DulceSky – Unfamiliar EP

Unfamiliar EP

DulceSky returns as a trio (Oliver Valenzuela (vocals, guitar), Mitchell Razon (drums), and Daniel Valenzuela (bass and backing vocals) for this 4-song EP that was produced by Matt Winegar, who also plays guitar and keyboards on some of the songs. Oliver and company cover the song “Unfamiliar”, originally by the 1990s shogazer band Ride, and add three of their own creations.

The EP starts off strongly with “Unfamiliar” and DulceSky not only does the Ride song justice, but surpasses the original version by bringing a deeper, more nuanced melancholy to the song. Where Ride’s Mark Gardner and Andy Bell sing in a thin, pallid tone, Oliver’s vocals are dark and rich and point to an emotional depth and maturity not found on the original song. Another plus about this cover is the absence of the continually scraping aero-guitar buzz that frets over Ride’s song.

On DulceSky’s captivating version, spacey, dawning sounds lead to a muscular, smoothly loping drum beat and sharply surging, distorted guitar line that contrasts against Oliver’s gorgeously melancholy vocal delivery. There is a tension between the more fast-paced instrumentation of towering guitar arcs, cymbal crashes, and occasional doubled drum beat, and Oliver’s richly despondent vocal tone – a balance between dramatic musical turmoil and forlorn, but caressingly calm vocals.

“Icon of Distress” continues the restless roil of the first song, with a mid-tempo drum beat, restrained cymbal crash, and blazing, distorted guitar. Oliver’s sings in a lower, deeper tone, breaking into goth territory with his brooding tone amid a simmering guitar line and steady, sometimes doubled, drum beat. Oliver raises his voice on the chorus parts, sounding distressed (the song title does not lie), followed by a darker, jagged guitar line playing against a buzzing bed of other guitars and drum beat.

A soft crash of cymbals opens “In Your Way”, gently making way for a slower beat, chiming, but muted guitar, and subdued, but light bell-tone keyboard notes. Oliver sing-talks in a plainer, but resigned vocal tone on the verses, as guest vocalist Dannika Valenzuela mirrors him in the background. Distorted, but controlled guitars break out on the chorus, sounding very The Church-like, as Oliver achingly draws out the words “Don’t want to…fight…anymore”, sounding like he has been worn down from an emotional battering. Over the course of the song more sounds are introduced, from fiery guitar work to keyboard notes to “Ahhh” vocal harmonizing between Oliver and Dannika until a lull at the end of the song where it’s just Oliver reflectively sing-talking the verse lines over quiet guitar strum.

“Ana in a Dream” is a delicate come down of two strummed acoustic guitars, bright, spacey keyboard notes, and slow drum beat, with Oliver sing-talking in a hushed, but expressive tone. On the chorus the song opens up more with a range of instrumentation including three different keyboard sounds, from delicate flute-like notes to gliding, watery notes to shining notes, all resting amid strummed guitar, with Oliver singing higher and wistfully until the song fades away like a pleasant dream.