A closer look at one of our favorite releases from last year: Tumblers from the Vault (1970 – 1972), the compiled recorded output (and beyond) of 70s Canadian trio Syrinx, whose boundary leaping music was lovingly excavated by experimental New York label RVNG Intl.
Syrinx bandleader John Mills-Cockell was a pioneering Moog enthusiast, but these recordings travel a spectrum far broader than ambient exploration. The title track is a widescreen composition of pastoral chamber synth, worthy of scoring a Kubrick film. “Ibistix” slithers and grooves with an Ethio-Jazz funk, stretching out into warbling alien terrains while “Field Hymn (Epilogue)” blends Renaissance formality with folk-jazz soundscapes. But the (seasonally appropriate) standout might just be “December Angel.” It’s a piece that is stunning, patient, and solemn – a winter paean of snow, sorrow, and wonder – its melancholy strings gliding across granular synth textures that predate Another Green World and Low. It’s a breathtaking piece of electronic music – a synthetic conjuring of a dramatic symphony orchestra; a kind of retrofuturist opera that feels fresh even now, like its own form of new music. All this to say: this is a must-hear record – not just 1972 or 2016, but forever. High praise, indeed. words / c depasquale