Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Syndone - Odyssťas CD (album) cover



Rock Progressivo Italiano

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
4 stars Syndone is one of the best reality of Italian Prog. They comes out from various experiences and their leader Nik Comoglio is one of the well prepared musicians of the whole panorama of Prog. It's a worth description because their sound deserves attention worldwide and it's a pity the fact that this band is not present at the highest festivals of the world. As mature and accomplished musicians You can listen for solutions and arrangements that sometimes are better than ELP's best albums. This last album, "OdyssŤas" sound like a masterpiece. Ruggeri is a compelling vocalist and seeing him on stage you can see a modern frontman having a right taste of sex-appeal. Comoglio is a balanced leader, great musician and powerful keyboardist not affected by self-indulgent behaviours. Although on records is the main instrumentist, he is happy to be joined from other keyboardist and musicians everytime the band is performing live. If You like Symphonic Prog Rock created and performed with the same seriousity of "Deutsche Grammophon" classic musicians mixed to a modern and fresh sound....Syndone is the Best band to listen!
Report this review (#1206530)
Posted Monday, July 7, 2014 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Five albums in almost twenty years isn't exactly moving at a fast rate, but it's a true sign of an artist slowly honing and perfecting their craft, not feeling the need to simply put out new product annually. Judging by the very impressive efforts on the latest Syndone album `Odyssťas', the slower work-rate has paid off beautifully. Despite a back catalogue of somewhat inconsistent yet promising previous works, the Syndone project, a trio comprised of vocalist Riccardo Ruggeri, keyboardist Nik Comoglio and vibraphone player Francesco Pinetti (not the usual prog trio set-up, eh?) finally delivers a truly memorable, thrilling album, their most defining release to date, and it's another triumph that keeps up the tradition of high quality recent RPI works.

An exclamation on the beautiful Mini LP CD sleeve proudly proclaims `No electric guitars!', and this will no doubt be familiar to fans of the early Queen albums, where Freddie and the boys would boast of `No synthesizers'! In that similarity lies a clue to a big influence to parts of this album, as frontman Riccardo Ruggeri has a definite theatrical purr very much modeled on the amazing Mr Mercury. He swoons, he woops, he croons...truly seductive, ravishing and full of that typically passionate delivery associated with endless classic RPI works. The rest of the main band is supported by guests playing flute (John `brother of Steve' Hackett), acoustic guitar (sublime work from Pino Russo) and Marco Minnemann's up-front drums, with Federico Marchesano's bass a constant highlight throughout, as well as some grand orchestration.

Just listen to how exquisitely Riccardo sings the classical guitar and piano ballad `Il Tempo Che Ne Ho', one of the most sweetly romantic and deeply moving pieces I've heard on an album, Italian prog or otherwise, all year. Riccardo perfectly controls his voice for maximum emotion, and it's an instant classic. The sweeping orchestration made me instantly think of Il Rovescio della Medaglia's `Contaminazione', and it has an impossibly dramatic climax. One of the must stunning tracks in all of 2014.

Elsewhere on the disc you get ripping vibraphone loaded jazz/fusion instrumental runs like the opener `Invocazione Alla Musa' (bristling with cool Hammond), `Circe' (lovely spiraling piano and frantic drumming) and `Eayoepia', all very much in the manner of 70's Pierre Moerlin's Gong albums. `Poseidon' and `Eros and Thanatos' are bombastic E.L.P/Triumvirat Hammond organ driven bombastic workouts, and `Focus' is a horn-led hard rocker with screeching, dangerous wild vocals. `Penelope' is a lonely late-night piano reflection with a sorrowful vocal but moments of real prettiness, and it's very much in the manner of an early Queen solo Freddie piece such as `You Take My Breath Away'. There's full-on vintage flavoured symphonic prog workouts like `Ade' and `Nemesis', and all these different styles come together in the finale `Daimones', a triumphant theme with lovely shimmering electric piano and positive Genesis-styled synth themes.

Highly recommended for fans of Seventies Queen and the most over-the-top classical and theatrical inspired Italian prog works, it will be exciting to see just how Syndone attempt to top this new personal standard on their next release. It's also very refreshing to hear an album not resort to dark and gloom, instead favouring plenty of life, energy and joy, and the band are full of inspiration and passion, Riccardo soaring high with the best vocals to appear on an Italian prog album all year. These factors help make `Odyssťas' one of the most varied, lavish and tasty RPI releases of 2014!

Four and a half stars.

Report this review (#1279351)
Posted Friday, September 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Two years back, Syndone took the Progulator staffs' ears by storm with La bella e la bestia, a superb release featuring smart and original melodic composition, insanely good production values, and a secret weapon of a vocalist whose flexibility is such to where he sneakily pulled off the role of three characters, one of which was female, in a way that had us all thinking that they were different singers. Needless to say, Odysseas has been a highly anticipated release for us this year. Did it meet my expectations? Yes it did. Quite frankly, it blew them away.

