I was caught off guard by this experience. I didn’t even take any notes the first time I played Skywave’s “Echodrone.” I just sat through this almost continuous dreamscape of echoed vocals, siren-sounding guitar, screeching feedback, buzzing vocals, and mystic instrumental interludes. Every once in a while, I thought to myself, “this is one of the coolest things I have ever heard.”

It seems appropriate that the band with such a surreal sound keeps much about them a mystery. No web site is listed, and all I have is a brief bio. The band, which hails from Fredericksburg, Virginia, consists of Oliver Ackermann, Paul Baker, Rita Botta, and John Fedowitz. I have no idea which of the men in the group is singing, but he takes the approach of using his voice as another instrument, something that blends in with the other sounds. After the first couple of tracks, I let my mind go and stopped trying to listen for the words.

If you’re like me, a thirty-something who grew up listening to 80s pop and new wave, you might connect with this: Imagine it’s 1983, and John Hughes is wrapping up production in his latest Molly Ringwald/Judd Nelson/Anthony Michael Hall etc. movie. He needs a soundtrack. So he rounds up The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs, Lou Reed, The Violent Femmes, Simple Minds, and a young, just-starting-out, “Gloria”-phase U2. He locks them all in a studio and tells them not to come out until they’ve recorded ten songs. This CD would be the result. As well as a few lawsuits stemming from the damage the Femmes would cause by trashing the studio after getting sick of listening to Robert Smith complain about the lack of vegetarian food and mineral water. But I digress.

This band floats through a mind-expanding, pop/rock time warp, and listening to them do this is hypnotic. Some songs, like “Slow in Space,” fade in as we join them in progress. The short pauses between songs are like waking up from a dream and immediately falling back asleep, picking the dream back up where we left off.

I’m not playing this on my car stereo. I don’t want to have to explain to the police that Skywave is the reason I got distracted and plowed through the cemetery. But I am strongly recommending this one, especially for 80s MTV addicts. This music is powerful. “Echodrone” is an incredible CD.

By Jennifer Layton