I have been hearing so many positive reports about Servants Jazz Quarters so it is nice to finally be here myself (along with three good friends). The venue is down winding stairs from a ground floor bar and it is, well, cosy! Also very dark! This seems to be somewhat ‘in’ at the moment; especially at gigs involving ambient synth and electronic artists! As someone whose disabilities can cause severe leg pain if I am forced to stand for long periods, I would say a slight mark against the venue is the lack of seating, although we eventually manage to squeeze sardine-like into a semi-seated corner of the room. It means we can’t see the stage over the heads of the audience members, hence the rather poor pic I have of Sky Coloured.
On the bright side, the sound is pristine and the clarity is so good that one of my friends remarks that it sounds like the vocals are pre-recorded, such is the quality. First though, we have Jake, aka Mark Cake, whose set is memorable for two reasons. One is the breadth of material which starts as heavily looped repeating synth patterns and electronic beats before lovey deep synth parts bring rich colour and the whole thing begins to take us on an ethereal sonic journey. The other is the quality of Jake’s saxophone playing which is pure Jazz virtuosity and sits teasingly atop the wave of electro-synth patterns bubbling and buzzing underneath. It is a compelling listen, and the uniqueness of his vision fits perfectly with that of Anthony T. Jackson aka Sky Coloured.
Sky Coloured treats us to two sets; one short and solo; the other playing the new As A Pearl EP with Jake. They are also joined by Benedict Wood. Both sets are quite stunning. Dreamy keyboards swirl and slide about the octaves and then Anthony’s voice causes almost an audible collective gasp, such is the distinctiveness and pureness of his singing. When he is joined by Jake, they seem to be in their element. He teases the audience about their lack of biblical knowledge; a subject of great significance to Anthony who left behind an evangelical Christian upbringing before becoming the artist we know him as.
The EP is a reminder of the versatility of Anthony’s musical influences and ideas. While he might be loosely categorised as an ambient synth-electronic artist, there are jazz, classical and other influences that mill about within his heady mix of fluid keyboard patterns, lush chords and unexpected harmonic shifts. Whether it’s the fast-paced electro-synth patterns and dreamy electric piano that accompanies the beautiful lyrics and unique melodic style of Every Life Was A World or the slightly eerie and yet beautiful aura of Grains Of Sand, you can never predict what he will do next nor pinpoint obvious influences. In an era where it is so hard to be unique or original, Sky Coloured is effortlessly both which, when you are blessed with an emotion-shreddingly beautiful voice and such an innate songwriting and composing talent, is quite something. He deserves to be elevated to a whole new level in 2024.