Sunday, February 19, 2006

Syrinx – “Syrinx” [True North Records. 1970]/”Long Lost Relatives” [True North Records 1971]

I was just a kid at the time, but I remember a show called “Here Comes the Seventies” on Canadian TV. I can’t say that I remember much about the show except that it featured ‘future shock’type stories on what we could look forward to in that forthcoming magical (ahem) decade. What stands out most clearly in my mind was the opening and closing credits. The closing credits featured a nude woman walking into the ocean and the opener had an unusual band performing the show’s theme. The unusual band was called Syrinx.

Syrinx featured John Mills-Cockell on Arp and Moog synthesizers and keyboards (previously of the electro-acoustic outfit Intersystems), Doug Pringle on sax, guiro, bongos, and bells and Alan Wells on congas, tympanis, gong and tambourine. The odd combination of instrumentation ensured that the band sounded like few others, then or now. What they did manage to create was an exotic instrumental music that was both melodic and adventurous.

“Syrinx” was a strong debut which, although marred by a murky production, featured memorable soundscapes of pulsating synths and acoustic instrumentation in free-flight, just give a listen to “Melina’s Torch” or “Hollywood Dream Trip” and you’ll see what I mean.

“Long Lost Relatives” is however the masterpiece: a complete success from beginning to end. The band had expanded the template with the addition of a string section and a small choir for vocals on a couple of cuts. The high point for me is “Tillicum” (the theme for "Here Comes the Seventies") which is one minute and fifty-four seconds of moog pop bliss. That and “Aurora Spinray” have made their way on more than one mix tape of mine.

The LPs haven’t been rediscovered by a new generation of music fans and consequently can be found for only a few dollars at most. So, act now before their material starts appearing on rare groove collections.

A couple of final notes: Syrinx are often listed as being progressive rock or a psych band, of which they are neither. So if you buy the albums expecting the 13th Floor Elevators or (god forbid) Yes, you will be very disappointed. However if you enjoy Popol Vuh, Yatha Sidhra, The Third Ear Band or Tuxedomoon you’ll marvel how you might have missed this group in the first place.

Syrinx is a name that was been used more than once. My memory tells me that there was a string quartet who used the name, as well as a group who recorded an LP called “Pan Pipe Explosion”. These are not the Syrinx I’m talking about.

Some discographies include Mills-Cockell’s solo albums as Syrinx titles. Be aware that “Heartbeat”, “A Third Testament” and “Gateway” have their moments but are somewhat uneven. By all means, buy them if you see them, but they are not the place to start in my opinion.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No good if we can't download them now is it ????????

12:16 AM  
Blogger mondobongos said...

Oh my. You might have to go an buy the records!

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Very astute remarks. This band was so far ahead of the curve they were long gone over the horizon. Alan Wells' percussion has powerful Middle-Eastern influences, as do some of the sax scales used. Brilliant, amazing stuff. It shoudl be re-released, True North still exists - as do the three gentlemen in quesstion; MIll-sCockell lives on a BC Gurlf Island, Pringle runs a multimedia/web co. in Toronto, and Wells is still a professional musician I believe in Toronto. Long live Srinx!

10:58 AM  
Blogger mondobongos said...

Thanks for the comments Mike. I tried emailing True North a couple of months ago inquiring about a possible Syrinx reissue. They never got back to me.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just received this e-mail response on Feb. 13, 2008.

Sorry about the delay. I am taking over John's CD information. We are issuing copies of "Long Lost Relatives" that have been digitized and can send you one for $15 (Cn), plus $5 shipping.

If you are interested you can send cheque or money order to John Mills-Cockell, Site 156, C21, Bowser, British Columbia, Canada

There should be no delays after this, John has been away on new projects, so I will be able to handle work for him.

thank you

Jean Wells

12:45 PM  
Blogger Guy Michael said...

Hi gordon, is that the only way It's available?

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Monart said...

John Mills-Cockell also created a more recent (2004), superb work recorded on CD: "Concerto of Deliverance". Info at

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Beotuque said...

John MiLLs~Cockell doesn't seem to be much concerned with "his HUGE fan club, he's issued rare gems i purchased on Vynils LavishLy produced, (with ThicK and thoroughly documented booklets that my overloaded memory cannot even recall the title of at this moment, Sorry !!) and then another one less inspired aLbum, more technosynthetised afterwards but withnonetheless and a piece from Long Lost ReLatives revisited a few masterstrokes. There must be other stuff he made solo or conjointly But True North, to say the least never were not much aggressive in the mediatic scene or marketpLaCe, so be them.
Same thing with another gigantic artist , Bruce Coburn, who had to contract elsewhere to get more efficient exposure.
WeLL at least almost 40 years later these treasures can be retrieved from the dusty vaults of onLiVion and spinned back to life for the benefit of this KoYaaNisqatsic WorLd ?
i propose to make a group of aficionados on FaceBuuK~thang see how many veterans jump in there and THEN adressthe Maestro directLy and offer Him a more dynamic exposure beaconing tactic for his Most in§piring WoRks
we, his apPreciators, REALLY should ring the BeLL cause it MUST been spread around this Kind of HyperStuff; De acCuerdo, aNyoNes?

"jEn paQet " on faceBook, quebec city
Lettuce do this or better, your collaborator, BeoTuque ?

5:48 AM  
Anonymous beoTuQue said...

Sorry i did not recall my real URL i do not bLog very often these years..

jEn paQet {FaCe~B00Ker}
siriusLy SyRinx & vanDerGraaf nut

,...···· ,.,..

Thanx for your time and eXcellent "sleuthManSiP" seNor MondobonGos

5:56 AM  
Blogger Liberte said... Syrinx opening music "Here comes the seventies"

7:04 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Locations of visitors to this page