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Slychosis - Slychedelia CD (album) cover

SLYCHEDELIA

Slychosis

 

Neo-Prog

3.21 | 14 ratings

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Raff
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Judging by the lavish packaging of "Slychedelia", with distinctive, surrealistic artwork by Russian-born artist Vladimir Moldavsky, it is hard to believe that the album is a completely independent production. Unlike the self-titled Slychosis debut album, it is more of a solo project by mainman Gregg Johns than a real band effort. While such projects are all too often misfires, I am glad to say that it is not the case with this particular album. Even though Gregg Johns is responsible for playing all or most instruments on half of the tracks, the results are decidedly superior than on other productions of the same kind.

When handling all the instrumentation by himself, Johns makes use of programmed drums, a presence that is almost impossible to ignore. Luckily, their artificial, often soulless, sound is not as overpowering as on other albums I have recently heard, mainly because the other instruments effectively manage to capture the listener's attention. Johns also avails himself of modern technology to add interest to his compositions - the 'vocaloid Miriam', a software imitating single or multiple female voices, is used to great effect on a number of tracks, especially the album's 'epic' (in tone rather than length), "Crimson Fields of Glory". He also manages to successfully reproduce instruments such as the harp and the bagpipes, which are not exactly a staple of rock music.

The ten tracks featured on "Slychedelia" are all rather complex in their own way, with frequent changes of pace and lively interaction between the instruments. Gregg Johns is an adequate singer at best, although his vocals appear rather sparingly and do not detract from the overall musical fabric of the compositions. Not surprisingly, the strongest of the vocal tracks, "Cosmic Irony", features guest vocalist Ceci Smith, whose intriguingly androgynous voice carries the song's almost poppy melody with conviction. The other 'conventional' song , "Metaphysical Fitness", is a mellow, spacey ballad with a distinct Pink Floyd vibe and interesting guitar and sax parts.

The real strength of "Slychedelia", however, are the instrumentals. The 8-minute-plus "Flag of Dimbu", based on some epic, sci-fi concept, is the longest item on the album - a five-part tour-de-force on which Johns plays all instruments, built around a thunderous, keyboard-and-drum main theme and featuring multilayered synths, eerie electronic sound effects, and clean guitar with more than a touch of Gilmour inspiration. On "Harps of Space", the distinctive sound of the electronic harp complements the deep rumbling of the organ and the gentle tinkling of the piano, with some . weird chanting appearing here and there. More spacey, trippy vibes grace the multi-part "St Johns' Wood", with some interesting guitar-piano interplay, and Afterlife, which alternates sparse, soothing passages with harsher-sounding riffs. The album is brought to a close by "Crimson Fields of Glory", a compelling piece inspired by Scottish history, permeated by the haunting sound of electronic bagpipes and austere, military drumming, with the spoken vocals of Todd Sears echoing over a background of eerie electronic noises.

"Slychedelia" might take repeated listens to be fully appreciated, though it is definitely worth the effort. Innovative it may not be, but does nonetheless make good use of a wide range of influences without sounding overly derivative. This a disc that manages to blend modern and classic stylings with a good measure of success, and one that will be appealing to many prog fans. However, it is to be hoped that Gregg Johns will revert to using a real band for any future Slychosis recordings, and dispense with the programmed drums. A solid effort, worth 3.5 stars.

Raff | 3/5 |

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