Via Tania Under a Different Sky

[Chocolate Industries; 2003]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: trip hop, down tempo, industrial
Others: Portishead, Massive Attack, Broadway Project


Caution:  Under a Different Sky may cause drowsiness.

Listening to the new full-length album by Via Tania is much like needing a well-deserved nap. You don’t want to go to sleep, but your body is telling you otherwise. The dreamlike nature of Under a Different Sky is led by the sultry singing style of Tania May-Bowers. Although her singing can sometimes come across as passive, it can also be very genuine and satisfying. Imagine Martina Topley-Bird (back-up vocalists for Tricky) and Macy Gray singing you sophisticated, yet depressive, lullabies about love and loss. With no sign of a good beat anywhere, and a BPM number of about 20, Under a Different Sky promises to set a strong sedative mood upon its listener.     

With a long list of supporting musicians, including Scott Herren, Doug McCombs, and Howe Gelb, you can pretty much guess that Tania has selected a good staff to support her efforts here. Surprisingly enough, some are hits while others are less than appealing. The opening track, “I Dream Again,” is produced by Scott Herren, and is actually one of the less engaging tracks on the album. The beginning of the song begins with the staple glitched beats and keyboards that made Herren’s Savath & Savalas albums what they are. The samples slowly start to fade and allow the album to get to the point it’s strongly aching to make. “Lightning and Thunder” and “The Rising” show a stronger and more confident approach, if only for a couple songs.  “In the Deep” inevitably begs comparison to early Massive Attack, or even less clinical Portishead.   

Under a Different Sky may not be everyone’s cup of tea. The overall pace of the album tends to drag since most of the songs are strongly similar in style. However, if you’re one who likes melancholy and loss in your music, you’re in for a pretty fun ride. There is plenty of sadness and despair here to share with your entire family.  For those of you who are curious about Via Tania because the album is on Chocolate Industries, take note that this is not your run-of-the-mill hip-hop release that we’ve come to know them for.

1. I Dream Again
2. Boltanski
3. Lightning and Thunder
4. In the Distance
5. The Rising
6. In the Deep
7. Moonlight and Chaos
8. True
9. Reprise (Little Moods)
10. This Earth