Syrinx - Tumblers From The Vault (1970-1972)

Syrinx — Tumblers From The Vault (1970 - 1972)

RVNG Intl., 1971/2016 (Reissue)

Syrinx is a trio of Canadian experimental musicians (synths, sax and percussion), fronted by John Mills-Cockell. I’d never heard of them — apparently they opened for Miles Davis during the Bitches Brew tour?? Who knew. The music really speaks for itself, though. It’s thoroughly adventurous electronica, relying heavily on Moog and sax experimentation for some wild, lengthy tracks. RVNG Intl. has reissued the trio’s only two full-length albums on one disk, along with a separate disk of remixes. It’s chill, calming, beautiful stuff, with varied instrumentation and interesting composition throughout.

RIYD: Miles Davis (the Bitches Brew-era, electronic stuff), Holy Other, Fatima Al Qadiri, Laurie Spiegel, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith


Disk 1 (Long Lost Relatives):

1. Tumblers to the Vault — ●●●● Fuzzy sax and synths, kind of all-over-the-place.

2. Syren — ●●● Bells, and what sounds like a distorted oboe, or muted brass along with electric sax. Gets pretty abrasive in the middle before dissolving into trilling strings.

3. December Angel — ●●●●● A distorted, electronic melody and string accompaniment give us the most anthemic and conventionally orchestral song on the disk. So pretty <3

4. Ibistix — ●●●● Wavering, squeaky brass and low-pitched percussion, constantly in motion.

5. Field Hymn (Epilogue) — ●●●● Ah, just strings. Nice n refreshing.

6. Tillicum — ●●●●● Electric sax!!!!! Crazy shit. Like aliens playing sax.

7. Better Deaf and Dumb from the First — ●●● Slow, rich, electric tarantella-ish.

8. Aurora Spinray — ●●●● Distorted sax gets really low here, almost like a didgeridoo. Fast-paced percussion, too, and a hint of choir vocals.

9. Melina’s Torch — ●●●● Kind of a klezmer-ish take on the electric sax.

10. Journey Tree — ●●●●● Very slow, very calm, very sustained.s Almost ambient, with some winds and organs.

11. Field Hymn — ●●●●● Serious Clockwork Orange vibes. Another slow, sustained track, with some sweet sax.

12. Chant for Your Dragon King — ●●●● Resonant synths and low, creeping melodies really open up around the 5 min mark, evolving into metallic harmony.

13. Hollywood Dream Trip — ●●●●● Subtle interplay of piano and electric sax. Feels like a Jon Brion composition, with a fuzzy antique gloss over the whole thing. Sax is particularly pretty here!

14. Father of Light — ●●● Low, mushy synth piece.

15. Appaloosa – Pegasus — ●●●●● Bright synths pulsing forward.


Disk 2 (Long Lost Relics):

1. Tillicum (single mix) — ●●●● Piercing electronic textures make this a crisper version of “Tillicum,” but I prefer the original, where the weirdness of the electric sax is front and center.

2. Melina’s Torch (solo) — ●●●● As the name implies, it’s a single electronic voice, echoing and ricocheting around. Reminiscent of Laurie Spiegel.

3. Better Deaf and Dumb from the First (alternate/vocal) — ●●●●● Woah, vocals. Makes this track so much better, I think. Gorgeous instrumentation in conversation with wavering choir-style singing.

4. December Angel (demo) — ●●● A more toned-down “December Angel.” Ethereal, creepy, lurking synth sounds.

5. Syren (Stringspace Live) — ●●● Lots of distorted sax, with even more filters applied than on the original mix.

6. December Angel (Stringspace Live) — ●●●● Nice live rendition, more resonance to the sound.

7. Ibistix (Stringspace Live) — ●●●● Seems more fast paced than the original “Ibistix.” The percussion really shines on this version.

8. Field Hymn (Stringspace Live) — ●●●● Pretty, live strings swell and then peter out.

Will Gottsegen