By: Nerhys Hall
Maybe it’s the classically-trained musician in me, but I always love when classical instruments are used in pop music. One of the most common instruments — and, in my opinion, one of the best for this use — to cross the classical-pop divide is the violin. BC-based alternative groove duo Sky Parallel shows the classical instrument’s flexibility for use in pop music, and not just by being played as a fiddle. (Fun fact: violins and fiddles are the same instrument; violins are called fiddles when played for folk music.) Formed in 2015, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Noni and violinist Sara Fitzpatrick teamed up to form their pop-folk band Sky Parallel. They have become known for their electronic flavours and moving melodies that feature experimental violin and rich vocal textures. The duo’s recent self-titled EP displays their unique blend of sounds.
Of the 6 tracks on Sky Parallel EP, half have slower tempos and half are a little quicker. The vocals are all soulful and filled with emotion, and each feature interesting violin sounds and techniques. The EP opener, “Walk On” is a slow and soulful song with a simple beat and instrumentals but features some really cool synthesizer noises and harmonies. Directly following track 1, “How I Feel” is another slower song that has a darker edge to it. Beginning with a simple intro and incorporating a simple rhythm with humming, the violin sounds mournful and the vocals float above, creating a really interesting sense of separation. The final song with a slow tempo, “Body Between”, is the EP’s final track. The song features snapping, pizzicato (plucking the violin strings), soft vocals, and a pulsating synth underneath everything as a bass line. A couple sections of this song take on a lighter tone with a quicker tempo, but then returns to the slower, pulsating tempo.
“Jezebel” picks up the pace from tracks 1 and 2 as the first quicker-tempo song. Featuring a vocal intro, dissonant violin sounds, and pizzicato, the song adds some fun variation into the EP. Songs 4 and 5, “Mourning” and “Roll Me Down”, follow in a similar manner with upbeat tempos. A soulful song, “Mourning” has a country-ish vibe to it with some really interesting violin sounds and the vocals take on a very sweet quality. Finally, track 5 has an urgent quality to it. The use of silence as well as staccato (very short, very sharp notes) violin is incredible.
As a whole, Sky Parallel’s EP Sky Parallel is not something you want to miss. Each song is a pleasure to listen to and continues to get better on repeat listens, as your ears pick up sounds not noticed before.