The prog group SYZYGY was never particularly prolific, producing just three studio albums between 1993 and 2009. But their music still became part of the fabric of my head songs. Rumors abounded years ago that they had mounds of new material for a number of new albums. But news of the band grew stagnant a few years ago, and then their website went silent altogether earlier this year; I grew disheartened at the prospect of the group disbanding and never hearing more of their brilliant brand of creative, complex and engaging progressive rock.
Enter Carl Baldassarre – founder, guitarist and sometimes vocalist for the band. The music was NOT lost. SYZYGY did in fact disband, but Carl continued working on the pieces, and ultimately recorded them along with some other new material and put it together on the magnificent new album from Baldassarre called “Collinwood Yards”. Great save!
This is a concept album of sorts, reflecting Carl’s life journey from “the wrong side of the tracks” to where he is today. Let me note that the artwork for this album package is top-notch – just beautiful. It is matched by phenomenal playing by some great musicians (Nick D’Virgilio on drums and percussion?!!), and the production and mix is first class.
Here we have 8 instrumental tracks and 6 songs with vocals. Given the subject matter, you will not be surprised by lyrics that often convey hope and despair, fear of the unknown, and overall suggest a past that perhaps included some regrets, pain, bitterness… forgiveness? One very personal, uneasy song is entitled “Catharsis”, though I feel that much of the album was cathartic for the artist. The music itself will not be a surprise to fans of his former band. His classical music training comes into play with several short chamber interludes and intros to songs, as well as the occasional orchestral accompaniment. But make no mistake that this is a rock and prog album, and it delivers the goods on many levels. Carl likes to layer his guitars without making the mix sound too heavy. I’ve called his soloing “snaky” – I don’t know, it just kind of swirls around and bites you just right – ha!
I love the chording he uses in the instrumental track “Crossing the Highgate”. One of my favorite tracks on this album, I would have been happy if it continued on for 22:23 instead of just 2:23. My favorite vocal track is the song “The Letter” with NDV on vox. He nails it; great chorus. “Secrets” is a bit hectic sounding, with beautiful guitar tones and soloing again. I had to look up the word “gloaming”, and the instrumental track of that name is appropriately haunting. (Nope, no hints… 🙂
The album ends on a triumphant sounding “Epilogue” – appropriate enough for an album which is surely a triumph for Carl Baldassarre and his love for this music. He’s a rare find, and a highly underrated songwriter/composer/guitarist.
This album was a real gem. I’m looking forward to more. Thank you, Carl!