Syzygy: Cosmos & Chaos 20th Anniversary Compendium
The history of the of progressive rock band Syzygy goes all the way back to the late '70s
/early '80s and the formation of Abraxas. After Abraxas came the Witsend Quartet which eventually morphed into a trio and their debut album Cosmos & Chaos released in 1993. The band would eventually change their name to Syzygy.
After reading the expanded liner notes that came with this new edition of Cosmos & Chaos 20th Anniversary Compendium it became clear the band's attention to detail is enormous. Carl Baldassarre (guitars and vocals) gives the reasoning behind the project touching on the re-mastering, re-performance and the bonus tracks. It is a nice package that comes in a tri fold digipack complete with new album artwork. So, what about the music?
After listening to the album having never heard the original release I can honestly say the music immediately caught my attention and that can be a tough sell when the music is mostly instrumental.
It begins with four classically inspired pieces that were scattered about on the original release. Here they appear together and help to create something akin to a four part suite as the pieces do fit in will next to each other. "Cosmos" features pretty acoustic guitar with phrasing similar to early Yes or perhaps Genesis. "Guitar Etude No. 1" and its companion piece "No. 2" feature gently played acoustic guitar that quickens in pace while still retaining a beautiful melody. In "Tautology" guitar is again featured prominently, both acoustic and electric with great dynamics in tempo and some lovely soaring leadwork. Ambient synths open "Voyager" like gently cascading waves along with bubbly keyboards and melodic guitar. The serene soundscape gets heavier as it morphs into retro symphonic prog before returning to mellower moments of grandeur. "Circadian Rhythm" is a joyous tune with a great keyboard melody while "Closure" should appeal to fans of '70s Genesis. "Strange Loop II" is one of the heaviest rockers with intense riff progressions and incredible chops from drummer Mihacevich. Another heavy hitter is "Mount Ethereal" where Rush came to mind. The band transitions into some truly exquisite and quieter symph-like moments. The fantastic fret work of Baldassarre leads the way.
The bonus material is also top notch with the heavy prog workouts of "Opus No. 1 and 3" and two live versions of "Strange Loop II" and "Mount Ethereal", similar to what is on the fabulous Glorious Disturbance disc.
Definitely one of the best bands in the North American prog scene today, Syzygy have formidable chops and a great sense of melody and their attention to detail is second to none. Cosmos & Chaos is certainly proof of that. Very highly recommended!
Miniatures (Solo works for guitar and piano)
1. Cosmos (guitar prelude in E major) (1:18)
2. Poetry in B minor (for solo piano) (1:15)
3. Guitar Etude No. 1 (D major) (2:21)
4. Guitar Etude No. 2 (G major) (4:10)
5. Tautology (for guitar and bass) (3:55)
6. The Tone Row (for keyboard and guitar) (2:15)
Ensemble Works (Featuring the Witsend Trio)
7. Voyager (5:23)
8. Circadian Rhythm (3:36)
9. Closure (7:14)
10. Strange Loop II (6:22)
11. Mount Ethereal (7:34)
12. Chaos (Fantasia on drum track) (1:47)
Bonus Tracks (Previously unreleased material)
13. Opus No. 1 (Witsend Quartet – 1984) (5:46)
14. Opus No. 3 (Witsend Quartet – 1984) (6:01)
15. Strange Loop II (Syzygy – live 2010) (6:38)
16. Mount Ethereal (Syzygy - live 2010) (8:03)
Added: October 12th 2015
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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