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Snarky Puppy, Metropole Orkest Debut Album 'Sylva' [REVIEW]

by Mike Greenblatt   Jul 29, 2015 00:30 AM EDT

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Alleged puppy farm in Queensland scattered with dead corpses

An instrumental collective out of the University Of North Texas for the last 11 years led by composer, producer and bassist Michael League, Snarky Puppy's major label debut, Sylva, is an ambitious departure from its usual fusion. Released through Impulse!/Universal Music Classics, the Snarky 12 play with Holland's Metropol Orkest, a 63-piece symphony orchestra, whose intros and outros to the six elongated tracks brings a sophisticated and cinematic feel to the proceedings.

It's an impressive package, with cover art by Miraphora Mina and Minalima Design (graphic artists known for their work on the Harry Potter films) plus a DVD with live performances of all six pieces and a 20-minute behind-the-scenes featurette.

Even if you don't connect with the idea that League wrote each movement as an ode to a different forest, the music still stands on its own merit. Dig a little deeper and you'll find that the mountain woods of Portugal and the California Redwoods provide inspiration; as do the fairytale forests from childhood daydreams. To pound this point home, the band spent two Netherlands nights with 300 people seated amongst the 75 musicians in a room made to look like a forest (sculpted out of metal and wood by Dutch artists). The audience wore headphones to ensure high sound quality.

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