Andy Garibaldi (CD Services, Dundee)
What an extraordinarily fine album. The rather excellent looking booklet tells you nothing - no group members, no instrumentation, no clues - nothing! But, behind this lies nearly fifty minutes of some of the most captivating, full-sounding, stunningly arranged, played and produced, class instrumental prog that you'll find anywhere. The point about an instrumental prog album is that it's got to captivate you right from the start and be the sort of album you genuinely want to hear right through to the end, on first listen wondering what delight is coming next and then being satisfied enough to want to hear it over and over again. This fulfills all of that and more - the sound is huge, the melodies just fantastic, the rhythms intricate and direct, but the playing is out of this world. With what sounds like an arsenal of synths, keyboards, acoustic guitars (no electric leads), bass and drums, melodies, rhythms layers, textures fall from the sky and totally hook you in to their wondrous musical world. It's rich but powerful, symphonic but classy, rock not metal, prog with just the slightest hint of fusion, and some incredible musicianship from all concerned. On the sixteen minute title track alone - one you will be playing incessantly for years to come - the combinations of the instruments and the way they all layer and develop as a completely organic ensemble unit, is just breathtaking. The eight minute 'Emanescence' has all of this and more, passages of still beauty allied to passages of roaring fire, synths swirling, guitars ringing out, the rhythm section strong and strident, while the arrangements of melody and complexity sound so effortless and accessible despite being substantial and deep. But, above all, the music has heart, soul - a human touch that separates it from most - a warmth that infuses you with the will to want to play it over and over again. Its uniqueness also lies in the fact that while the sound is firmly synths-keys led, the guitars share the lead role to perfection, and yet it's predominantly acoustic guitars that do this, and not only does it work 100%, but the production of the whole thing is simply magical, allowing you to hear every aspect of some truly outstanding compositions. With three further tracks of equal brilliance, from seven to fourteen minutes long, this has to be seen as one of the finest instrumental prog-rock albums on the planet right now, and something that simply has to achieve legendary status at some point - pure class, sheer quality and an album that has to be heard to be believed.
Fredrick Trafton (Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock, USA)
I recieved Reification yesterday and listened to it for the first time this morning. I have no idea who you guys are, but this is the best CD I've received in quite awhile. You've really made a true "progressive" CD, creating something new and unique, not just re-hashing someone else's old sound. I don't even know how to categorize it. "Metamorphic Music" will do just fine. I hope you succeed in presenting further albums in the same vein. If Reification doesn't become an instant classic, then people just aren't listening...
Thank you for bringing a few minutes of spirituality into my life. This is what Reification feels like to me!
Fredrick Trafton (Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock, USA)
No, not the guy who played pan pipes with Patrick Moraz on Coexistence, and not the Temple from Rush's 2112 either. Syrinx is a new French band who has just released what they (and I!) hope will be their first of several albums inspired by the Greek nymph Syrinx, who eluded Pan's lust by using the clever trick of turning herself into a marsh. The music of Reification is inspired by and dedicated to Her. From their web site: "The musicians of Syrinx come from different bands, some of which are well-known on a national or international level. They work together to attain a common goal which bears the name of Syrinx: thus, the name and career of each musician are unimportant." They feel it's the music that's important, not the musicians. The music is amazing ... 100% instrumental, both avant-garde and beautiful at the same time. They refer to their compositional style as "Metamorphic Music", in that it evolves from idea to idea without any jarring changes, sometimes below the level of the listener's perception. The instrumentation is almost the standard rock line-up of guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, but there's no electric guitar, only acoustic, which gives this group a unique sound. The music begins to decay into dissonances, but just as you start to think it's too much, it resolves into a sweet melodic chord, only to begin becoming dissonant again the next measure. The music sounds highly improvised, yet with such complexity that it must be highly composed. Each of the musicicans is a master of his instrument, and you can listen to any one of them at any point in the album and hear something amazing coming from them, yet they also play in excellent ensemble without anybody hogging the spotlight. No egos here, just incredible musicians channeling the same energy from some higher source. Some of this has a bit of a zeuhl sound, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that one or more of these guys is a Magma alumnus. It's also got traditional jazzy sections and definite avant-garde jazz dissonant/noisy parts, though they never just play random notes ... each note is always in its exact place in the piece. Reification is an incredible album, and I get the definite impression of "having a religious experience" when I listen to it, just as I used to with early Magma. These guys are the real deal, and I hope to hear a lot more from them in the future ... their plan is to evolve their concept over several albums. Highly recommended!
