Snarky Puppy's 2015 Magnum Opus, 'Sylva' (with the Metropole Orkest) is coming in Atmos

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steelydave

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I've mentioned a few times over the years here that this is one of my favourite albums of the last ten years or so, mixing everything I love about '70s jazz, funk, fusion and progressive music into an amazing stew, and somehow pulling off the whole thing in front of a live audience.
When Sylva was originally released in 2015 it came out in various stereo configurations, LP, CD, and even CD+DVD but frustratingly only with a stereo audio track. I'm sure we've all done this with music we love that's available in stereo only, but every time I listened to it I imagined panning the instruments around my head, where I'd put the three guitarists, the three keyboard players, the drummer and two percussionists, and the whole orchestra.

I figured it was a pipe dream bordering on impossible that this would ever be revisited for surround given that it didn't get one at time of release, and also because of the fact that it was released when the band were signed to Impulse! (which is a division of UMG) as opposed to their other recordings, which the band controls themselves. But a couple of days ago, my Fitness Consigliere Michael @humprof alerted me to the fact that on their label website the band were promoting a new re-release of Sylva along with previously unreleased alternate versions of two songs.

The blurb promoting the re-release was intriguing:

--
The Alternate Take of Snarky Puppy’s song “The Curtain” is out now, along with the full live video on YouTube!

The single is taken from the re-release of their 2015 album, Sylva, coming next month, both digitally and with a new 12” vinyl! The re-release will include the 6 original tracks, remixed and remastered, along with alternate takes of “The Curtain” and “The Clearing.” This re-release comes upon the reclamation by GroundUP Music of the original masters and is a celebration of independent music!
--

Not only the fact that the band had reclaimed the masters from UMG, but also especially the part touting the release as being "remixed" - this got me thinking, in light of the fact that they just released their recent album Empire Central on both streaming and BluRay in Atmos, would they really go to all of the work to remix Sylva only in stereo?

A bit of searching and the answer was revealed, thanks to bandleader Michael League's instagram page - Sylva is getting a full Atmos remix by Nic Hard, the same engineer who did Empire Central:



Most exciting, I think are League's comments alongside the video: "Experiencing music in this setting (7.1.4), surrounded by twelve speakers, is so special. This is the third album I’ve worked on in Atmos, but it’s the first orchestral project, and I don’t know how I can go back to stereo…" (I think the three albums he's referring to are Empire Central, the Bokante side project, and now Sylva). I think we've all had that "I can never go back to stereo" moment - it's always fun and exciting for me to see another person, especially a great musician like that, have theirs.

I was going to embed a playlist of video of the entire album - which I've easily watched 50 times in the almost 10 years it's been on YouTube - but it appears that since the rights change from UMG to GroundUp has been taken down. All that's left is this trailer (and the alternate take of The Curtain, which isn't as good as the originally released one, but still interesting) but you can still find the entire album (sans video) on YouTube and any of your other favourite streaming services.

GroundUp says the remix will be released to streaming services on May 24th, so I think it's a safe presumption that the Atmos mix should go live at the same time, as this is what happened with Empire Central. ...but the further news is that even though there's no mention of any physical releases on their website, @humprof reached out to their label people on our behalf and they have assured us that they're currently working on a CD+BluRay version with the Atmos mix and though it won't launch with the vinyl and streaming versions, a release date should be announced shortly.

If you enjoyed Empire Central at all - and even if you didn't, or aren't familiar with the band - I can't recommend Sylva any more highly. I don't want to run down one thing in the service of promoting something else, but for me Empire Central is good, while Sylva is great - there aren't too many albums I'm comfortable with praising unreservedly, but this is one of them. An absolutely inspired set of songs with possibly the best iteration of the band (including keyboard wunderkind Cory Henry before he departed for a solo career) and now with an Atmos mix by the same people who did Empire Central, it's sure to be transcendent.
 
I've mentioned a few times over the years here that this is one of my favourite albums of the last ten years or so, mixing everything I love about '70s jazz, funk, fusion and progressive music into an amazing stew, and somehow pulling off the whole thing in front of a live audience.
When Sylva was originally released in 2015 it came out in various stereo configurations, LP, CD, and even CD+DVD but frustratingly only with a stereo audio track. I'm sure we've all done this with music we love that's available in stereo only, but every time I listened to it I imagined panning the instruments around my head, where I'd put the three guitarists, the three keyboard players, the drummer and two percussionists, and the whole orchestra.

I figured it was a pipe dream bordering on impossible that this would ever be revisited for surround given that it didn't get one at time of release, and also because of the fact that it was released when the band were signed to Impulse! (which is a division of UMG) as opposed to their other recordings, which the band controls themselves. But a couple of days ago, my Fitness Consigliere Michael @humprof alerted me to the fact that on their label website the band were promoting a new re-release of Sylva along with previously unreleased alternate versions of two songs.

