Written by: Natalya Davies Updated: 4th April 2019
Manchester-based art-rock quintet Sylvette release avant-garde new single ‘Memories’, produced by New Order’s Phil Cunningham
Within recent years, the music industry has been faced by high market saturation and the development of modern music consumption, both of which have had a profound effect on many bands abilities to secure attention and loyalty from consumers and labels. Even the press have played their part in writing off the need for bands in today’s market, their headlines pronouncing the album dead as the general consumer participates in a “detached” listening experience fuelled by the charts and popular playlists.
In light of the shifting dynamic of the musical environment, there is a beacon of hope which surfaces when acts like Sylvette reject the unnecessary speculations of the industry to exhibit art in its purest form, proving that boundaries really are there to be broken.
Hailing from gloomy Manchester, Sylvette are among the next generation of artists preparing to prolong the city’s undeniable reputation for outstanding musical talent. Their style and aesthetic, on the other hand, looks to mimic no previous musical “greats” or industry conventions. Instead, the art-rock quintet produce a truly avant-garde concept, one which they execute flawlessly.
The origin of their name is a positively unique one, inspired by an enchanting muse frequently pictured in many of Picasso’s famous paintings. What is more interesting however, is the unexpected relationship which has since formed between Sylvette vocalist Charlie Sinclair and this famous muse, Sylvette Corbet who is now an artist herself. This friendship has proven extremely helpful in positioning Sylvette (the band, henceforth) as a serious creative and artistic force.
To kick start what looks to be a rather promising 2019, February saw the quintet unveil new single ‘Memories’, the follow-up to their largely successful 2018 debut album ‘Waiting in the Bliss’. In what seems to be an exploration of a more sombre side to their sound, ‘Memories’ is a creatively and technically immaculate composition that defies any signs of a traditional song structure. However, Sylvette’s quest for the unconventional never incites jeopardising the overall listening experience.
Like an exquisite juxtaposition, ‘Memories’ serves as the perfect middle ground between the experimental and the commercial. The combination of a variety of contemporary layers and textures adds a mysterious undertone which plants a seed of allure into the listener from the very first note. On the other hand, the single is nonetheless overflowing with captivating hooks that will surely have you – well, hooked.
The song’s intriguing story is intricately woven through its lyrics and accompanying visuals to create a mystical tale revolved heavily around the disruption of a fabricated utopia, peppered with cleverly constructed references to art. Quite like a work of art itself, the lyrics and visuals are full of evocative symbols which all hint to a plethora of connotations. It is up to the listener to determine the true meaning behind the story, an element which only adds to the song’s enigmatic nature.
Sonically, ‘Memories’ is a masterpiece.
Sylvette have carefully intertwined minimalistic and juxtaposing complex sections which take the listener on a beautifully turbulent journey, void of any predictability. Sinclair’s vocals are a particular strong point for the band, with its rather soft timbre mixed with a light distortion which adds a gritty edge to the arrangement, particularly in the more delicate sections.
“LIKE AN EXQUISITE JUXTAPOSITION, ‘MEMORIES’ SERVES AS THE PERFECT MIDDLE GROUND BETWEEN THE EXPERIMENTAL AND THE COMMERCIAL”
Another element that is happily welcomed by the ear is Greek native Philippos Rousiamanis’ exceptional violin skills which are scattered throughout the song, often adding a hint of tension or piercing through the rest of the layers to demand the attention of the listener.
This abstract fusion of rock with classical music, theatrical influences and experimental elements makes ‘Memories’ a truly memorable piece (no pun intended), one which cannot be gorged upon by a distracted mind. After all… exceptional art deserves to be the mind’s sole focus when under observation… and creating exceptional art is exactly what Sylvette excel in.