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Synaesthesia: Synaesthesia

Album Review

As incisive and original debut as you’re ever likely to hear.

There’s been a smattering of bands whose inspiration and soul are centred around a solitary talent, a home studio-dwelling, progressive warrior. To some luddites, the mere concept of an album’s demos being forged slowly on computer is still an abomination. They’ll argue that the process lacks an organic passion that only a band can muster, but such a method hasn’t exactly hampered Steven Wilson’s career, and the audacious 20 year-old talent that is Synaesthesia’s Adam Warne can now be added to that list.

Rather like Maschine’s Luke Machin, Warne is one of a new breed who’ve been equipped by a School Of Performing Arts. What’s even more astonishing is that he’s still completing his studies, and when you consider the lavish and truly inventive album created here, potentially his future could be dazzling. He writes the material himself, and has recruited similarly talented musicians who add further colour to his creations, and which will transform Synaesthesia into a live act. 

The band manage to carefully unify the two influences of traditional prog rock with a modern, alternative rock drive to create something truly original. It’s an aspiration that’s confirmed by their impudent decision to open this debut with the 20 minutes of Time, Tension and Intervention. It contains extended segments of lush, neo-progressive melodies that have been flawlessly added to a bracing guitar melody. This may possess the air of a contemporary rendition of Focus’s Hocus Pocus, but it’s still a well judged statement of intent. Sacrifice is another gutsy, guitar led track that’s been neatly augmented by the economical use of a deft, 70’s synthesiser. 

IQ’s Mike Holmes produced the album, and there are times when flashes of that band come to the fore. These are most prominent on the instrumentals Technology Killed The Kids and Noumenon, but these are never domineering. Instead they show the depth of musical influences which have been brought together to generate this band’s unique sound. 

It’s noticeable that Warne appears to have a confidence issue with his distinctive voice. There are moments where the vocals are distorted, presumably to mask his own perceived inadequacies as well as adding a new dimension. That’s a shame, as there are occasionally excessively lengthy instrumental sections that would be enhanced by the addition of lyrics. It’s no doubt a temporary, mental hurdle of self-assurance that time and the gigging to come will unquestionably quell. 

Overall though, this is an exceptional debut from a band who will only improve. That’s quite some prospect.

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