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Sylvan - One to Zero CD (album) cover





4.01 | 107 ratings

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4 stars An enigma for me

I really struggled with this one. Honestly, if it wasn't sitting atop the 2021 board since its release, I probably wouldn't have given it as many listens to let it grow. Why didn't it click initially? Because there are too many little parts (see second track) that turned me off and kept me from really enjoying the REALLY good parts.

I am new to Sylvan. I gave Home a few spins a while back, but I couldn't get past the theme of the concept album. It's too disturbing for me to enjoy, having a teen daughter and a friend who is having challenges with his.

One to Zero starts off with a 5* track with Bit by Bit. What a great opener! It has so much of what I enjoy in my preferred prog bands of the past 30 years.

My aversion and attraction to this album rears its head in the second track, Encoded at Heart. Marco's voice is beautiful, and that is my problem: It can be too pretty. Too adult rock or new country sounding. At times. These times make me want to move on to something else, it's just not my thing. On this track, I am loosing interest, and then the chorus with Porcupine Tress sounding harmony kicks in. Bang, got my attention again and the ending is very nice.

Unleashed Power is also a roller coaster, rotating between very brief 3 star moments and great, longer, 5 star segments, like around 4:40

Trust in Yourself also has that adult pop rock sound intermixed quickly with great stuff and fantastic atmospherics with keys and guitar and violin at 3:20 or so, with faint, Porcupine Tree vibe. Very good tune in the end.

On my Odyssee starts with nice orchestration and interesting folk-like vocals, then, darn, more adult pop for a moment, but then coolness with harmonies and mellotron just before the 1 minute mark, then more cheesiness (to me). Get me off this roller coaster. Then at 1:45 the quite cool chorus kicks in, more orchestration and a cool interlude with guitars and keys and violins'ok, I'll stay on the ride a little longer. Very nice finishing jam

Part of Me starts with very beautiful, melancholic piano. Very nice. Nice, fitting vocals here. Guitars with Chorus and Delay and keys take over and more Porcupine Tree like awesomeness follows, from the harmonies to the atmospherics. The magic start at 3:23. Wow! Repetitive, pedal tone guitar riff with gentle ride symbol and a mirage of other instruments create a progressive and wonderful soundscape. This is worth the price of admission. It kicks into a cool, heavier section with delay laden vocals before fading and moving back to earlier themes and a nice closing guitar solo.

Worlds Apart opens with a nice, melancholic chord progression and layers of coolness before breaking into a chorus that once again flirts with something a little too pretty for my taste before returning to a darker vibe again. Creative and nice sounding vocal layers at the end.

Go Viral starts with a very cool, retro, video game sounding, synth section that is dark and brooding. You just feel that it could explode at any point, and it does, into a lovely guitar and key driven riff before switching into the first verse. The cool riff that following the into returns to be a nice backdrop to the pre-chorus. There's a nice, short piano and atmospheric interlude at 2:53 and then'..WHAM! A heavy metal jam launches, reminiscent of Tool, with a synth drone tone in the background, once again like a Steven Wilson recording, following by a guitar and keys solo and then just guitar. Very tasteful. Back to the heavy jam and then a seamless shift back to a verse, pre-chorus and chorus. Well done. Bravo!

Not a Goodbye begins with an interesting beat and building up of keys and guitars right into wonderful chorus guitar arpeggio section and the first verse. The repetitive guitar arpeggios through parts of this track are reminiscent of something from KC's Red or Steven Wilson's Ancestral. Wonderful jams ensue. Album ends with similar sounds as it begins. Full circle.

So there we have it. I think the very positive parts are enough to make me think very highly of this album. My aversion to some parts is my own problem and one that may fade with more listens. Nevertheless, I can't give this a 5- star rating until I get past that. But that's just me. It really is a good album, almost great.

Michael919 | 4/5 |


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