Comments and Reviews
Following the release of the Official Music Video "The STRANGE ANIMAL From the North" September 2, 2022
eclipsed ROCK MAGAZIN
December 2022/January 2023
The strange animal from the north of the title comes from a science fiction novel by the Swedish writer Lars Gustafsson and is the basis for a long suite divided into 4 movements which, however, do not correspond perfectly to the 4 tracks of the album because a third movement is in fact missing, so that the third track of the disc corresponds to the fourth movement and so on.
Already formally the work claims a clear symphonic inspiration. There is no singing and it is up to the instruments, keyboards in primis, to keep the narrative thread. Already from the first notes I was there for a few minutes wondering if it was something fished out of the past: the keyboard registers and the dusty and not very polished sounds, the slightly rustic production work take us back to what were the years of my youth of the band. I confess that the very first impressions weren't very encouraging for me, above all for the impact of my ears against a decidedly dated sound and then for the display of certain typically New Prog clichés with flashy keyboards that triumphantly present themselves, the simple arpeggios of the guitar against a background poor in sounds, the regular and schematic tempo of the drums... In reality, by taking the right time to acclimatise, we gradually discover that this work is not to be despised at all. In fact, we notice a certain growth with the passing of the minutes which leads us to more elaborate solutions, while still maintaining the same dusty and highly calibrated sound timbres of the eighties.
Despite the small instrumental park, the compositions appear rather rich, with a great work both of the keyboards, which show off a wide variety of registers, including organ and Mellotron, and of the guitars, lavish in solos and generous in embellishments. We can find references, sometimes very explicit, to the greats of the past such as Genesis, Yes, especially in the third track, and EL&P in the second, complete with baroque moments and harpsichord registers. In other phases their New Prog spirit emerges more clearly which is not absolutely dormant, but which is however inserted in a rather varied context.
If Cye are back they didn't do it to upset our conception of Progressive Rock but I think it's a question of authentic passion. They have dusted off the paraphernalia of a past that in fact belongs to them and put it back in motion by exploiting their undoubted skills as musicians. The result is a pleasant dive into the past, towards stylistic solutions which are not my favorites but which I consider appreciable and pleasant in their genuine imperfection. For this I would not disdain them. And now what do we do? Do we hopefully await the publication of at least the missing third movement?
Translated from Italian by Google Translator
The website for the band opens with "Cye The Band - prog-rock made in Switzerland". Cye has been around for a long time. It was founded in 1978 by René Tecklenburg (keyboards) and Marko Heinemann (guitars). The band released an album called Tales in 1994. The Strange Animal From The North is their second album. You might conclude that Cye are not a very productive band.
On this latest album the drums are done by Billy Oden and the bass is handled by special guest Hans Neber. The album was recorded partly at their own homes and in their shed at Fehraltorf.
The album consists of four instrumental songs (named "movements") and they are numbered one, two, four and five. Maybe number three will end up as some bonus release; who can tell. These comprise lengthy instrumental parts (all the songs are around 10 minutes in length) that were probably created from jamming session and then over time crafted into separate compositions.
The album opening tune is a guitar melody that can easily be used to open the Eurovision song contest. Thankfully for diehard prog-heads this only lasts about thirty seconds and then the progressive music starts.
It is a neo-prog-like tune, with an easy guitar supported by keyboard that sounds like some old Marillion or the way Arena used to make them. Each song is divided into smaller parts and the changes are at times fluid but mostly not that subtle.
The centre part of the song is more fired up, especially the keyboards that get a lot of time upfront. Special guest bass player Hans Neber can be heard in the front of the mix at times. He surely does a fine job. The last part of the song features more guitar, ranging from solos to progressive rhythm guitar.
The first part of 2nd Movement has the guitar upfront, and it really sounds like an organized jamming piece. In the middle, the keyboards get a solo spot evolving into a sci-fi film score grande piece.
On the 4th Movement I notice the same thing happening: a jam session that has been crafted into a song. It is a very organic process to create a song through jamming with a lot of improvising, cutting things out that do not work and leaving the interesting bits in there. I do not know for sure if Cye work this way, but it sure sounds like that.
The 5th Movement starts with a slower pace with more atmospheric sounds. The second part suddenly becomes a lot faster, with many alternating instruments getting upfront. The song ends with the same melody as the album started with, and then it is finished.
Cye show they are good musicians that have been playing with each other for a long time. The sound is good and the music on the album is entertaining. What the album lacks is a piece or melody that really sticks out. There are some parts that are a nice find, but after a spin there is not much that makes this album an unforgettable experience. There are no bad parts on this album but also nothing that will make me want to play this album again and again.
cye The Band released "The Strange Animal from the North" in September of 2022. It sounds like a symphony that is unique to Switzerland... In the early 1990's cye had already released two albums. This is their revival after 28 years. The cd is an excellent example of classic, symphonic prog rock full of dramatic sounds. It consists of four movements. It sounds like a serious collaboration between Steve Hackett and Rick Wakeman, with elegant electric and acoustic guitars, harpsichords and pianos, enriched with sumptuous strings and dazzling synthesizers. The rhythm section has ELP quality. It's a masterpiece!
Tranlated from Japanese by Google Translator.
Ich höre immer wieder eure CD. Sie ist sehr variantenreich und reicht von melodiösen Intros bis zu hardriffigen Gitarrenklängen, durchsetzt von kirchorgelmässigen Keyboardklängen. Von sanft bis hart, von pain bis relief, von disappointment bis zu happiness. Die CD ist gut konzipiert, gut strukturiert und verleitet so zu Träumen, die aber immer wieder von harten Klängen abgebrochen werden. Ich höre sie ab und zu zum Malen, da kann ich dann auch mal wegdriften. Ein gutes Werk – gratuliere!
The english Powerplay Magazine 259 February 2023