Synema - Evolution For A Party Of One

Year of Release: 2002
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:59:00

Utah's Synema open Evolution For A Party Of One, their 45-minute concept album, with very Pink Floydian/Tangerine Dreamy textures. These textures recur throughout, though they also add in neo-prog, electronic, and some operatic elements to the mix. In the end, it comes out sounding okay ? but could have used a great deal more warmth in the synth department. One can use synths to create a sense of cold, of course, when the mood or theme of the piece warrants it, but if that feeling is misplaced, it just chills the whole affair. Sadly, that's what happens here, as the synths are often shrill and brassy. Whereas they create a nice spacey effect on "Conception De Renaissance," and create a nice background contrast to the acoustic guitar and twangy electric guitar that is heard in most of the first half of the album, elsewhere they draw away too much warmth.

E4APO1 (as it will be heretofore abbreviated), consists of one multi-movement track, detailing a concept that Synema describe as "a story of a beings evolution though life, nature and technology starting from the primitive to the most advanced. or something like that." Synema are Steve Nellessen on electric, acoustic and synthetic guitar and synthesizers; and Mike Adkins on synthesizers; synthetic, electric, & acoustic percussion and vocals. Guests include Gary Rosier on electric guitar, and Mike Hargraves and Christine Youngberg on lead and backing vocals.

At various times I thought of a Red Jasper shorn of their Jethro Tull/Celtic-isms -- mostly in the vocals which have a tight, Davey Dodds tone about them. In "Movement Evolution" ("Youthful Dreams," "Exit Out" and their respective reprises) you find exactly where their "neo-prog"-ness comes in ? mid-tempo, accessible, keyboard/synth focused. This section that would be quite impressive on its own, but it is marred by those dry synths. The militaristic percussion on the instrumental "Garden Of Circles" reminded me a lot of Rush's "Mystic Rhythms" ? the sound is epic in its hollowness. An element that I like is the sound of church bells that transition into the instrumental "Million Memories" (another moment of warmth, you see). There is nice piano passage that opens this track, too. The piece reminds me a bit at times of "Don't Forget To (Breathe)" from Arena's The Visitor, again mainly in the treated vocals. And Marillion come to mind with the floaty, chilly intro of "Traveler Of Time And Space" and a chiming guitar phrase there in the beginning (and in spots throughout) and the parpy keyboard passage here and there. Hargraves has a deeper richer voice than Nellessen, though both seem to appear on this track, which might be called a ballad given its mellow, romantic feel. (It's hard to not also think of a drowsy Ayreon here, too).

"Banished To Pangea" is an instrumental where the lead instrument is the layered vocalizations of Christine Youngberg, whose voice high and clear voice is very much a highlight on this release. It ends in such a way that you think the album is over (if you don't have it on overly loud), but not only is this passage not over ? we get a synth-synthetic percussion duet closing out the track ? there are three tracks yet. Warm piano returns again in "Dream Time," a track that has a great dynamic between understated versus and energetic choruses (music) ? and yet also sounds like Harry Chapin singing "Taxi," given the sparse vocal delivery. Strangely, there's also a banjo like phrase here, too, giving this a folksy feel.

"Field River Tree" is a very techno/electronic feeling piece, its entire instrumentation synths of one variety or another, vocals aside. Some crystalline synth-guitar effects only reinforce a severe chilliness this track has, though given it's title, you'd expect something a little more earthy. Keening guitarscapes recall Signals-era Rush.

Things end more warmly with "As Light," which brings back some of the warmer piano tones.

It's not a bad sophomore release (their first being circa 1999's Equal Reaction), and overall is an interesting suite of music. For me personally though, I'd like it more with a little more warmth. Worth a listen or two or more for those who likely spacey-neo-prog.

Conception De Renaissance: Act 1 Design - Act 2 Rebirth (2:34) / Would You Like? (2:15) / Movement Evolution: Act 1 Youthful Dreams (1:34) / Movement Evolution: Act 2 Exit Out - Act 3 Youthful Dreams - Act 4 Exit Out - Youthful Dreams reprise (6:33) / Garden Of Circles (2:00) / Million Memories (2:40) /Traveler Of Space And Time (5:14) / Banished to Pangea (4:07) / Dream Time (5:34) / Field, River, Tree (6:39) / As Light (5:49)

Steve Nellessen - lead vocals; electric, acoustic and synthetic guitar; synthesizers
Mike Adkins ? synthesizers; synthetic, electric, & acoustic percussion; vocals

Guest musicians:

Gary Rosier - electric guitar (1)
Mike Hargraves - lead & backing vocals (7)
Christine Youngberg - lead vocals (8) and backing vocals (2, 9)

Equal Reaction (1999)
Evolution For A Party Of One (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: November 2nd 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 552
Language: english


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