Sifting – Not From Here (2017, Eclipse Records)
Formed in 2010 by singer/guitarist, Eduardo O Gil while still living in Caracas, Venezuela, Sifting started as a means of emotional catharsis. Following the tragic death of Gil’s mother and grandmother in a plane crash, he was compelled to write original music as a coping mechanism.
It is difficult to comprehend the weight of such tragedy and it is to Gil’s credit that he directed his grief toward something so positive. This difficult experience became the seed from where Sifting grew. Over the next few years they honed their sound until in 2014 Gil and drummer, Abelardo Bolano moved to LA where they quickly sought members to fill out the roster and soon after started touring. This brings us to the eventual release of their debut album, Not From Here on Eclipse Records.
Not From Here is so radio ready its surpring it doesn’t come with a station identifier every three tracks. This in itself is not problematic, especially when considering their style of anthemic progressive rock. While it would didn’t need quite as much polish, producers Ryan Williams and Steve Evetts have succeeded in creating a sound designed to appeal to as many people as possible. What it lacks in nuance and personal identity, it makes up for with sheen and bombast.
While Sifting’s approach is by no means unique, the homage they pay to stalwarts such as Porcupine Tree and Devin Townsend is clearly imbued with genuine affection. Where Sifting excel is technique and execution. It is immediately apparent how cohesive a unit these four have become since the band’s genesis in 2010. On tracks such as title track Not From Here and Nothing But Us, the wending guitars and sweeping vocals (both provided by the very talented, Eduardo O Gil) evoke strong sonic narratives capable of expressing earnest emotion. The lyrical content itself offers few surprises, staying safely within a realm of vague existential despair common to the style, but the delivery is passionate enough to carry emotion despite the well-worn path it walks. Its also worth taking a moment to acknowledge the often-gorgeous use of vocal harmonies that permeate the record as a whole. They inject a much-needed sonic complexity to the otherwise polite predictability of Sifting’s song structures.
As a debut, Not From Here is a passionate mission statement – it can be suspected , as they continue to develop their own sound, will ensure they become more than the sum of their influences. It takes few musical risks, but in so doing ensures its net falls wide enough to attract the ears of listeners well beyond the realms of metal and progressive rock. However, they respect their lineage enough to keep ardent fans of the style satisfied. The best way to enjoy Not From Here is to switch off the critical part of one’s mind and simply ride the music from one comfortable point to the other. The fewer surprises you expect, the more enjoyment you will glean from what Eduardo and co have concocted.
Words by Matthew Revert
Sifting Not From Here is out now via Eclipse Records