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SYZYGY

Crossover Prog • United States


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Syzygy biography
Post ABRAXAS (USA) and WITSEND (USA) they change their name to SYZYGY because "the group discovered it had never technically secured the rights of the name WITSEND and someone nabbed it over the last few years." They began as a duo in the beginning of the 80's (Carl and Sam) playing in a band called ABRAXAS doing covers in a 'distinctive heavy handedness' across the midwest. They eventually splitt for a short moment allowing to them time to focus on their musical's studies. Carl and Sam wanted to move to a more progressive way, they were joined by two talented players, drummer Roman Zmudzinski and bass player Gary Prebie. The quatuor worked at that time on some musical ideas that Sam and Carl had been working on buit the band shortly disbanded because of the 'tedious developmental stage' of the band. Carl Baldassarre: electric, acoustic, and classical guitars, guitar synthesizer, bass guitar and vocals on track 2, 6
- Sam Giunta: piano, synthesizers - Paul Mihacevich: drums & percussions and vocals (Track 1) - All Rolik : bass (track 2, 7)

Sam and Carl pursuit their work, and were joined by Paul Mihacevich a neighbor of Sam alittle bit later, he was the guy, WITSEND is now a trio in which Sam take the bas parts in one hand and the keyboards' parts on the other hand, he still share the bass part with Carl today.

The first CD 'Cosmos and Chaos' was out in 1993. "Since that time they, the guys have been busy studying, writting, recording and most important raising families (9 Kids between the three family). So it's the life, it take ten years to recorded and release the second CD 'Allegory of Light'. By the way the band change their name to SYZYGY but it's the same band. (Taken from the official biography). Want to read more from SYZYGY log in on to -http://www.syzygymusic.com/Bios/History.htm

"If you like these bands.... Legendary; BRAND X, CURVED AIR, DEEP PURPLE, ELP, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, JETHRO TULL, KING CRIMSON, UK, YES, ZAPPA and contemporaries; DREAM THEATER, FLOWER KINGS, OSI, PLANET X, PORCUPINE TREE, SPOCK'S BEARD, TRANSATLANTIC, LED ZEPPELIN, RUSH, ECHOLYN and maybe much more. You should like SYZYGY !

: : : Atomique - Hruaia, INDIA : : :

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Realms of EternityRealms of Eternity
CD Baby 2012
Audio CD$11.43
$9.18 (used)
A Glorious DisturbanceA Glorious Disturbance
Syzygy Music Enterprises 2013
Audio CD$9.98
$4.99 (used)
The Allegory of LightThe Allegory of Light
SYZYGY Music Enterprises, LLC 2009
Audio CD$13.98
$73.04 (used)
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SYZYGY discography


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SYZYGY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.16 | 11 ratings
Cosmos and Chaos (as Witsend)
1993
3.88 | 50 ratings
The Allegory of Light
2003
3.87 | 63 ratings
Realms of Eternity
2009

SYZYGY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.77 | 23 ratings
A Glorious Disturbance
2012

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SYZYGY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Glorious Disturbance by SYZYGY album cover Live, 2012
4.77 | 23 ratings

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A Glorious Disturbance
Syzygy Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'A Glorious Disturbance' - Syzygy (75/100)

All but one of the guys in the present-day Syzygy have been playing together for years. From that, there's the expectation that a chemistry would form that could only be fully heard in a live performance. With that pretense, I was more than excited to experience A Glorious Disturbance, the first official documentation of Syzygy as a live entity. More than that, the band's fourth release has been lavished with the warmest praise they have ever received. As live albums tend to be seen as a fans-only product, this is quite a surprise. More than a simple live album, this is a multi-faceted experience of a band that has lingered in the shadows for far too long.

A Glorious Disturbance boasts roughly 5 hours of material; in addition to the live album, there is a 5.1 Surround-supported concert DVD and host of special features documenting the band's existence behind-the- scenes. On paper, A Glorious Disturbance sounds like an investment best suited for the established fans of Syzygy. Surprisingly, it might actually be the greatest place for newcomers to start. Everything from the pastoral leanings of their debut Cosmos and Chaos to their full-fledged progressive rock on The Allegory of Light and Realms of Eternity are thoughtfully represented, and though the emphasis is weighted towards their latter 2009 album, the setlist pays respects to Syzygy's decades-long history together. This is the best these songs have ever sounded, and I don't think there's been anywhere better to start with Syzygy than this.

If anything put Realms of Eternity above its predecessors, it was the introduction of vocalist Mark Boals into the fold. Until then, Syzygy had always felt like a band in search for a vocalist, and I couldn't have thought of a better choice. Boals is a world-class vocalist, with a dramatic presence easily rivalling the versatility of Carl Baldassarre's guitarwork or Paul Mihacevich's dynamic drumming. Most impressively, Syzygy have taken advantage of Boals' talents by re-fitting previously instrumental tracks to fit his vocals. Surprisingly enough, the vocals work better on the original instrumentals than I thought they did on Realms of Eternity. On both the live album and DVD, Mark Boals' presence cannot be denied; the re- fitted versions of "Mount Ethereal" and "Strange Loop II" are pretty incredible to hear with vocals. It's really as if these songs were meant to have vocals, and only now, with A Glorious Disturbance, has that dream been able to come to fruition.

