Sylvan - One To Zero - 2021



“... wonderful new concept album ...”


""One To Zero" is the new concept album from the German proggers Sylvan. Quintessential genre milestone and all-time classics. Sylvan from Hamburg/Germany have tackled this challenging format throughout their recorded history, "Posthumous Silence" (2006) or ”Home” (2015) come to mind. When I think of Sylvan the fresh memories of their latest live gig come to mind. That was an amazing gig at the ArtRock festival in Reichenbach, Germany. The band excellently performed an amazing setlist. And after playing some stuff of that other great concept album "Posthumous Silence" the band left me and my Prog friend in tears. It was torn from joy because there was so much passion and emotion in the music. Goosebumps and tearful eyes. Lead singer Marco Glühmann is the perfect singer to deliver that emotion to the audience. So I was excited to hear that the band was working on another concept album. The wait is now over and here is "One To Zero" the tenth album of the band that has been released on the Gentle Art Of Music label.


Marco Glühmann - vocals; Volker Volker Söhl - keyboards; Sebastian Harnack - bass; Matthias Harder - drums; Johnny Beck - guitars.
Guests: Kalle Wallner - additional acoustic guitars;  Yogi Lang, - additional keyboards; Katja Flintsch - violin & viola; Bine Heller - backing vocals


The title "One To Zero" is a great one not only because it is the tenth album of the band but also because the ones and zeros represent the digital data of the story. The album unfolds the autobiography of an A.I. from its own perspective over the course of ten tracks. "One To Zero" starts off with seemingly random white noise. Zeros and ones intertwine into a short overture, byte by byte they puzzle themselves together into a fragile awareness, before the actual plot runs its course with the opening title "Bit By Bit". This song has delicious in-your-face riffs before the story unfolds. Gradually more melody comes into the music. Several times that great riff of the opening is returning. This nice opener is one of the more heavier songs. In the beginning, there was the algorithm: it is "Encoded At Heart" and given the task to save the environment by repairing what the morally flawed mankind had so deliberately damaged. "Encoded At Heart" opens with delicate piano is sung beautifully by Marco. The first strong melodies of this album reveal themselves. You will find wonderful vocal melodies and beautifully melodic guitar parts in this song. The mission is righteous, brace you it says in the optimistic and opulent outro; prepare yourselves, help is coming. In "Start Your Life" the A.I. is processing itself, driven by eternal self-optimization. This song is more uptempo and rock-oriented. But the vocal melodies are again wonderful. The song abruptly ends. "Unleashed Power" narrates the algorithm's coming of age, all of which is staged neatly by a 6/8-ballad with piano, background singers, and chamber instruments. But with awareness comes a dilemma, the quest for identity. For me "Unleashed Power" is one of the highlights of the album. A wonderful ballad with wonderful vocals and great instrumental parts. In those parts, you will notice that the album sounds fresh and has a transparent mix. You can hear all the instruments separately from each other. Wonderful production and mix of Kalle Wallner and Yogi Lang. "Trust Yourself" marks a turning point in Zero To One's narrative and subsequently, its sound design. For the first time, the electronic elements move to the forefront. The epic chorus manifests the machine's 'cogito, ergo sum', along with a backdrop of heavy staccato guitars. But the creating man is still there, represented by organic instruments, such as Cello. The guitar solo however leans towards electronica, using a whammy pedal. Love that beautiful cello part. "On My Odyssey" underlines this motif, the A.I. addresses its creator, and a dark undertow is established musically. Again the melodies and the vocal refrains are wonderful. Guest Katja Flintsch plays the violin & viola parts in this song. Also, the keyboard orchestration and melodic guitar parts are worth mentioning. Great song. Electronic heartbeats accompany "Part Of Me". Emotions like anger stir up digitally, based on behalf of the inherent human imperfection it was given at the beginning. In realizing its superiority, the A.I. also understands that it is "Worlds Apart" with mankind. "Part Of Me" is another personal favorite of mine. The vocal parts are sung with great passion and the orchestration is top-notch. Absolutely one of the highlights of the album. Of course, this song ends with a soaring guitar solo. "Worlds Apart" has the most beautiful vocal melodies on the album. Overall the lead vocals and backing vocals on this album are priceworthy. "Go Viral" starts off with 8-Bit sounds and beats, the A.I. reigns. But it develops a conscience given its destructiveness, while the algorithm stoically maintains its mission for eternal growth. A machine's lament: no no, this is not my way... Mankind does not deserve the A.I.'s qualities. "Go Viral" is like the opener "Bit By Bit" showing the more heavy side of Sylvan. Hard guitar riffs combined with melodic guitar work in the same song. "Not A Goodbye" also starts with electronica. It shall not be suicide, but merely the beginning of a new life cycle. "One To Zero" closes in the same fashion it began, with seemingly random white noise. Glad I lived artificially only, Adorno comes to mind with his famous quote: "There is no living a false life correctly". Was it capable, the A.I. might even apologize.

(Thanks go to Gentle Art Of Music for using their info-sheet to explain the story of this album to our readers.)


The tenth Sylvan album "One To Zero" is like "Posthumous Silence" and "Home" a concept album. The story is the autobiography of an A.I. named Adorno. The band has put a lot of work into developing this story. The story has lyrical depth and is brought to the listener with great passion and emotion by lead singer Marco Glühmann who surpasses himself. This time, the over-the-top vocals are missing and he seems to be singing at a slightly lower pitch, but I love it In my opinion, he is still one of the best vocalists in the prog scene. Musically it is fine again and the band comes up with very strong compositions in the typical Sylvan style. Former guest guitar player Johnny Beck is now a full member of the band. The album sounds fantastic and has a kind of transparency so you can hear all the instruments very well. With the album "One To Zero" the band Sylvan adds another great album to their musical portfolio. Highly recommended by progVisions.

author - date - rating - label

Douwe Fledderus - June 2021 -  - Gentle Art Of Music