Hyacintus - Elydian

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Viajero Immovil
Catalog Number: HYA001VIR
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:24:00

If you are a lover of guitar centered, classically influenced progressive rock then you will find much to enjoy in Argentinian band Hyacintus' debut release Elydian. While I find the album is a little too bright on the production side in spots, it is otherwise a very good album. Though it is mainly a project of multi-instrumentalist Jacinto M. Corral, aiding him in realizing this concept work, based on a story by Theo Sperzeld, are Ed Martinez on drums and programming, Victor S?nchez on percussion and chorus, and Ariel S?nchez on clarinet. Rather than this being an adaptation of an existing work, however (near as I can tell), the story is part and parcel of this release. The story itself is given a medieval setting (the 8th Century) and tells the story of Dulbeck, a young man who, upon losing nearly everything in his life (his town is sacked), goes on a quest of revenge to rid Elydian of the tyrant Arlod. Though he is successful, it is at the cost of his own life. As you might expect, he has fulfilled a prophecy of being "the chosen one" to lead his people to freedom. The story itself is very familiar, and one will find parallels with many legends and myths.

The story is broken down into 13 chapters, here Acts. The brief narrative that is included in the booklet is printed in both Spanish and English, as are all the credits. The album's title, Elydian, is, as you may have noticed, close to Elysian, as pertaining to Elysium, where in Greek mythology the good will dwell after death. And more generally, a term used to describe any paradise. Though Elydian hasn't yet become that paradise. There is also a hint at Lydian, a term that refers to both a place ? Lydia, which was on the coast of West Asia Minor (now Turkey) ? and to music ? "of or relating to an authentic mode represented by the ascending natural diatonic scale from F to F" (yes, I had to look it up; this quote comes from Word Reference.com and its source, the Collins English Dictionary). The band's name comes from Greek myth ? Hyacinthus. It's also a plant?

However, it is the music that is the focus. Corral's guitar is the lead voice, though he does allow for the other instruments to take focus when needed. While no actual orchestra was used, many of the instruments heard are analog as it is Corral on cello, piano, viola and, as mentioned, Ariel Sanchez on clarinet (on "Act II: The Cost Of The Tribute"). The strings are synthesized and yet have a very natural feel about them.

"Act I: Elydian" serves as an overture, the lightly strummed steel strings of Corral's guitar giving us a sense of that paradise, the darker tones of drums and bass giving us subtle clues that not all is as it seems. Life is not as idyllic as in myth. These darker tones carry over into "Act II" which sets out Arlod's theme (though "Act V: Destruction & Desolation" is even darker, as the title suggests).

Some of the album's highlights are "Act II," "Act III," "Act VI," and "Act IX," Each are also the warmest tracks on the album, though only two are of a darker thematic nature ? "Act VI: Pains Of The Soul" is where Dulbeck and the other survivors of the sacking of Dulbeck's village bury the dead. Lots of rumbling percussion (like thunder) mimics the turmoil and anger Dulbeck feels. "Act III: Growing Up With His Secret" has more a country feel than almost anything else on the album, as Corral's guitar has a definite twang. The sound of clanging ? pealing bells -- that can be heard in the first few moments and during the outro place us at the town's center. Given the reflective and melancholy feel of this piece, we can guess at what the bells signify?

Corral's guitar style reminds me of a number of guitarists ? you will find hints of David Gilmour, though nothing here is especially Pink Floydian; and Marc Bonilla, where there is one track, "Act IX: Dubiel" (where Dulbeck meets Dubiel. Oh did I fail to mention there's a love interest?) that reminds me of his take on the Procol Harum classic "A Whiter Shade Of Pale." Oddly, there's a piano passage during "Act VII: March Towards Elydian" that reminds me of the Annie Lennox version of the same song ? sans vocals. Along the lines of classical composers ? my references become a little murky, but Holst comes to mind during "Act VI."

The band rock it up with "Act IV: Overlag," where we see/hear Dulbeck riding his horse, at play in the fields, etc. There's an urgency in this track that comes off as a little too eager. As if Corral had a lot of musical ideas, and couldn't wait until one phrase ended before beginning the next. It leaves us with the feeling that Dulbeck, or maybe his horse, is prone to manic episodes. It wants to have that freewheeling sense of abandon that Aaron Copeland's "Hoedown" has, but doesn't quite get there. Mention of "Hoedown" brings to mind Emerson, Lake and Palmer, though only by association here. Later in the album, on "Act XII: The Battle," there is a definite sense of ELP, and of Keith Emerson especially. Though you must add in a bit of Yes -- the Steve Howe-like guitar phrases and Rick Wakeman-like keys.

"Act VII" is one of the lighter of the album's tracks, lighter than even "Act I" ? you can feel the resolve in our heroes as they trudge towards where darkness dwells ? if you are beginning to think this sounds a lot like The Lord Of The Rings, then you're reading my mind. No ring here, but yes, here is one of those parallels I mentioned.

Overall, Elydian is a well done album. There's certainly room for improvement, as some of Corral's guitar phrasings have some awkwardness about them, especially during difficult transitions, but he has a wonderful tone, and the music itself is vibrant. I would bring a little more warmth into the lighter pieces, but otherwise I find the mix very pleasing. The pieces are more cohesive when Corral has the lead, but that is something to work on for the follow up.

Act I: Elydian (4.17) / Act II: The Cost Of The Tribute (5:06) / Act III: Growing Up With His Secret (3:32) / Act IV: Owerlag (5:51 ) / Act V: Destruction And Desolation (3:18) / Act VI: Pains Of The Soul (5:37) / Act VII: March Towards Elydian (3:56) / Act VIII: Walking Down The Streets (4:13) / Act IX: Dubiel (3:33) / Act X: Training And Preparations (4:12) / Act: XI: Prelude (2:41) / Act XII: The Battle (4:48) / Act XIII: Final (3:20)

Jacinto M. Corral - guitars, piano & keys, bass, cello, viola, percussion
Ed Martinez - drums and programming (3,7,9,12, 13)
Victor Sanchez - percussion and chorus (2,4,7, 13)
Ariel Sanchez ? clarinet (2)

Elydian (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin AR

Added: January 12th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 951
Language: english


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