Based in London’s East End (and not north of the border as many books subsequently suggested), acid-folkies Dennis Homes, nose-flute performer Jim Fraser and Leslie Cook were into Roman and Greek mythology; Dennis had cut his proverbial teeth playing guitar for Henri And His Hobo Amigos (aka Henry Buckle) on a one-off Island records 45, `Tonopah’, early in ‘68. Advertising through Melody Maker and inspired by DONOVAN, The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND and jazz, the trio formed summer 1968, taking their altered name from a Cannonball Adderley number (`Synaesthesia’).
After a lengthy period of rehearsals and supporting gigs to EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND, LIVERPOOL SCENE, BRIDGET ST. JOHN, PRINCIPAL EDWARDS MAGIC THEATRE and The BONZOS, the trio (who signed to R.C.A.) emerged from the studio with their debut LP.
SYNANTHESIA (1969) {*8} combined psychedelic and quasi-classical with elements of folk-rock and jazz, unique in some ways, in debt to Messrs WILLIAMSON, HERON and JANSCH in others (a Celtic connection of sorts?). Gentle, pastel but rich in texture, opener `Minerva’ kicked off the set in fine fettle (ditto `Morpheus’, also written by Homes), while Cook’s song `Peek Strangely And Worried Evening’ sounded like an outtake from `5,000 Spirits’ or `Gift From A Flower…’. Penned by Cook and his guitar-playing friend Richard Carlton, `Trafalgar Square’ was an unlikely meeting of BERT JANSCH and JETHRO TULL, while the 6-minute `The Tale Of The Spider And The Fly’ matched anything DONOVAN could provide at the time. Every track seems to display a magical and playful aspect, best example being `Rolling And Tumbling’, another penned by Cook & Carlton. If there was any difficulty with the set, it was the overworked `Mnemosyne’, the prog-like `Aurora’, and their final stab at being The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND: the poignant `Just As The Curtain Finally Falls’.
The subsequent turn of the decade saw only one further SYNANTHESIA song emerge, the excellent `Shifting Sands’ appearing on a Folk V/A compilation LP, `49 Greek Street’, in July 1970. With the LP a much sought-after collector’s item (worthy of £100 or more), the set was re-issued on CD in 2005 by the Sunbeam imprint, adding their aforementioned finale as a bonus track.
© MC Strong/MCS 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Nov2016

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