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Syzygy (USA) - Overall View


Prolusion: Syzygy, formerly Witsend, is an American band (from Ohio), and their first CD "Cosmos & Chaos" was released ten years ago. Since that time, the guys have been busy with studying, writing, recording and, what's most important, raising families (nine kids between three of them). Which, of course, is more than understandable, and there are too few serious progressive artists who would be able today to be occupied only with producing music and have enough money to provide for their families. Fortunately, the band was able to continue their creation and is now presenting their second CD "The Allegory of Light".


1993 - "Cosmos & Chaos"
2003 - "The Allegory of Light"

Syzygy - 1993 - "Cosmos & Chaos"
(47 min, 'Syzygy')


1.  Voyager (Syzygy) 5:26
2.  Circadian Rhythm (Baldassarre) 3:39
3.  Tautology (=) 3:56
4.  Theme in D Major (=) 2:25
5.  Strange Loop (Syzygy) 6:24
6.  Cosmos (Baldassarre) 1:20
7.  Poetry in B Minor (Giunta) 1:17
8.  Mount Ethereal (Baldassarre, Giunta) 7:39
9.  Dante's Theme (Baldassarre) 4:12
10. The Tone Row (Giunta) 2:19
11. Closure (Baldassarre, Giunta) 7:13
12. Chaos (arr. by Baldassarre) 1:49

All arrangements: by Syzygy.


Carl Baldassarre - guitars & mandolins; vocals
Sam Giunta - keyboards
Paul Mihacevich - drums & percussion

Produced & by Syzygy.
Engineered by Chris Keffer at "Magnetic North".

Synopsis: Above all, I'd like to note that while the sources of inspiration of these musicians are definitely Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Classic Prog-Metal of the seventies, the music of Syzygy is on the whole highly original and doesn't contain any direct influences. Only a very thorough listen will help you to detect three, at most four, different episodes (on both albums) where the arrangements are slightly (and only stylistically!) comparable to those in ELP ("Trilogy", 1972), Rush ("Hemispheres", 1978), and Black Sabbath ("Never Say Die, 1978), the latter of which, though, are less evident and are available only on the second album. Well, "Cosmos & Chaos" doesn't feature anything that would remind you of, proper, cosmos and chaos, as all the structures of Syzygy's music are integral and, harmoniously, stable. Although some vocals can be heard at the very end of the album, there is only one real song: Circadian Rhythm (2), which, at the same time, turned out to be the only weak spot here. The song is 'constructed' by an ordinary couplet-refrain scheme in the vein of a pure (i.e. poor) AOR, is full of repetitions, and is almost free of purely instrumental arrangements. It is annoying to hear it, as all the other tracks here, all of which, as you should remember, are instrumental compositions, are either excellent works or masterpieces. If you read this review from the very beginning, you have apparently guessed that the predominant stylistics of the album is a blend (a very organic blend, though) of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal. It is presented on Voyager, Strange Loop, Mount Ethereal, Closure, and Chaos (1, 5, 8, 11, & 12), and while the first two of them are of a moderate complexity, the other three are highly intricate and intriguing. The music is diverse and intensive, is abound in complex stop-to-play movements and a wide variety of the other essential progressive features. Three of the said pieces (5, 8, & 12) are notable for solos and passages of acoustic guitar very inventively interwoven with basic 'electric' textures, though at the helm of arrangements are usually the parts of electric guitar and Hammond organ. Generally however, "Cosmos & Chaos" is stylistically a very diverse album, even though:-) all six of the remaining compositions were performed without drums. Tautology (3) consists of varied interplay between passages, solos, and rhythms of acoustic guitar and solos of electric and bass guitars, and yet (indeed?), features some tautologies-repeats. This one, and also Theme in D Major, Cosmos, and Dante's Theme (4, 6, & 9), all of which are amazing classical guitar-based pieces, are Carl's exclusive benefit performances. Sam also showed his 'solo' capabilities on classically influenced piano-driven Poetry in B Minor and The Tone Row (7 & 10), though the latter piece consists exclusively of the piano passages not along the whole length of it, and it was Carl who added some touches to its musical palette. Recently remastered and reprinted, "Cosmos & Chaos" is an excellent album, at least. It gets my sincere recommendations with only one reservation. Please exclude the second track via programming your CD player before you listen to the album.