While the Live CD portion of this set is arguably the most fine-tuned and inspired recording Syzygy have ever conjured, the DVD is more problematic. Given how strong the sound is, it's surprising how amateurish and fuzzy the video itself is. As a concert film, A Glorious Disturbance is caught somewhere between looking like a bad home video and a semi-professional get-up. When it's not mired in poor 'Movie Maker' effects, the film direction is usually aimless. There are never any effective syncs of the music and visuals. At their worst, the cameras give a glimpse of what someone from far-back in the crowd would see if they were squinting. At their best, it's what someone at the sidelines might see. It's reassuring to see the band having obvious fun when they're playing, but the video adds so little to the appreciation of their music. For instance, I've been a fan of Paul Mihacevich's drumwork from the first time I heard it, but the camera almost never gives insight into what he's doing at the back of the stage. It would have been foolish to expect this (or any concert DVD) to be the visual work of some emerging Kubrick or Bergman, but the DVD doesn't offer enough to merit it over listening to the audio alone. The cover of Deep Purple's "Burn" rocks pretty hard, though!

I'd actually recommend checking out the special features before heading onto the concerts proper. While the progress they have made from Cosmos and Chaos onward was already obvious from listening to the three records in sequence, a lengthy and passionate interview with Carl Baldassarre gives valuable insights into the mindset and stories behind each stage of their existence. Under the name Abraxas in 1979, Syzygy was originally a hard rock cover band, though it wasn't long before they felt the urge to get original. Although Baldassarre looks on each following era fondly, it's clear that he views Syzygy as being in the midst of their golden era -- and rightly so! Hearing the stories of Syzygy's development (including a strangely propitious meeting with future keyboardist Sam Giunta) brings an unexpected emotional weight to the proceedings. Regardless whether you're a seasoned Syzygy veteran or A Glorious Disturbance is your first dealings with the band, Baldassarre's interview is sure to enrich your appreciation of the band's work.

While A Glorious Disturbance is probably better off with the other special features than without, the rest of Syzygy's would-be documentary is underwhelming. It' enlightening to hear some of the isolated tracks from Realms of Eternity discussed on the "Writing of Realms" feature, but the plodding verse-by- verse, song-to-song dissection is tough to get through with all interest intact. If anything, it makes me want to revisit Realms of Eternity and keep an ear open for the troves of detail hidden in the mix. Mark Boals' much-shorter interview feels lacking in substance; for a guy whom I consider to be the keystone Syzygy needed in their sound, there's not much to be taken from the interview, other than that Boals thinks the rest of the band is pretty swell. The roundtable discussion (which I was most excited for) was most disappointing of all. Considering its length, it is fairly absent of fresh insight and information. I certainly get the impression that they (and many of their listeners) are passionate about the music of Syzygy, but I can trust their performance to convey that passion to me. In an interview, I want information, I want stories, I want unexpected insights that are going to fuel the way I approach the music. Baldassarre had some great things early on in the disc, but the rest of the special features I could take or leave.

To their credit, Syzygy's enthusiasm and live chemistry leaves me with some of the same awe I felt when listening to Yessongs for the first time. Undoubtedly, the live CD segment of this boxset is the most impressive thing the band has ever done, and further proves to me that great musicianship can only be fully appreciated when the artists are performing live. Many of the issues I've had with Syzygy's work are mitigated by the sheer passion and chemistry they exhibit live. I have no problem calling A Glorious Disturbance the most impressive live prog album I've heard since Moon Safari's The Gettysburg Address. At the same time, the other two thirds of A Glorious Disturbance are major disappointments in comparison. I'm always in awe whenever a band takes a multimedia approach for a new release, but Syzygy's decades of experience and expertise together were deserving of something far better than the amateurish quality ascribed to the video. Regardless however, when the current mindset is to avoid live albums under the impression that they offer little to an experience of a band, A Glorious Disturbance deserves to be heard (if not seen). More than that, this is the way Syzygy deserve to be heard.

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 Realms of Eternity by SYZYGY album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.87 | 63 ratings

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Realms of Eternity
Syzygy Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Realms of Eternity' - Syzygy (73/100)

To their credit, Syzygy are one of the few progressive bands I've heard that reinvent themselves each time a new album comes about. That they release a new album averaging every eight years probably doesn't hurt that fact; with the three albums that we have so far from Syzygy (including the debut they wrote under the Witsend moniker) paint an impressive sense of progress. Cosmos and Chaos had a certain charm to its Genesis-inspired meanderings, but felt light on substance. When their lives permitted, Syzygy's second album emerged a decade later; The Allegory of Light was an incredibly different animal than the debut. It featured well-rounded contributions from each of the three Syzygians, and offered as much instrumental complexity as could be fit on a traditional prog album; the effect was generally more impressive than that of its predecessor, but new problems emerged in the music. Most importantly, it felt like the band had contracted a moderate case of Transatlantic syndrome- that is, technical bravado and overbearing prog cliches coming at the cost of an emotionally empowered listening experience.

