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Synema (USA) - 2002 - "Evolution For a Party of One"
(45 min, 'Synema')


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Tracklist:

1. Conception de Renaissance 2-34
2. Would You Like? 2-15
3. Movement Evolution (I & II) 8-07
4. Garden of Circles 2-00
5. Million Memories 2-40
6. Traveler of Space & Time 5-14
7. Banished To Pangea 4-07
8. Dream Time 5-34
9. Field River Tree 6-39
10. As Light 5-49

All tracks: by Synema.

Line-up:

Steve Nellessen - lead vocals;
electric & acoustic guitar;
synthetic guitar, & synthesizers

Mike Adkins - synthesizers, synthetic;
electric, & acoustic percussion; vocals

Guest musicians:

Gary Rosier - electric guitar (on 1)
Mike Hargreaves - lead & backing vocals (on 7)
Christine Youngberg - lead vocals (on 8)
& backing vocals (on 2 & 9)

Prologue. "Evolution For a Party of One" is the second album by Synema. Their debut album, "Equal Reaction", was released in 1999. According to the CD press kit, the definitive sound of "Evolution For a Party of One" ("E4APO1" hereafter: this strange abbreviation is kind of the alternative title of this album) combines Electronic, Symphonic, and Neo Progressive Rock ...

The Album. ... Which is in many ways correct with regard to the album as a whole. However, I would describe the general style of "E4APO1" as Neo Symphonic Progressive with elements of Classic Art-Rock, as there is nothing on the album that could be related to the so-called Electronic Rock (or just Electronic music). So "Electronic" is by no means a proper replacement of the word Synthetic, which, in my view, should stand just before the prefix Neo in a general definition of the music that is presented on "E4APO1". Really, the only serious drawback of this rather interesting album lies in the sound of it, which was almost completely built up by various parts (possibilities, to say more accurately) of modern synthesizers. Certainly, the vocals are the only significant exception here: they're expressive throughout the album. The solos and riffs of synthetic guitar sound unrealistic, while solos of real electric guitar appear on the album only episodically. I've heard many albums where most (if not all) of the parts of drums were also synthetic. However, such a poor sound of drums that I hear on this album is quite a rare case on today's progressive scene. Nevertheless, compositionally, "E4AOP1" is a very good album of Neo Symphonic Progressive. Furthermore, a few of the tracks on it contain the arrangements that are typical for Classic Symphonic Art-Rock. I would certainly rate this album slightly higher if only it would have a less 'synthetic feel' to it. (In fact, though, this album sounds both very symphonic and synthetic. It needs to be said that not all of the album's compositions perfectly suit to a general stylistic definition of it. Two out of the eleven tracks on the album are the instrumental pieces: Conception de Renaissance and Garden of Circles (1 & 4). Structurally, both of them differ from the other compositions and consist of interplay between the slow, yet, rather tense and dramatic passages of a few synthesizers and solos of electric and synthetic guitar. The second of these instrumentals features also kind of a military drumming. Would You Like (?) and Million Memories (2 & 5), are the songs of a rather ordinary Neo. They're almost entirely based on the vocals that, overall, represent nothing else but the alternation of couplets and refrains. Nevertheless, structurally they're close to the brightest representatives of the album's predominant stylistics (previously, I was calling it as general). These are: Movement Evolution, Traveler of Space & Time, Banished To Pangea, Field River Tree, and As Light (3, 6, 7, 9 & 10). All of them are real centerpieces of this album, though my personal favorites are tracks 3, 6, & 10. The instrumental parts of each of these five songs are really diverse and rich in the so-called progressive ingredients, including frequent changes of tempo and mood, and even complex time signatures. Banished To Pangea does not contain lyrics, and the second half of it is purely instrumental. However, the wonderful operatic female vocalizes that are featured in the first half of it are so rich in various emotions that I just cannot call this composition differently than the Classic Art-Rock song without words. Tasteful, truly symphonic interplay between passages of electric piano and virtual string ensemble and solos of synthetic guitars and synthesizers mould the arrangements of the best tracks on the album. Only on Field River Tree, there are too many of the flashy, 'modernist' solos and chords of synthesizers. The remaining track, Dream Time (8), is also a very good song filled with diverse and interesting arrangements. However, this is the only track on the album that is completely out of its predominant stylistics. Both vocally and (especially) instrumentally, it's about a blend of Neo Prog, English Folk Rock and American traditional folk music (Country, of course). As I've already mentioned above, the vocals are excellent on all the songs of the album, including this one, which, as well as Banished To Pangea, was sung by a guest vocalist (Mike Hargreaves), whose vocal qualities are as outstandin

Summary. Finally, I must say that "E4AOP1" is a rather original album. While listening to it, I was waiting to hear some definite influences. It was useless, however, as the album is completely free of them. All in all, I come to the next conclusion. "E4AOP1" could've become one of the major albums of contemporary Neo Progressive if only it would've been performed by a full-fledged band and with the use of an appropriate instrumentation.

VM. August 2, 2002


Related Links:

Synema's homepage: http://www.synema.com/


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