Kyros are a London-based prog rock outfit dating back to 2009 through a number of phases, not least being previously known as Synaesthesia. The name change was for a variety of reasons but it marks the point at which they perhaps became a fully fledged “ensemble” of a band rather than a solo project of multi-instrumentalist and lead singer Adam Warne. They had previously released two albums, Synaesthesia in 2014 and Vox Humana in 2016. They’ve recently regrouped slightly with guitarist Sam Higgins departing, and the band signing up to White Star Records, the first fruits of this new direction being their forthcoming album Celexa Dreams, to be released on 19 June.
Kyros have always been known for producing a mix of Alt-Rock, Electronic Rock and Art Rock with heavy leanings towards Prog Rock. They’re also not afraid of taking influences from popular music with a heavy lean from the 80’s, 90’s and modern pop. The band cite Porcupine Tree, Kate Bush, Muse, Radiohead, Rush, CHVRCHES, The Dear Hunter, Duran Duran, Trevor Horn, IQ, Spock’s Beard and more as major influences – a real mixed bag! They’ve also paid their dues in live performances, supporting the likes of Marillion, IQ and a major tour with Spocks Beard.
Celexa Dreams is designed to take their songwriting and musical experimentation to an energetic new level, pushing the boundaries of eighties 80’s synth-pop by building in more modern post-prog. The album features a selection of ten “short stories”, each one worked around a different and quite thought-provoking story-line, including the emotional drudgery of doing a job you hate; a commentary on the dangers of toxic internet culture; the sad reality of loneliness and anonymity in modern society. Each slice is fed by personal experience and forms part of their collective make-up.
It’s a very impressive album, the variety of musical influences provides the listener with something new in each slice, with depth, maturity and a consistently high level of musicianship from all members of the band
First up is In Motion, heavily driven by 80’s percussive rhythms, very poppy and electronic, and ironically it is for me the weakest song on the album (too much like Howard Jones and his TOTP ilk!) Sorry Howard! Rumour follows, the first of their two new video singles, still sort of nostalgic for 80’s pop but interwoven with alt-rock.
In Vantablack comes next, at 14 minutes long a real ‘tour de force’ that for me is the highlight of the album. A nicely balanced composition of light and shade, changes of pace in much the same structural style as early Genesis, frontman man Adam Warne right up there with the quality of his Peter Gabriel-like vocals especially in the quieter section three-quarters in.
Phosphene is another highlight, an altogether slower, deliberate, track, almost an alt-rock ballad, minimal synth melodies, a lower tone to Adam’s vocals and a somehow darker back-beat from the band, power chords controlling the metre. Technology Killed the Kids III is then the album’s other epic, 10 minutes of slow-building commentary on the voluntary isolation created by internet culture. The manic vocals remind me of Punishment of Luxury in their lighter moments!
Sentry is then another slice of Genesis before the second video single, Two Frames Of Panic, which is back to the percussive electronica from the openers plus “added Muse” with cascading vocal melodies and bold and intense dynamics of composition.
And finally… a real surprise in Her Song Is Mine. This is soft, delicate, early Genesis again, I almost expected Adam to stop and exclaim “A flower?!” half-way through! But it’s lovely, an elegaic sign-off for an interesting, very varied, album.
The range of musical and compositional skill displayed by Kyros on this album is very impressive – Celexa Dreams has something for everyone. Kyros cannot be faulted for their breadth of vision and style, and Prog fans of all sorts will love this!