizing the means of how people listen…you’re pretty much asking them to not, unless they have those exact specs being pointed out, lest they think they wouldn’t be getting the full experience without the required equipment. There are ways to widen an audience, and ways to pigeonhole one into becoming more niche…this is definitely one successful way to go about the latter; neither are wrong, it’s all about how you want to get your music out there & how far you want it to go. Open as many doors as possible I say – but you’d have to assume Erick’s got completely different intentions…it is after all, called This Is Not For You, and to a degree I suspect that’s very true – ultimately, this record is probably more for him than anyone else. I’m not saying that sarcastically, I’m not saying that as some kind of tongue-in-cheek burn – I mean it…I think the guy took on a specific task and went right after it headfirst to challenge himself. I’ve not only got love for that, but I’m certainly appreciative of the fact that This Is Not For You went on to clearly become more than that in the end results…there is, actually quite a bit ‘For You’ here as well.
What I can tell ya for sure, is that there was a ton here FOR ME – I’ve squeezed in just about as many full listens as I possibly could have in between the time I got it and writing this review now, and I can verifiably say I never once felt bored, not even remotely. Keep in mind however, that I’ve got just about one of the most open palettes around when it comes to style & sound though…that’s not a humblebrag, that’s the truth – I was raised in a household that could have Mozart and Nine Inch Nails playing easily back-to-back, and I like an incredible range of things in music. For myself, having the tremendous dose of diversity that This Is Not For You delivers was nothing but pure sonic joy from start to finish – but I do acknowledge that I ain’t listening with the same ears as the everyday music-listener out there. I’m positive that Erick would be well aware that providing such versatility in a singular experience can be both a good thing for some, and a tougher thing for others out there…I wouldn’t be telling him anything he doesn’t already know when it comes to that. Like I’ve been hinting at here from the get-go, you wouldn’t really make a record like this with other people in mind in that respect…this was a challenge that Erick took on to test the limits of what he’s capable of – and he should be massively stoked on what he’s discovered he can do. From the all-out balls-out sound of the very first moments of This Is Not For You’s beginning, to its atmospherically inclined ending, he hasn’t let any of us down in the slightest when it comes to this sonic smorgasbord of entertainment – but most importantly, he hasn’t let himself down either. I mean, if I was the guy, I’d be doing this stuff constantly…this album is one hell of a ride.
And while we can cite specifics like the digitally-infused beginning with the vocal sample reminding us that This Is Not For You, or the explosive moments to follow with what’s arguably no sky can blind us at its most intense & in-your-face, or the spectacularly Grunge-laden sound of the seventh movement in “considering the fifth,” the heavy grooves, the incredible use of drums from the lefts to the rights in the twenty-eighth minute, the poetic lyricism, the brilliant melodic aspects on display, or the straight-up gripping musicianship & clever vocals that’ll pop up in various ways throughout the distance of this record or it’s all-out superb finale – to take any one piece and revere it any more than the rest would almost defeat its purpose. Erick designed this to be one experience, and so shall it be, for better or worse, for all who listen. For myself, the endlessly adventurous way he’s structured This Is Not For You and its immensely ambitious length provided an entire series of unique moments and completely unexpected twists – and I dig that. The unpredictability you’ll find here and the wild expanse of its sound damn near puts an album like this into Progressive terrain as a result…which may or may-not be something that no sky can blind us will want to consider…but that’s an equivalent comparison that’s valid in terms of the concentration this record demands of you and the level of attention you should be giving to its details as a listener. As in, it’s not like Erick simply chose to phone-in any part of This Is Not For You with just a couple of quick chords and a simple melody – not at all – this is spectacularly involved, quite often impressively intricate, and enormously ambitious from beginning to end. You listen to a song record like this and you know, beyond all things, that the work has seriously been put into every second of it, and just as much passion in there to rival the effort. Long breakdowns like you’ll hear towards the ten-minute mark are actually quite welcome…they provide clever transitions along the way that allow no sky can blind us to flex multiple dimensions of sound throughout this one experience and morph the music in a way that makes sense to our ears as it plays, no matter how different that next part to come may be. Essentially, he deserves just as much credit for the flow & fluidity you’ll find in this entire record as he would the writing for any one specific part of the song…it’s how this whole experience moves, that should move YOU as well. Perhaps even more remarkable is the amount of how successful this project has been in finding material with depth in such a noticeable variety of ways – it doesn’t really seem to matter at all what gear no sky can blind us is in, there’s something extraordinary for you to listen to whether it’s super loud & ripping through your speakers, or gently comin’ atcha. Creative AF – listen to moments like the vocal-breakdown between the fourteenth & seventeenth minutes, and you’ll hear a magnificently memorable highlight that reveals his fearlessness…you don’t hear too many cuts that take half as many chances as this one does, and spots like this show that artistic integrity & undeniable uniqueness in full-bloom. He can be hypnotic, he can be mesmerizing, he can be accessible whenever he wants to be, and he can light it up with an array of spectacular creativity unlike any other too – if there’s anything he proves on this record, it’s that Erick is a one-man force to be reckoned with. I’ve heard moments that remind me of Mars Volta…I’ve heard spots that remind me of Soundgarden…there are atmospheric elements that drive this record in completely different directions that resemble neither of these two at all – you get the idea…you’ll go from one extreme to the other, but what’s so impressive, truly, is how seamlessly he’s Erick’s got this all threaded together. Listen to spots around the twenty-minute mark – you’ll find it’s not just tone & style he’s playing with, but time & space as well – and the effect of his ability to thrive in so many realms at once, continually leads This Is Not For You into a wealth of stunning ideas, one after the other, all played exceptionally well, with endlessly engaging textures popping right out at ya through the loud/quiet dynamics he’s set up so expertly throughout the length of this experience. And whether you call it one song, one record, or something else entirely – that’s undoubtedly what this IS – it’s an experience, just like the man promised through his own words it would be. I know I won’t forget hearing this any time soon – no sky can blind us has put together a massively enjoyable & memorable moment here; I truly salute both the effort & commitment it would take to pull all this off and have every ticking second be so 100% interesting to our ears in the process.
Find out more about no sky can blind us at the official page at Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/noskycanblindus
Join the thousands of bands & artists reviewed at sleepingbagstudios by clicking here!