??!! (European Progressive Rock Reviews, UK)
"Syrinx is composed of four musicians playing acoustic guitar, bass guitar, keyboards and drums, although other instruments are sometimes used.""Reification" is an instrumental progressive album released in France. The musicians at this point prefer to remain nameless, although for those that have good eyesight you may well recognise the band members from the photo at the side. As for the rest of us, I guess the mystery of the musicians fits in nicely with this whole concept which, as foretold in the CD booklet, will be spread over several albums. If it were down to artwork and the way this whole product is being presented then this CD would be a sure winner but as we known the music is the truly important thing. Thankfully, I have to say that the music is just as special as the artwork and website. The overall atmosphere and feeling it portrays is one of foreboding, sometimes a sense of anticipation and yes, even a sense of enlightenment. Although there is an absence of electric guitars, the music is still quite powerful at times and yes, quite complex without neglecting form, structure and tune. Occasionally there are hints of progressive jazz rock creeping in but that is kept to a bare minimum. Obviously the keys play a major role and at their most powerful moments the sound really is big and dramatic with hints of chorals adding to the overall grandeur e.g. on "Emanescence" and "The Hypostasis of the Archons". The opening 16min title track and "Orbis Ubique" demonstrate the full spectrum of moods that this band incorporate in their music, ranging from quiet symphonic passages with acoustic guitar and bass through to quite complex changes of direction. Overall the bass plays a major role and is quite prominent while the acoustic guitar also adds some delicate touches, not only in the quieter sections but also, surprisingly, in the dramatic stages. There are some equally nice touches from the flute on "Twentieth Circle" which add an extra dimension and haunting quality to the overall mood of the concept. Some of this music could nearly be described as classical, again, "The Twentieth Circle", "Orbis Ubique" and "The Hypostasis of the Archons" are prime examples. The latter two showcase how good the acoustic guitar, keys and bass work together. This album is truly a learning experience which demonstrates that progressive music is still being composed by musicians with vision. Sometimes this type of concept goes over the top, not here though. After listening to this first instalment I have to say that I have an impression of how this ongoing concept may develop but that is a matter for the future. As for now though, sit back and get carried away with this visionary work from four musicians who have got everything right on this opening chapter of their ongoing adventure.
Denis Taillefer (Proglands, Canada)
Here is the first CD of a French project by 4 'unknown musicians' called the 'Transcriptors'. Their music is a musical formula without electric guitar, like OPETH does on their last 'Damnation' CD in 2003, but it's a concept based on the result of archeological's discoveries, in particular from Egypt. So the music, is sometime very spacey, with some ethereal key's sounds, the music is often based on metal, the basic line especially, but in an acoustic progressive format. There is something mystical in this music, some electronique/ambient elements, a little of psychedelic and Jazz in 'Emanescence' et 'Le Vingtième Cercle'. Well, it's another nice recording and don't miss the one cause some other CDs are coming in this serie.
??!! (Music by Mail, Danemark)
This is one of the most exciting and well conceived projects I've been presented to since monthes. Surrounded by a mystical atmosphere (both the project design AND the music), this musical project has a strong basis in progressive music. The musicians of Syrinx - playing acoustic guitar, bass guitar, keyboards and drums - are not presented on the CD ( the official explanation is that they work together to attain a common goal which bears the name of Syrinx: thus, the name and career of each musician are unimportant) but they come from different bands and I guess that they are close to or similar to those from the french group Nil. The music and the goals are ambitious (ever heard of metamorphic music?). It is definitely worth a listening if you're not afraid of being transmuted.
