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Skies Above Skies

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Album Review

Constance Demby, the "queen of symphonic spacemusic," draws from an international palette of musical mysticism on this 1978 spiritual album. Meditative drones from twanging tamboura, noble organ chords, shimmering waves of the hammered dulcimer, and cello overtones overlap to create sonic tapestries, heady settings for seven chants and prayers sung by Demby. The Tibetan chant "Om Mani Padme Hum" offers intoxicating layers upon layers of sounds and voices. The Chinese-flavored "Peace of God," with lyrics by Annie Besant, dances suspensefully between the flittering of the hammered dulcimer and the deeply resonant twang of the Chinese cheng (a koto-like instrument). The Chinese mode is employed again on "El Mie." The "St. Francis Prayer" brings words above the plateaus of the hammered dulcimer. The devotional "Sant Ji" brings in just a touch of synthesizer sweetening to create expansive vistas of heaven; listening is almost like flying. The multi-instrumental Demby plays all the instruments and sings, and the sonic effects are quite an achievement for the synthesizer and overdubbing technology of the time. What makes Skies Above Skies so enduring is Demby's sensitivity toward the "live" sonic vibrations of her voice and instruments and her alignment with the sentiments of the holy prayers. It is like the nectar of profound innocence.


Genre: New Age

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Constance Demby is one of the few representatives of the New Age movement (in both her music and her personal philosophies) who consistently creates artistic, highly expressive compositions. Demby was trained in classical music as a child, and her artistic spirit led her to also master several other art forms; at the University of Michigan, she studied painting, sculpture, and music. It was her work as a sculptor that led her to new dimensions of sound. As she was torching a sheet of metal, it roared...
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Skies Above Skies, Constance Demby
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