With Syzygy's third outing Realms of Eternity dropping a mere six years later, it's once again clear that the band have done some soul-searching. Though it's not as bold of a leap as the one they took between Cosmos and Chaos and The Allegory of Light, Syzygy have finally given their style a much-desired sense of balance. Between melody and instrumental fireworks, the intimate and ambitious, Realms of Eternity is the first album in the band's career together that sounds like they know not only where they want to go, but how to get there.

The importance of Syzygy's fleshed-out roster to the album's success cannot be overstated. The introduction of Mark Boals (listed here as a guest vocalist, although he's obviously so much more than that) has finally given Syzygy the confident voice their music deserved. While Carl Baldassarre's sparing vocal performances weren't bad in the past (he offers a great vocal performance of his own on the mellowed acoustic "Echoes Remain"), his plain delivery wasn't well-suited to the bombastic lengths the renewed Syzygy were reaching for. Mark Boals' induction not only frees Baldassarre to concentrate on the guitar, it's opened up a swath of musical possibilities for the band as a whole. It was clear on The Allegory of Light that Syzygy wanted to write songs with a heavy vocal presence, but without a full-time singer they shyed away from it (that possibly explains why the album was so heavy on the instrumental pyrotechnics). Boals is everything Syzygy could have wanted out of a vocalist. He's got a resolve in his performance that could stand toe-to-toe with some of the great vocalists in progressive and heavy metal, and knows exactly when to tone down his delivery. Realms of Eternity also sees the entry of bassist Al Rolik, and while a full-time bassist isn't as much of a boon to Syzygy's music as the new vocalist, I noticed a confident aggression in his playing here, closely reminiscent of the ballsy presence Chris Squire had on the best Yes albums.

The longstanding core of Syzygy aren't any worse off for the change either. While the more melodic and palatable approach doesn't give Baldassarre or keyboardist Sam Giunta as much space to explicitly strut their skills as they had on The Allegory of Light, there are still more than enough Dream Theater-type instrumental breaks for the band to explore ideas at greater leisure. Again from the past album, Paul Mihacevich's drumwork is a testament to his expertise with dynamics. Not only do these guys have decades of experience between each of them, they have decades of experience playing together, as a trio. With the chemistry and partial telepathy that arises from working together for such a long time, I imagine it was that much easier for Rolik and Boals to join in on the fun.

Including a better-than-ever mix and production, Syzygy's execution is the best it's ever been with Realms of Eternity, and they put themselves head and shoulders above most other contenders in traditional progressive circles. My feelings are more mixed towards the songwriting and composition on the album. Realms of Eternity sounds as enthusiastic as Witsend did with Cosmos and Chaos, but they're not as used to working with vocals as with their proggy instrumentals. Some tracks- like "Echoes Remain", the excellent "Dialectic" and parts of the half-hour epic "The Sea"- are really successful with the vocal integration. "Dialectic" in particular is one of the best tunes Syzygy have ever done, better than "M.O.T.H." off of The Allegory of Light and maybe even better than Voyager from the debut. With other parts, I'm less impressed with the way Syzygy incorporated Boals. The worst offender is undoubtedly "Dreams", which has an AOR "fist-pumping" chorus that feels lame and awkward, especially given its otherwise cerebral surroundings.

Even though Realms of Eternity has been improved most with the new vocalist, it's unsurprising that Syzygy's best strength lies in their instrumental interplay. Like the best of Spock's Beard or Beardfish (how many beard-related prog bands are out there, I wonder?), Syzygy have a nostalgic, throwback flair to their proggy explorations that is pleasantly refreshed with the energy they put into it. Take "Darkfield" or "Dialectic"; the way Syzygy incorporate these extended prog passages isn't particularly innovative (they usually function in the songwriting as extended bridges, often following a chorus) but the energy they pour into these parts makes them exciting even to a seasoned prog veteran.

Of the most importance to Realms of Eternity is obviously "The Sea", a mammoth that roughly eats up the last third of the album's disc space. While Syzygy hinted at tracks being linked with The Allegory of Light, the sense of a 'suite' didn't extend much past the CD booklet. With "The Sea", we're looking at Syzygy's first full-blown epic, one that's received a fair bit of acclaim in the years since its release. Undoubtedly, "The Sea" is home to Syzygy's best melodic integration; it's driven by motifs and themes, some of which closely recall earlier parts of the album. Even if it doesn't feel like a standalone epic so much as a particularly idea-heavy chunk of the album, "The Sea" is one of the band's best achievements to date. The overture balances out introduction of themes with playful solos. Throughout the dynamic shifts and bright melodies, Syzygy keep me reminded of Spock's Beard in the way they merge prog traditions with accessible hooks. "The Sea" is largely a joy to hear, with the two "Variations" exercising the limits of the band's intensity. Given how impressed I am with "The Sea", it's all the more disappointing that its "Finale" ends with such a default reprise and bombast. Slowing down the central melodic idea and adding gospel(?) ad- libbing in the background may have conceivably worked, but on the coattails of some of Syzygy's most technically accomplished instrumentation, I'm consistently underwhelmed with the way they capped the epic. With each album, Syzygy have impressed upon me the fact that they are potentially excellent composers, but the way they structure and arrange their most challenging work tends to feel mechanical.

