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July Skies in Concert (Cafe Oto, London, June 4, 2016)

Antony Harding’s ephemeral music holds up pretty well in a live setting.
July Skies (Band)
July Skies on the beach

Over the years, Antony Harding has released several albums’ worth of dappled, pastoral dreampop; his music, which draws ready comparisons to Slowdive and The Durutti Column, is breathy, airy, and shimmery, and positively suffused with nostalgia-inducing atmospherics. (For what it’s worth, Harding lists “lost youth,” “overgrown ancient ruins that still stand,” and “the sound of children playing faraway” as influences, to name a few.)

One might wonder how this sort of music, when its potency relies so much on being ephemeral and intangible, might fare in a live setting. Pretty well as it turns out, as evidenced by these recordings of a recent performance at London’s Cafe Oto. The performances span July Skies’ discography, and Harding — along with Epic45’s Ben Holton and Rob Glover — crafts a truly dreamy wall of sound. The graceful transition from “Girl on the Hill” to an extended version of “Waiting to Land” is especially nice.

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