Bob Mulvey (Dutch Progressive Rock Page)
Reification is another of those CD's that have been in and out of my player over the last month or so, without me being able to form any concrete and lasting impressions. On the first listening through, I was totally knocked out by the musicianship and the general atmosphere of the tracks. Although the playing remains exemplary, I have since been unable to recapture all of the original aura that I first experienced. A concept album in itself is not a new idea, nor is the fact that there are plans to continue these ideas through the following releases. The fact that band have also chosen to remain anonymous was a little surprising, however one assumes this is to add further mystery to Reification. The concept behind the music is absorbing and does add to the overall enjoyment. Although on the surface it may appear to surround Greek mythology the ideas are far more reaching, covering Gnostic beliefs where Archons are planetory rulers and guardians of the spiritual plans. The tale also has some familiar rings to it, as Sophia [Wisdom], the soul of the world is captured by the jealous Aoens... I do not wish to delve deeper or in fact trivialise the story, suffice to say this is the stuff of legend and conceptual albums. Syrinx are comprised of four musicians and as mentioned early have chosen to remain anonymous, classing themselves as "transcribers" and therefore their identity is unimportant. The instrumentation of our transcribers is fairly standard in many respects, with guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and occasional flute. What does add a uniqueness to the sound is that all of the guitar parts are played on acoustic guitars and this combined with the complex arrangements lends a different texture to the music. The lengthy title track, Reification, opens the proceedings and certainly sets the tone for the album - it also serves as my favourite track. The bass and drums, although complex throughout, work as a tight and complementary unit; the fretless bass blends well with the acoustic guitar and then finally are all held in balance by the keyboards. Much of the keyboard pressence is that of sweeping synth washes, drifting melody lines and underpinning textures, which form the mysterious and "spacy" ambience. A cautionary note though - this is not merely an textural album, which perhaps may be implied by some of my previous words. Yes there are ambient sections with delicate acoustic interludes, but the majority of the music is encapsulated within a complex progressive, jazz/rock/fusion domain. The odd metering of tracks is also a wonder to behold, requiring much time to fully analyse. I think this will have to go down as "work in progress", for the moment. There were innumerate highlights within each of the tracks and so difficult to quantize. Perhaps mention of the delicate acoustic and flute section from Le Vingtieme Cercle or the wonderful up-tempo end section of the same track. L'Hypostase Des Archontes also has some perculating rhythms during some of the solo sections. I mused the idea of a combination of Bruford, Berlin, Fripp and an acoustic John McLaughlin. The artwork and detail that has gone into Reification project is also well worthy of note and can be seen on the Syrinx's 'complex' website. I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable album, perhaps a little meandering at times, but on the whole a satisfactory piece of work. I can offer very little in the way of comparisons although the atmospheres and some of the arrangements brought to mind another excellent French band Nil, who received a favourable review for their Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinai release earlier this year. Reification is currently available from the bands site or in the UK from GFT-Cyclops. So if your interest lies with absorbing and complex instrumentals, that do not delve into the sphere of jazz, then this may be one of 2003's more pleasant treats.
David Cisco (Progressice World)
It's fair to say that, these days the electric guitar is the dominant solo voice in progressive rock. Argue if you want to, but you can't deny the axe's preeminence among instruments in modern-day prog. To me, this isn't really a bad thing; I personally go nuts for a great solo whenever I hear it. That said, it is good to hear music where the axe takes the back seat now and then. Which brings us to Syrinx, a French unit that has 86'd the axe in favor of acoustic guitars as the melodic basis of the complex, engaging songs found on their debut, Reification. Syrinx is a secretive bunch that call themselves the Transcribers and who only reveal certain facts about themselves: The band is comprised of members from other bands (a la Transatlantic, OSI, etc.) and that the instruments played are "acoustic guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, drums, and other instruments". Syrinx is more forthright about their musical philosophy; they play "metamorphic music" (their description), music designed to induce an "interior metamorphosis" in listeners and to create a "climate" that remains in the physical environment after the music has stopped. And, if that's not enough, Reification is the first piece in a trilogy of instrumental works created to recount the tale of the subversion of the Aeon Syrinx by the Archon Pan. An ambitious project, to say the least, but if Reification is any indication, Syrinx is definitely up to the challenge. As for those guitars, their presence is established at the outset. From the opening melody of "Reification" to the closing strains of "L'Hypostase Des Archontes," the ringing guitars carry the show, primarily as finger-picked melodies integrated into the heavily-textured soundscapes. And that's the definition of Syrinx' songs: precise composition and instrumental arrangements woven into dense musical tapestries designed to challenge listeners' experiences and imaginations. Now, if I've given the impression that the guitars are the only elements that make Syrinx unique, let me set you straight. Each of Les Transcripteurs is a master of his (her?) instrument, and all participate as equals throughout Reification. Gorgeous fretless bass, soul-wrenching keyboards, Neil Peart-precise percussion, and those fine guitars all share in the spotlight, working tirelessly together to create what must be some of the most original, avant garde music ever heard. The five songs on Reification are lengthy and each contains enough musical ideas to give other artists an album's worth of material, but in the capable hands of Syrinx they run steadily along, never bogging down in boring pretentiousness. Their immense talent also makes the Transcribers masters of derring-do, who brazenly pit sweet, angular melodies against chaotic near-dissonance, then execute breath-taking sonic pirouettes to rescue disorienting (YOU try and count some of those times!) beauty from disturbing musical entropy. Quite frankly, I don't know what else to say about Reification, except that it is astoundingly original and breathtakingly beautiful. I personally have rarely heard albums that approach what Syrinx has accomplished with Reification, and that is probably the best recommendation that I can offer. If you've got a yearning for something truly different and challenging, Reification may just be your Holy Grail. Absolutely brilliant.
Rating: 6/5 (yeah, you see it right)