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The Syn

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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4 stars I can understand iguana's comments on this album being something of a disappointment. If (as I also did) you are expecting either another Chris Squire solo project, or music that harks back to the 60's, then yes, you may well be disappointed as this is not what this album is about. By way of background, this is Steve Nardelli's project at least as much as it is Squire's, Nardelli having revived The Syn before Squire re-joined, and he (Nardelli) is I understand funding it. So before you listen to this you may need to put some pre-conceptions aside.

It is modern, medium-heavy rock/pop with a progressive twist. Steve Nardelli's strength seems to lie in song writing, there are some memorable tunes, in particular the more rocky "Golden Age" (which they encored with at their debut gig), the single "Cathedral of Love", and "Some Time Some Way". Squire is excellent and adds a real touch of class to the proceedings, but let's not forget the other musicians, the excellent Stacey brothers (who between them have worked for amongst others Oasis and Sheryl Crow) and Gerard Johnson on keyboards, who also produced it. But on the down side it must be said that Nardelli's vocals are weak, and perhaps the production is a little over-slick.

Despite this though it is an album that I keep on playing because of the strong tunes and fine playing, it's been a while since I've heard such a good collection of new material, and I'd unreservedly give it 4 stars.

But I too would still like to put a plea in for another solo album please Chris!!

Report this review (#60162)
Posted Monday, December 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Syndestructible is the best album I've heard in 2005. Everything about it appeals to me and like many other reveiws about it, it has the indefinable something that makes you want to keep playing it over and over again. Firstly, the album is full of fantastic melodic songs that kink and fit together perfectly. Nardelli has a beautiful voice and I can't think of a better singer for these songs, he is the voice of Syn backed up with the unmistakable Squire harmonies. The musicians are all excellent, classy rather than flashy, it all fits so well around very well constructed arrangement. The Squire bass lines are superb and carry the album musically from start to finish. Highly recommended!
Report this review (#61491)
Posted Saturday, December 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Well how refreshing!!!

Now we all know that Squire doing a solo album was near up there with the best of Yes as was Olias of Sunhillow by that cosmic messenger, Jon Anderson. But who would have thought Chris Squire would do some neat work under the alias of The Syn with Stephen Nardelli from the late 60's connection. Let's face it without Squire this album would probably not have happened and thank God it did. Sure it is borderline progressive more leaning to the rock side of the genre but who cares, the sound is crisp, refreshing, harmonising of Squire with Nardell's very likeable vocals and you get an excellent combination. Let's not forget the Stacey Bros either.

Let's not compare this with The Ladder else I be crucified, but this IMHO much better and the main ingredient of Yes over all these years comes to the fore with Syndectructible.The album flows seamlessley from ' Breaking Down The Walls'. ' Some Time , Some Way' is a classic ' Yes sound' as is ' Reach Outro', no mistaking Squire's influence here.

' Cathedral Of Love' reminds me why I got hooked on progressive music in the first place, atmospheres----------everywhere! This album should do better, Fish Out Of Water relapse folks and bass lines right where you would expect them. Even the odd naive vocal line by Nardelli gives this progressive album credence. Again Squire's work on ' City Of Dreams' is of the highest plodding quality. Vocalized harmonics reminiscent of ' Changes' from 90125 era but better.' Golden Age' is popular but I would say the weakest point on the album but the finale of ' The Promise' wishes more of the same from The Syn, because quite honestly it is evident that the passion of creativity of Chris Squire has moved on to The Syn for a while. Highly recommended to all those wishing Yes would do something constructive again in whatver format.

Report this review (#62097)
Posted Thursday, December 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Last year i listen to a lot of progressive rock albuns and this one was one i enjoyed quite a lot.Its a sort of a lighter progressive record maybe more pop than progressive but still very enjoyable.Good voice and the music goes from the symphonic melodies a Genesis circa 1973 and Yes.Frankly i think this record deserves to be listened and in my opinion must be on the 2005 best records list.Buy it.
Report this review (#64344)
Posted Thursday, January 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars 2.5 stars, really... I was fortunate enough to catch these guys in a small club recently, small enough to say hi to Chris, Steve and Alan (White!) afterwards. For the nostalgia factor this was a great show. Now as far as this new CD, well there is nothing offensive here that sticks out and sounds bad. It is tasteful and restrained throughout, possibly too restrained. Chris plays in the pocket, never really standing out like he does with Yes, though his unmistakable tone and musicality can be clearly heard. Nardelli is not a bad singer, especially when you consider that he hasn't fronted a band in 40 years. What annoys me most about this music is the god-awful lyrical content. Just one cliche after another, really. I mean, this stuff makes the lyrics on Open Your Eyes seem brilliant. And as good as Chris' backing vocals are, the words he sings kind of ruin the effect. All in all, the music comes across as dull and boring, thought as I said before well played and nothing really too cheesy or hideous. I guess the word that describes it is "insipid". Now if they got Peter Banks (the original guitarist) onboard, and maybe Tony Kaye on keys, maybe they could have helped jump start this thing. There is nothing here you haven't heard before, trust me. Good/non-essential/for collectors and fans only = 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 because I'm a Yes fanboy.
Report this review (#65013)
Posted Monday, January 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars this album is quite a disappointment. if i had reviewed it a few weeks earlier i might have only awarded it a ** but it has sat with me for a little longer now as i was eager to find something that i might enjoy. and - lo and behold - i did. "cathedral of love" is an excellent song, everyone's playing is consummate yet tastefully restrained and the whole idea of reforming a long forgotten band just for a laugh that has only ever existed as a footnote to YES really appealed to me.

