Bio from “The Blurred Horizon” (2021)
Tuesday The Sky’s origins could almost be considered accidental. Guitarist Jim Matheos, famed for his work with progressive metal giants Fates Warning alongside projects such as OSI and his collaboration with John Arch, Arch / Matheos, penned a few songs that did not fit in with any of his established outlets, and intrigued by this, decided to write more and see where this took him. The result was 2017’s Drift, a record that drew influence from the likes of Brian Eno, Sigur Ros, Boards Of Canada and Explosions In The Sky, and now he returns with its successor, The Blurred Horizon. “With this one, I knew going into it that I wanted to do a follow up, so it was much more intentional and planned out,” he says. “I kind of fell into the first record, but having done that, it set the tone and direction for the overall project, and I wrote with that in mind this time around. Musically, it’s worlds away from what I usually do, much more introspective, and quiet.”
A mixture of ambient, electronica, post-rock and more, The Blurred Horizon is perhaps best described as a beautiful record, having a natural grace to it. From opener “Half Remembered”, which is tinged with melancholy, to the warmer “Cwmwl” or the haunting “Later, Then Now”, it is quite an understated collection, yet with a lot going on – the agitated, busy “Hypneurotic”, for example, adding a different flavor to the mix. Predominantly the work of Matheos, he acknowledges the advantages and disadvantages of working on something alone. “It can be fun getting lost in my own head when writing and not having to manage other people’s expectations. On the other hand, there are times when it would be nice to bounce ideas around or get some objective feedback.” However, while it is very much his baby, he is not the sole performer on the record, enlisting the help of other musicians where necessary. “It’s primarily a solo project, but with the idea of having different guests on each record to help fill it out and, hopefully, give each one a slightly different sound. With the first record, there was Anna Lynne Williams on vocals for a couple of songs, and Lloyd Hanney of God Is An Astronaut on drums. For this one, the live drums on five tracks were handled by Gavin Harrison of The Pineapple Thief, King Crimson, and Porcupine Tree. He’s my absolute favorite drummer, so he was the first person I thought of when I decided that some of the songs could benefit from real drums. I originally was thinking of just one or two songs, but once I heard how good he made them sound, I kept asking him do more, which, thankfully, he agreed to. His playing added a whole new dimension to the songs, particularly on ‘Hypneurotic’, where he plays two different full drum kit takes, panned left and right, to achieve a kind of ‘double drummer’ effect.”
“Everything Is Free” – the closing track and only one on the record to include vocals – is a cover of a Gillian Welch and David Rawlings song from 2001. “Fates Warning were thinking about doing some cover tunes as bonus tracks for ‘Long Day Good Night’ (2020), and when that didn’t happen, I kept this one in mind for a future project. It seemed to fit nicely here, even though it’s an otherwise instrumental album, and the vocals are by Tim Bowness. Like Gavin, Tim is someone I’ve worked with in the past, with OSI and several other projects. He’s got a beautiful voice and his gentle delivery is just what I wanted for this one.” For the other tracks, Matheos needed to come up with titles, keeping a running file of ideas and adding to it any time he came across something inspiring or encountered a phrase that might work. “The first thing I did was go through those and see if anything ‘fit’. Other than that, it’s just a question of listening to the song and seeing what kind of mood or imagery it evokes, and hopefully picking a word or phrase that conveys that, at least to me.” The album title has no specific meaning or concept behind it, Matheos thinking it just nicely summed up the song titles and music, giving some sense of direction to it all. “With instrumental music, it’s very hard to tell a ‘story’ with any specificity. Ten people hearing the same song, without a title to suggest something, will likely come up with ten different ideas about what the song is about. But the majority of them will, hopefully, get the same overall feeling or mood, So there’s a sense of seeing – or feeling – something, but not knowing quite clearly what it is. And it gave me the opportunity to take one more title off my list!”
