reviewed by Michael Thomas
Since the release of Lang Amma a few years ago, Syngja has shifted in membership, but the results are no less explosive. Tyr Jami is still bringing Icelandic music influences and cello, but she’s now teamed up with Justin Guzzwell on synths, drum machines and vocals.
Echoing Rose was recorded live during the group’s residency at Artsiceland in Ísafjörður, Iceland in May 2017, and the band describes this album as “Transformative messages through nature and dream.” Indeed, so much of Echoing Rose feels like a dream. The interplay between Jami and Guzzwell feels like something out of the book/movie Annihilation; the sound feels both natural and unnatural at the same time.
Somehow, cello and synthesizer work so well together. The opener “Mountain Queen” begins with Jami’s cello and crystalline synths, and it feels like an explosion—a revelation—when the drum machines come in. Suddenly the song feels like an ascent into a different world. “Lime Blossom” feels similarly inspiring, shifting into another indescribably lush soundscape of synthesizers and cello.
The last two songs on the record show slightly different sides of the band. “Butterfly” floats through the air along its seven-minute runtime, the voices of Jami and Guzzwell somehow making it sound like flying must feel. It’s the total opposite of “Palm Reader,” a dark song that first builds its beat from a vocal sample. Where the vocals were soaring and pixie-like before, they’re harsh in “Palm Reader,” ending the dreamlike run of the EP unexpectedly.
Echoing Rose is another testament to the creativity of Syngja throughout the years, a blast through a natural landscape you’ll never be able to visit.
Top Track: “Lime Blossom”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)