Cross & Quinn - Cold Sky Blue Album Review

Crimson violinist David Cross and Dubh Chapter keysman Sean Quinn create a rarefied atmosphere.

Cross & Quinn Cold Sky Blue album artwork

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The title track here features a vocal by Beth Hirsch, who sang on Air’s Moon Safari, and that’s certainly no coincidence: at times David Cross and Sean Quinn take a similar approach to that French group.

Brendan Staunton, also formerly of Dubh Chapter, sings on Counting All The Stars over the kind of sparse, swinging percussion that Steve Jansen played for David Sylvian back in the 80s. But most of the album is full of space marked out by Quinn’s keyboards, while Cross’ violin is often electronically processed so that it can sound like a guitar or even a sax. He plays beautifully, though, adding more conventional sounding lines to the Eno-esque landscape of On Spider Hill.

On Arc En Ciel (Part One) Cross’ rhapsodic melodies wind around Quinn’s tolling synths, while darker keyboards loom in the distance.

On first listening Cold Sky Blue feels unusually still and spartan – it’s no wonder that Quinn has played with Hans-Joachim Roedelius – but as it unravels, the succession of songs and still lifes form a subtle but satisfying narrative. It closes with Meaningless, Staunton on vocals once more, and Cross’ treated violin finishing the album with agitated flourishes.

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.