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The Syn - Big Sky CD (album) cover

BIG SKY

The Syn

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.19 | 10 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars More flower power

The history of The Syn is truly remarkable and full of surprises. Among Prog fans, the group is mostly known for featuring Chris Squire several years before he co-founded Yes and found much greater fame and success with that band. But The Syn are also known for a couple of local hit singles they had all the way back in the mid 60's. Despite never having had any substantial success in their original days and despite the fact that they never even released a full length album back then, they decided to reunite in the new millennium. This was the first surprise and I think this is a strong candidate for the most unlikely come-back ever to have materialized. It is doubtful that this would ever have happened had not Squire achieved such success elsewhere.

This reunion resulted in the band's first full length album, Syndestructible, in 2005, as well as a 2CD compilation called The Original Syn featuring material from the 60's including the group's original singles as well as demos, a new epic song and an interview. A tour followed that would result in a live concert DVD called Syndestructible Tour 2006 (that also features Yes drummer Alan White). Both the studio album and the DVD are very good and recommended to all Chris Squire fans. The compilation too holds some good moments (and some not-so-good ones).

After this Chris Squire left the band and everyone expected this to be the end of The Syn. But no, and this was the second surprise, singer Steve Nardelli has tasted success and was not willing to give up just yet. He replaced Squire with ex-It Bites leader Francis Dunnery and recorded Big Sky. He also recruited keyboard player Tom Brislin, known from his live work with Yes (Symphonic Live DVD) and Camel. Without Squire's distinctive bass guitar sound and equally distinctive backing vocals you might expect The Syn to fall rater flat, but Dunnery in not a bad replacement. As such there are traces here of the It Bites-sound (mostly in Dunnery's distinctive backing vocals) in the otherwise 60's-orientated sound. The sound is not fully retro though, but also not fully contemporary.

While no longer particularly progressive, Big Sky might appeal to fans of old-school, mellow symphonic Rock by the likes of The Moody Blues and perhaps Barclay James Harvest. The tempo is mostly slow and the mood is mellow but optimistic. The songs are driven by Nardelli's somewhat raspy vocals and there seems to be no room for Dunnery's expressive guitar solos (as we know them from It Bites) or Brislin's flashy keyboard work. Rather, the band is relegated to the background where they create a nice backdrop for the vocals and acoustic guitars.

The songs are well written and agreeable, but I fail to be impressed by any of them. Big Sky is a pleasant listen, but an underwhelming one; enjoyable, but hardly remarkable in any way. If you are looking to explore the band, I would strongly recommend to start with the much better Syndestructible album or with the live DVD I mentioned above.

Big Sky is good, but certainly not essential

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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