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4 stars Sadly, the rating system doesn't admit the possibility to add another half star. SKRYVANIA was a very young band from France that, in the late seventies, produced their only homonymous album. These boys, evidently, admired the big prog monsters GENESIS and YES, and this fact was expressed in their music.

"Skryvania" has the classic symphonic rock sound with energetic, complex and changing melodies keeping the beauty sense. Despite the members youthness, they demonstrate that they were very good musicians (the guitar player job, specially, is superb), achieving a fresh sound -GENESIS and YES influences are strong, but nobody could say that SKRYVANIA is a sort of clone-.

The album includes as bonus tracks some short excerpts from YES' "Topographic Oceans" and "Close to the Edge", and from GENESIS' "The Lamb" (I guess some kind of homage), and the highlight is the magnificent first track, "Tristan & Iseult": From the first chords, you'll know you'll enjoy the whole stuff.

The only weak point I found is the record quality: isn't the best, but despite this detail, "Skryvania" is a very recommended true symphonic rock album.

Report this review (#31670)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars There's nothing like youthful exuberance mixed with a love for Yes/Genesis/KC.

In the magical mid 70s, a group of high school friends from the suburbs of Paris took their love of symphonic prog, abandoned their educations, named their band after a girlfriend, and really went for it. And they achieved something very nice although success was modest. They were a huge hit in the local auditoriums they played bringing hundreds to their feet cheering.

The band played a heavy symphonic rock with lots of very good wailing guitar, strong rhythm section, and good keys. Their heroes were Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, and Jimi Hendrix. They sound a little like their French counterparts Pentacle, Shylock, and Atoll but they are a young band and you can hear the sound of youth, both its good and bad aspects. But despite some clumsy moments here and there and a poor sound quality of the recording there is much to recommend. They lads practiced a lot and they can play their butts off, especially the guitarist and drummer. They can wail and their enthusiasm is so obvious. Fans of a thick saturated "wet" guitar sound will love this kid's playing bravado, he'll try anything and usually pull it off. He loves a fuzzy Hendrix sound too and often seems to be channeling Jimmy Page as he just rips it up. The bassist is no slouch either and you can hear him well always attempting something animated. Fans of vintage keyboard sounds will have fun too as they are prevalent. Their songs are pretty good from a compositional viewpoint as well, they keep it interesting and fresh. There are some vocals but they are somewhat minimal.

The generous bonus tracks serve up something really tasty. You'll get to hear these guys try and pull off parts of "Ritual" and "Close to the Edge." And yes, they do pretty good job! The Musea folks have done another fine job putting together a booklet with a very nice band history and photos. The sound is as cleaned up as possible considering this album has a reputation for awful sound quality. The sound is what I would call listenable, decent, OK, but certainly not good. I consider this album nearly essential for French prog and symphonic fans despite the sound, but if you absolutely need top notch production in your prog, you'd best pass this gem by. Humorously, the album cover is supposed to depict the band as the winged creature, driving Yes and Genesis (the rat) from their throne in order to assume their place. These guys did not have a self-esteem problem!

Skryvania is a true lost gem that is dripping with passion for symphonic rock and is a real treat. Do get a copy before it goes out of print and becomes impossible to find again. You won't regret it. 3 1/2 stars.

Report this review (#129096)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I once wrote that the French scene always produce bands far away from the Yes/Genesis formula. In the case of Skryvania, I am wrong.

Despite of the bad sound quality, this album is a homage to Yes and Genesis. This despite of most of the songs here being instrumentals. The music is drenched in synths and moog with some guitars on the top too. The quality is good throughout though. The lack of any really good songs here or any form of own identity is the main problem with this album. It is pretty much a run-of-the-mill synth drenched symphonic prog album. A major plus for the inclusion of the Yes/Genesis songs at the end and a safe 3 stars.

