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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Syncope, Canada

Syncope - s/t. 1980 private.

A very obscure LP from Quebec, where scant information can be found on the internet. I hear a mix of way-past-its-sell-date horn rock, late 70s fusion, complex progressive rock similar to Opus 5 / Pollen and even a little downer blues rock. The more I hear it, the better the album gets. The horn rock angle is really weird given the 1980 date, especially since it's of the 1969 Chicago / BST variety.

If you do decide to go surfing the web on this one, what you will find is fellow Gnosis colleague Sean Trane's excellent analysis of the album, which I'll quote here: "Hiding behind a poetic musical dawn artwork (see the full artwork PA's site), this septet is a very brassy affair, presenting a bit like a Quebecois version of Chicago through seven tracks ranging from four to six and a half minutes and one splendid mini-epic nearing eleven minutes.

The aptly-named septet develops some excellent syncopated prog-enhanced brass-rock, that sounds very Quebecois, not least through the relatively accent-less duo French vocals (often close to Opus-5), bar the swingy blues Bleu d'Hull track, which sticks out a bit too much from the rest of the album. Indeed the four tracks of the opening side sound like a calm and thoughtful version of Chicago or a less-kitschy Lighthouse without being derivative, the main difference being in the double vocals and an uncompromising songwriting. The flipside opens on the album's centrepiece, the instrumental self-titled mini-epic lasting almost 11 minutes, often running quite complex and even symphonic (grandiose intro on a church pipe organ), but never needlessly so. After an average mainly-sung track, the album closes on two splendid tracks, the first Cible (target) sounding like a brassy Opus-5 song, while the amazing instrumental finale of Rage features some wild Spanish-sounding horns that draws chills in the back of the neck. What an awesome way to finish an album.

If you'll make the exception of the sung-swing-song closing the A-side that ruins its cohesiveness, the album is a very impressive, filled with often-superb brass-rock that is probably more brilliant than the early Chicago classic albums."

Trane really nails it here! This one is a real grower, and I've raised the priority one point over the last 3 listens.

Priority: 2


strawbsfan said...

Great pick and very good review Tom. I am quite fond of this album as well for musical and personal reasons. When I moved to Canada I landed in the Ottawa region and had the opportunity to meet and interact with most of the musicians from this album. Unfortunately at the time the album did not get much notice outside the Ottawa/Hull region and sadly they never made another one.

Purple Peak Records said...

Thanks StrawbsFan fr the comment and sharing the personal story! I think Trane really got to the heart of this one, and I thanked him offline for the review. He tells me he's twisting ProgQuebec's arm to reissue it - more power to him!

Now if I could only find the LP as well!

esoterico said...

Picked up a copy last year at the MONTREAL record show from an Ottawa dealer, who was praising its musical qualities. A very pleasant surprise, indeed, and a good price ($10 or so).

Sverige said...

This is the best musical surprise I have witnessed in the past 5 years. The album is a cross between the old Megadeth feel with a modern polished sound, which forms a perfect mesh. For full disclosure, I don't think there are any bad Megadeth albums out there, but in the post Youthanasia era there has been a clear drop in the level of authentic Mustaine emotion. The whole album has this perfect rolling sound without any breaks or low points. It is rare that I like an album on the first attempt, but this has been the case here. If you are a weathered Deth enthusiast, you obviously need to hear the final versions of New World Order and Millenium of the Blind.

Purple Peak Records said...

Megadeth? I'm afraid you have the wrong Syncope Sverige. :-)