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(53 min, 'Slychosis')
TRACK LIST: 1. Samuel 6:35 2. Innerspace 4:59 3. Dreamscapes 4:27 4. Galactic Wormhole 5:00 5. Cyber-Evil 3:23 6. Wild Night In Calcutta 4:57 7. Frosted Mini Suite 4:06 8. Glass S Full 3:18 9. Meltdown 5:08 10. Space Bass 2:05 11. Until Then 4:06 12. EVP 5:30 LINEUP: Gregg Johns - vocals; guitars, mandolin; keyboards James Walker - bass; vocals Todd Sears - drums; vocals
Prolusion. The American trio SLYCHOSIS presents their eponymous debut CD.
Analysis. What makes me feel drawn to this disc is the group's relatively independent approach to songwriting, since only three of the twelve tracks here sound heavily derivative - the first and the last two, these also being the richest in vocal sections. The opening number, Samuel, alternates quite peaceful landscapes evoking Pink Floyd at their most reflective with more intense arrangements within its instrumental interludes where the synthesizer passages are moulded upon those Mark Kelly usually applies on Marillion's mellowest songs. It also needs to be said not too many solos can be found on this cut in general - unlike narrations for instance. Until Then is a sort of tribute to Pink Floyd, now very strongly resembling Us & Them, now something halfway between Astronomy Domine and Another Brick in the Wall. The concluding number, EVP, is Space Rock with a very rough (I'd even say rusty) sound and reminds me of an outtake of some early Hawkwind LP at best. As is hinted above, the other nine tunes contain either few outside references or are entirely free of these, which however doesn't automatically mean Slychosis are pioneers bringing you something altogether new on the remainder either. Melodramatic Neo, classic Sympho Prog, English folk music and Hard Rock are all thrown into the furnace:-) of Innerspace, but only once all those components merge together do they create a really unique musical formation. Nonetheless this composition is notable for some truly interesting instrumental maneuvers and would've been very good if its vocal storyline had not been confined within the cage of a trivial couplet-refrain approach. The singing is generally one of the weakest spots of this creation, but thankfully, the other songs contain concise lyrical content, Wild Night In Calcutta being largely instrumental in all senses. This is the most saturated track in the set - both musically and sonically, standing out for its frequently shifting themes, tempos and moods, complex stop-to-play movements and so on, displaying also the best ensemble work. The song begins in the vein of symphonic Space Rock, which soon gives way to heavy progressive music, whilst later on the picture always retains the outline of classic Art-Rock. Greg Johns is equally masterful when playing guitars (both electric and acoustic this time around) and keyboards, his organ work being probably on a par with that of his benefactor in this field, Keith Emerson. The remaining two songs, Dreamscapes Frosted and Mini Suite, and also the instrumental Galactic Wormhole, are kindred things combining resourceful sympho-prog arrangements with those bringing to mind vintage Hard Rock at its best, each being only a bit inferior to the winner. The four yet unnamed tracks are all instrumental pieces, and two of them, Meltdown and Glass S Full, are also impressive. The former represents heavy Space Rock / Fusion with some occasional electronic sense, in its diversity approaching Hawkwind circa "Astounding Sounds Amazing Music", the guitar work being beyond praise. Just lend an ear to the guitar trills here and you will be amazed at Gregg's ability to make that instrument sound almost like a saxophone. The latter is a moving interplay between acoustic guitar, bass and organ. Space Bass (bassist James Walker's solo number) and Cyber-Evil (featuring a rather long drum solo from Todd Sears) aren't completely bad, but such tricks are usually deployed at concerts. In short, these two are out of place here - this is a studio album after all.
Conclusion. While "Slychosis" deserves to be called a promising debut effort, it still leaves the impression that its makers are most of all interested in demonstrating the width of their musical horizon. It's clear that the guys feel comfortable when jumping from style to style (often within the same song), but what the listener gets as a result of all those maneuvers is a rather inconsistent album. So while this offering seems to be destined for various categories of music lovers, not many will like it in its entirety. Hope the band's next outing will have a much more distinct stylistic vector, and, guys, get yourselves a new singer!
VM: January 11, 2007
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