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German neo concept album in Das Haus!

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Germany’s Sylvan have, over the span of the last 16 years, produced some spirited and opulent albums that haven’t led to the breakthrough the band deserve.

Perhaps one explanation is that they’ve often overly relied on influences such as Marillion and Pink Floyd, which occasionally infiltrate their sound to an overbearing level. With this ninth album there are again palpable similarities, not least in the fact that this is a concept album dealing with “long lost childhood memories” (have another look at our cover this month!). Musically, though, Sylvan have more to offer than the raft of nostalgia acts who delight in merely recreating the past. Whether that’s adopting an orchestral, string-oriented approach on the likes of Not Far From The Sky and the spiritually uplifting Shine, or incorporating a metallic twist, they are capable of producing some exceptional songs, such as Shaped Out Of Clouds – its absorbing, delicate melody develops into a rousing finale. Granted, the concept is a loose one and at times the spectres of Dave Gilmour and Steve Rothery appear, but this remains a stirring album that should delight fans of neo, and many others too.