Recording as he was writing, it was an “all in one” process, tracking in his home studio – and having his guests do likewise in their personal studios and sending the files to him – taking approximately six months to complete. This made for a smooth undertaking – the hardest part selecting the song titles – and the guitarist is just keen for people to hear it. There are no plans to assemble a band and tour the record, doing so financially prohibitive given how hard it is even for a band as established as Fates Warning to tour these days, and there may or may not be another Tuesday The Sky record in the future. “It’s hard to say. Artistically, it’s fun and satisfying, but ultimately it depends on whether or not anyone wants to hear another!”
Bio from “Drift” (2017)
If you look at Jim Matheos’ career, across his role at the helm of the pioneering progressive metallers Fates Warning, to his collaborations in OSI and Arch/Matheos, and his appearances with Gordian Knot and Memories of Machines as well as his own solo material, people might think they know what to expect from this guitarist. Tuesday The Sky, however, from the opening sounds of the debut album Drift, is set to expand those boundaries even further.
The impetus for Tuesday The Sky came from a Fates Warning bonus track that Matheos felt didn’t fit: “I started the first song, probably about a year and a half ago, as an idea for a Fates Warning bonus track. But as we progressed with Theories of Flight I realized it might not fit in and we decided to go with the all-acoustic bonus disc. This left me with a song that I really liked but didn’t know what to do with. So I started thinking about writing a few more in this style to see where it might lead.”
The resulting full-length album, Drift, came together in the downtime between Fates Warning finishing Theories of Flight and the beginning of the touring cycle, enabling Matheos to explore a type of atmospheric and instrumental music you might not expect of him. He comments: “With this kind of music, it’s a lot about creating a mood and letting that sink in and develop over long periods of time, as opposed to the more frenetic format of most prog music.” Taking cues from artists like Brian Eno, Boards Of Canada, Sigur Ros and Explosions In The Sky, he explores expansive textures and ambient electronica, as well as some of the most colossal riffs he has ever produced. The album also features the talents of God Is An Astronaut’s drummer Lloyd Hanney, who provides a rhythmic backbone that is at once punchy, precise and restrained when necessary. Other guests include long-time OSI collaborator and former Dream Theater member Kevin Moore who plays keys on two tracks, and Anna-Lynne Williams (Trespassers William, Lotte Kestner) who provides ethereal vocals (of the non-verbal kind) on two other songs.
Instrumental music often forces a different way of thinking when it comes to writing, and Tuesday The Sky is no different: “One of the things I did was to look at the writing from a sound design perspective. What I mean by that is I would start with interesting sounds that would (hopefully) lead to interesting parts, rather than the other way around.” Matheos continues: “So, I would start by experimenting with different guitar/amp/effects combinations, sometimes all analog, sometimes digital, often for days, until I came up with something that inspired me to play things I liked.” It’s an approach that has paid dividends and is reflected in the music, flowing freely and naturally across its 10-song duration.
What the future of this project holds and whether it will be taken out on the road is yet to be seen. Matheos comments: “It would be a challenge to bring this project but it is an interesting idea and one I would at least consider if there seems to be enough interest.” What is sure though, is that Tuesday The Sky’s debut is a bold, brave, creative and ultimately successful album from one of rock’s most underrated of musicians.
Tuesday The Sky – “Drift” (49:04) / Tracklisting:
1. Today The Sky (04:15)
2. Kite (05:10)
3. Vortex Street (04:46)
4. It Comes In Waves (04:30)
5. Dyatlov Pass (07:29)
6. Far And Away (04:19)
7. Westerlies (05:27)
8. Roger, Gordo (04:06)
9. The Rowing Endeth (04:31)
10. Drift (04:09)
Line-Up on “Drift”:
Jim Matheos – guitars and bass
Lloyd Hanney – drums
Anna-Lynne Williams – vocals on “Vortex Street” and “Westerlies”
Kevin Moore – keyboards on “It Comes In Waves” and “Drift”