CD Review: Hazelrigg Brothers, Synchronicity.

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Recently the Hazelrigg Brothers’ released their latest endeavor, a soulful rendition of The Police’s iconic album, Synchronicity. Pianist George Hazelrigg once again joins forces with his brother and bassist Geoff Hazelrigg along with drummer John O’Reilly Jr, to pay tribute to the album’s 40th anniversary. Rooted in the cultural and political milieu of the early 1980s, Synchronicity profoundly influenced the Hazelrigg Brothers’ musical journey, a resonance that shaped their artistic trajectory until today.

This meticulously crafted album, also titled Synchronicity, is an interpretation of the album by The Police and offers an audiophile experience marked by the trio’s signature intensity and dynamism. This auditory gem was meticulously captured using two stereo microphones in a single room, employing DSD technology. The album was released on June 2, 2023 and is available on CD, and digital formats through Native DSD, accessible at Outer Marker Records. A in 180-gram vinyl (mastered from DSD) will be available in the near future. Notably, the track “Murder By Numbers” is exclusively  offered only on the digital versions.

The roots of this remarkable project extend back four decades to Princeton, NJ, where the Hazelrigg Brothers’ fervent enthusiasm for music was ignited by MTV. The striking visuals and opening notes of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” left an indelible mark on their young minds. A deep-seated connection to songs like “Synchronicity II” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger” ensued.

Reflecting on this connection, Geoff remembers, “The influence of those videos was significant, etching the album into our very beings.” George further amplifies this sentiment, sharing, “The raw energy of ‘Synchronicity I’ is captivating; that initial riff is exhilarating. Notably, my brother Geoff employed this very piece to test VLCs during Hazelrigg Industries’ nascent years.” It’s worth mentioning that beyond their musical pursuits, the Hazelrigg Brothers are the driving force behind Hazelrigg Industries, the renowned designers, and manufacturers of top-tier studio recording equipment, embraced by prominent artists, engineers, and producers across the globe.

The groundwork for this album began years ago when the Hazelrigg Brothers reimagined “Synchronicity II” in a recording from the nineties. This catalytic experience planted the seed for this ambitious project. George elaborates, “Our fascination with The Police has spanned many years. We toiled over the arrangement of ‘Miss Gradenko,’ undergoing numerous iterations before arriving at the version recorded on this record.”

Photo by Matt Genders

This album emanates from a place of reverence for the original masterpiece, seeking to commemorate its 40th anniversary. Geoff muses, “During my high school years, Synchronicity was a constant companion, a sentiment shared by many.” George concurs, emphasizing, “The album’s songs possess a resonance that’s universally acknowledged. Each track stands on its own merit, embodying the album’s enduring appeal.”

Now, let’s delve deeper into this musical voyage orchestrated by the Hazelrigg Brothers: “Synchronicity I” opens the album with a hypnotic allure, expertly balanced by the trio’s prowess in dynamic playing. There’s little doubt that it’s this use of dynamic range that is emblematic of the band’s signature style and adds a captivating dimension to the performance. I enjoyed “Mother”, the only blues on the album. This track seamlessly intertwines lyrical depth with instrumental finesse. This piece was a notable challenge, owing to its punk-inspired essence, yet the Hazelrigg Brothers masterfully captured its essence. “Synchronicity II” serves as a remarkable synthesis of preceding tracks, culminating in a sonic tapestry marked by controlled chaos. This composition showcases the trio’s sound design ingenuity.

In my opinion, one of the highlights of the album is “King of Pain” that offers a unique twist on the original. There’s a lot to unpack on this track and this makes it somewhat difficult describe with the written word. Suffice to say that the trio’s deft manipulation of sound texture culminates in a captivating auditory experience. In the press release George noted “That is the tune where we wind up sounding most like a jazz trio. By the time the outro hits, we’ve distressed the song completely.” I’d agree with this.

Also of note is “Tea in the Sahara” that stands as a testament to the Hazelrigg Brothers’ instrumental finesse, highlighting the delicate nuances of each instrument and their harmonious synergy. Speaking about this track George wrote in the press release “What “Tea in the Sahara” captures is how beautiful all the instruments in that room sound. It captures what is so phenomenal about that 1887 Steinway and just the massive size and tone of Geoff’s bass and the delicacy of that birch Gretsch kit, and how John approaches playing cymbals. It’s all just the delicate – impossibly quiet at times – detail, of just how fine those instruments are.”

In summary, the Hazelrigg Brothers’ interpretation of Synchronicity serves as a heartfelt homage to The Police’s seminal work. Their masterful musicianship, combined with an astute understanding of each track’s emotional depth, offers a fresh perspective while honoring the album’s legacy. Highly recommended.

George Hazelrigg, piano | Geoff Hazelrigg, bass | John O’Reilly Jr., drums

Track Listing:
Synchronicity I | Walking in your footsteps | O My God | Mother | Miss Gradenko | Synchronicity II | Every Breath You Take | King of Pain | Wrapped Around Your Finger | Tea in the Sahara | Murder by Numbers

Release Date: 15 June 2023
Format: LP | CD | digital download
Label: Outer Marker Records

Last modified: August 15, 2023