In spite of the obvious leaps Syzygy have made here, I have enough issues with Realms of Eternity (some of them fresh with this album) to hold me back from really loving it, certainly enough for me to disagree with the 'Album of the Year 2009' buzz it triggered some years back when the record was new. Yet, having listened to Syzygy's albums in their chronological order, I can't help but be impressed by how far they have come as musicians and a band. Especially considering that traditional/'throwback' progressive rock usually repulses me this side of the new millennium, that they've effectively livened up the style is a feat unto itself. In a way, each of the three Syzygy records could be seen as debut albums; Realms of Eternity doubly so. If this may be seen as a promise of even better things to come from Syzygy in the future, I hope we won't have to wait a decade to hear their next step. If recent interviews ring true and the band are indeed in the midst of fresh material, that wait will be over before we know it.

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 A Glorious Disturbance by SYZYGY album cover Live, 2012
4.77 | 23 ratings

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A Glorious Disturbance
Syzygy Crossover Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars Projects like this one always make me feel good about music! Bands like Syzygy play their music for love and they know that if they do it with quality they can release boxes like A Glorious Disturbance (2012).

Syzygy is an American band and we all know that the USA doesn't have a great tradition within Progressive music. Here's a band trying to defy that! In fact, it is a bit weird to have a band like Syzygy, that has only 3 studio albums, to release a massive triple live package with CD and 2 DVDs. But maybe because the story of the band goes back 20 years ago this makes this release a special gift for fans and for the band itself!

A Glorious Disturbance (2012) was released towards the end of 2012 and shows us the band in 2 different concerts: 3RP Festival that took place in 2009 when the band was releasing their album Realms Of Eternity (2009); and Day Of Prog Festival that happened in 2010.

The audio on the CD version was brilliantly recorded and the band formed by Carl Baldassarre (guitar and vocals), Sam Giunta (keyboards), Paul Mihacevich (drums and percussion), Al Rolik (bass) and the special guest Mark Boals (vocals), was sharp as a new knife! Syzygy plays with passion and perfection. 'Mount Ethereal' is a modern Prog classic and you can hear why in this version!

The first DVD contains the 2 full concerts. In the 2009 show they had multiple cameras filming and you can actually see how much the band enjoyed the show! In the 2010 concert they had a big screen on the stage and again numerous cameras. Both concerts are simply filmed but very professionally and you have a great sound and many details! 'Circadian Rhythm' is such an amazing song in the DVD set. To close wonderfully the DVD, after over an hour of great Syzygy material they close with 2 cover songs: 'In The Dead Of The Night (UK) and 'Burn' (Deep Purple). On the last one Mark Boals does such an amazing job with the vocals! Just amazing!

Now, the live content is just amazing and alone they are worth the box, but I admit that my favorite disc is the third one, with the special features. I always love special features on DVDs. There's a round table with the band members where they tell us their own story bit by bit. Just great! We also have a big interview with band leader Carl Baldassarre, a kind of making off with the process of writing their previous album, which is just astonishing, and also an interview with singer Mark Boals.

A Glorious Disturbance (2012) is the best business card for a band ever! If you're a fan this is a must have, if you're new to the band it's also a must have and finally if you're into Prog at all this is a huge must have! And if you ever wondered where all the great Prog bands have gone? Syzygy is your answer! So, what you're waiting for!?!?

Highly recommended!

(Originally posted on progshine.net)

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 The Allegory of Light  by SYZYGY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.88 | 50 ratings

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The Allegory of Light
Syzygy Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'The Allegory of Light' - Syzygy (66/100)

Ten years prior to the release of Syzygy's de facto second album The Allegory of Light, the Carl Baldassarre-led trio was known as Witsend. In the midst of completing terms at a music conservatory and starting families, their first (and, for a long time, only) album Cosmos and Chaos was released; a pleasant, if not totally satisfying album, Witsend proved at least what the guys were capable of as musicians. Fast forward a decade of relative silence from Syzygy, and they released The Allegory of Light. It's ultimately a more rewarding album than its predecessor, but I wonder whether the focus on technique and 'prog for prog's sake' attitude of the album doesn't alienate the things I loved most about their humble beginnings. Syzygy don't break any established rules of progressive rock, but from a technical standpoint, they flourish within them.

