The Italian band Syndone was originally founded in late 1989 by keyboardist Nik Comoglio. The form of the band was a trio like ELP (Emerson Lake & Palmer). The band made two albums, “Spleen” (1990) and “Inca” (1992) that were produced by Beppe Crovella. After those two albums the band split up and we had to wait for 18 years until Nik Comoglio revamped the band as a quintet which has now grown into a sextet.
In the year 2010 the band released the album “Melapesante” followed up two years later (2012) by “La bella e la Bestia”. Last month I rediscovered the music of Syndone when I found the album “Melapesante” in my CD cabinet. Impressed by the quality of that album, I contacted Nik who immediately send me a copy of the new album “Odysséas” that was released last year (2014) by Italian label Fading Records. The label also released a new and remastered version of that 2010 album “Melapesante” last year.
The current live lineup features Riccardo Ruggeri on vocals and acoustic guitar; Martino Malacrida on drums; Maurino Dellacqua on bass, Taurus bass; Marta Caldara on vibraphone, keyboards; Gigi Rivetti on piano, moog synthesizer; and Nik Comoglio on Hammond organ, piano, and other keyboards.
Nik Comoglio - all keyboards, orchestration & composition; Francesco Pinetti - vibraphone & composition; Riccardo Ruggeri - vocals & lyrics
Marco Minnemann - drums; John Hackett - flute in “Penelope”; Frederico Marchesano - bass; Sara Marisa Chessa - harp; Pino Russo - acoustic guitars & oud; Beppe Tripodi - violin; Elena Favilla - viola; Claudia Ravetto - cello; Umberto Clerici - cello; Marco Pierobon - trumpet; Marco Braito - trumpet; Gianluca Scipioni - trombone; Nilo Caracristi - french horn; Stefano Ammannati - tuba; Luca Biggio - alt saxophone; Paolo Porta - tenor saxophone; Gianni Virone - baritone saxophone; Labirinto String Orchestra conducted by Fabio Gurian
As you can see above; one of the trademarks of Syndone is that the band don't use electric guitars. Two be honest; after listening to “Odysséas” I didn't miss the electric guitars for a second! If you see the recent movies on You Tube of one of their latest gigs you only spot one acoustic guitar played by singer Riccardo Ruggeri. But on the other hand the band uses a beautiful instrument as the vibraphone and in some songs the band need three keyboard players to perform their amazing compositions.
“Odysséas” is packed in a beautiful digi-pack with a cover picture of Lorenzo Alessandri's oil painting “A Oriente” (1979). I would like to complement the band and the label on the CD booklet that includes info and lyrics in not only the Italian language but also in other languages. It is great to have an English translation of the lyrics in the booklet. Of course I'm happy that the band uses their native language to tell the story. This gives the music so much more character and the best possible atmosphere. The Italian language fits to the passionate sung lyrics. Odysseus also known by the Latin name Ulysses was a legendary Greek king, husband of Penelope and a hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. He is most famous for the ten eventful years he took to return home after the decade-long Trojan War. Riccardo Ruggeri explains in the booklet that … “The journey is the destination, it cannot end … but we have to conceive it differently”.
And what about the music? Well to be honest Syndone has blown me right out of my chair with this masterpiece. Masterpiece? Yes let me make a bold statement, for me “Odysséas” is the best progressive rock album of the year 2014. Simple as that. I'm glad to make this statement after reading some poor reviews about previous albums on a Dutch web page. The band doesn't deserve this, every album is a step forward. The open minded prog lover and the lovers of the Rock Progressivo Italiano movement will love this. The music could be described like keyboard dominated Symphonic Rock with strong Jazz Fusion, World- & Classical influences. The music is so diverse ... and sometimes breathtaking melodies blissfully are making it's way to your ears.
The album opens with the track “Invocazione Alla Musa”, a short up tempo progressive rock monster with vibraphone, organ and synth solo's with a strong Jazz Fusion influence. The band rocks and immediately after this short and hectic opener the band comes with the delicate sung “Il Tempo Che Non Ho”. Beautiful acoustic guitar, piano, real classical strings and delicate and passionate sung lyrics. The classical arrangements and beautiful melodies are breathtaking. At this moment you will know that you are listening to a remarkable album. The next song is called “Focus” and in the vein of the lyrics singer Riccardo Ruggeri is bringing the intense vocals with great passion. The music has a lot of Jazz elements (a real horn section). The next composition “Penelope” (Penelope was the wife of Odysseus) opens with an Arabic voice and the oud (Arabic lute). This World Music intro is followed by a classical piano part. Then a beautiful and delicate vocal part follows. In the last part the classical piano returns and is accompanied by the flute of John Hackett. The brother of Steve Hackett is not the only special guest on this album. The drums are played by my favorite drummer Marco Minnemann. I'm looking forward to see this guy live again with the Steven Wilson band this year (Yes, I have the tickets). But that is another story.
Marco Minnemann shines in the short “Circe”. A jazz fusion piece with vibraphone, piano, a delicious bass part and fat synth and organ solo's. To bring the album in balance again, Syndone comes first in “Ade” with a slow melodic part with piano, harp and vibraphone before the music slowly develops into a piece of progressive rock with passionate sung vocals and a lot of keyboards. Seamless the music transforms into a beautiful classical arrangement with a nice and delicate vocal part. And when the piano and harp are returning the circle is round. What a beautiful and diverse song “Ade” is. One of the many highlights of this wonderful album. In the short and up tempo track “Poseidon” the Hammond organ plays an important role.
Then it is time for “Nemesis” that seamless flows into “La Grande Bouffe”. In these compositions singer Riccardo Ruggeri shows that he is one of the best Italian prog singers of this moment. It is time to mention the two composers of this masterpiece, Nik Comoglio and Francesco Pinetti. I am impressed by the beauty and diversity of their compositions. “Nemesis” is a great piece of keyboard dominated progressive rock with delicious drum work. “La Grande Bouffe” has more classical and jazz influences. But also here you will find a lot of fat keyboard/synth and melodic vocal parts. “Eros & Thanatos” has distorted synth sounds and passionate vocals. After these three connected progressive rock pieces the band slows down with the beautiful melodies of “Vento Avverso”. Delicate vocals and tasteful keyboards on a bed of classical piano. “Eaeyoepia” is a beautiful vibraphone part that works like an intro to “Daimones”. The melodies of this piece are amazing and of pure beauty. I just love the combination of the melodic keyboard solo's and the passionate sung vocals. What a great way to end this remarkable album.
To be honest I am completely blown away by this masterpiece. The open minded prog lover and the lovers of the Rock Progressivo Italiano movement will love this. The music could be described like keyboard dominated Symphonic Rock with strong Jazz Fusion, World- & Classical influences. The music is so diverse ... and sometimes breathtaking melodies blissfully are making it's way to your ears. The album has no weak points and is consistent in the quality of the compositions. For me “Odysséas” from the Italian band Syndone is the best progressive rock album of the year 2014. Highly recommended!