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Syndone - 2010 - "Melapesante"

(47:13, Electromantic Music)

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Melancholia d'Ophelia 5:12
2.  Allegro Feroce 2:08
3.  Melapesante 6:05
4.  Magritte 5:01
5.  Giardino Delle Esperidi 6:33
6.  Malo in Adversity 5:25
7.  Mela Pensante 3:34
8.  Mela Di Tell 6:18
9.  Dentro l'Inconscio 5:12
10. 4 Hands Piano Boogieprog 1:45

Nik Comoglio – pianos, Hammond, Moog, keyboards; vocals
Francesco Pinetti – vibraphone, timpani
Paolo Rigotto – drums, percussion
Federico Marchesano – bass 
Riccardo Ruggeri – vocals 
Paola Perardi - cello (2, 5, 6)
Umberto Clerici - cello (2, 5, 6)
Claudia Ravetto - cello (2, 5, 6)
Gomalan Brass Quintet (6, 8)
Elena Favilla – viola (2, 6)
Marina Bertolo – violin (6)
Luigi Finetto – oboe (9)
A few more musicians

Prolusion. The Italian band SYNDONE is the project and creative vehicle of composer and keyboardist Nik Comoglio. Formed in 1990 and disbanded three years later, following the production and release of the albums “Spleen” in 1992 and “Inca” in 1993. 17 years later Syndone is once more a going concern, and the first chapter in this band's second lease of life arrived late in 2010 in the shape of the CD "Melapesante", issued on Electromantic Records.

Analysis. The last couple of decades have seen something of a tradition establishing itself in the music scene, with old bands deciding to get going again after a lengthy hiatus. Quite a few of these ventures seem to come as a direct result of either reviving faltering careers by the band members or just to use a well old name to get enough money into the bank account to survive whilst plying the musician trade. Others are less obvious, but a desire to create music and being at a stage in their lives, where the individual members have the possibility to spend the time needed, will often be the cause in those instances. Syndone is most likely a good example of the latter category. Musically we're dealing with an outfit with both feet well set and grounded inside the symphonic art rock tradition. Tangents of various kinds are constantly used, a minor army of reeds, brass and string instruments supply additional details and strengthen the musical companionship with classical symphonic music quite nicely, and the rock element is provided by a tight and creative rhythm section, and a lead vocalist conforming to what appears to be a strong Italian tradition for expressive, dramatic delivery. The only element some may feel missing will be the guitars, making a cameo appearance on a single track only on this production and then in the shape of classical rather than rock guitar in style. The compositions as such appear to be the result of extensive and painstaking planning, with a minor army of guest musicians providing numerous details of a sophisticated nature, more often than not emphasizing the symphonic aspects of the individual pieces. The vocal passages tend to be calmer, with organ, piano or synth gently underscoring the dominant lead vocals. Bass guitar and drums maintain momentum when applied, the latter more often than not adding a number of subtle intricate details to the proceedings. The instrumental sequences tend to be more energetic, featuring plenty of additional instrumentation and fairly advanced use and blend of harmonic themes and dissonant and at times disharmonic effects. In terms of stylistic expression, a fair few tracks incorporate details that jazz fans should easily recognize, be it the piano and drum-based motif that opens Mela Pensante or the ragtime tendencies that appear in efforts such as Malo in Adversity or final piece 4 Hands Piano Boogieprog. Gentle ballad-oriented pieces and efforts of a richer, tighter and in general more elaborate nature divide this disc more or less evenly. But none of the songs can be said to be conventional or predictable; a lot of effort has been used to provide surprises on each track, some more subtle than others. The haunting oboe solo on Dentro l'Inconscio is among the more delicate features, and the nifty harmonica and organ combination on Mela Di Tell an example of the more obvious kind. All of this splendidly put together, and utilizing Abbey Road studios for the mastering of this disc seems appropriate. How much better that studio is than others I can't say myself, but it is a name that that brings forth associations this production deserves.

Conclusion. While not quite meriting a pure perfection grade from me, Syndone's comeback album is an inventive, high quality production through and through, of the kind that should warm the hearts and souls of even the most jaded symphonic art rock fans. In particular those who generally enjoy typical Italian lead vocals and the extensive use of traditional classical symphonic instruments. A strong production and one likely to be regarded as among the best albums of the genre released in 2010.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 13, 2011
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