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Sympozion - Kundabuffer CD (album) cover



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3 stars Sympozion combines Gentle Giant with Zappa, Steve Reich with computer games, 80's King Crimson with Canterbury sound & arrangements. The production is very good (sound enginner: Udi Koomran), and some of the compositions are highly complex. These guys like using counterpoint melodies, sometimes 4-5 melody lines at once.

If you like the Baroque-influenced progressive rock with some nice jazzy touches - something between National Health and Philarmonie, you might want to have this.

The album doesn't rock very hard - the arrangments are usually soft, excluding some sound effects here and there, added to add some texture. It's pretty intellectual stuff, for people who like their math-rock complicated with odd time signatures and intertwined melodies.

It's a good album, and in Israeli (local) terms it's pretty unique, but will appeal to a small crowd of hard proggers with jazz inclinations.

Report this review (#64822)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Probably the best Israeli progressive rock album of all times! Amazingly complex compositions, while still melodic, and unlike other projects involving Udi Koomran, this band manages to keep you interested all throughout the album. They're melodic at times, mostly majoric, yet occasionally turn to the atonal, but in an inspired way, that doesn't feel forced. There are layers upon layers of information here, but still, this album is enjoyable even on your first listen! THIS IS A MUST ALBUM!
Report this review (#65060)
Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This exciting debut by Sympozion draws from various jazz, rock and avant-garde styles - Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa and Steve Reich are the first influences to come to mind - and it somehow remains catchy and fun despite the complexity. Avant-garde music has a tendency to be tuneless and difficult to enjoy, but here the quanitity of avant-garde is just right and the result is an adventurous, intelligent, quirky set of songs that don't require endless effort to appreciate.

The album opens up with Patterns, which is a blast. It starts with some keys and each repetition adds a new instrument or two to develop a crazy main theme loaded with polyrhythm and counterpoint. The crazy thing, though, is that this music is catchy, upbeat, and completely memorable. This song thrilled me. It's available on this site, and I highly recommend you put 3 1/2 minutes of your life toward hearing this song. Despite being the shortest song on the album, it is easily the best. It'll click with you right away too; Immediacy is a good thing.

While it may be a disappointment that none of the following songs reach the unexpected heights of the first track, there is still plenty to enjoy in them. The second track, Happy War Holiday, is another fun piece that, in it's longer length of 8 minutes, shows the band able to extend a song with more digressions and riffs. Bird is one of two tracks featuring vocals, which are sung in Hebrew. They are pretty nice, too. Grapefruit, one of the first songs composed by the group, really shows their avant-garde and Gentle Giant-esque sides off, and in good fashion. The second half of the album is arranged like the first one (a short-long-short-long song pattern), though this half is a bit longer. More great music can be found here, especially in the extended tracks Zona (the other piece with vocals, though there are much less here), and the closer Grapefruit Variations, which despite its name is much more than a variation of riffs from Grapefruit.

All in all this is a fantastic debut from a very talented band. They love polyrhythms and counterpoint, and I can't say I've heard either done in such a fun way before. They use a recorder occasionally and a guest flautist appears on three tracks which are nice fluorishes to their solid core. With only an occasional lull here and their in the awesomeness, this stands as a great start, one that can be appreciated regardless of the listeners background.

