Review: System Syn – All Seasons Pass

When System Syn crept onto our radar last year with their spectacular album, Strangers, we were confronted with an artist so gifted we were somewhat flummoxed as our concepts of what constituted the best electronic music was spun in a whole new direction. The ambitious multi-media followup posed many questions, namely, can they (“they” being Clint Carney) keep up the momentum.

Well, keep it up they do (he does), and then some.

This album is a narrative musical story that comes accompanied by a book that spells out the story in a more linear fashion. Carney continues to show off his amazing capacity for multi-tasking, musician, visual artist and now author, and he succeeds at all of the above. This album and book tell the harrowing true story of “Jane”, a murdered woman. The songs tackle different perspectives on Jane’s last days from both her own perspective and those of those around her. It’s lyrically rich if overwhelming in the enormity of the task at hand, and in the hands of a lesser artist it could have very easily ended up a giant mess, but Carney wrangles the material to the ground and holds it together masterfully.

In what may be the strongest electronic album released thus far in 2011 we bear witness to an exhausting musical journey that pulls in all the tricks System Syn have amassed in their library over the years. From the pounding power track “God Damn” to the spooky “Path of Least Resistance” to the straight-ahead pop , (though lyrical sadness) of “Ordinary Life” to the plaintiff cry of “Mercy” (“I will be the death of you!”), to the heartbreaking denouement of “Homecoming” through to the obvious ending of the haunting yet beautiful “Funeral” (yet capped with a coda, no less, in “Confession”) – every damned thing on this album works as both part of the overreaching narrative and as stand-alone, brilliantly produced futurepop. The scale of the project is both daunting and exhilarating and once you fall victim to the unequaled storytelling you won’t easily get back up. There’s a lot going on here but the rewards for seeing it through are legion. (And at the band site, you can order an impressive package of supporting material as well.) Carney is well into the running for MVP in the electronic community for his work with Imperative Reaction and God Module but mostly for his truly brilliant work in System Syn. One listen to All Seasons Pass should convince even the most cynical of listeners that Carney is the real deal. This is an extremely vital, talented musician and songwriter at the very peak of his powers and it’s glorious to revel in it. Exciting, dark and rich this album is in every sense of the word, a keeper.


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