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Syndone - Odyssťas CD (album) cover

ODYSS…AS

Syndone

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.92 | 139 ratings

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MELNIBON…
4 stars I've had this album for some time, but never listened to it : it was among a big bunch of CDs that came in at the same time and, for some reason, it got shelved and forgotten until quite recently. Now, I can try to make up for the neglect I've shown.

Syndone is Nik Comoglio (keys, arrangements & composition), Francesco Pinetti (vibraphone & composition) and Riccardo Ruggeri (vocals & lyrics), which isn't the usual line-up for any Prog band by any standards, not even for a RPI one. Now, for this album, they've had a helping hand from a lot of people, among which Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson's band) on drums, John Hackett (Steve's younger brother) on flute, Federico Marchesano and Pino Russo (both well-known Italian jazzmen) on bass and acoustic guitars, and Sara Marisa Chessa on lever harp. But that's not the end of it, because you have also to add a violin, an alto, two cellos, two trumpets, a trombone, a French horn, a tuba, three saxophones (alto, tenor and baritone), and a full string orchestra !...

Before getting down to the music, a word about the booklet, because it's not everyday you get one like it. The introductory text to the concept of the album is written in Italian, English, French and what appears to me to be Japanese. The title and lyrics of each piece are first given in Italian, followed by their English translation. In itself, the booklet is also quite intriguing, as it uses repeatedly variations of the bird motif on the cover, although this time in black & white ; I find it intriguing because these birds are "walking" birds, which I find strange in the context of an album dedicated entirely to the theme of "Odysseus" (or "Ulysses") and the "journey" or "voyage" we all go through in life.

There's a warning and a word of advice in the liner notes : No electric guitars ! Play loud !... Now it remains to be seen (or rather, heard) if the absence of electric guitars is significant enough to warrant the notice. As to cranking up the volume, it's up to each listener to do so or not, because I think loudness shouldn't be a criterion by which any musical piece is best evaluated, enjoyed or even rejected.

"Odyssťas" is made up of 13 pieces, four of which are instrumental, for a total length of more than 63 min. There are no "epics" on the album, as there are five pieces clocking at 5 min, given or take a few seconds, two in the 4 min range and the six others lasting between 1:47 and 3:43. That said, the lack of "epics" is by no way a flaw. The album is a heady mix, where classical composition (both symphonic & avant-garde) provides the canvas and the main leads, but also on which some jazz and Mid-Eastern elements are weaved through. The result is music with a far-reaching range, a wide palette of colors and hues, and a singer who knows how to set his voice as one instrument among the others, rather than having the music revolve around his voice. The orchestration is lush, musicianship is highly professional to say the least and the production is flawless. It makes for a fascinating "journey", although at times it can be destabilizing, because there seems to be something lacking in some pieces and that could be a not-enough punchy beats to underline the various melodies.

4 walking birds

MELNIBON… | 4/5 |

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