At once, it is clear that Syzygy have worked out many of the more blatant kinks in their formula. Where the meaty prog composition felt strangely hard to come by on Cosmos and Chaos, The Allegory of Light is dense and tightly-packed with instrumental fireworks. Where in their pre-Syzygy days they would be hinged on concise songwriting and simple tunes, The Allegory of Light boasts three epics, the melodically-inclined "M.O.T.H" (short for 'master of the house'), the densely packed "Zinjanthropus" and the balls-out progstravaganza "The Journey of Myrrdin". On those and the rest, cerebral musicianship and liberal changes in time signature aren't uncommon. Although there's a hint of the pastoral tone of Cosmos and Chaos, it's safe to say that Syzygy made their 'debut' as a far different creature than Witsend. Both are firmly rooted in '70s progressive nostalgia, but The Allegory of Light undoubtedly the more challenging listen of the two.

Of course, there are elements that have crossed over. Syzygy remains a largely instrumental act, and Baldassarre's history as a classical guitarist is evident, certainly in the acoustic "Beggar's Tale". The smell of Genesis still lingers in many of the album's prettier moments, but Syzygy are much closer to the more technical meanderings of Gentle Giant. Although that might seem like a short leap to make (one symph-prog act to another, largely symphonic band), the major distinction lies in the way it manifests itself in the album's atmosphere. I first listened to The Allegory of Light a year ago expecting something along the lines of Steve Hackett, but Syzygy are far too busy with technique to warrant the comparison any longer. On "M.O.T.H" and "Industryopolis", there are even dissonant sections I'd expect to hear from one of the classically-influenced Rock In Opposition bands. Syzygy's own education in classical music surely manifests itself here, albeit in an entirely different manner than the softer sounds of Cosmos.

As we heard only briefly with Witsend with "Circadian Rhythm", Carl Baldassarre once again tries his hand with vocals, if only for the title suite (comprising the first three tracks). While his singing lacks the confidence to have effectively fronted the band full-time, the plainness of his voice has a hearty intimacy to it, the likes of which I've come to love and expect from US symphonic prog. Unsurprisingly for a band of their style, Syzygy offer an expert grasp of their respective instruments. While Cosmos and Chaos tended to highlight Carl Baldassarre's talents predominantly, each of the three Syzygians bring a world of sound to The Allegory of Light. As always, Baldassarre comfortably shifts between proggy pyrotechnics and softer classical guitar, impressing equally with both. Sam Giunta (who only had "Strange Loop II" off Cosmos and Chaos to really show his skills) takes a major role in the compositions with often-weighty organ playing; like some of the early heavy prog bands circa 1970, Syzygy tend to bring their relative 'heaviness' via the keyboard, freeing up the guitar for leads and a melodic role. Perhaps most impressive of all on the record is Paul Mihacevich; the calculated and busy drumwork is multi-faceted and endlessly dynamic. Perhaps it would be premature to say he is one of the greatest unsung drummers in modern progressive rock based on a single album, but he went ahead and confirmed my feelings with 2009's Realms of Eternity, so I think it's fair to say so.

I'm certainly more impressed by Syzygy's grasp of technique on their second album together, and compared to the part-instrumental prog, part-interlude Cosmos and Chaos, The Allegory of Light's density rewards repeated listens. At the same time, there's a small part of me that misses the 'tautology' of Witsend; specifically, the melodic songcraft they infused into their composition. While many of the tracks here outweigh Cosmos' opener "Voyager" in technical firepower and ambition, are any quite so cleverly written? This is prog rock, made by fans of prog rock, for fans of prog rock, almost to a fault. Syzygy certainly extended their reach with The Allegory of Light, but may have lost some of the honesty that made their debut oddly charming.

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 Cosmos and Chaos (as Witsend) by SYZYGY album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.16 | 11 ratings

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Cosmos and Chaos (as Witsend)
Syzygy Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Cosmos and Chaos' - Witsend (62/100)

Perhaps even moreso than their Scandinavian counterparts, it's the United States that has carried the symphonic prog mantle into recent decades. I'm not sure what it is about the richly pastoral sounds of Genesis that appeal so much to the Americans, but there has been a surge of (often Christian) bands in the US dedicating to keeping the symphonic tradition alive, long since the original progressive zeitgeist died. Echolyn and Transatlantic rank among the best-known (though, in the case of the latter, far from the best) examples, but many are left for the genre's more dedicated fans to seek and discover. Among the more promising of these Second Wave adherents is Syzygy, who first made their start as Witsend, a trio who were still attending a music conservatory when this debut was released. Although a lot of the album seems to be hinting at a point the band never makes, the early Syzygy's (mostly) instrumental blend of classical guitar and Hackett-focused Genesis worship is unpretentious and capable.

