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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Go to the Sykes website  Sykes - I Witness [Iris Light - 2000]

Buy this CD now!
With expectations like zero, Sykes uses the opportunity to impress. The debut album "I Witness" is certainly not a disappointment, considering the fact that I'm unfamiliar with this artist, and I doubt it that I'm the only one...

So, a little introduction first. Sykes is Martin Stovey, formerly known (or unknown) from the experimental beats group Elixir. He created this solo project to make music with a different mood than he has before, to show a more melodic and jazzier side to the music. I haven't heard any of his earlier work, so I can't say he succeeded with this, but "I Witness" is indeed melodic and somewhat jazzy. Sykes saw its debut on the Good Looking Records compilation "Cookin' 4" with the track "Echo Chamber". Not long after that this debut full-length was released and it got quite an awesome reaction from the press. But we of Musique [Machine] have had a little more time to listen and think it all over again.

"I Witness" is a very relaxing album, containing 11 tracks of smooth string melodies supported by calm beats that never reach the speed to make it danceable. Some piano parts and occasionally trumpets are folded into the music, but none of the instruments overtop the trip hop / drum 'n bass alike rhythms. It is clear to hear that everything is programmed, and thus it feels sometimes a bit synthetic. Still, the album has some very good parts like the moody "Flawless Secrets", the dark "Missing People" and the dreamy xylophone tones in "Past Futures (part 1)". Vocals are used sporadically, but I believe they do not really fit to the music; they have a certain blues feel, so I would rather concentrate on the music alone.

To conclude this review, I must say Sykes' debut album quite surprised me considering the quality. However, the music is a little bit too boring after a few listens. "I Witness" is the perfect background music though when your reading for example, never disturbing yet good enough to let it play. "Lounge music" is what we call it. I wanted it to give 3 out of 5 at first, but it definitely is worth more, as long as you don't really concentrate on the listening experience.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Justin Faase
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