VM: November 3, 2003

Syzygy - 2003 - "The Allegory of Light"
(62 min, 'Syzygy')


1.  M. O. T. H. 11:20
2.  Beggar's Tale 2:47
3.  Distant Light 5:35
4.  Zinjantropus 12:31
5.  Insudtyopolis 6:33
6.  Forbidden 3:22
7.  Light Speed 2:58
8.  The Journey of Myrrdin 17:29

All tracks: by Syzygy, except 2, 6, & 7: Baldassarre.
All lyrics: by Baldassarre, except 6: C. Hernan. 

LINE-UP (same):

Carl - electric, acoustic, & bass guitars; vocals
Sam - piano & synthesizers
Paul - drums & percussion; vocals

Al Rolik - bass guitar (on 2 & 7)

Produced by Carl.
Engineered by C. Keffer & Carl at "Magnetic North", Cleveland, OH.

Synopsis: "The Allegory of Light" is 15 minutes longer than its predecessor and, unlike it, features eight tracks, and not twelve. In other words, it's clear that there is much more space for large-scaled arrangements on the new Syzygy album. This is somewhat a semi-concept album, as the first three tracks here, two of which are with lyrics, are dedicated to, proper, The Allegory of Light, and the following two are for some reason united under the 'banner' of In the Age of Mankind, though being all-instrumental compositions, these don't possess concrete, material, notions. The remaining three are 'independent' pieces. However, all of this doesn't matter much, and what's really important is that "The Allegory of Light" consists exclusively of masterpieces. Three out of the eight tracks on the album are songs: M. O. T. H., Beggar's Tale, and Forbidden (1, 2, & 6: drummer Paul sings on the first of them, and Carl on the others), and the latter two must be subjected:-) to a unified description, and, of course, not only because they were performed mostly by Carl alone. Although there are excellent, dramatic vocals, both of them are basically classic guitar pieces consisting primarily of passages and solos of acoustic guitar, and occasional sounds of synthesizer or guitar-synth, bass, and light cymbals just add more charm to them. The arrangements on all of the other tracks on the album have a dense 'full-band' sound, are mostly in the state of constant development, and contain everything necessary to keep the listener's attention: frequent, often very unexpected changes of a musical direction, tempo, and mood, complex meters, etc, again and over. The music on the remaining song M. O. T. H. (1) and the first instrumental piece Distant Light represents an amazing combination of both of the symphonic and guitar kinds of Art-Rock, the latter of which, though, often transforms into a real Prog-Metal. Like in the case of some songs from the band's first album, there are plenty of episodes with the parts of acoustic guitar very thoughtfully interwoven with basic arrangements. Zinjantropus, Insudtyopolis, and the 17-minute The Journey of Myddrin (4, 5, & 8) are in many respects close to M. O. T. H. and Distant Light, though there also are a lot of elements of Classical Music provided by the parts of piano and, in a less degree, 'synthetic' chamber instruments performed either separately or in the context of the band's joint arrangements. All the tracks on this album are gorgeous, and nevertheless, these three I find a bit better than others. Finally, Light Speed (7) is notable for really speedy arrangements and is the only composition here, which is about a harsh progressive Hard Rock with elements of Prog-Metal and Rock & Roll and without any symphonic traces.

Conclusion: "The Allegory of Light" is a brilliant album and is one of the leading candidates to my Top-20 Albums of the year. Although it is noticeably better than "Cosmos & Light", both albums excellently supplement each other. Please note this.

VM: November 4, 2003

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