Review Summary: Sithu Aye’s latest EP Isles presents itself as a veritable breath of fresh air, a legitimately rewarding musical statement that both roars and soothes.
When I go ahead and mention to you that Sithu Aye’s music could be considered instrumental progressive, I wouldn’t be surprised if you replied with a brief rolling of the eyes. Go ahead; unleash that skepticism. Ask me if I’m even acutely aware of how creatively stagnant the genre has been these days - I won’t protest in the slightest, seeing as there’s certainly been a slumber of innovation in the genre as of late. The two premier torch-bearers, Animals as Leaders and Cloudkicker, ignited the flame that has steadily but surely kindled numerous musical movements across the global spectrum, and the prime characteristics of these movements have been fairly homogeneous as a whole. The paradox lies in the fact that inherently creative music is now being approached with a mechanical mindset; progressive musicians often summon artistic blossoming through decay of innovation. That’s been the chief concern of instrumental progressive junkies such as myself over the past few years, for nothing quite extraordinary has come of the scene lately.
A solution to this threat lies in what weapons we forget we have, though. In the vacant basements of aspiring musicians across the globe lie the ambitions of many, armed and loaded. With the advent of websites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, there has come a massive flock to the newly arisen opportunity, presented through strategically used Rock Band mics and the modest speakers of Macs on about every college campus. And while this wealth of artistic output is intimidating to many, there are moments when it has led to truly great artists getting their chance in the spotlight. Sithu Aye, a Scottish progressive composer, has amassed quite the following in less than a year, and this rousing success can be attributed to the passion that his music exudes. Despite his obvious ability to muster up truly incredible solos and complex riffs, the rather humble musician never bites off more than he can chew, whilst still taking risks when the music demands. Aye’s latest EP Isles presents itself as a veritable breath of fresh air, a legitimately rewarding musical statement that both roars and soothes.
Capitalizing on the most impressive moments of full-length Cassini while honing its mettle even further, Isles is a shining example of how an already cohesive musical equation can always be improved. The overall style of the record emphasizes the groove-oriented melodies that Aye found himself accentuating in his past, while only occasionally dabbling in the more djent, rhythm-oriented realm. The formula is more conservatively balanced, and leans towards ideas that Aye is much more capable of powerfully expressing. And surprisingly, this EP reveals a few flaws that existed on Cassini, an already huge album itself. Perhaps the greatest method towards judging an album’s merit is its capability of outranking other highly esteemed releases; in this case, Isles receives only the highest marks.
On another note, the underlying landmark concept of Isles is an eerily accurate depiction of what makes it so strikingly potent. Instead of shooting for the stars like he did with Cassini, Sithu Aye strikes gold by expanding on what he’s musically witnessed first-hand. He knows his limits, and finds that by remaining tethered to his primal instincts he is able to obtain a more extensive view of what exactly he wants his musical future to consist of.