I have to cred­it Chris Hawkins’ ear­ly morn­ing show on Radio 6 Music for intro­duc­ing me to the Man­ches­ter band Syl­vette. The slinky, crys­talline notes of their new sin­gle Kelpius cut through the ear­ly morn­ing blur and I was instant­ly wide awake. Music as caffeine. 

The album Stiller than Still, the band’s sec­ond album, was released mid July. It con­tains a fas­ci­nat­ing col­lec­tion of songs which reveal the matu­ri­ty and con­fi­dence of this young 5‑piece band who came togeth­er at music col­lege in Man­ches­ter. The way Syl­vette weave threads of dif­fer­ent gen­res – from clas­si­cal, elec­tron­i­ca and most def­i­nite­ly prog – plus the impec­ca­ble pro­duc­tion val­ues (it was co-pro­duced by Phil Cun­ning­ham of New Order, and Jake Evans) – com­bine to con­jure up a dra­mat­ic and poet­ic land­scape. And Syl­vette cer­tain­ly know how to cre­ate drama.

Stand­out tracks for me so far are Mem­o­ries with its insis­tent riff, flu­id bass and lush vio­lin, while an East­ern riff, per­haps Moroc­can, grad­u­al­ly gath­ers pace. Fol­low­ing this is Sur­ren­der – its dreamy open­ing notes remind­ing me of Mazzy Star – before vocal­ist Char­lie Sin­clair’s flu­id Tim Buck­ley-esque vocals make an entrance.

Then there’s the afore­men­tioned Kelpius – all of its 4.49 mins a tight­ly sprung unrav­el­ling coil of mys­ti­cism, both lyri­cal­ly and musi­cal­ly. The song tells the tale of the cave of Kelpius in Philadel­phia, inhab­it­ed by a dooms­day cult wait­ing for the end of the world. It’s a syn­thy sum­mer song, but look deep­er and it reveals a dark core. There are Radio­head echoes here, espe­cial­ly as the song draws to an end. 

It does­n’t work to have Stiller than Still play­ing in the back­ground, this album real­ly demands your full atten­tion, espe­cial­ly with the more del­i­cate num­bers such as Some­times I Pre­tend, in order to absorb its com­plex­i­ties of rhythm and deep, some­times dark lyrics. 

If this was a nor­mal year, Syl­vette, like so many bands on the rise, could be play­ing for fes­ti­val crowds and intro­duc­ing their music to a wider audi­ence. In lieu of that, until bands are per­form­ing again – and I hope to see Syl­vette live – this album is a per­fect way to appre­ci­ate this unique band. 

Syl­vette band

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *