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SynKoke - The Ideologist CD (album) cover





3.18 | 3 ratings

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3 stars "Punked progjazz".

That's a good description as any for the music of Norwegian band SynKoke. The Ideologist, their second album after 2009's Hokj°nn, is a short instrumental album (with few vocalizations) that can be likened to a rollercoaster with its high energy and thrilling tracks, chaotic and unpredictable free-form-jazz-like parts and calm and subdued pieces. The copy I received didn't have any booklet so I'm unable to comment on it and whatever added info is in there and what lies behind the title of the album and the tracks. But what I can say is that much like their first album it is quite varied in sound and style, but has that predominant noisy, dirty and chaotic approach. However, production here is cleaner and crisper.

The first time I listened to the album I didn't read the track titles. My impression of the first track was that it this King Crimson vibe (as had the second piece) in a noisy free jazz setting. The reason I mention this is because when I later saw the track titles, I saw that this first track was called "The Red Song", perhaps alluding to the King Crimson album, Red. Listening to this track in high volume can cause dizziness and ringing in your ears. It is a thrilling and slightly insane fast paced adventure that is at the same time chaotic (listen to the wildly playing saxophone) and controlled (listen to the drums and bass, chanting vocals and the calmer saxophone playing).

The second piece, "And Himself Too. And God.", follows in the same vein of the first one with its King Crimson vibe, high energetic levels, though with a feeling of more preciseness and angularity, in a somewhat more 'math-rock' kind of way. It pummels down hard and heavy, with occasional slowing up and speeding up. Interestingly, the band chose to calm down entirely towards the middle of the track, changing completely the mood on the second half; they conjure up a smooth and cool jazzy vibe.

The third piece, "Prisoner", is the longest one on the album and continues the subdued feel of the second half of the previous track. Calm, jazzy and slow it is ambient yet with a sense of some imminent danger lurking about. It is repetitive in nature and while it does increase in intensity in some places, it is mostly monotone and unchanging. In a way, the nature of this piece fits the name, "Prisoner". I did feel locked up in this seemingly never-ending loop, with small changes to the scenery and not much development of the melody. Some will feel this track doesn't belong here, while others will see this as an interlude, between the two noisy and energetic parts of the album, while others still will say that this is a legitimate alternative face of the band and a natural extension of their sound and style.

"The Blue Song" returns to the high levels of intensity and insanity of the first two tracks. It combines the attributes of the two first songs, the ferocious aggressiveness and unleashed chaotic nature. In a way I was reminded of Battles' first album with its whimsy and fast paced angular sound and the vocalizations (though here they're much subtler and in the background). I particularly enjoy the drum work here, which is the best example of controlled chaos on the album. The saxophone continues to wreak havoc on its surrounding with its insane wailing. Much like on the second track, it all calms down completely towards the last quarter of the song.

The closing track, "Our Solar System, All the Ideologies and Me", is perhaps the most dynamic track on the album as it has an up-down-up pattern of intensity. It starts out with a pounding and heavy slab of saxophones and bass crushing on your head, making you duck for cover. It decelerates in the middle section, providing a repose with subtler percussion work, tremolo guitar picking and a continuous one note saxophone playing, gradually intensifying and picking up pace until it reaches the initial bombastic levels.

This is a great album for those looking for high energy, noisy, bombastic and intense listening, (though varied with calm parts). I love the insane and chaotic style such as the one on the two first tracks. But I'd have skipped the calmer bits and left them out. It's not an album I'd listen to often, but whenever the mood strikes, it's a very good choice.

avestin | 3/5 |


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