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Sylvan - X-Rayed

Sylvan - X-RayedThe Hamburg prog quintet is back!  It seems only yesterday since we reviewed Sylvan’s last album, Artificial Paradise, but that is probably because it is one of the favoured CDs taking up a slot in my 10-CD auto-changer in my intergalactic cruiser (regrettably not so much Andromeda with the sultry Lexa Doig, more like a car).

I am pleased to see that the Sylvan line-up remains intact for X-Rayed, and long may it do so because three weeks of listening to this latest work has left me buzzing with aural pleasure.

Sylvan’s trademark sound and originality hold firm – emotive ‘grungy’ vocals, addictive melodies and inventive arrangements have one hooked from the start.

The album consists of ten tracks, each easily acceptable as ‘stand alone’ songs yet I felt that there was some sort of concept involved given that there appears to be a theme, and not an entirely happy one; if you have ever lost in love, felt used, disillusioned, angry and ultimately depressed, you will recognise the theme or concept.  X-Rayed being the view of the inside of one’s personal thoughts and emotions.  I asked Sylvan if indeed the album had a conscious concept and this is what vocalist Marco Glühmann said…

SylvanX-rayed is a quite personal work ­ not just because of the lyrics but also as it carries a lot of emotions and emotional impressions.

We conceived it as a sort of conceptual album; but it is more a conceptual framework that links the different songs than a real systematic line of music. The songs still exist on their own ­ quite comparable to Artificial Paradise ­ but they all have a common subject: individual confrontation with a variety of different emotions. 

Each song describes a character facing their personal situation on a different way, dealing with problems in developing a different attitude.  It is about each individual being x-rayed to show their proper inside world and their behaviour within it, whereas in Artificial Paradise the society has been examined to present the different characters interacting in it ­ a different viewpoint.  X-rayed is an even more mature work than Artificial Paradise as we managed to play with different styles in keeping and even developing our proper musical identity. There are so many different musical influences but all are linked by conceptual themes and simply emotions. We think it was good for us to keep the band members together and not have to cope with any line-up change. Therefore we had more time to work on the material. And even if we are quite stubborn personalities we managed on X-Rayed¹ to please everybody in the band without having to make any concessions ­ we all think that this CD is yet our best album.”

I can only agree with Marco - X-Rayed is a fantastic album, emotional with an underlying driving power releasing pent-up feelings most of us will experience from time to time.

Without question, Sylvan is the best prog outfit to come out of Germany for many years.  We highly recommended Artificial Paradise (and still do) and, likewise, respectfully suggest that X-Rayed features at the top of any prog fan’s ‘must have’ list.

I now have a dilemma; what to remove from the car auto-changer to make way for X-Rayed.

Jem Jedrzejewski


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