3 stars (barely)

Report this review (#262403)
Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars From the dephts of obscurity comes this band from France with only one album released self titled in 1978 and re issued by mighty Musea more den a decade after, this band really surprise me a lot. First because was one of the most promissing progressive rock bands from late '70's not only from France and second because the line up was formed by teenagers eager to show and play what they like most - progressive rock in vein of Yes, King Crimson and Genesis. Quite talented young bunch of musicians showing some amazing skills here with plenty of memorable passages that goes from heavy prog to really great symphonic prog moments. Opening with the long Tristan & Iseult with top notch guitar parts remind me of King Crimson, followed by some engaging pieces like one of my fav from here Le château d'Orphée with beautiful guitar work and great keybords and Epopée a brilliant symphonic prog tune very much in vein of Genesis and Yes in their best moments aka Lamb and Close having some fiery instrumental section in the midlle and end of the piece with blistering keybords and guitars, excellent all the way. I like a lot how they manage to play so easy and alternating very well between heavy prog sections with more symphonic ones. Fianal - the final track is another worthy one in every aspect, complex symphonic prog as every one wants to here, great. The Musea re issue has 5 bonus, some cover versions, ok only the shorter verions of Close to the edge and Hairless heart from Lamb that goes pretty well in this context. So, 4 stars easy, even in some parts the sound quality is little precare, I must confess that I was attracted more by the excellent prestation of these youngsters, that showed great potential somehow with this album. Never find any direction after this was released they disbanded in summer of 1979. Great, unkown and forgotten little treasure from the golden era of prog.
Report this review (#722084)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars A very low-budget effort from bunch of audacious French teenagers, this self-titled debut from the super- obscure outfit Skryvania proves a real winner, both as a triumph of limited resources and as a fully-blown symphonic prog epic. Recorded and released in 1978 with the help of a local radio station, 'Skryvania' wears its (many) influences in its sleeve, with a plethora of unashamed nods to the likes of Yes, Genesis and King Crimson mixed in with the five-piece's wildly-imaginative playing. Simply put, this is the kind of album that can only really be produced by the wild, untamed musings of youthful exuberance, the very same kind that saw the classic British groups such as the aforementioned Yes and Genesis create such classic albums in their own glorious early-seventies heyday. What actually happened to Skryvania after the album was issued(predictably, it disappeared without trace after a super-limited release) is a complete mystery, and sadly they wouldn't make any more albums, leaving behind this single gem as proof of their sadly truncated musical career. The album's highlights include the superb eleven-minute opener 'Tristan & Isault', the keyboard-burnished rocker 'Le Chateau D'Orphee' and the beautifully-structured 'Epopee', another lengthy piece which features one of the album's stand-out moments as keyboardist Henry-Jean Aubin fights a thrilling instrumental battle with guitarist Oliver Marina. The CD re-release features some nifty little covers of Yes and Genesis tracks as bonus material, yet all you really need is the original album. A truly spectacular and highly-impressive slice of dense symphonic prog, 'Skryvania' is a true lost classic hindered only by the poor production values. However, the music is that good that in the end it doesn't really matter. Great stuff.


Report this review (#755807)
Posted Sunday, May 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Skryvania is another one shot wonder that came and went unnoticed, yet it displays those ultimately French attributes that makes this country's prog style so unique, even if the sound sometimes lacks clarity or punch, particularly evident on the piss-poor vocal production. My argument has always been that the material matters more that the technical studio polishing and we must always encourage any attempt to travel well beyond the sterile sludge of formulaic commercial music (aka pap). The dual keyboards are fascinating stylistically, using way more clamorous synth lines that the usual tenebrous Francis decamps-like organ. The guitar is equally engaging (Olivier Marina) in that slippery Hackett-esque tone that we all love and cherish, effect and volume pedals ablaze. The rhythm section is tight and expansive Alain Yvorra's bass thumping along nicely while Benoit Reeves provides some rocky oomph to the proceedings. This group had lofty ambitions, hoping to unseat the big boys of the day (Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and compatriots Ange) and of course, reality set in. But at least they tried artistically if not commercially, mostly unsuccessfully because they refused to bend over and play the fame card by diluting their vision into 3 minute ditties. We can only applaud such chivalrous intentions and give this disc, not just the benefit of doubt but also a wider berth of open-mindedness. This is a gallant effort as displayed on the reverberating 'Tristan & Iseult', the opulent 'Chateau D'Orphee', the gripping 'Renaissance' and the epic 'Epopee', as well as bonus mini-snippets 'Ritual' and 'Close to the Edge' from the 'OUI' guys and 'Hairless Heart' from 'Genese'. Hidden treasures like this need a wider audience and Skryvania is among many others from the Gallic hexagon (Angipatch, Pentacle, Acanthe, Step Ahead, Arachnoid, Neo and Shylock) that deserve more recognition.

