by Matt Keim
Sky Mata has carefully built an experience to slide into with their album, Dye Xanh. The music begs to take the listener on a trip, sometimes quite literally. When the first song ends, an in-flight announcement for their pending arrival in Kathmandu, Nepal comes on. “23 degrees Celsius,” indeed. I cannot wait. Wash over me with your warm, heady breeze, Sky Mata, wash over me.
Built on bass grooves, chill latin beats, and whispered jazz harmonies, the songs recreate what I can only imagine as the most relaxing, as well as the sexiest, trip to Sri Lanka and Nepal that has happened in recent times. Each song is bookended by a short moment of unexpected percussion, and occasionally, field recordings of the Nepali people. These introductions roll out a carpet for the lush experience to follow. It could be the lovers’ dance of “Mirissa,” “Way Home Bktpr’s” late night croon, or the carefree goodbye of “Stormy.” “Casio Thorn,” one of the album’s standouts, is the kind of thing to put on as the world slides by in the evening. Every track on this album sounds as if it has been left out in the sun, and now they just ooze warmth.
Matthew Haya, the mastermind behind the writing, performing, and engineering of Sky Mata, whispers and serenades throughout. He keeps his voice filtered and surrounded by harmonies, and it serves. The melody and vibe take precedence over the lyrics, which keeps the experience surreal. This is a trip for anyone to come on, and the brief snatches of twilit hours and missed connections are enough for anyone to build their own experience out of.
Sky Mata is from Sapporo, Japan, a city known in America almost exclusively for its ice cold beer. Dear me. What a shame, for this city also houses an artist that has created a great escape into warmth, love, and mystery. Put this on and fly away. I can already feel the breeze.