The blurb promoting the re-release was intriguing:

--
The Alternate Take of Snarky Puppy’s song “The Curtain” is out now, along with the full live video on YouTube!

The single is taken from the re-release of their 2015 album, Sylva, coming next month, both digitally and with a new 12” vinyl! The re-release will include the 6 original tracks, remixed and remastered, along with alternate takes of “The Curtain” and “The Clearing.” This re-release comes upon the reclamation by GroundUP Music of the original masters and is a celebration of independent music!
--

Not only the fact that the band had reclaimed the masters from UMG, but also especially the part touting the release as being "remixed" - this got me thinking, in light of the fact that they just released their recent album Empire Central on both streaming and BluRay in Atmos, would they really go to all of the work to remix Sylva only in stereo?

A bit of searching and the answer was revealed, thanks to bandleader Michael League's instagram page - Sylva is getting a full Atmos remix by Nic Hard, the same engineer who did Empire Central:



Most exciting, I think are League's comments alongside the video: "Experiencing music in this setting (7.1.4), surrounded by twelve speakers, is so special. This is the third album I’ve worked on in Atmos, but it’s the first orchestral project, and I don’t know how I can go back to stereo…" (I think the three albums he's referring to are Empire Central, the Bokante side project, and now Sylva). I think we've all had that "I can never go back to stereo" moment - it's always fun and exciting for me to see another person, especially a great musician like that, have theirs.

I was going to embed a playlist of video of the entire album - which I've easily watched 50 times in the almost 10 years it's been on YouTube - but it appears that since the rights change from UMG to GroundUp has been taken down. All that's left is this trailer (and the alternate take of The Curtain, which isn't as good as the originally released one, but still interesting) but you can still find the entire album (sans video) on YouTube and any of your other favourite streaming services.

GroundUp says the remix will be released to streaming services on May 24th, so I think it's a safe presumption that the Atmos mix should go live at the same time, as this is what happened with Empire Central. ...but the further news is that even though there's no mention of any physical releases on their website, @humprof reached out to their label people on our behalf and they have assured us that they're currently working on a CD+BluRay version with the Atmos mix and though it won't launch with the vinyl and streaming versions, a release date should be announced shortly.

If you enjoyed Empire Central at all - and even if you didn't, or aren't familiar with the band - I can't recommend Sylva any more highly. I don't want to run down one thing in the service of promoting something else, but for me Empire Central is good, while Sylva is great - there aren't too many albums I'm comfortable with praising unreservedly, but this is one of them. An absolutely inspired set of songs with possibly the best iteration of the band (including keyboard wunderkind Cory Henry before he departed for a solo career) and now with an Atmos mix by the same people who did Empire Central, it's sure to be transcendent.

Do you know if they have a European outlet yet?

Edit: Could they put their Atmos releases on IAA? That gets round the region specific BDs as per the last album
 
Do you know if they have a European outlet yet?

Edit: Could they put their Atmos releases on IAA? That gets round the region specific BDs as per the last album

The BluRay hasn't even been officially announced yet so I have no idea. As for IAA that's a @sjcorne question though I would be happy to partner with him on it in any capacity if there's something I can do to help.
 
Edit: Could they put their Atmos releases on IAA? That gets round the region specific BDs as per the last album
As for IAA that's a @sjcorne question though I would be happy to partner with him on it in any capacity if there's something I can do to help.
We approached GroundUP back when Empire Central first came out on streaming in Fall '22 (had no idea a Blu-Ray was in the works at the time). There was some email back-and-forth, but it never amounted to anything. I'll try my contact there again and see if we can work something out.
 
This is awesome news. I have Sylva on DVD but of course would love a blu-ray with Atmos to replace it. Fantastic show, just as much of a treat visually as it is in terms of the music. There is a very cool "making of" video on the DVD which shows how they transform the venue from basically an empty warehouse to the set used in the filming. Band and orchestra all wearing white head-to-toe and the audience basically interspersed within the stage set. Very creative. Musically stunning, as noted above. I just saw them live about 10 days ago, and while not quite as sprawling a show as on the video, still awesome.

Picture from the Sylva show:
1713912863404.png


Picture from the show I saw:
1713912963128.jpeg
 
Buy one for $24.98 and I'll issue you with a handmade "doing the right thing by supporting an independent band releasing immersive music on a physical format" coupon, redeemable for one round of applause from me at any time in the next 12 months.
 
Buy one for $24.98 and I'll issue you with a handmade "doing the right thing by supporting an independent band releasing immersive music on a physical format" coupon, redeemable for one round of applause from me at any time in the next 12 months.
Done! let's hear it for me! ;)
 
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