however, there are also a few things that have obviously gone wrong. the entire album sounds awfully polished. i was probably expecting the wrong thing - a bold revisiting of the garage-y late-60's psych-style that SYN embraced during their first time around the block - but a lot of this sounds like latter-day YES, rabin-YES, conspiracy, world trade, you name it. calling themselves "prog modernists", this is rather the opposite. secondly, one can clearly hear that steve nardelli has not sung in a band for approaching 40 years. his husky baritone sounds awfully flat and to hear him struggle through the otherwise tepid "city of dreams" is a painful experience.

the true bonus of "syndestructible" is the gentleman, we have all come to see and hear anyway. chris squire's b-vox are as strong and resonant as ever (listen to his harmonizing throughout the album, especially the aforementioned "cathedral") and he still delivers the bass lines as only he can. but the fact, that he's only playing second fiddle is hard to stomach. chris squire is obviously still interested in progressing and moving on musically, but just why he keeps hiding behind these slightly inconsequential band projects is quite beyond me. how about a true solo album next time around, chris? if you need further convincement, read the reviews for "fish out of water" on this very site and anywhere else...

Report this review (#127317)
Posted Monday, July 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Cool and Relaxing

I have not heard that a band which was active 40 years ago reformed themselves into new outfit using the same name and newer music. The Syn was Chris Squire's band prior to Yes. The band was practically defunct after the first debut of Yes was released in 1969. I did not pay into attention on the first time when this band was reformed in 2005 with "Syndestructible" until sometime last year a friend of mine, Rizal informed me about the existence of the new album from a band of 1965. I was so curious about how the music would sound like having known the quality of Chris Squire - whom has been called as the grand pa of Rickenbacker bass guitar. I was actually not so explorative in terms of Chris's solo or the band before him - but for sure I do love his work with Yes.

Well, I don't want to dwell into all history kind of thing as you may find it easily through the net with the held of Dr Google. The main question remains: how would the music sound like? Would it be something close to Yes or Chris' own solo album "Fish Out of Water". The beginning track "Breaking Down Walls" (0:51) is very Yes "Magnification" style with a combined style of Chris "Fish Out of Water" solo album in an acapella version. It's quite relaxing intro followed with acoustic guitar work plus keyboard that brings us into next track "Some Time, Some Way" (7:56). The first impression about this song is something in the vein of Dire Straits music (similar to the style of "Brother In Arms" album). The music is so relaxing and enjoyable especially on its groove and rhythm section. There is basically nothing complex this album offers.

It's been quite sometime ago when I first spun the album. It did not really impress me at first spins of the album until quite sometime. It's not that the music was bad it's more on getting the "a-ha" experience from this album. In fact, in some occasion, I play the album through iPod while riding a bicycle to work or going back home. This morning, I spun it while I was riding a bicycle to the office. It's really quite relaxing and the music offers me a piece of mind so that it was able to keep in balance especially during the traffic jam.

It's so peaceful when "Reach Outro" (3:38) enters its intro with ambient keyboard, bass guitar and vocal. The song is basically an instrumental track with some chanting of "reach out" and it's cool. It also demonstrates Chris bass guitar work which serves as solo, instead of beat keeper. "Cathedral Of Love" (8:58) is a beautifully crafted song with nice melody and simple arrangement with some sort of string section. Well, I would say that you like this song as it cut across the whole spectrum of Chris Squire style, especially throughout his solo. Musically, there is an obvious style that is very close to Yes "Magnification" as well.

Almost songs in this album are crafted in similar style even though this does not mean that the album is boring. Even, I do enjoy this album when I spin it from start to end. This demonstrates that this album is successful in creating the music as a cohessive whole where the listeners will be instantly stimulated to have another spin of the CD. The only song that I think I feel "bored" is "The Golden Age" because I hate the beats that truly a very pop song.

This album is well produced and it does have good sonic quality. I would suggest you to play the msuic loud because there is basically no high register notes produced by the music. I do enjoy the mixing on guitar sounds as well as Chris' Rickenbacker bass guitar.

Overall, it's a very good album that I recommend to all of you who are exploring prog music to have this one. If you think that the music is quite simple, just treat it for a break after listening to complex music. Recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#130127)
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
4 stars Actually, 4/5 Stars

Well, thanks God, tere's still people like these guys, (and thanks for Chris Squire too), when this album came to me, i confess, i don't give too much for it. But... and I say but, i give a chance, c'mon have the touch of Chris!

2005 And this guys still doing the best of them to create music with energy, passion, melody and heart.

And the better part, it's not a typical case when people just 'copy' the 60's sound, there's a lot of refreshing sound here.

