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Sand: Sand

Captivating solo flight from the North Atlantic Oscillation frontman.

Anyone familiar with NAO will know Sam Healy is no stranger to electronically minded, new-wave prog rock. The Scottish trio have acquired many admirers since their debut in 2010, combining hazy elements with alt- rocking axe-work, but with Sand Healy sought to create a ‘musical palate cleanser’ before the next NAO project.

Accordingly distortion, and electric guitars generally, are stripped right back; scintillating layers of keys, harmonies and samples are developed, and a contemplative yet dynamic tone is generated.

Oddly philosophical in its own way, Life Is Too Easy showcases an enveloping, jittering yet warm blend of keys, beats and escalating electronics. There’s a twinkly intimacy to the likes of Clay, the dreamy vocal harmonies of Ashtray will have you swooning. A Pill To Keep The Plane From Crashing is a highlight: its gripping opening shrinks to lo-fi notes then swells into an enigmatic blend of bleepy electronics and soaring post-rock.

Healy challenges the conventions of songcraft while simultaneously immersing you in familiar structures, lovely instrumentals and an enticing degree of weirdness. Cosy, atmospheric and ethereal, Sand is a space-rocking sonic delight.

Polly is Features Editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage) and writes a few things. She also writes for Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer, and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.