Metropole Orkest and Snarky Puppy: Sylva

Metropole Orkest and Snarky Puppy deliver an electrifying, energetic genre-bending album with Sylva.

Metropole Orkest and Snarky Puppy


Label: Impulse! / UMC
US Release Date: 2015-05-26
UK Release Date: 2015-04-20
Artist website

When two different worlds amalgamate as one, the possibilities are endless. In the case of Dutch jazz/pop orchestra Metropole Orkest and New York jazz/rock collective Snarky Puppy, the two collectives aren't the most extreme contrasts of one another, but are definitely two separate entities. When they combine forces, they make one truly enthralling album, Sylva. Sylva is an album that was built for the eclectic music lover – there are multiple styles and stylistic influences in play throughout its versatile course. It is this musical restlessness, not to mention the accomplished musicians themselves that make Sylva among the most notable albums of 2015 regardless of genre.

"Sintra" kicks off Sylva 'classically' with the dramatic strings of the Metropole Orkest building intensity, setting the tone. After the percolation occurs, "Sintra" asserts its jazzier persona, with Latin groove anchoring things down. "Sintra" is strictly orchestral-based jazz, proving to be the most structured song of the album sans improvised solos. Even though its scored nature doesn't allow for much freedom, "Sintra" foreshadows the illustrious ride that is to commence.

"Flight" is much looser than "Sintra", spreading its wings and flying beyond the notes on the page. The funkier side of Snarky Puppy – the 'snarky' persona – begins to reveal itself as the song progresses. Organ adds a soulful dimension behind a gritty saxophone solo, characterized by its cracks and unfettered emotion. Later on, electric piano and organ trade solos, keeping the momentum piping hot. What's even more amazing is that as strong as "Flight" is, the full realization of Sylva has yet to be fully unleashed.

The funky, Dixieland-infused trombone/percussion combination at the start of the infectious "Atchafalaya" gives the album one of its most elite moments. Suitably, there's a trombone solo over the foot-tapping groove that screams Pentecostal church service. Raucous trombone shifts to slick shedding electric guitar, bringing more of a rock/fusion jazz sensibility. Showcasing an affinity for stylistic shifts, by the close of "Atchafalya", following a brief, lush orchestral section to contrast the ruckus Dixieland/fusion, impressive, yet dizzying lines conclude the valedictory cut to rousing applause from the live audience.

"The Curtain" doesn’t 'kill the vibe' in the least. The Metropole Orkest shine at the beginning as the majority of the first minute could be excerpted from the slower movement of a symphony. Assertive, pummeling drums change the tide, while mixed meter brilliantly plays the fine line between modern classical and jazz. Once the soloing begins via trumpet, the music is poised initially, before beginning to pull away and soaring to dramatic heights. The scored portions coupled with the improvisatory elements work stunning throughout, often serving as inspiration for the freer, improvised facets. Among the coolest portions of "The Curtain" are the trombone driven, off-kilter funk section that roars like a lion and the killer keyboard solo. Then throw in the modern era classically driven piano solo for good measure and "The Curtain" is another magnificent piece of art.

"Gretel" clocks in much more conservatively than "Curtain", but there's still ample musical goodness – those biting trombones and that irresistible groove! The upper strings of "Gretel" tug at your heartstrings, drenched in emotion, while the taste of organ can't be discounted, particularly towards the end. The crescendos within "Gretel" are among the most dynamic and potent of the effort, growing infinitely.

"The Clearing" concludes Sylva as terrifically as it began. Instantly, there are two opposing styles – orchestral/classical against rock simulated by the guitar. The mix is breathtaking to say the least. Only after two and half-minutes in does the jazz assert itself, taking great care to pacing. Throughout the 20-minute joint, Metropole Orkest and Snarky Puppy take the listener on multiple trips. With each listen, it's easy to hear something new not previously heard before.

In essence, Sylva provides something that so many modern albums don't – it shows the full range of possibilities that music can offer to both musicians themselves as well as the fans. Sylva excels in both its subtlest and its most ornate moments, which is a testament to its soundness and ultimately its exceptionalness. Neither Metropole Orkest or Snarky Puppy misses the mark here – they simply play the music the way that music should be played Sylva is spirited and maybe more importantly, it restores faith to those who thought the originality in music had slipped, never to be reclaimed.





12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.


Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."


David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.


On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.


Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.


Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.


Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."


How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.