Vocals are soberb, Stephen Nardelli vocals are pretty good, and what can i say about bass lines? Is Chris don't? What more can i say?

One of the best surprises for me, together with Paradox Hotel by THE FLOWER KINGS.

One must have, sure!

Report this review (#140736)
Posted Thursday, September 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars For fans of Chris Squire this album is essential, having his stamp all over it. You can easily recognize his distinctive bass guitar sound and also his distinctive backing vocals. This new material sounds actually not really modern, but also not retro 60's, it sounds timeless, really! This could have been released in the 60's, the 70's, the 80's or the 90's without sounding out of place. However, the production values are truly modern.

The songs are all very good and this was the best new album by first generation proggers in a very long time (and since too).

It is incredible that Chris resurrected The Syn after so many years despite them never having had any real success back then.

Highly recommended for fans of early classic prog.

Report this review (#177479)
Posted Sunday, July 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars To say that that The Syn is space rock seems is far fetched, I think. This has very little to do with psychedelic or space kind of rock. I do not know how they sounded back in the 60's but this is, sort of, now and not 1967. On the other hand I would definately say that this is highly competent, enjoyable and intriguing pop-prog in the sophisticated end of the stick. I would probably go for cross-over, on the basis of this album.

Chris Squire needs no introduction. His precense is evident due to the rumbling bass lines. That is a very endearing piece of the puzzle named The Syn. I come to think of bands like 10CC when hearing the some of the harmonies (as in "Reach outro"), Supertramp in the fine mannered approach to prog and pop. There are also traces of the rock music of Fleetwood Mac, I think. If one combines all these elements I think you will get a somewhat clear view of what the band sounds like.

Every song is very well crafted and leaves a sombre, mellow taste in the musical pallet. There are no huge outbursts of haard rock or anything in the manner of, say, Yes. Instead it is polished and pensive. Very emotional and beuatiful.

I came across this album in 2006 or something and I have been coming back ever since. It is not very complex but brilliant in it's seemingly accessible and easy-going attitude. I don't mean "easy- going" as in jolly, more in the sense that the musicians obviously are so talented that the music came to them easy enough. "Cathedral of love" is good example of The Syn's effort. A chorus- laden, little BIG song. It seems immense, now listening and reviewing. It is, literally, like standing in a cathedral, staring up into the dome and being showered with the blessing of Music. It is very impressive, actually. Another one of these great tracks is "Golden age", where Squire's rumbling really comes to the fore. I believe this is the song I have listened to the most. It is a very driven song, with a great pace and energetic flow.

You can't really pick out a song that is superior to the other in structure or manner of construction. Every song bears the experience and competence of it's makers. And still I find myself thinking that the album moght not be all that exciting and bold as I perhaps seem to make it. After all, the songs are similar to each other. I could have wished for more variation and tone. I mean, this is brilliant. These songs are not by some amateur, these are all professionals. Obviously it's great but I think one has to look at the entire picture to fully enjoy the scenery and I find myself less intrigued the longer it goes on. I do think that the album holds some truly amazing moments, I just wish something would bring me out of the hypnosis and back to life.

In conclusion I think that this is a good album, showing both a vigor and a vibrant tone but it fails to fully engulf me. Three stars.

Report this review (#1306731)
Posted Friday, November 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars I feel a bit like a traitor. Sorry Chris.

I could quickly rip off the names of twenty or so master bass players (from McCartney to Wooten) for whose playing I have always had a deep appreciation. None of them have ever thrilled me as consistently or deeply as Chris Squire. For me, his playing has always possessed the greatest combination of tone, speed, melody, creativity and personality of any bass player before or since. So it pains me to write a less-than-gushing review of a cd on which he participated.

Mind you, this "reunion" cd of The Syn (really only Squire and Steve Nardelli from the original group) doesn't sound like a bad idea in theory. ("Let's see what the great Master Squire and company were doing before Yes!") But I'm afraid that classic Yes fans and true progressive rock followers will be disappointed. There's nothing really offensive here, but it's not going to satisfy the typical progger. This is more like medium-heavy pop rock with some progressive tendencies - e.g. melodic bass lines (of course), some keyboards, and longer songs. It's a little bit closer to Rabin-era Yes perhaps, but with the everyman vocals of an oftentimes tired-sounding Nardelli. Again, like the music, his vocals are not bad; they just don't do much for me.

What really had me skipping to the next song in places, though, were the lyrics. Too often they became repetitive, superficial and cliche. Maybe that's in the original spirit of the The Syn from 40 years ago, I don't know. (It doesn't work for me.) Despite my disappointment, there are some redeeming moments on this cd. I like the way it begins with the a cappella "Breaking Down Walls" (which is heard later on in the last track too); "Some Time, Some Way"; and some of the faster instrumental sections of "Cathedral of Love" and "The Promise".

If you like your prog a bit less virtuosic and challenging, you might find this cd enjoyable. (Many reviewers apparently already have!) But if you like 1971-77 Yes (or practically ANY prog group from that era, really), there is nothing here that you will miss. Non-essential for progressive music lovers.

Report this review (#2442104)
Posted Friday, August 28, 2020 | Review Permalink

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