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THE SYN are a band that operate intently in the modern day world. Their focus is on pushing the
envelope of modern progressive rock and moving it in new directions. Their current core lineup of
Steve Nardelli, Francis Dunnery and Tom Brislin may have only been a musical machine since
2008, but this is a band with a long and storied history of constantly exploring new musical
soundscapes. While THE SYN have their eyes firmly focused on the future of progressive rock,
their roots go back to the 1960 s.
In 1965, in the days of the groovy British modster beat scene, 17-year-old Chris Squire (Yes
bassist) and Stephen Nardelli (SYN songwriter/vocalist) met at a local battle of the bands,
competing against each other. That meeting was to be the start of THE SYN. Their freak beat-genre
songs "Grounded" and "14 Hour Technicolor Dream" were the unforgettable trippy love-generation
companions of "Flowerman" and "Created by Clive." By 1966, THE SYN held a permanent
booking at the infamous Marquee Club in London. THE SYN's support slots at the Marquee read
like a "who's who" of the day -- The Who, Pink Floyd, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, etc. Everyone who
was anyone in the British music scene eventually performed at the Marquee Club.
In 2004 Nardelli and Chris Squire brought THE SYN back together and they not only released a 2-
CD edition of the highly acclaimed archival recording, Original Syn, but also put together a new
studio recording entitled, " Syndestructible." Both discs received critical acclaim and a tour for
Syndestructible thrilled fans. The tour was filmed and a live DVD released. But, while Steve
Nardelli is proud of the musical legacy of THE SYN, he has a dedication to looking forward
musically rather than focusing on the glorious past. That dedication is reflected in 2009 with a new
lineup and a new sound based on the considerable SYN legacy, but reaching towards the future.
Big Sky is the newest SYN CD and it showcases both their belief in the concept of the Progressive
Modernist Movement "Mod Prog for Prog Mods," but also their new lineup. The core of the band is
now Nardelli (songwriter, vocalist and guitarist) along with Francis Dunnery (guitar and vocals) and
Tom Brislin (keyboards and vocals). This lineup is augmented live by Brett Kull (guitar) and Paul
Ramsey (drums and percussion).
This is a band who are rightly proud of their roots and history, but not content to live on the strength
of that legacy. Big Sky proves that they are continuing to push the envelope of musical expression
and create new sounds and themes. This is a group with ties to the 1960 s but an artistic vision that
is firmly set in the 21st Century.
Top customer reviews
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Despite our positive predisposition towards this latest offering from the Syn, both my wife and I were shocked by what a powerful and beautiful collection of songs are contained herein. I've come to view Big Sky as a concept album, the songs are so linked thematically: The Everyman or Everywoman, living in our modern world, with all of it's social fragmentation, misunderstanding, pressure and potential for isolation, and our civilization in danger from how we behave with each other and with our environment. However, the overall point of view is positive, as sung in Devils and Demons, "Well, I've got love right here in my heart/and I've got hope that won't fade away/and I've got faith that stands me apart/and I've got dreams to show me the way." But still, "It's a long, long way." And that's one of the many aspects that are so striking about Big Sky, lyrically it's so unflinchingly honest about the human condition, yet it comes strongly across as a warm and upbeat album. I really appreciated a comment I read from Francis Dunnery regarding these songs: "It's an album of the times, and I think what the Germans call zeitgeist ... it means a spirit of the times. There's no English equivalent of that, but that's what the Germans meant. It meant a spirit of the times. And I think this album carries the spirit of the times because we're all looking for some hope, and faith in the goodness of life after being destroyed for so long after the last, you know, so many years."
Musically, it is has a different feel from their previous release. Big Sky is overwhelmingly an acoustic guitar-driven album and that fits these songs perfectly. Some tracks are rocking, such as Universal Witness (with it's irresistible call and response lyrics) and Running Out Of Time. Other songs have a more pastoral view such as the gorgeously moving title track, Milo, a song that will move anyone who's welcomed a newborn into the world, and Madonna And Child, a song about the shelter and safety of home and one's private world. I can't really make comparisons, a smidge of Beatles here, a small reminder of CSN or Neil Young there, but Big Sky and The Syn really have their own identity. Steve Nardelli's singing is warmer, more confident and emotive than ever. Francis Dunnery's playing, harmony vocals and production work adds a wonderful richness to the tracks. Tom Brislin's keyboard work is varied and nuanced, just perfect. And there is a new female voice that I've fallen in love with! It belongs to Dorie Jackson. At points I get chills from her contributions here.
I'm not a big writer, so I'm not inclined to write reviews, but I just had to speak up for Big Sky. This is a musical work that deserves to be heard. Hopefully it will receive airplay on XM/Sirius and beyond at some point soon and reach its deserved audience. The band is also currently touring the U.S. I plan to see at least one show. Highly recommended. I hope it touches your heart and mind as it has my wife's and mine.