Cynic announce new album 'Ascension Codes', debut lead single
Official press release:
Progressive rock legend Cynic will be releasing its highly-anticipated new full-length, Ascension Codes, on November 26 via Season of Mist. Cynic's Ascension Codes is a remarkably far-reaching work, and if nothing else, a clear indication that they have landed in a place of mastery. The album, paradoxically, acts as both swan song and rebirth. The band is now sharing the mind-bending first single, "Mythical Serpents," which can be heard at this location:
Track six, "Mythical Serpents," is imbued with propellant adventure, exciting peaks and valleys that tug at the heart while its mathematical sequences challenge the head in a dizzying push/pull dynamic. It's that quintessential Cynic approach of kaleidoscopic intensity and mannered discipline. Ascension Codes was mixed and co-produced by Warren Riker, who worked with Aeon Spoke, Cynic in the Traced in Air era and mixed Paul Masvidal's solo acoustic trilogy.
Cynic mastermind Paul Masivdal comments: "I invite you to sit back, close your eyes, and listen to 'Mythical Serpents' as a fully realized piece of music. No phones or screens necessary, just the power of sound communicating directly into the ears of your heart. In the coming weeks, Cynic will be revealing further details on the constellation that is 'Ascension Codes', including a 'Mythical Serpents' animated video, featuring the artwork of Martina Hoffmann and Robert Venosa. Stay tuned."
Michael Berberian, president and founder of Season of Mist, adds: "I have, by now, released close to one thousand albums. None have been more dramatic, none have even been more difficult than this one. I can't listen to Ascension Codes without goosebumps, a mixed feeling of pride – because it's a musical milestone, but it also contains a lingering layer of sadness. I hear Paul's pain on this record. I can feel it, I can touch it. But it's transcended. 'Art is to console those who are broken by life,' said Van Gogh. Here is a demonstration of that."
The year 2020 will go down in history as a tremendously difficult time for the global human population. For the Cynic family, the struggle was not restricted to a pandemic. It was two utterly senseless losses that threw the band's immediate concerns into the background: the premature deaths of drummer Sean Reinert in January, at age 48, and bassist Sean Malone in December, at age 50, were shocking and unthinkable.
Reinert, a founding Cynic member since formation in 1988, was highly influential to a multitude of young drummers. His work on 1993's Focus and Death's watershed 1991 album, Human, found him sculpting extreme technical metal with a jazz fusion-inspired approach. Now taken for granted, that approach to the instrument and the genre was undoubtedly pioneered in large part by Reinert. Though parting with Cynic in 2015, his imprint on Cynic is inescapable.
The death of Sean Malone dealt another horrible layer of tragedy to Cynic's 2020. In his many years with the band, Malone's virtuoso playing meshed intuitively with Reinert's. Together they formed a nucleus of kinetic, highly capable rhythmic dexterity that fueled Cynic's celestial aims.
One of these deaths would have seemed unimaginable by itself. Both of them, in the same year, nearly broke surviving member Paul Masvidal. But the seeds of a fourth Cynic full-length existed long before the deaths, and the guitarist, through a haze of grief and disbelief, pushed forward. "I wanted to make this record right after Kindly Bent to Free Us," says Masvidal. "I was raring to go, hyper-creative, in this total flow state. And then it all imploded."
But how to replace Sean Malone on bass? Masvidal's answer: don't even try. The lines of bass notes heard throughout Ascension Codes are performed on bass synthesizer by keyboardist Dave Mackay. A British pianist, writer, producer and Moog/vintage synth enthusiast, Mackay has toured with everyone from Art Garfunkel to Plini (the latter providing the initial introduction between Mackay and Masvidal). Based in Los Angeles and London, Mackay's work is sensitive to Malone's touch, while also adding a throbbing intensity that offers Cynic new low-end possibilities. "He's got a vast jazz harmonic vocabulary," notes Masvidal, "which is what's needed in the context of Cynic's music, especially for bass lines. I knew that I could never replace Malone. Anyone I would find would be expected to play like him, and that's not fair to another musician. And things were too fresh for me with the loss of Malone, so I had to go somewhere new. With Mackay, I heard his groovy left-hand approach, and how musical he was across the board having played with a variety of musicians and styles. I realized he would bring something fresh to the table, and he provided a space for me to start again with a completely different instrument and forgo any traditional ideas I had about what Cynic bass lines should sound like.
"Ultimately Mackay delivered above and beyond, with a real awareness of a bass player's role in a progressive trio context. First, by holding down the harmony and being "in the pocket," while also creating an independent and dynamic voice within that space. Mackay has a rare combination of skills and the vibe he locked into with Lynch with sounds like a rhythm section from the future. Plus, his Moog synth tone offers a low-end depth that's never been heard in our recordings."
On December 5, 2019, Dave Mackay shared the stage with Paul Masvidal for a performance of the guitarist's solo material. On bass that evening was Sean Malone. After the gig, Malone told Masvidal, "We should bring Mackay in for the new record."
Ascension Codes track listing:
02. The Winged Ones
04. Elements and their Inhabitants
06. Mythical Serpents
07. Sha48*8. 6th Dimensional Archetype
09. DNA Activation Template
11. Architects of Consciousness
15. In a Multiverse Where Atoms Sing
17. Diamond Light Body
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I really wanted to like this. Sounds like a rough demo.