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Marsyas - Emergence

Marsyas
Emergence
by Mark Machlay at 25 February 2020, 4:25 AM

Formed in 2014 in Bergamo, Italy, the progressive rock band MARSYAS are set to release their full-length debut “Emergence”. The album title is meant to describe the phenomenon of a group of parts coming together to create a whole new entity but also containing separate properties. The members have come from a variety of backgrounds such as playing in a well-known Italian pop band, earning a degree in new media while composing electronic music, a classically trained pianist currently studying composition at a prestige conservatory and a member studying musical engineering while playing in a new wave style band. All of these experiences influenced the member’s contribution to the record.

To further illustrate the concept of individuals within a whole, there is no one album cover to represent the album, it has many covers. These covers are rendered by a software created by the members of the band. When purchasing their album through Bandcamp, a random, unique image is generated for each person by the software. While this is unique for a band and a highly creative endeavor for sure, how is the music? They seem to have taken the sound of heavier prog rock bands such as PORCUPINE TREE and RIVERSIDE and added bits of Jazz Fusion and other unique elements to create a personal sound of their own.

Opening track “Far as Far Run Thoughts” is an immediate highlight. Starting with soft, arpeggiated guitar with a juxtaposed rhythm underneath, heaviness enters for a time then goes back to the intro dynamic with an added delicate piano melody. The next section combines all elements while bringing back the heavy and adds harmonized vocals. They then quiet down to just the piano with heavily syncopated guitar chords joining later. Once the band comes back in we are treated to a very Haken sounding vocal line and end with a synth bouncing around in the background as if let loose.

There are other standout tracks to be noted as well. “As Water” begins with gleaming guitars and piano, eventually including jazz-heavy drum licks against similar styled piano lines. Once the heavy riff comes in they briefly flirt with power metal before going quiet playing shimmering minor guitar chords. It goes back and forth between these two aesthetics seemingly illustrating the tide at dusk. Of particular note is the excellent guitar solo in “No Time for an End” even being bold to almost show off the guitarist skill, and the heavily syncopated interplay and interesting guitar gymnastics displayed in “Palace of the Living”,

The only gripes I may have are with the vocals. At times they can seem buried in the mix and it is hard to tell if that is because of the mixing or extreme monotony of the singer’s voice. Stylistically, the singer always seem subdued, offering little volume or dynamic range and little in the way of actual pitch range as well. If the band is to continue with this style of vocal delivery, they need to think about how the other elements interact with it sonically in order to maximize its import in the overall mix. Other interesting production decisions were the synths near the end of “The Palace of the Living” that are carved out sonically as to provide no attack, and the beginning of “Mater Mundi” seemingly starting in the middle of the chorus what or even seems to sound more like a pre-chorus.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Far As Far Run Thoughts
2. Wait for the Tide
3. As Water
4. When the Nights Were Bright
5. No Time for an End
6. Palace for the Living
7. Mater Mundi
8. The Dance of the Archangels
Lineup:
Lorenzo Pasini – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Francesco Luzzana – Backing Vocals, Bass, Programming
Marco Adobati – Guitar
Paolo Salvi – Keyboards, Synths, Programming
Omar Ghezzi - Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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