SYKOFANT – Sykofant

Sycophantastic 2024

Delicious rawness from Norway’s own pursuers of natural nervousness who map out the strangers’ journey towards the strange land.


It’s been long since progressive rock became sophisticated enough to get detached from underground alchemy which once defined its perpetual motion, yet this Oslo foursome seem bent on reassessing current approach to the genre – without trying to hide classic influences on their self-titled debut album and preferring instead to weave the vaguely familiar fibers through the threads of the outdoor universe. Fortunately, the quartet aren’t overtly obsessed with following stylistic frontiers: there’s a lot of folk motifs to hypnotize the listener but there’s also bluesy element to ground the entire experience and render the sonics humanly rough. Unafraid of epic scope, demonstrated in a third of the pieces on offer, the Norwegian ensemble shift their groovy panoramas across different landscapes that seamlessly float into focus in a somewhat unsettling, if wondrous, way to stir the fellow traveler’s obscure memories.

And is there a better way to ruffle one’s psyche than to caress it with sensual, albeit insistent, funk licks as opener “Pavement Of Color” does so elegantly until Per Semb’s guitar twang and Sindre Haugen’s bass rumble usher in Emil Moen’s vocals which wander between stereo channels before hefty riffs sweep away the initial slider-shining serenity and turn shamanic crawl into an infectious rock ‘n’ swirl. The drift may segue into the gloomy expanse of “Between Air And Water” whose sweet tunes – here are a few of those – and ever-changing dynamics sway from pacifying to anxious to solemn, though always riveting, yet “Monuments Of Old” explores the same cinematic shuffle only to let Melvin Treider’ drums introduce marching belligerence to the instrumental flow and allow the singer to fill the ether with angry screams and honeyed refrains.

Still, the otherwise transparent “Between The Moments” switches to punchy hard rock from rustic ennui, and the increasingly wild “Strangers” picks up the impetus and augments the aural adventure with raga and surf patterns to a fantastic effect, while “Forgotten Paths” leads from acoustic strum to symphonic assault to a majestic swampy jive… and reggae-tinged six-string passages that are resolved in a soaring solo, bellicose curlicues and boiling interplay. The results of it all feel bold, making “Sykofant” a near-stunning work.


June 12, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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