Although Witsend (or Syzygy) experiment with vocals (with mixed success) on "Circadian Rhythm", Cosmos and Chaos is an otherwise instrumental album. In a much more recent interview, Baldassarre described the album as an "honest" mixture of progressive rock and classical music, and I would tend to agree. Although they were still years away from fleshing out their sound (2003's The Allegory of Light was more substantive, 2009's Realms of Eternity doubly so) the trio is confident and eager to explore the progressive format. The strongest reference here would be Steve Hackett, particularly he did concurrently, and following his work with the legendary Genesis. Listening to a piece like the excellently composed and pastoral "Voyager", I can't help but recall Steve's Voyage of the Acolyte, one of my favourite symphonic prog albums. Emerson, Lake and Palmer is also evoked, on the considerably show-ier "Strange Loop II"; Sam Giunta's enthusiastic synth observations closely parallel Keith Emerson's. "Mount Ethereal" and "Closure" respectively lend harder-hitting approaches to Witsend's style, in turn reminding me of some of the heavier symphonic rockers. Making the leap between Steve Hackett to ELP and Kansas doesn't seem like a world of change, but it proves at least that the nascent Syzygy were more than the simple Genesis acolytes they and many of their less-promising contemporaries appear to be.

With the handful of fleshed-out instrumentals and jovial "Circadian Rhythm" obviously aside, most of the tracks on Cosmos and Chaos are short, to-the-point, and built around Carl Baldassarre's not-inconsiderable skills with the nylon-string guitar. While many of these might pass as wayside interludes on a more substantive prog album, Witsend give them at least as much importance to Cosmos and Chaos as the meatier compositions themselves. Fortunately, these 'interludes' tend to be very tasteful and enjoyable. Carl Baldassarre is clearly a guitarist of the Steve Hackett school, choosing his notes carefully, hesitating to stress technique if it's not deemed necessary. In particular, his twin classical etudes are beautifully composed and played. Think of the pleasant acoustic "Horizons" Genesis used to prelude "Supper's Ready" on Foxtrot, and you should have an idea how roughly half of Cosmos and Chaos sounds. The problem here, of course, is that there is no "Supper's Ready", or otherwise epic demonstration of what Witsend are so apparently capable of, judging from the mid-length rock instrumentals. To be fair, all four of the instrumentals sound ambitiously composed, but by the time the album is over, it feels like half of it has been spent wading through pleasant interludes, waiting for Witsend's meatier progressive rock. It's understandable that the band would want to showcase their guitarist's expertise with classical guitar, but as it stands, Cosmos and Chaos sounds a bit like an empty stomach; enthusiastic, but unsatisfying.

Cosmos and Chaos is most certainly "honest"- something which feels sorely lacking in a lot of prog- but I don't believe it's much more than that. The instrumentals are engaging, and the classical guitar is pleasant, but something is certainly missing from Syzygy's debut. Ultimately (and in spite of the fact that Baldassarre's short pieces are well-written), Cosmos and Chaos is a case of too much potatoes and not enough meat. Although the jumbled montage of the its final track, this album doesn't have quite enough adhesive to keep it together.

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 A Glorious Disturbance by SYZYGY album cover Live, 2012
4.77 | 23 ratings

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A Glorious Disturbance
Syzygy Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars US band SYZYGY was formed in 2003, but with a past history going back to the 1990's and a band then called Witsend. They released their first album as Syzygy in 2003, and six years later their so far most recent studio album "Realms of Eternity" appeared. Towards the end of 2012 their so far most recent release appeared, a massive box set consisting of two DVDs and one CD, featuring concert footage and extensive interviews with the band. And as with their previous creations, self-released through the band's own label.

"A Glorious Disturbance" is a box-set that merits a description as glorious. Good quality live video footage, excellent quality live audio footage, and a separate special features DVD with insightful and interesting sections. There's a lot of value for money here, and the sheer quality of the band shines through on all the material features. A certain fondness for sophisticated 70's hard rock in general is required, as well as a taste for progressive rock from the same decade. A band that should appeal broadly, with a possible key audience those who have Deep Purple, Genesis and ELP side by side in their music collection.

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 Realms of Eternity by SYZYGY album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.87 | 63 ratings

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Realms of Eternity
Syzygy Crossover Prog

Review by FragileKings

5 stars Imagine having an equalizer that allows you to adjust the amount of influence, style, or sound of a set list of prog bands and create a new band sound. Let's say you were to set Glass Hammer to 7 (out of 10, not 11), Dream Theater to 1, Wobbler to 1.5, Anima Mundi to 0.5, Cairo to 3, and well, a couple of other bands could be set in there two and the appropriate adjustments made. You might very well end up with something that sounds like Syzygy's "Realms of Eternity".

Modern day prog music is a funny fish. In the 70's, everyone was busy coming up with their own thing. In the 80's, the old guard were trying to reinvent themselves while the young ones who grew up with 70's prog tried to make it work in the new music scene, giving us neo-prog and progressive metal. But after grunge had its moment in the limelight in the 90's, progressive rock made a miraculous recovery. The new bands of the day could take their influences from the 70's and the more interesting developments of the 80's and begin making a new style of progressive rock. Now nearly 20 years have passed since prog's back-to-being-respectable revival and in the recent years it seems to be sitting quite confidently in its rightful throne. It's very common for reviewers to cite prog influences of the 70's in music even as recent as this year; however, in my opinion, the 70's are no more obvious here than in shadows and traces. Listening to this album reminded me much more of prog music of the last two decades than the first decade. Thus I mentioned the groups above (though I was reminded once or twice of Jethro Tull and Dixie Dregs).

