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progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members.

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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Sylvan - Artificial Paradise - 2002

"Common sense tells us that the things of the earth exist
only a little, and that true reality is only in dreams."


Charles Baudelaire – Artificial Paradises (1821-1867)

If you are interested in a brief history of the band I would advice you to read the "Encounters" review which was published in our April update. After "Deliverance" and "Encounters" this "Artificial Paradise" is the third album of German band Sylvan. The quality of the first two albums created some high expectations. And I must say that the band managed to make their most mature album up to date.

Current line-up:
Marco Glühmann – vocals; Kay Söhl – guitar; Sebastian Harnack – bass; Volker Söhl – keyboards; Matthias Harder – drums.

The CD starts with a track entitled "Deep inside" (9:14). The lyrics are about
".. emotions deep inside your mind" and to ".. leave the pain and deceptions behind". The music starts in a slow tempo but together with the emotionally sung lyrics it gets more and more tension and ends musically in the first melodic guitar solo played with a lot of passion. A beautiful and passionate track in which we can hear that Sylvan has grown musically. The second track "That's why it hurts" (7:08) is my favourite track and it has even more emotion then the opener. You only have to read the lyrics and imagine an emotional and souring guitar solo, to understand how it must sound.

"I shed all my tears, alone in this world
but the longer I weep the more it burns
I whisper my pain; try to fill it with words
but you took them away, that's why it hurts
Read the last words that you left me 'cos there's nothing else to do
Seems as if I hear your voice … so I look up, but where are you?
Don't know how long I can stand this - still your perfume in our bed
God, this emptiness will kill me … if I'm not already dead"

People who are left by his/her partner this year will understand this extremely well and I think will love it (like myself) or hate it maybe because there is so much emotion in it. I immediately loved this track and after reading the lyrics for the first time I was a little bit shocked because it sounds so familiar to me. The positive thing is that such black periods in the human life often bring the most beautiful and emotional music. It is a slow track with beautiful melodies. The vocals are sung with great passion and the ending guitar solo is very melodic and played also with a lot of passion.

"Strange emotion" (4:19) is more up-tempo and sounds more positive. The end of the track is also in a musically way a little bit strange. The female soul vocals reminds me more of the later Simple Minds period than of a sympho/prog band. "Human apologies" (8:29) I like more. This longer track has more variation and power. We can hear heavy guitars, fat fretless bass, rhythmic drums and symphonic keyboards combined with slightly distorted vocals. In the end the music slows down a little bit and on a layer of keyboard strings the next melodic guitar solo is played. Atmospheric keyboard sounds closes this track and seamlessly merges with the next track "Timeless traces" (8:12). In this song the emotional guitar solo is placed right at the beginning. I don't know exactly why but musically and emotionally I feel this track is connected to "That's why it hurts".

"I still believe" (3:06) is one of the three short tracks of this album. It is an up tempo track with aggressive sounding guitars and an overall heavy atmosphere. To be honest with you I don't like this heavy side in Sylvan's music. "Around the world" (6:25) has a catchy vocal refrain. After three minutes there follows an instrumental part with a lot of variation.

The shortest track "Souvenirs" (2:09) is based on a classical piano theme and the vocals are sung with a lot of emotion. It also forms a bridge to the longest and title track of the album "Artificial paradise" (20:16). Well, what can I say … this is the Magnus opus of the album. Everything comes together in this long piece, the emotional and melodic parts, the parts with heavy sounding guitars. But also jazzy guitar sounds, ambient keyboards and even some world music and rap influences. But I especially enjoyed the last five minutes of the track in which the tension of the music slowly builds up. And for the last time we can enjoy a melodic guitar solo. The track ends with atmospheric and ambient keyboard sounds.

The fans had to wait a long time for the third effort of this German band. And I must say that the waiting was worthwhile. The band has grown musically and sounds more mature. The heavy character of some pieces of "Encounters" and the more melodic and symphonic pieces of "Deliverance" are still present in their music. But together with their new musically influences of today's music it is melted more into their own Sylvan style. And I believe that this is their best album up to date. My personal favourite tracks of this album are "Deep inside", "That's why it hurts" and "Timeless traces". But that is personal thing and says maybe more about me than about Sylvan's music. This album has spent a lot of time in my CD player the last weeks. Always a good sign I think.

Douwe Fledderus - November 2002.
rating - Sylvan

 

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