Keyboardist Andrii Davydenko, guitarist Mykhailo Kanafotskyi; bassist/vocalist (and keyboards/flute/violin) Artem Bemba and drummer Iurii Khomik are Ukrainian progsters Sealand Airlines. The band is relatively new, and from the research I’ve conducted, I’ve traced their origins to circa 2018. Scrolling through their Facebook page, the band played the Electric Meadow Festival in 2018 and featured on the rather excellent Masterskaya Raw Compilation, Volume 1 that same year. The band then holed up and started work on this their debut, which is to be released on Swedish label The Sign Records, home to Demon Head, MaidaVale and Grande Royale.
The album cover has an 80s graphics vibe and is the kind of view one would spy out of an aeroplane window, which considering the name of the band, would be rather apt. The album starts with Garrison and a lovely Uriah Heep vibe emanates with some tasty Hammond organ. The groove on this thing is ridiculous and I defy anyone to not want to shake their booty to it, it has faint traces of Zeppelin, but they’re tastefully interjected. Sailing Girl takes us more into the 1980s with an eccentric art-rock approach, reminding me of Wire’s more melodious late 80s output ala Kidney Bingos. The track is well played and the interplay between guitars and synths is simply outstanding, the best tracks always take you on a journey and this definitely achieves that.
Railway Man, featured on the aforementioned Masterskaya Raw Compilation, reminds me a lot of Mondo Drag. There is a heavy prog psych style jam band feel, dominated by synths/keyboards, both of which provide the track’s momentum. I adore the sound on here, parts of it remind me of Atomic Rooster, one of the UK’s most overlooked bands. The Danger shifts effortlessly between Wishbone Ash fluid Guitar lines and the ultra mellow space-rock moments of Pink Floyd. Sealand Airlines instinctively know when to alternate between the two, and the unpredictability makes for a thrilling listen. While the band like their prog, they’ve also learnt from its mistakes and avoided self-indulgence, no ELP/Yes style excesses here.
the interplay between guitars and synths is simply outstanding…
We Have What We Have is so damn catchy that it reminds me of new wavers The Teardrop Explodes and even Haircut 100. Throw in Genesis’ Duke for good measure and you have all the ingredients for some feel good pop. If all pop music sounded as good as this, as opposed to the rot served up by the likes of Simon Cowell, then I’d be more inclined to switch on the radio. Revenge has a distinctly dirty blues feel and moves at a fair pace, rendering it invigorating with its punk sensibility.
Salia Ann is the longest track on the album and possibly the mellowest, the harmonies reminding me of The Beach Boys. In fact, one review I read described it as the soundtrack to a secluded beach vacation, and I’d be inclined to agree with that. The Mountain starts quite forcefully but soon settles and makes for another tasty slice of 70s prog nostalgia with which to conclude the album.
Unlike bands such as Opeth and Fates Warning, who I respect but can only take in small doses, I could quite easily listen to this album on repeat. Sealand Airlines was awash with excellent playing, and despite the underlying prog influence, the music had an energy and passion that made for an intriguing listen. It’s amazing that this is only their first album and it already sounds so accomplished, future releases will doubtlessly have a lot to live up to.
Scribed by: Reza Mills