If you’re a fan of Artificial Language, or Charlie Robbins in general, you’re going to want to check out this new Syncatto record, A Place to Breathe. This album came out of left field for me and I had zero clue who or what Syncatto was all about. That was until I went out on a whim and graced my ears with this new album. After being completely mesmerized with the music, I couldn’t sit idly by and let this record go unnoticed. I feel that it is my duty to share with you this special album that will likely remain underappreciated.
What does Syncatto sound like you might ask? Well, imagine if Polyphia decided to fully indulge in their Latin tendencies and create an acoustic/flamenco instru-prog gem. I know that you’re likely thinking that all the instru-prog/ambi-djent bands and projects out there all get stale pretty fast, but like Polyphia, Syncatto definitely stand out from the rest and create something I didn’t know that I had wanted before. Syncatto deserves to be celebrated alongside other highly regarded artists in the genre, such as Polyphia and Arch Echo for example.
Syncatto is the solo project of Charlie Robbins, the guitarist and main songwriter for Artificial Language, and popular YouTuber who mainly posts music/guitar-oriented content. Charlie’s knack for writing insanely catchy and complex guitar passages and songs in general is already highly respected in the prog world. If you’re in the know of what Charlie has put out music-wise, you can fully trust that Syncatto is going to rock your socks off; spoiler alert, it most definitely does.
As you can likely tell by now, Syncatto is an instrumental progressive metal/rock project, but not like one you’ve quite heard before. His newest effort, A Place to Breathe, expands on that sound by infusing many Latin and neo-classical influences into the djent sound that we’ve grown to love. Unlike similar albums within the genre, Syncatto doesn’t only focus on the self-indulgent mish mash of sweeps, arpeggios, and tapping of the guitar (it certainly has its moments here and there), as there are plenty of additional instrumental contributions, such as the piano and violin, that make this a truly lively and colorful musical experience. In addition, there is as much of an emphasis on the rhythm section as there is on the lead melodies, which ultimately leads to stronger and more enjoyable songs overall.
Songs like “Let Us Dance”, “Get It!”, and “Möbius” heavily focus on that Spanish/flamenco vibe whereas others, such as “Up & Down”, are more of your fast-paced guitar noodling. “Let Us Dance” is one of the highlight tracks that features a vibrant and mesmerizing piano and violin solo that elevates the piece to another level. The inclusion of these additional instruments isn’t a one-time thing either, as they appear throughout several tracks on A Place to Breathe. The closing track, “Möbius”, is one that fully embraces the flamenco spirit and transforms it into an absolutely filthy track that’ll leave your neck sore for days. A Place to Breathe definitely gives you your fill of pure instrumental savagery while also allowing you to experience a whole new musical world all at once.
Most artists within this subgenre are riddled with too much instrumental wankery that goes nowhere, but Syncatto doesn’t suffer from that at all and it couldn’t be clearer on A Place to Breathe. You’ll find plenty of passages in which Charlie flexes his insane skills as a guitarist, but he also definitely showcases his songwriting prowess with how varied these songs are. He knows when to go all out but also when to hold back and I find that very important in effectively composing music. Aside from all the ridiculous guitar melodies and rhythms, there are plenty of special moments and embellishments throughout the album that keep this an enjoyable and memorable listen through and through. You’re bound to have these tunes stuck in your head, that I can guarantee you.
Just when I thought I was getting bored of the genre, Syncatto found a way pull me back in. This refreshing take on instrumental progressive metal masterfully blends Latin and neo-classical influences to create something unlike you’ve heard before. A Place to Breathe is as catchy as it is technical, exotic as it is familiar, and audacious as it is clever. As much as I hate to admit it, I have a feeling that A Place to Breathe is going to fly under the radar. I couldn’t sit idly by and let that happen so I hope this review helps Syncatto get some of the recognition that they deserve.