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SYNANTHESIA

Synanthesia

Prog Folk


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Synanthesia Synanthesia  album cover
3.38 | 17 ratings | 3 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing


1. Minerva (Homes)
2. Peek Strangely And Worried Evening (Cook)
3. Morpheus (Homes)
4. Trafalgar Square (Cook/Carlton)
5. Fates (Homes)
6. The Tale Of The Spider And The Fly (Cook)
7. Vesta (Homes)
8. Rolling And Tumbling (Cook/Carlton)
9. Mnemosyne (Homes)
10. Aurora (Homes)
11. Just As The Curtain Finally Falls (Cook)
12. Shifting Sands (Homes) - bonus track on 2006,Sunbeam reissue.

Line-up / Musicians


Dennis Homes - vibes, guitar, vocals
Jim Fraser - alto/soprano saxophone, oboe, alto/nose/concert flute
Les Cook - guitar, bongos, violin, mandolin, vocals

Releases information

Vinyl: RCA

CDreissue: Sunbeam

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
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SYNANTHESIA Synanthesia ratings distribution


3.38
(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
0%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(59%)
59%
Good, but non-essential (35%)
35%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

SYNANTHESIA Synanthesia reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Man Erg
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The only album recorded by London based trio,Synanthesia,manages to incorporate several genres;Prog-Folk,Jazz,Blues and an unclassified genre all it's own. If there are similarities to other bands I would reference Jan Dukes de Grey,Dr Strangely Strange,Comus Heron and Forest. There is also a hint of Audience, VdGG.This is because of Jim Fraser's sax and flute playing style.

Les Cook's languid vocals, Dennis Home's vibraphone and Jim Fraser's sax and woodwinds create an eerie,dream-like quality. Always in the background is the sound of strummed and delicately picked washes of acoustic guitar.

The albums starts vibrantly with the psychedelic sounding 'Minerva'.The psychedelic feel crops up through out the album.Not in a freak-out style of psych but more 'Donovan-esque'. 'Morpheus' has an odd quality.Sounding like a cross between something from Comus's First Utterence album.The sax sounds like a cross between Keith Gemmill (Audience), David Jackson (VdGG) and David Bowie!

The album also has it's 'English-whimsy' moments.I have already mentioned Donovan.I could also throw in Tyrannosaurus Rex and early Kevin Ayers for good measure. All in all,this album should be recognised as an Acid/Prog-Folk gem.Maybe not quite as ' up - there ' with Comus or as 'out-there' with Jan Dukes de Grey but they were definately on a similar flight path.

RCA's lack of promotion put paid to a follow up album.Each member going hisr own way when the band split in 1969. Ironically David Bowie,the man who they are rumoured to have been a backing band for,signed for RCA that same year.

Hmmm. I wonder...

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Synanthesia’s lone album is one of those forgotten psych folk minor recordings from the late sixties that managed to get released only because of the wide-open landscape of musical expression that existed at the time, but which was fast changing as that decade came to a close. One has to wonder if the band would have had more success if they had released this a couple years prior, or if RCA had gone to any expense at all in promoting the group.

That said, the music here is quite good and will be instantly appealing to most prog folk fans. The trio of Dennis Homes, Jim Fraser and Les Cook with their completely acoustic instrumentation calls to mind similar acts like the Incredible String Band, Comus, and even Amazing Blondel to a certain extent, but also Simon & Garfunkel before they hit it big, and even other obscure acts like Gentle Soul, Mortimer and Ant Trip Ceremony. The main difference here is that the band did not employ drums aside from Cook’s bongos, but they did prominently feature saxophone, oboe and especially a variety of flutes including the slightly nauseating nose flute.

The album was recorded without overdubs and pretty quickly – two days in the studio with obviously a fairly rudimentary mixing job. No matter, that version is impossible to find today, but the remastered Sunbeam release is clear and well-produced. Probably not all that hard to pull off considering this is all acoustic, but still a decent job.

These are all pretty short tracks, which was not all that unusual for folk acts of that day. Only “Morpheus” and the tribute to the mother of Greek muses “Mnemosyne” run more than five minutes, and these just barely that. The themes range from Greek and Roman mythology (“Mnemosyne”, “Morpheus”, “Minerva”, “Fates”, “Vesta”) to middle-age folklore (“The Tale of the Spider and the Fly”, “Peck Strangely and Worried Evening”) to British history (“Trafalgar Square”). The instrumentation is primarily anchored by acoustic guitar finger picking, the numerous flutes, and Homes’ vibraphone which he manages to make sound like a soft piano in some places and more typically like a xylophone in others. Some tracks like “Minerva” have a solid rhythm courtesy of the bongos, while on others the guitar sets the tone with little or no percussive accompaniment.

The closing “Just as the Curtain Finally Falls” is the last the band would record although they probably didn’t know it at the time, and it does sound like a swan-song with the sad, lazy saxophone and introspective soft vocals. The Sunbeam reissue features a bonus track “Shifting Sands” which interestingly is the most dated-sounding on the record, with harmonizing vocals that are clearly Beatles-inspired.

This is a very ear-pleasing album to enjoy on a quiet evening, and although it never made a splash when it released nearly forty years ago and won’t now, it is worth seeking out for fans of older light psych and especially progressive folk. Four stars and recommended to those people I just described.

peace

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Rumoured to have been the backing band to DAVID BOWIE at some point along the succession to the Spiders from Mars, SYNANTHESIA was an acoustic trio that tends to get filed with the likes of other hippy dippy artists of their day. Synthesizing the kookiness of INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, the madness of COMUS, the whimsy of DONOVAN, the out there quality of TYRANNOSAURUS REX, and the acoustic anarchy of JAN DUKES DE GREY along with pretty much everything else they heard, in some ways they offer a more tasteful alternative to all of the above that their audience could appreciate stone cold sober. Unfortunately, in this their sole recorded output, a rigidity neuters even the mostly fantastical subject matter. While "Minerva", "Trafalgar Square", and the droning closer "Just as the Curtain Finally Falls" all could have been standards in luckier hands, too much of what is here just floats by inoffensively, which is a criticism so seldom leveled against, say COMUS! In the end, SYNANTHESIA's eminency remains tied to the insubstantial Bowie connection, and that doesn't speak well for their own independent and verifiable legacy.

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