Skip to main content

Progressive Rock Review: Sylvium-The Gift Of Anxiety

Release Date: 13th Sept 2013 
Label: Freia Music

I was well ahead of the game with this particular album for review, as I have been featuring the band, Sylvium, on the radio show since the album, The Gift of Anxiety, was released last September.

Sylvium was formed back in 2010 by Ben van Gastel (guitar, keyboards), and his intention was to make use of guest musicians when he was recording. The first album, Purified, was produced and released in 2012 with Fred Boks contributing to the album. Purified was an instrumental album and was very well received, and on the basis of that success, they were invited to record a 10 minute track for the Dutch Exposure album, which was to highlight Dutch bands. Ben produced a track collaborating with Janroel Koppen (piano) and although they were chosen as one of the finalists, Sylvium was not ready to perform live, and consequently withdrew from the competition.

Spring 2013 saw Sylvium become a live band with Ben and Janroel being joined by Gijs Koopman (bass) and Greg Geurtson (drums), and also the recording, and subsequent release, of The Gift of Anxiety. The album is based around a theme, that of anxiety, and includes vocals for the first time. Two guests during the recording of The Gift of Anxiety, Richard de Geest (vocals, guitar) and Antal Nesseldor (keyboards) have now joined Sylvium on a permanent basis; meanwhile recently, Janroel Koppen has left the line-up.

The Gift of Anxiety is a 6 track album with a total playing time of around 41 minutes. The shortest and longest tracks on the album are the two last tracks, with track 5, “Heaven,” the shortest at 6:29 minutes and the final track, “Weathering,” clocking in at 7:53 minutes.

“Disposable” (6:31) which blasts the album The Gift of Anxiety off, has a full band introduction which immediately grabs the listener and then a simply majestic piano passage floats across the track and then returns again slightly later, ensuring that the attention is kept firmly on the music. There enters some gentle synth sweeps away in the background which catch the ear and at around the halfway point, the sound drops away to leave a simple synth and bass passage which is excellent. Small tinkling bells herald the return of the guitar and more prominent synths as the band members flex their musical muscles to build the track back up. Superb bass and drumming throughout this track drive the opener along and it serves as a fine starter for the tracks that follow.

“Disposable” is an instrumental as are, “Falling” (6:33), “Ominous” (7:09) and “Heaven” (6:29). The one thing that they all have in common is the amazing aural soundscapes that they conjure up. The music moves from the full band workout to much gentler, softer passages within the tracks and this ensures that, at no time, do they lose the interest of the listener.

The two remaining tracks, “Surround” (6:57) and “Weathering” (7:53) debut the first vocals on Sylvium songs, and in both cases, the voice of Richard de Geest fits into the music superbly. “Surround” starts in a more stripped down way, which did remind me of the older Scottish band, The Blue Nile, with the strong powerful voice delivering the lyrics over a relatively sparse backing. The track soon builds in intensity, but that voice remains the center point.  Great guitar riffs, keyboard flourishes and the continued excellence of the rhythm unit ensures a memorable track. The final track, “Weathering,” has a very gentle introduction with nice drumming, bass and another of those simple piano melodies. The voice is slightly more insistent on this track as it gently pulls you into the music. This is possibly the most memorable track on the first few listens and will certainly embed itself in your mind. The second part of the track allows the musicians to highlight their skills, before a more ethereal sound takes over to take the track out.

The Gift of Anxiety is a simply stunning album that immediately grabs your attention, and for the 41 minutes of its duration, carries you along on a wave of aural soundscapes before gently allowing you to settle back into the here and now. After a moment, you realize the next thing to do is to start the album over again. Both “One to Buy” and “The Experience will last Forever” sticker adorn the front of this release and it is an album that should fill a little space on everyone’s CD shelf.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Surround, Heaven, Weathering

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson

January 16, 2014



Popular posts from this blog

New Age Instrumental Review: Anaya Music-AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music)

Release Date: February 2, 2018 Label: Anaya Music Website
Around this time a year ago I had the experience of listening to Anaya Music and providing coverage of Eternity.  It was an uplifting experience and a memorable listen as I recall.
Now with February drawing closer AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music) will arrive.
Once again, the recording features several exceptional collaborations between Anaya Music and a live virtual symphony orchestra recorded in the heart of Prague, the capital of the Czech republic. The orchestra combines members of the finest ensembles in Prague, including the Czech Philharmonic.
I think they should rename the orchestra to “The Live Spiritual Orchestra.” If you have been exposed to Anaya Music you will understand what that means. If this is your first journey with this music you will find out very quickly. Either way, this is spiritually uplifting music that leaves a smile on your soul. It’s like the term digital footprint, there is an everlasting m…

Jazz Fusion-Rock-Pop-Funk Review: Project Grand Slam-Trippin’

Release Date: June 29, 2018 Label: Cakewalk Records Website
This will be my sixth voyage into the world of Project Grand Slam (PGS). So, what is this experience going to be like this time? I would expect the same great combination of jazz, rock, funk, and pop that I always enjoyed.

Just so you all know PGS is: Robert Miller (bass), Mario Castro (saxophones), Bayden Goyo (keyboards), Joel E. Mateo (drums), Guillermo Barron Rios (percussion), Tristan Clark (guitar) and the beautiful Ms. Ziarra Washington (vocals).

So, now we are Trippin’ into 2018 with PGS. And the first track titled “1972” was like turning on the radio and hearing the Average White Band or Tower of Power. Yes sir, on the AM dial, it came blaring through back in those days. 

The title track is a real gas too. This number has some great sax from Castro and a killer rhythm section courtesy of Miller and Mateo. It shines the spotlight on them clear and bright. Let me tell you, those two are like the dynamic duo, kind of like a p…

New Biography on The Cars Singer/Bassist Benjamin Orr by Vermont Writer Joe Milliken to be Published November 2018!

Bellows Falls, VT – Veteran music journalist Joe Milliken recently announced a publishing deal with the Lanham, Maryland-based publisher Rowman & Littlefield Publishers to produce his first book, a biography about the late Benjamin Orr. Orr was the co-founder, co-lead singer, and bassist for the platinum-selling rock band The Cars. Titled Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, a release date is set for November 15, 2018.

Often considered the band’s heartthrob, Orr possessed an incredible voice, diverse musical talent and rare stage presence, all balanced by a magnetic, yet enigmatic personality, striking good looks, and a relentless determination to reach rock stardom. Born Benjamin Orzechowski (aka “Benny Eleven Letters”) and raised in the Cleveland suburb of Parma Heights, Orr was, prior to becoming a world-famous rock star with The Cars, a “teen star” as a house band musician for the nationally syndicated television show Upbeat.

A few years later Ben met his musical partner and …