This is not only a prized collectors item but reveals that amateur preciousness and rebellious attitude shown by quality musicians who fight against the negative musical currents of a time.

4.5 cache caches

Report this review (#755822)
Posted Sunday, May 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars To me, this album by Skryvania sounds like teens who are good musicians, and perhaps part of a Yes tribute band, jamming. There is a lot of stuff going on here in terms of the amount of notes being played and the activity on the keyboards and fretboards, but really, most of this sounds like they are making it up as they go, keeping a loose refrain or two in mind. Additionally, there's very little content in the vocal department, on those few occasions when there are (weak) vocals. Sometimes, the wandering guitar lines and keyboard melodies clash in a way that doesn't seem intentional (and certainly isn't pleasant), and rarely does the entity known as a "song" emerge from the hummingbird machinations.

There was an exceptional tune on here, though it's not part of the album proper: The final bonus track, Le château d'Orphée, has focus, emotional content and builds to genuine climax. The actual album, however, just seems like guys playing a lot of notes in all directions, and since I'm not that into jazz or jam bands, this doesn't grab me or seem truly symphonic in the classic sense of that word.

Overall, Skryvania is desultory music very much in the style of Yes, yet lacking the compositional wisdom of Yes.

Report this review (#1067300)
Posted Sunday, October 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Skryvania' - Skryvania (52/100)

Another lost gem of progressive rock? One way or another, Skryvania were a symphonic prog act, as short-lived as they were young, at least at the time of releasing their sole full-length. Over a decade later, Musea Records (an outlet to be respected for giving attention to these unknown artefacts) brought the album somewhat back to life with an expanded CD release. While it's always my desire when taking a look at these 'lost' albums to find some obscure marvel that like-minded listeners may love, I can't say there's that sense of revelation in hearing Skryvania. Although their grasp of progressive rock form is impressive given the fact they were all teenagers at the time of its release, there's no impression they were taking their obvious love for Yes in any particularly vibrant direction. By 1978, symphonic prog had become a pretty tired trend, and there's not a great deal about Skryvania's lo-fi copycat material to change anyone's mind.

Even so, I think Skryvania still deserve praise for their technique. While proficiency is practically a pre- requisite for almost all progressive rock, it's pretty easy to look past the obvious Yes and Genesisisms to identify a band with a solid technical grasp, not to mention a passion for the material they're playing. Regardless whether we're talking about the original release, or the expanded Musea edition, Skryvania's material was almost entirely instrumental, save for some poorly integrated singing towards the beginning. Listening to some of their more involved work in "Tristan & Iseult" or "Le château d'Orphée", you can tell they were part of that bloc in symphonic prog that can't decide whether they like Yes or Genesis more. Their higher energy moments sound like they may have been ripped from a Yes rehearsal tape; the aggressive bass presence of the late Chris Squire is there, as is Steve Howe's distinctive twangy style, which actually works rather well with the band's lo-fi recording. When they get slower however, they rely heavily on lush keyboards, just like Genesis. And that's basically it.

I don't think Skryvania needed to innovate their own brand of progressive rock to succeed; hell, I've heard bands that follow Yes even more closely (like the more recent Wobbler) that have created amazing albums in their image. The problem with these guys, ultimately, is that they fail to make a memorable imprint with their music. Their execution is solid in spite of an obviously lacking budget, but the songwriting sounds like it was inspired by surface-level symphonic tropes, rather than, y'know, from the heart. I think the issue with their capable but aimless composition is exemplified by how much better they sound when they're playing covers, like the snippets of Yes' "Ritual" and "Close to the Edge", and Genesis' "Hairless Heart" included in the expanded edition. I think someone with no prior knowledge of either of those bands would think those to be the album's highlights. And therein lies the problem of Skryvania; they had the technique of their influences down solidly enough, but didn't have the vision to make memorable music, let alone find a style of their own.

Report this review (#1439045)
Posted Saturday, July 11, 2015 | Review Permalink

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