In sci-fi literature, the art of worldbuilding is almost as important as the writing itself. In music though, we rarely use this term. But when listening to Cu Sithe’s album “The Shadow Behind the Sun”, which is being released today, worldbuilding seems to be its defining quality. It is a breathtakingly beautiful, complex, and larger-than-life album. The only limit is your imagination. Cu Sithe is definitely an artist to follow in the years to come.
Cu Sithe is a music project by Tom Grimes. He was born in the North East of Scotland and has a degree in psychology from Aberdeen University. Grimes has since then worked in various fields; he has been an analyst/programmer for Rolls-Royce, a network operations engineer for a cable and internet company, a freelance 3D artist and a marketing and community specialist for 3D software companies. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. The first Cu Sithe album, “Tursan”, was released last year.
Included with the album “The Shadow Behind the Sun” is an optional short story, co-written with ES Figuerola. You may download the story here.
Through a Sea of Stars
The album starts with a short intro of alien winds, a male voice, engine sounds and, suddenly, a space attack! It is a great opening and leaves the listener wanting more. “Through a Sea of Stars” is a delightful, velvety piece with piano and electric guitar. The best part is what I believe is the hardest to make, the atmosphere. It is otherworldly, yet without that ambient, spacey coldness. No, it is warm, positive, and upbeat. This is how it must feel like to swim through a sea of stars. Bravo!
“Coming Down” is the short bridge between the album opener and “The Eye of the Heart”. I love the sound design; the textures are multi-layered and atmospheric. It feels like a landing. There is no doubt that “The Shadow Behind the Sun” is inspired by Mike Oldfield’s “The Songs of Distant Earth” (1994) – and “The Eye of the Heart” reminds me of “The Shining Ones” and similar TSODE pieces. It is a statement of Tom Grimes’s abilities to create interesting soundscapes. You know the saying; it takes a master to imitate a master. The piece ends with some quite sharp sounds. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself lowering the volume; it is quite something.
One of the finest pieces on the album is “The Depths”. The ambient synths and the playful electric guitar are mesmerizing. The hint of Pink Floyd is amazing. Closer to the New Age music scene, fans of Bjørn Lynne, Red Heat, or Erik Scott will very much enjoy the music of Cu Sithe. “The Swarm” has a great build-up. Its feel-good atmosphere always has a nice impact on my mood. The laid-back atmosphere, and the rapid guitar changes, make this into a wonderful listening experience.
When listening to “Pulsar”, I had to check how long the piece was; time seems to lose its meaning. It is only 3 and half minutes long, but it is so well-made that you can safely put it on replay – although the ending itself is a bit sharp. Regarding these sudden interruptions, I’m surprised by how much meaning they contain. Your imagination immediately creates images of what is happening. Is it a starship landing, or is it something completely different? You decide. In that sense, music is much freer than literature; the listener has more control over the narrative, although Cu Sithe is “the boss”. This is his galaxy.
The Birthplace of Stars
Talking about space, “The Birthplace of Stars” takes us to the heart of creation. It gives the word epic a new meaning, many thanks to the choir – before the brave sounding “Timestream” gives us a metaphorical conception of time and how it flows like a river.
I believe that “The Long Gray Shadow” is a reply to “The Shadow Behind the Sun” title. I think that the voices are fantastic and give substance to the whole album. “First Flight” is a triumphant album closer. It is one of the very few pieces in this genre where you can do some headbanging. Rock on!
In conclusion: Summarizing “The Shadow Behind the Sun” by Cu Sithe is not easy. It is an album filled with stories, interesting atmospheres, and brilliant guitar-driven melodies. Thanks to its highly creative sci-fi vibe, it comes as no surprise when pink whales – as seen on the cover artwork – come “swimming” through space. Fans of Mike Oldfield will instantly feel at home. Pieces like “Through a Sea of Stars”, “The Swarm” and “First Flight” found their way to my personal playlist of favorites after first listen.
Like a good sci-fi novel, it makes you ask: what’s up with that shadow behind the sun? I’m not going to give any spoilers, but you are in for quite a ride!
While Mike Oldfield’s TSODE took us to space and made Earth look small, Cu Sithe’s world of music is lightyears away.
For more information and music samples, visit cusithe.com
“The Shadow Behind” is now playing on New Age Stars Radio!