But this is one exciting album! Before the first track had finished I was already thinking of my review. By the time the album was over I was already thinking of playing again on my way home from work. There are prog albums that you know are going to be good once you have a chance to get into them. And then there's an album like this where right off the bat you know it is going to get played a lot. I had to pay a hefty penny for this as an import in Japan but it was worth every yen, and it hasn't left my ear buds since!

So, what's so freaking spectacular about this album? This is exactly what I expect a prog rock album to sound like. Let's go over my checklist.

Guitars: acoustic strumming and picking, clean electric, distorted heavy guitar, gentle effects and quick runs and bursts, varied time signatures and tempo, odd pacing, jazz and classical influences. Check.

Keyboards: piano, synthesizer, moog, organ, delicate, funky, spacey, atmospheric, rockin' - it's all there. Add guitar/keyboard interplay and you're there. Check.

Bass: a chunky low end that holds it's own and even sets the riff, a low end that stops and turns on a dime. Check.

Drums: anything is possible from rapid fire bursts and fills to odd beats to creative percussion to slow gentle steady rhythms. Check.

Strong vocals: I don't expect good vocals from every prog band (Lord knows there are some great musicians out there who can't hold a note vocally) but this guy, Mark Boals, who sings as a guest vocalist on four tracks has the right mix of edge and melody. He is a true singer. A funny thing, I was listening to "Darkfield" and thinking, "Who is this guy? I know this voice but from where?" The second time through I was at last able to place him - vocalist on Uli Jon Roth's "Under a Dark Sky". I didn't find him too impressive on that album and actually thought he sounded too generic as a hard rock vocalist. But I think he sounds better here (though I was reminded of Uli's album in the heavier parts of this album) and perhaps suits the music and style of this album more than he does Uli's album which is so heavy in theme and music (symphony and choir with rock band). Syzygy add harmony vocals and beautiful harmony choruses (one part reminds me of Cross but you'd be more likely to say Yes) and so you can check all that too.

Eclectic music: rich synthesizer sounds, hard rock and metal guitar, acoustic pieces with strings and flute, weird twists and turns and stops and starts, jazzy sections, funky sections, spacey sections, AOR rock sections, folk, classical - it's all here. Check

Mini epics and a suite: two songs are over 10 minutes, one is over 16 minutes, and "The Sea" forms a suite of 8 movements or parts or sections, whatever you want to call them. These eight parts are divided into separate tracks but follow the theme of the suite and despite their diversity (acoustic guitar with flute to almost progressive metal) everything seems to have its rightful place. Nothing comes across as added just to show that they are capable of playing it. Check.

Instrumentals: Lovely short acoustic ones and rollicking crazy bombastic ones. Check.

Complex music: Check.

Syzygy have simply put it all together into one incredible album. When someone asks me what progressive rock is I always think about what is a good album to lend them as a definitive example, and that might be classic Yes or Genesis, or recent stuff by Wobbler or Galahad. This album sums it up very well, I think. It's amazing that this is only the group's third album between 1993 and 2009, but then again it seems like the time in between is where they learn their chops and get it all together to make a killer album. At just over 77 minutes I would normally say that it's too long, but dividing the album into a set of individual tracks and a suite seems to justify the length. The album is never boring or repetitive. It's just so darn well done through and through. I can't find fault here. And I read that Steve Hackett and Patrick Moraz both gave this album their highest praise.

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 A Glorious Disturbance by SYZYGY album cover Live, 2012
4.77 | 23 ratings

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A Glorious Disturbance
Syzygy Crossover Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

5 stars I Had A Vision Of Waging A Fight ...

... when SYZYGY appeared in 2012 with this highly appraised live document. Oh, it really took time - I mean listening 20 or 30 times (in total or partially) at least - until it totally clicked. A perfect album, thus I've problems to find the right words. Man! This sounds as if they were gigging all over the year (just like Umphrey's McGee maybe, for your guidance). So much the more surprising this is, when you consider, that lead vocalist Mark Boals is not even listed as a regular band member. And I don't expect that they have post processed a lot here. Tricky compositions, musicianship and interaction is absolutely flawless, a proper sound mix - there's really nothing to gripe about, no way.

By accident - with best thanks to the progstreaming website - I came in touch with this band. The nine songs, put on the live CD, were caught in 2009 respectively 2010 on two different US festivals - fine melodic progressive rock, provided with respectable symphonic touch, though some popular and jazzy moments are also offered. Not being aware of their studio output, it's not up to me to ponder over the song selection - in any case you'll find two nice acoustic guitar driven and more mainstream oriented pieces called Circadian Rhythm and Beggar's Tale - but predominantly this is rocking with some valuable heaviness, as one would expect from an impressive live occasion.

