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Skryvania - Skryvania CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.41 | 52 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
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.

Conor Fynes | 2/5 |


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