What impresses me so much about this band is that they were able to follow up their last album with something that sounds quite different, totally fresh, and pull it off so gracefully. Of course we see many similar elements before such as the jazz sections, but there is quite a bit here which makes this album sound like a unique and contained piece of music. First off, I would like to point out the Latin influences that seem to weave in and out of the record and the use of acoustic guitar such as on the quasi-flamenco inspired intro to Penelope, the classical guitar opening to "Il tempo che non ho," and the dark intro to "Nemesis," featuring loads of syncopated vibraphone, lever harp interjections, and an incredible chorus. "Nemesis" isn't the only song to make great use of vibes. In fact, I would say that another piece of the puzzle that lends this album its own sound is the heavy use of vibraphone throughout record, featuring the playing of Francesco Pinetti and oftentimes showcasing the jazzier or more playful lines of the record. "Invocazione alla Musa" gives this to us right off the bat as well as do the instrumental sections of "Eros & Thanatos." The former really shows that Syndone knows how to choose an album opener that'll suck you in immediately. This bouncy piece in 7/8 starts us right off with loads of fun, combining catchy rhythmic vibraphone playing with basslines that seriously groove. "Eros & Thanatos," though a short piece, certainly delivers the goods. The lead-in from the previous track, "La grande bouffe," is so seamless that I didn't even realize it was a new song except for the fact that I saw the numbers change on my CD player. The transition from dirty Hammond riffs and pulverizing bass to playful vibes and finally to an ominous vocal section over heavy and layered composition makes this piece a fantastic close to this quadra-song-cycle that started off with "Poseidon." Add Marco Minneman's perfect drumming to pieces like this and "Circe" (where his grooves are absolutely rockin, tasty, jazzy, and punch at all the right accents) and there's literally nothing on this record I could even fathom complaining about.

With all that said, in the end what makes Odysseas really tick is that it has the feel of lyrical art songs, which is not something you find often in a prog record. Yes, it is a rock album, but so many of of the tracks, especially those with vocals seem to fit well with the art song tradition and even shy away from rock. While this might sound scary to some, this is actually what I consider to be key to the album. Riccardo Ruggeri's vocal interpretations are to die for, and he seems to shine the most when doing highly melodic and passionate pieces where he is given lots of room to interpret the lyrics in a slew of ways. This is evident from the first vocal track of the album, "Il tempo che non ho" which capitalizes on on the combination of classical style guitar and vocals which later on develop into a piano piece before a big strings outro. Towards the end of the album when you get to "Vento avverso" it becomes clear that the melodies of this song serve as a kind of main theme for the album; the track opens up with a gorgeous strings rendition of the theme's from "Il tempo" before moving into the same vocal line we heard as before. This time the arrangement is different with the song replacing the guitar part from the other piece in favor of a piano arrangement which gives this even more of an art song feel. The vocals are passionately stunning, undulating from brave to meek while the interplay of synth and piano deliver a meaningful close to the song. "Penelope" is another piece that is certainly worthy of mention, featuring an intro of wailing flamenco style vocals which quickly moves into a melodic and romantic piano solo that is breathes beautiful tension, phrasing, and dynamic. As the vocals come in the mood gets brighter and Ruggeri really shows his prowess as a singer through masterful use of full voice, head voice, and falsetto ranges in this classical influenced piece. And if you're looking for something that 'll really blow your mind, you don't need to go any futher than Ruggeri's use of his high range between 1:50 and 2:12 of "Ade." You'll have to hear it to believe it, it's that unreal.

Despite the release of Odysseas early on in 2014, Comoglio and Pinetti prove themselves to be among the best prog composers of the year and have absolutely nailed it when it comes to choosing the right musicians to deliver it, whether that's Ruggeri (a full time member of the band) or Minneman, Marchesano and a slew of hired guns. If you know me and my reviews you'll know that I consider the current Italian scene to be among the best of the prog world at the moment. Odysseas confirms Syndone as one of the leading bands in a scene that is already setting a high bar.

Report this review (#1287526)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The drums!!

Some very polished (well produced) RPI with a story (Odysseus) and some music made most interesting for its full synth sound and the presence of tuned percussion (Francesco Pinetti on vibraphone) and horns throughout. The impassioned vocals unfortunately feel a little over-the-top (melodramatic) due, I am sure, to the fact that they are sung in Italian?which I do not understand. The music is sometimes jazzy, sometimes Broadway-esque, sometimes classical in its presentation. Perfect RPI. It is always well-polished and cleanly performed. For those of you enamored of the vocal talents of La Coscienza di Zeno's Alessio Calandriello you will be well pleased with the ambitious offerings of Syndone's Riccardo Ruggeri. Considering that Syndone was a one time solo project of Nik Comoglio, you have to say that he's come a long way?and has gotten very good at finding great sidemen and guests for his projects (including drummer Marco Minnemann and flutist John Hackett).

Favorite songs: "Il tempo che non ho" (5:33) (9/10) and the finale, "Daimones" (4:54) (9/10).