To name some of the (very very) exceptional songs, I'll start with Mount Ethereal - originally recorded under the moniker Witsend during their very early times. They let it flow including an improv solo section, the piano and guitar appearance is brilliant. Dreams shines with polyphonic vocals, a gripping affair while continuously alternating pace and mood, heavily rocking and charming moments, this based on lengthy instrumental activity. In between they are on the way to The Coronation with some Deep Purple touch (vocals above all).

'I'm The Master Of The House You Live' - M.O.T.H. - it all starts with a little pun ... and ends with the absolute highlight lately. This extended song sums up all their qualities. The symphonic orientation, melody, trickiness, variety, joy of playing ... obviously they have the rock in their DNA ... and even more. There's a fusion touched interlude to detect due to piano and guitar solo interaction. Eh ....I think that's it for almost all the positive attributes which are on hand at the moment ... oh, wait, I just experienced a glorious disturbance ...

... I adore the guitar solos, the wonderful vocal harmonies - lyrics are provided by guitarist Carl Baldassarre by the way. With keyboarder Sam Guinta on his side he's currently writing on new studio material. Those who like to hear stuff from bands like Saga, Salem Hill, IZZ, The Flower Kings will feel comfortable here, are in good hands at least ... I'm really excited anyhow, pretty much in the same way when I stumbled upon Big Big Train's 'The Underfall Yard'. Highly recommended - you can't get enough of a good thing - simply a masterpiece!

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 Realms of Eternity by SYZYGY album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.87 | 63 ratings

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Realms of Eternity
Syzygy Crossover Prog

Review by BORA

3 stars Eternity? More like the end of the human race...

Powerful and violently aggressive - in a musical sense. I don't mean to mix music with politics, but my first impression was that these cats could deal with the Taliban (add a few thousand civilians in "collateral damage:) singlehandedly. Or send them to the mines and the coals would emerge with hands high up in the air. Who needs NATO, or miners when Syzygy are around?

No, this music is not crap at all, rather the opposite, frightfully skilled and precise delivery. But it scares me, honestly. Like with a marksman sniper, one stands zero chance.

The musicianship is First Class, but as I indicated before, the end result scares me. I certainly wouldn't like my daughter dating any of these dudes. That robust energy is just way over the top for me, primarily because it's so powerful - and I grew up on Black Sabbath!

Not sure if I am going to keep this album. At times some tunes remind me even of Gentle Giant, but in place of delicate subtlety, I hear raw power. I could easily get sucked into liking this album, but I'd have concerns about it's effect on my mental state, I kid you not! A veteran of over 40 years of Prog appreciation, I don't sit comfortably with the energy this album brings to my home. Way too aggressive, inviting violent tendencies.

In all fairness, I'll rate them as a 3 for their combined skills and abilities, but they just don't fit comfortably with preferable artistic expressions.

Crossover is an appropriate genre for the band as they showcase many different styles. Comfortable with many, faithful to none - like "any way the wind blows" Hollywood bimboes with an AK-47 in hand. Seductive, but dangerous.

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 A Glorious Disturbance by SYZYGY album cover Live, 2012
4.77 | 23 ratings

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A Glorious Disturbance
Syzygy Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars There are times, not often it has to be said, that I open a package and can't wait to get the music onto the player as I am so excited just by the content that I already know that this is going to be something special. The first thing out of the envelope was an A4 loose leaf folder which is packed full of biographies, photos, and stacks of information. There is one page just dedicated to the comments from a certain Mr. Steve Hackett who contacted the band regarding their album 'Realms of Eternity' saying "It's beautifully written and recorded and easily the best I've ever been given to listen to" and "I usually hope for a masterpiece everytime I play an unknown quantity (to me) but this is the only time the dream has been fully delivered" among other comments. Now, unlike Steve I am aware of Syzygy and Witsend but even I wasn't prepared for what was next out of the envelope, a double Digipak of their new album. When I looked more closely I discovered that was I had in my hands was a triple disc live set, with two DVDs and a CD plus a small fold-out booklet with loads of pics. I mean, for heaven's sake, this is a band that does it all on their own with no record label support, yet have produced one of the finest live releases I have ever come across. And at this point I had yet to put in on the player!!!!!

So, being the contrary person I am, I went for the third disc first which is actually the CD. Now, rock vocalist Mark Boals sings for these guys, but they are primarily an instrumental act although he does appear with them both live and in the studio, so there are always long instrumental passages which gives them the chance to stretch their wings, and they definitely take the opportunity. Classic symphonic prog, through neo-prog, fusion as they toy with jazz styles, melodic rock, great harmony vocals, keyboard/guitar interplay, it's all here as all the guys demonstrate what incredible musicians they all are. To be honest, I would have raved about this album if there was only just the one CD, let alone having two other concerts to watch, interviews and discussions etc. There are three hours of DVD and well over an hour on the CD, and if you have yet to come across this incredible band then you need to right that wrong now and visit www.syzygymusic.com for more information.

The only reason that I give this five out of five is that I'm not allowed to give it more.

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