Drummer Dylan Ryan created his Los Angeles based trio, Sand, with "the idea to write songs for a jazz band that had elements of Black Sabbath, the Cure, Jaco-era Joni Mitchell, and free jazz.... The idea [was] to have a really great sounding rhythm section that can stretch out and make music spontaneously, and naturally together. Sand is a jazz band, but it reflects the different things I grew up on and listen to; It reflects the fact that I am playing jazz, but that I wasn't born in 1945." The trio's resulting debut album, Sky Bleached (Cuneiform), is a stunning, guitar-drenched slab of visionary, 21st century jazz informed by pop culture and 3rd millennium fusion.
An astonishingly strong group in both the studio and live on stage, Sand consists of three of LA's most active young musicians, each with extensive performance experience and broad tastes: drummer/bandleader/composer Ryan, guitarist Tim Young, and bassist Devin Hoff. Ryan, best known as the catalyst behind prog-jazz sextet Herculaneum, is a key force in the avant-rock project Icy Demons, and half of the psychedelic electronica power duo Michael Columbia. An active performer, he tours with Omaha indie rock legends Cursive; works/performs with Los Angeles electro-worldpop outfit Rainbow Arabia, Harmonize Most High ,and Aleks Eva; and has recording a drum-and-vocals collection as Ether Feather. Before moving to LA in 2010, Ryan was raised in Chicago, where he studied drums with Gerry Coleman, Joel Spencer, and Paul Wertico; studied film and literature at DePaul University, and played with Jason Stein, Josh Berman, Matt Schneider and Anton Hatwitch in the quintet Alive in The Woods.
Tim Young is one of the most notable and in-demand guitarists in LA, a versatile and distinctive player sought out by artists such as Fiona Apple , John Zorn and Beck. Originally hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, Young established himself in the late 1980s on the Seattle scene with the adventurous band Scallywags. He performed in Wayne Horvitz's rock band Zony Mash and chamber jazz ensemble Sweeter Than the Day, and collaborated with many of the Pacific Northwest's most creative musicians, including Bill Frisell, Julian Priester, Obo Addy, Robin Holcomb, Matt Chamberlain, and Skerik. Based in LA for the past five years, Young leads a trio with Kneebody’s rhythm section tandem of Kaveh Rastegar (bass) and Nate Wood (drums) as well as several other projects, including Thruster!, Re:Agent, or The Youngs). He performs with a stylistically vast array of artists, including David Sylvian, Beck, Rufus Wainwright, Belinda Carlisle, Benmont Tench, Fiona Apple, Rebecca Pidgeon, Marc Ribot, and John Zorn. “He the ultimate chameleon,” Ryan says. “He always finds a space of his own within the context and he is as at home in a blistering haze of neo-psychedelia as he is accompanying a lounge singer.”
Bassist Devin Hoff , who settled in LA 5 years ago, has toured and recorded extensively with the Nels Cline Singers, Xiu Xiu , and Good For Cows. Born in Fort Collins, Colo. he came of age musically on the Bay Area scene in the mid 1990s, where he forged powerful alliances with such drummers as the Ches Smith (in the duo Good For Cows) and Scott Amendola (who Hoff performed with in the Plays Monk trio [with Ben Goldberg] and in The Nels Cline Singers). Before moving to LA, Hoff had worked extensively with Vijay Iyer, Graham Connah, Howard Wiley, Hugh Ragin, Carla Bozulich, and launched his first band, the Redressers (with Ches Smith, Carla Kihlstedt, and Marika Hughes). During a brief residency in Chicago, Hoff recorded with Ken Vandermark's Made To Break, and met Ryan, leading to his involvement in Sand. Hoff'’s appeared on more than 100 albums, composed music for film, dance and theater, and has developed and recorded repertoire for solo bass.
With their love of jazz, metal, indie pop and numerous other styles, Ryan, Hoff and Young draw on a vast shared sonic vocabulary in Sand. Together, the trio restlessly ranges between moods, textures and styles, exploring contrasting, even antithetical impulses, and juxtaposing introspective odes with aggressive anthems, artfully composed passagesand impromptu flights. In creating a fertile environment for the trio, Ryan fully utilizes Hoff’s gift for melodic invention, and Young’s imperturbable rhythmic drive. Whether exploring a melancholy soundscape or an ecstatic rave up, Sand's Sky Bleached constantly subverts expectations with music that defies categories, and embraces all possibilities.
“White Nights" is a sweeping, cinematic soundtrack, evocative of big skies, open roads and beckoning nights. An infectious 5/4 bass and drums groove sets up a gracefully swooping panoramic guitar solo. [Tempo: Up-tempo]
The action heats up; an extended crescendo builds from lilting fingerstyle guitar work to a furious, churning climax. After the wave crashes in a release of pent up tension, guitar and bass vamp on a subtly funky and angular dénouement for a beautifully understated drum solo. [Tempo: Up-tempo]
“Psychic Journey” kicks off with a lovely pop melody rendered by guitar and bass in unison, and then shifts back to a denser sonic web built on a laid back 6/8 shuffle. Solo sections with finely calibrated bass and drums interplay establish a mood. [Tempo: Up-tempo]
Buzzing with ominous portent, “Soft Rain On a Dead Sea” features haunting bow work on bass. [Tempo: Down-tempo]