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Lymbyc Systym: Split Stones
Western Vinyl

That Split Stones is one extremely tight instrumental collection shouldn't come as a huge surprise—it is, after all, the latest production by the brothers Bell, Jared and Mike, who've been collaborating under the Lymbyc Systym name since 2004. At the same time, as those who grew up together often will, the siblings have put considerable geographical distance between them, with Jared in Brooklyn and Michael in Phoenix. But physical separation matters little these days when it comes to music production, and the distance separating them turns out to have been a creative boon, as Jared himself declares: “Growing up together our musical minds converged to function as one unit, which is great up to a point—but it can also be a recipe for compositional stagnancy. With two thousand miles between us, we're continuously experiencing things in different ways at the same time—the weather, the pace of our cities, our interior surroundings. We embrace this divergence. It keeps us sane, and the ideas fresh.”

Split Stones picks up where Symbolyst left off three years ago with another solid collection, this latest one ten multi-hued mini-epics that clock in at a breezy forty-two minutes. The opener “Generated Bodies” lands us immediately in familiar Lymbyc Systym territory when martial drum patterns open up a funky floodgate of iridescent synth patterns, wiry keyboard figures, and charging beats. Complex it might be, but the listener takes to its five-minute swirl with little effort whatsoever.

All of the album's songs were created using arpeggiators, something especially evident during the opening section of “Morning Flats” when their patterns are clearly audible. But rather than allowing the arpeggiators to lock the music into place, the brothers use them as midwives, so to speak, that help catalyze a particular composition into being. Hummable pop melodies sing throughout these vibrant, largely uptempo tunes, such that songs such as “Geometer” and “Pulses” lodge themselves within one's cranium and stay there until the next go-round refreshes the connection all over again. The title track also catches one's attention for the samples of the ‘80s body relaxation cassette (one apparently the Bells' mother used to play in the car when the boys were young) the duo worked into its downtempo framework. Not only does the speaker's instructional drawl tickle the ear, but so too do the song's head-nodding groove and sultry synthesizer sparkle.

There's a distinctly prog-like dimension at play in Lymbyc Systym's music, given the brothers' taste for compositional intricacy and synthesizers, but their widescreen prog-pop never feels weighted down when the tunes are so melodically engaging, energy-charged, and concise. Though the album title and cover image allude to the splitting apart of a single entity, Split Stones more reflects the creative uniting of a brotherly connection that won't be denied.

October 2015