Report this review (#168167)
Posted Saturday, April 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Crimson Light? Why not? Or rather why yes? Cola Light is a tame rubbish, and music of Sympozion isn’t tame for sure. Bands, which inspire themselves with “colorful” King Crimson, are not my favourite kind of prog-rock. They are often focused on a form, and forget, that it’s only a device and they produce sounds pretending to be music. Sympozion is mixing and combining. We have here lots of “Crimson” sounds, but it seems, that Gentle Giant was an equally important inspiration. Add to it some jazz influence, Canterbury scene and we have a set. I really like the way this album was recorded and produced. Music is very light and gentle. Like lace. Or delicately weaved cobweb of sounds, on such early morning, with drops of dew highlighted by a sunshine, crossing through the fog. Oh how poetic comparisons I used. It really must an extraordinary album, if I drove myself into comparisons, which I avoid. However it’s an exact impression that this album made on me. It begins really like King Crimson from the first half of 80’s. Then music goes in other ways, and our connections follow her – King Crimson, then King Crimson and Gentle Giant, Gentle Giant, King Crimson and a bit of a delicate jazz, later jazz and something from Canterbury. But it can’t be taken so literally, these are skeleton-key-words, direction-words. To place it on a musical map in some way. And it’s beginning to show, that “Kundabuffer” isn’t a definite stylistically album, but extraordinary and interesting one. Additionally it’s a debut. So ripe record. These young mans promise themselves for the future. Album is mostly instrumental and these few vocal parts, which you can find here are in Hebrew – because band is from Israel. I hope, that there’s going to be a lot of sound around them in a progressive world.
Report this review (#180546)
Posted Friday, August 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Sympozion was an Israeli band that took many progheads by surprise in the later years with their album "Kundabuffer", an energetic and colorful musical work that most certainly provided a big amount of freshness to the progressive genre's contemporary state. This album has many fortes to it, and one of them is the exquisite refinement employed by the ensemble members in both the harder and the softer passages. Influences from Happy the Man and gentle Giant are fairly easy to notice despite the fact that they are not summoned against the band's own originality. One can also tell that some dual guitar and guitar-keyboard interactions have much to do with the Fripp-Belew Gamelan standard from King Crimson 80s albums, some weird interludes are somewhat inspired by the Rio thing (minus the scary factor), and plus, some lyrical moments brought about by a couple of synth solos are related to the eerie side of Canterbury (Gilgamesh). Sympozion magically nurtured the foundations for their sound while making it their own. 'Patterns' is a very agile piece that starts the album on a catchy note, only moderately intricate (in progressive terms, of course). Well, this same merry note signals the first part of 'Happy War Holiday', but later things shift to a more lyrical mood in such an amazing display of subtlety that it leaves the dedicated listener wanting for more (and there will be more, indeed?). Track no. 3 has a vocal part in it, bearing an overall melodic focus that still leaves some room for slight variations along the road. The flute solo adds an extra color to the integral picture of sound. 'Grapefruit' is a gem in itself, showing an excellent array of constructed motifs and successive variations exquisitely crafted in an impressive 9? minute architecture of simultaneous underlines. Awesome! Track no. 5 is funnily entitled 'Six': we listeners are treated with a solid exercise on dissonant prog rock wrapped in jazz-rock cadences. In some ways, it shares a family air with the preceding track, but its more concise development allows it to bear a more concentrated amount of sonic energy. And next is 'Zona', which goes on completing the sophisticated moods that had been prominent since the arrival of 'Grapefruit'. This track is yet another highlight, displaying more ample spaces for jazz-inspired expansions. The inscrutable climax at the end erupts in pure psychedelic fashion: disturbing and intense, this trick is relevant enough to bring an unexpected shift without being actually overdone. 'Too Much' is arguably the warmest track in the album, serene and eerie, including dreamy passages. Its playful might as well remind us of the first two tracks. Last, the album's final 11 minutes are occupied by 'Grapefruit Variations', which partially retakes the piano flourishes that earlier had set the main body of 'Grapefruit'. Soon enough, things change into a jazz-oriented jam where free phrases go flowing with moderate explicitness. The guitar leads are notable and somewhat flashy but not overwhelming. The following jam is a tad softer, which by no means signifies a lack of strength. I particularly do not enjoy the fact that this last track had to finish with an abrupt ending: it is indeed a powerful piece, but perhaps it shouldn't have been the closer. Anyway, "Kundabuffer" is a magnificent masterpiece of contemporary prog and Sympozion is a band to be remembered until the end of time.
Report this review (#239307)
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I can't say I enjoy arguing with the established PA people (99% of whom are more educated in the musical matters than me), but I think this album - considering all its parameters - would likely fit better into the "good, but not essential" instead of the "masterpiece" category.

There are two categories where Kundabuffer could score Five Stars with many people: those would be its sophistication and precision. The album's complex musical structures are delivered with the accuracy of a Swiss clockwork, while the all-important time signature shifts are executed in a remarkably matter-of-fact , no-drama way.

In fact, the album is so precise and devoid of any audible human error that at times it sounds almost ... robotic? This strange feeling if further deepened by the distinctive lack of any egocentric musicianship that would "stand out and shine through". Everyone is playing in a prudent, respectful, risk-avoiding fashion - no yer tortured souls, no raw passion ... nothing like that. In a way, it's not unlike Orchestrion by Pat Metheny, on which he played all instruments.

Or, maybe this album was just meant to be a clever demo, in which this very promising band is showcasing their techniques and making themselves known to the global marketplace of quality music?

To sum up, on my "internal scale" ( I use 7 grades: 0 = awful, 1 = bad, 2 = below average, 3 = average, 4 = above average, 5 = good, 6 = excellent) Sympozion would score 4, which would translate into 3.5 stars on PA.

I am genuinely interested in finding out what the Sympozion's sophomore album would be like, how it would compare to this one, but I guess we will just have to wait until its ready!

Report this review (#878971)
Posted Wednesday, December 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Kundabuffer" is definitely one of the strangest albums I've come across lately. I definitely don't mean "strange" in the sense of "weird", but "strange" in the sense of "idiosyncratic", "independent", "unusual" ...

The Israelis Sympozion present a mature work with their debut. Stylistically, the music that is offered here is hard to pin down for me. Most likely it sounds to me as if a jazz combo had decided to play progressive rock and composed correspondingly complex arrangements. But in the practical implementation they fall back into their "old" jazz idioms and so the solos sound more jazz-weird than rock-like. And so the songs are dominated by a rather loose, fluffy melodious sound, because snotty rock hardness. Occasional outbreaks confirm the rule here again.

But that doesn't detract from the whole thing. "Kundabuffer" has turned out to be an extremely nice, entertaining album, which has its own charm, which at least I cannot escape. I haven't heard such a combination of jazz-rocking and then again symphonic parts often. And the album has a pretty clever arc of suspense, so that the screw of complexity and playfulness is tightened more and more on the fourth track "Grapefruit" at the latest, until it all culminates in the sweeping "Grapefruit Variations" and leaves the listener in a good mood.

The music of Sympozion on Kundabuffer is really independent and a remarkable enrichment of the prog on the jazzed track.

Report this review (#2591021)
Posted Wednesday, September 1, 2021 | Review Permalink

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