Overall this is admirably solid, well-conceived, and beautifully realized music. Definitely four stars. Maybe worth more.

Report this review (#1288446)
Posted Monday, October 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Now I am returning to the Italian world where I have encountered the band "Syndone" which has recorded five records from 1992 to 2014. This year came the fifth album "Odyssťas" which, when I watch the five covers rapidly, has the most artistic look. It feels both old and fantastic and I especially like the bright colours. The three msuicians that make up the band are Nik Comoglio (keyboards, orchestrations), Riccardo Ruggeri(vocals) and Francesco Pinetti(vibraphone) and four guests are present too: Federico Marchesano, Marco Minnemann, Sara Marisa Chessa and John Hackett.

The record is so varied that I can't like everything. Some tracks are similar to a lot of other Italian prog happenings and others are more special. The variety could be a challange that lifts up the album when I return to it in the future, but these tow first listenings didn't make it so coherent I should have wanted it.

My favourite songs here are "La grande bouffe"(8/10) a funny and powerful song, "Invocazione alla musa"(8/10), "Daimones" a mighty ending(8/10), and a shorter song: "Poseidon"(8/10) and "Penelope"(8/10). In its best moments this music is very poetic and unique. The band isn't scared to be calm to let the lyrical vocals shine. I would say this is a good record that should be checked if you like the subgenre, but I don't think the interest is so very big for prog listeners in common. I will give the record three stars(my average song reting should be 3.46) but please make your own judgement. Best song: "La Grande Bouffe"

Report this review (#1291805)
Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Progressive rock has over the years proved that it knows how to be "hit and miss," in terms of new releases. Many times bands have come along with great songs, great ideas, great musicians, but poor execution. These bands are completely indiscernible from other bands, and frequently draw comparisons to other, more popular, or bigger bands within the same genre. While it's fine to wear your influences proudly, some artists, particularly in the progressive rock genre, let their influences define them, rather than carving out their own special sound that will set them apart. Rarely does a band come around that can take a sound that's been around for decades and turn in into something fresh and exciting. Syndone, and their fifth studio album "Odysseas" have a lot to prove with their third release since their reunion in 2010. Syndone formed in 1989 by Nik Comoglio, and they released two albums ("Spleen" in 1991 and "Inca" in 1993) before they split. The question that arises here is: does the band fall into old or new territory? The answer is not simple, as it contains a little bit of both.

The first thing that any listener will notice after one listen to this record is that it is quite eclectic, with plenty of different influences and elements that form the sound of "Odysseas." Inspired by Homer's classic epic "The Odyssey," Syndone's most recent effort offers a great deal of classic (symphonic) progressive rock driven by synthesisers, Hammond organ, great orchestral parts, sentient vocals by Riccardo Ruggeri, and top-notch drumming of renowned Marco Minnemann.

In certain parts, Nik Comoglio uses piano as an instrument of choice simply because it adds something different. He choses to stick with pure ebony and ivory, fluctuating from major to minır and creating a vibe that sound as much as prog as it sounds classical. While Marco Minnemann is the most known name on the album, the band succeeds to overshadow his fantastic playing with their own.

The vocals by Riccardo Ruggeri do seem extremely difficulty to understand and predict, not because of the fact that he sings in Italian, but because his performance is often quite hard to follow what makes the album more interesting. He rarely uses long sustained notes or sings higher than a certain volume which sounds mid-range. Instead, he uses his voice as an instrument of sorts, letting it blend into the music, particularly with piano and keyboards (synths), to create an eclipsing sound overall. The confluence of his vocals with piano or synths creates a dismal landscape, but also something beautiful, being that he is obviously an incredibly talented and experienced vocalist.

"Odysseas" makes an effort to set itself into the modern-day progressive rock scene while retaining the connection with its over 20-year long career. While the album is certainly a breath of fresh air for a genre that seems to be made up of artists that all sound the same or play off each other, the band still have a little more refinement before being accepted by a drowse prog rock community.

Report this review (#1303639)
Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#1380070)
Posted Monday, March 9, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Italian project SYNDONE was formed by composer and keyboardist Nik Comoglio back in the late '80s, but following two initial albums in the early '90s this project took an extended hiatus. A few years back the project revived however, and from 2010 and onwards three more full-length albums have seen the light of day. "Odysseas" is the most recent of these, released by the Italian label Altrock's Fading imprint in early 2014.

Quirky, sophisticated symphonic progressive rock with a strong and characteristic vintage sound is what Syndone had created on their fifth studio album "Odysseas". With a liberal amount of high-quality guest musicians, this album should be an enjoyable affair for just about anyone with an affection for the more demanding variety of this type of progressive rock, and in particular for those who have a soft spot for Italian-language lead vocals.

Report this review (#1394718)
Posted Monday, April 6, 2015 | Review Permalink

SYNDONE Odyssťas ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of SYNDONE Odyssťas

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives