ALBUM: Real Big Sky – ‘Real Big Sky’

Blending together reverb drenched riffs, enigmatic vocals and shiver-inducing cymbal smashes to create their blissful melodic noise, Real Big Sky’s self-titled debut album is an immersive, swirling collection of heavy guitar tunes that brood with quiet intensity.

Beginning as a form of distraction during the Covid-19 lockdowns for multi-instrumentalist Sara Kleppe (You Break, You Buy, Gold Baby), Real Big Sky was initially a solo project which she worked on in her bedroom in Hackney. Kleppe relocated back to her native Sweden in 2021, but with the help of friend and long-term collaborator Luca Romano – who also played drums and was on recording, mixing and production duties for the record – she has developed Real Big Sky’s sound to its fullest and most fluid yet.

“Changing dynamics throughout a song is something I try to give a lot of attention to, as well as trying to break free from the standard song structure,” Kleppe explains about the process of writing the songs for the album. It’s clear from the searching, yearning nature of opener ‘The Same Thing’ that she has a natural instinct for shifts in volume and mood, and this skill permeates Real Big Sky’s album.

Preferring not to be too prescriptive about her lyrics, Kleppe’s elusive vocals float gently over her expansive riffs, her ambiguous words adding to the record’s overall enigmatic quality. She transcends feelings of isolation that underscore tracks like ‘Long Lost’ and ‘Another Day’ in different ways; the first soothes like a heavy lullaby whilst the latter swells with anticipation.

She perceives introspection in a similar vein too. Whilst ‘Jess’ feels like a darker, moodier offering, gentler tracks like ‘Where Is Your Mind?’ ache with sincerity, the rich guitar sounds complimenting Kleppe’s understated pining for answers. A magnetic undercurrent flows through the shimmering tones of ‘Lightness’, the fullness of ‘The Deepest Currents’ and the urgent, epic concluding track ‘The End’, which clocks in at just under 7 minutes. It encapsulates all that Real Big Sky have to offer, equally as impressive in its quiet moments as it is in its intense, murky outro.

Kleppe was hesitant to release her predominantly solo work as Real Big Sky into the world, but this hesitancy is definitely misplaced. Together with Luca Romano, she has crafted a captivating record that raptures the senses, and much like the time period it was created in, is a blissful distraction from life’s more overwhelming moments.

Listen to Real Big Sky’s debut album here.

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Photo Credit: Johanna Kleppe

Kate Crudgington

LISTEN: Harkin – ‘Body Clock’

A tender, intuitive offering that reflects on the idea of re-setting your boundaries during a time of great uncertainty, UK based multi-instrumentalist Harkin has shared her latest single ‘Body Clock’. Taken from her second album Honeymoon Suite, which is set for release on 17th June via her own label Hand Mirror, the track marks a shift in musical direction for the artist, caused mainly by the unexpected limitations of the Covid-19 lockdowns during 2020.

Recorded in the one bedroom flat that she shares with her wife above a pub, Harkin’s new album covers the spectrum of “love, grief, anxiety, resilience, danger, heartbreak and hope.” Creating her sounds in the same room where she existed on a day-to-day basis, where she held her virtual wedding reception and where she attended a funeral over zoom, her record feels like a deeply personal time capsule, but it’s one that listeners can open and share too. ‘Body Clock’ is the first of many singles that will resonate with those who had a similar experience during an unsettling and repetitive time.

Accompanied by a charming animated video created by Pastel Castle, ‘Body Clock’ is full of atmospheric electronics, soft vocals and glitchy beats. “I was a big fan of Pastel Castle’s work and felt like this song would be a perfect fit,” Harkin comments about the video. “I wrote and recorded it during lockdown in a flat with no outdoor space. My brother loaned me a Nintendo Switch and I found solace in games with large maps to explore. Songwriting and gameplay can both have the power to transport and the video Pastel Castle has created takes me on a beautiful and perilous quest.”

Watch the video for ‘Body Clock’ below.

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Photo Credit: Kate Hewett

Kate Crudgington