The first thing you notice about the new rock band that is Sealand Airlines is that the sound, style and delivery is so quintessentially English and it therefore comes as quite a shock to discover that they are actually Ukrainian. This is the debut release by a talented team of musicians and I understand that the band has only been together for a couple of years which makes the self-titled album all the more impressive as it is a most accomplished and confident affair indeed.
The band comprises Artem Bemba on bass, vocals, keyboards, violin and flute with Mykhailo Kanafotskyi on guitars, Andrii Davydenko on keyboards and backing vocals with Lurii Khomik on drums and backing vocals and they set up a real vibe with this intoxicating and ambitious album. It is actually one of those difficult records to review as it takes a little time to fully absorb the music and come to terms with what the band is trying to achieve mainly due to it being a very subtle and cleverly constructed cross-genre rock opus.
There is a definite retro feel to the work that takes you back to the 70’s and is very keyboard influenced which makes for what is effectively pastoral progressive rock but there are elements of pop and harder elements in there too. It is difficult to give exact influences on the band but they must have listened to a lot of Camel, Barclay James Harvest and probably a little bit of Caravan too and they also have a flavour of The Pineapple Thief as well. In fact, if the name on the front of the album was Steven Wilson then this would be hailed as a popular music masterpiece as the album does seem a distillation of all of the rock music that was produced in the UK in the ’70s. I’m just staggered that four musicians from the Ukraine have been able to put together an album that perfectly defines, in 41 glorious minutes, exactly what all of the ’70s British prog rock bands were doing, simply unbelievable.
The vocals are sung in English and perfectly delivered by Artem Bemba and he has a touch of Pye Hastings about him which makes him perfect to front this keyboard driven band. All the way through you keep picking up little influences from the ’70s with a touch of Zeppelin here and a little bit of Uriah Heep there which is so evident on the Hammond heavy track Railway Man. Andrii Davydenko shows that he is a true talent on the keyboards with his work that is so lush and choral as he lays down layers of swirling organs that gives it such a delicious retro feel yet the sound is still that of a fresh and modern band. Mykhailo Kanafotskyi supplies plenty of fine guitar work too but it is the bank of keyboards that gives the band such a superior and rich sound that will keep drawing you back to it.
Do yourself a real favour and check out this mightily impressive album but give it several plays as you will then find that the music starts to seep into your heart, a real retro delight from an imperious new band from the Ukraine.
Sealand Airlines track list
- Garrison (4:14)
- Sailing Girl (4:35)
- Railway Man (5:21)
- The Danger (5:55)
- We Have What We Have (4:12)
- Revenge (3:51)
- Salia Ana (6:24)
- The Mountain (5:18)