The new double album “Sceneries” is the eight studio album of the Hamburg based progressive rock band Sylvan. The band stated that “Sceneries” is their longest and most personal work ever. Two CD’s cover the album which, conceptually orientated and divided into five chapters, deals with the ups and downs in life and the striving for bliss. Although conceptually planned, “Sceneries” isn’t a conceptual album in classic definition. There’s no continuous story told like on their masterpiece “Posthumous Silence”, it’s more a storyline including five individual episodes which all have in common the thematic priority: the search for those very things, that make our life worth living. In order to personalize this album the band decided to associate each chapter with one bandmember as a godfather for it, after nearly finishing the music. So the content and the final touch of each chapter was directed by one bandmember. Therewith “Sceneries” will be the most personal Sylvan album ever.
Marco Glümann - voice; Matthias Harder - drums; Sebastian Harnack - bass; Jan Peterson - guitars; Volker Söhl - keyboards.
“Sceneries” is divided into the following chapters; “Chapter 1 - The Fountain Of Glow” (14:50), “Chapter 2 - Share The World With Me” (15:05), “Chapter 3 - The Words You Hide” (20:10), “Chapter 4 - The Waters I Traveled” (20:00) and “Chapter 5 - Farewell To Old Friends” (20:33). So as you can see, “Sceneries” is an album full of compositions of epic length. But each chapter is subdivided into three or four parts. You can find the first three chapters on the first disk and the last two chapters on the second disc.
The album opens with “Chapter 1 - The Fountain Of Glow”. Part One has a slow opening wherein the delicate vocals of Marco Glümann only are accompanied by a piano melody. As the melody develops, first the guitar and then the rest of the instruments are following. Jan Peterson brings fresh new guitar sounds into the musical spectrum of the band. The music of Part One is melancholic and the beautiful melody is provided by the guitar. In Part Two the tension of the music is slowly building up by passionate sung vocals and after a break the piano melody of the first part returns. Then the music explodes towards a climax with great drumming and a soaring guitar solo. In Part Three the band slows down a little bit. The main vocal line develops towards a beautiful vocal refrain sung with a lot of passion. “Chapter 1 - The Fountain Of Glow” is a strong album opener. The band sounds fresh and driven.
Also in “Chapter 2 - Share The World With Me” you will notice that this album has very strong lyrics and beautiful vocal lines that are always sung with a lot of passion by Marco Glümann . Another thing is the frequent use of the beautiful piano melodies. In Part Two you can enjoy again one of those delicious melodic and soaring guitar solos. In Part Three Jan Peterson also uses the acoustic guitar and the music has more the character of a ballad before the tension and passion is returning into the music. In Part Four the band works towards a great climax and you can enjoy duets of passionate sung vocals and soaring guitar parts that are accompanied by a burning rhythm section.
In Part One of “Chapter 3 - The Words You Hide” first a piano melody is accompanied by a delicate vocal line. But than Volker Söhl comes up with beautiful keyboard orchestrations. The character of the music is darker than the previous chapters. The guitar sounds are aggressive and heavy. And always those passionate sung vocals of Marco. He is developing into one of the best vocalist in the Symphonic/Progressive scene. The character of the music in Part Two is much lighter with acoustic guitars and nice fretless bass parts. The melody of the vocal lines is very strong. In Part Three dark parts with a lot of tension are combined with delicate piano tunes. Some of the melodies on this album are breathtaking. In Part Four the atmosphere of the music becomes lighter and it is full of melody. After writing this line and listening to the music and lyrics once more, I noticed that Marco sings the following lyrics in the end; “Fly, my leaf, just fly away with me ... Come this way, please, come with me ... It's full of light and full of melodies! Take your time ’cos I will wait for you ...”
The second disk opens with “Chapter 4 - The Waters I Traveled”. In Part One the music is again dark and heavy and the voice of Marco is distorted a little bit. To be honest I don't like these distortions especially if the vocalist of the band has a great voice. When I mention that the music is heavy it don't mean that you can hear those hard bits you could hear on previous albums like “Force Of Gravity” and “Posthumous Silence”. It seems those hard bits are disappeared in the music of Sylvan. Personally I like this because the music becomes more symphonic and the album is more in balance. In Part Two the band slows down and the acoustic guitars are returning. Beautiful vocal lines, keyboard strings and romantic piano parts. Slowly the music becomes more intense and the band is working towards a kind of climax with passionate sung vocals and a melodic/soaring guitar solo. The music seamless goes into Part Three that starts slow and mysterious and develops into a beautiful melody with great vocal lines and guitar parts. In the end of Part Three the music becomes more threatening and dark. It climaxes with a heavy guitar solo and great drumwork. Part Four sounds like a piece of improvisation that slowly builds towards a climax and than slows down again.
The last epic “Chapter 5 - Farewell To Old Friends” opens slowly with acoustic guitar and a vocal line. Then mysterious parts are combined with beautiful melodic vocal refrains. Part Two is more uptempo, but also has parts with beautiful slow vocal lines and parts in where the tension and intensity of the music is slowly building up. In the heavy and dark Part Three you can hear again great keyboard orchestrations, a pounding rhythm section and some nice melodic guitar melodies. In Part Four the band slows down again with delicate vocal lines and beautiful melodic guitar parts. Slowly the tension of the music builds up towards the last climax of the album.
“Sceneries” is an album that only after several listening sessions reveals it's real beauty. On this album you can find some amazing melodies. The frequently used delicate piano parts are a recurring theme in the music and give the album consistency. Next to those piano parts you can also hear some great keyboard orchestrations. The new guitar player Jan Peterson passed the test on his second Sylvan studio album. He brings some new sounds to the musical palet of the band. The band sounds mature and is not afraid of developing their music. The lyrics and vocal parts are very important on this album ... and I think Marco Glümann is doing a great job on this album. As usual he sings with a lot of passion. It seems that the hard bits in the music of Sylvan has disappeared with this album. It gives the music a more symphonic character and the album is more in balance, it sounds more consistent. “Sceneries” is a very good album. And together with their masterpiece “Posthumous Silence” it is my favorite Sylvan album. “Sceneries” will be one of the albums on my list of favorite albums for the year 2012.