Dust Red Skies is the new self-titled album and collaboration from San Francisco based John Brian Kirby, who I've previously featured on BlackPlastic.co.uk in his Nonagon guise.
Yet this is a very different album to Days Away, The Nonagon album that I last heard from Kirby. Where that was an album that felt enjoyably lost in the left-field this is a more polished affair, not that Days Away lacked finesse. For starters, this is a partnership - so Kirby is joined by a vocalist in the form of Vibrasol's Angie Donkin, whose vocals grant this album a more human feel with a tangible emotional core. Donkin's vocals feel very much like the centre to these tracks - they are full and soar over some of these tracks to create a sparse feeling sound where the music creates auditorium's for her to sing in.
Which isn't to undermine the music itself. Kirby's productions glisten with little details - the subtle strumming of a guitar or crunchy rhythms that then at times endure the full-frontal assault of massive wobbly bass lines. But there is an undeniable accessibility to this music - it feels like in their collaboration Kirby and Donkin have tempered each other, and often the result is positive, as on the sparkling melodies and vocal harmonies of "Shadowless".
The sound Kirby is going for feels like dusty desert evenings of the near-future - there is almost a country feel to the songwriting itself and it feels like that is where the album's title comes from. It is reminiscent of Hybrid's more melodic vocal moments.
The only downside of this is that it feels a little like some of Kirby's rough edges have been worn down in the creation of this album. The production still impresses in it's technical ability, but it may not have quite the same verve when it is bound to supporting vocals so much of the time.
Dust Red Skies helps to demonstrate Kirby's enduring and varied talents if nothing else, and is well worth a listen. You can stream and purchase it on Bandcamp.