Syclops: I've Got My Eye On You

Precious little info's available about Syclops and its I've Got My Eye On You full-length beyond the names of band members Sven Kortehisto (keyboards, electronics), Hanna Sarkari (bass, keyboards, electronics), and Jukka Kantonen (drums, percussion, drum programming); apparently the trio doesn't want to encumber the listener's experience of its music with superfluities (in Kantonen's own words, “We don't like to talk much; even when we are together, we are often silent and communicate by doing things like making food, or chopping wood, or hanging out together in our sauna.”). C'est la vie: what matters is music not bios, so let's cut to the chase.

The hour-long set offers a broad stylistic range with everything from jazz-inflected improvs to clubby house and fiery electro. The trio augments its electronic sounds with a punchy and spontaneous live feel primarily through the use of acoustic drums and percussion instruments (congas, cowbell). “Nelson's Back,” for example, gets its colossal kick from the slamming funk groove the natural drumming brings to its jazzy, piano-based swing, while “Naoka's F” merges the natural sounds of Latin percussion, acoustic bass, and organ with acid-soaked synthesizers; live drumming also helps elevate the snappy funk-house of “Mom, the Video Broke.” The disc's go-to tracks include the clubby deep house cut “5 Out,” where acoustic bass and piano trade solos during the tune's second half, and “Where's Jason's K,” a dark and squiggly electro mix of drum machines, cowbells, and burbling synthesizers.

On the down side, Syclops exhibits a weakness for Keith Emerson-styled Moog soloing that occasionally threatens to get out of hand and the spontaneous approach can sometimes cross over into aimlessness (“The Fly” is little more than a jam dominated by a blustery drumming and hot-wired synth squeals). Even so, I've Got My Eye On You's oft-unpredictable sound and eruptive attack remains generally appealing enough.

June 2008