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Sylvan - Presets CD (album) cover





3.52 | 168 ratings

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3 stars Might not favor those who love legendary prog, but .

I knew Sylvan for the first time through "Encounters" album which favored my taste and expectation especially with such track as "No Way Out". I then purchased "Deliverance" (debut) but did not really satisfy me - the music was, I would say, no where to stand. If it's neo prog, it's definitely not the good one. When the band released "Artificial Paradise" in 2002 that was totally a different one compared to the band's previous album "Encounters" in terms of composition, style and structure. At first spin, I was not impressed with the music as it sounded so empty, musically, for my personal taste. Especially, if I've just listened to prog met style as this album is overall mellow in style. Surprisingly, my appreciation grew significantly after couple of spins. The first comment was an easy listening prog or just call it an ear candy prog. The more I put this CD on my player, I could see the value of this album's music. It's the same experience when I listened to CARPTREE at the first time. In fact, they both share similar music style.

Since "Artificial Paradise" the band has confirmed their music direction in this kind of music which basically less complex than legendary prog music like Genesis, Yes, ELP etc. It's quite enjoyable music, overall, even though it's less challenging because of its simple arrangement. It depends on how you have grown yourself, musically. If you have got used to legendary prog music, you might tend to reject this album. But you have been, somewhat, contaminated by modern music like Radiohead, U2, Muse, you might welcome this album. There are other bands in the similar vein which have been categorized under prog but share similar style with later Sylvan, such as: Carptree, Pure Reason Revolution, Phideaux, RPWL, later Marillion and many more.

Specific to "Presets" by Sylvan my initial reaction when I first the opening track "One step beyond" (7:14) was that I could predict the overall tone of the album whereby Sylvan still consistent with its style since "Artificial Paradise" album. The opening track is quite interesting especially the excellent voice quality of Marco. The next track "Signed away" (4:27) brings me to ecstasy as the song is very "intense" in building the ambient nuance with mellow style. It gives me peace of mind even though the music is quite dark. "For one day" (3:47) is basically pop in nature with predictable melody and rhythm section which is dominated by guitar fills in the vein of The Edge's U2. This song gives you a brighter side of Sylvan music with its upbeat tempo.

"Former life" (7:11) starts with a repetitive rhythm section combining bass, guitar, drum and keyboard followed by a break where the vocal enters the scene. The timing for the vocal to enter the music is good and it successfully creates good ambient for the music. The music flows in simple way with excellent vocal line. "On the verge of tears" (3:26) kicks beautifully with soft piano touches by Volker's keyboard work. What interesting is when vocal starts to roll in mellow style.

"When the leaves fall down" (4:54) is in medium tempo with good melody and arrangement, maintaining the ambient nuance. I believe for newbies would find that until this point they are satisfied with the stream of music Sylvan is offering because in general they would determine Sylvan's music style.

The album title track is delivered to conclude the album nicely. It starts with mellow ambient, in slow tempo but it builds up steadily into relatively complex arrangement with heavier progressive elements. For most prog rockers, this title track might serve as the best track because it flows progressively, i.e. it changes its styles and tempo even though moderately. It shows that the composition is quite dynamics while maintaining the root of Sylvan's music.

Overall, this is a very good album (the 6th release) by Sylvan with the same music style with previous three albums. There are catchy segments you might find throughout the album but the most important thing is how Sylvan builds the ambient nuance of its music, excellently. This album might not favor those who love legendary prog music, but if you have an open mind, you would enjoy it. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild -GW

Gatot | 3/5 |


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