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""Sinch" review"

STRANGE this art rock movement. If only because the term itself seems to be redundant and relevant at the same time, encompassing all manner of disconnected bands from Tool to Cave In; when in doubt, it's 'art', OK?

Pennsylvanians Sinch have already been so termed, because their music owes something to Tool. However it has more in common with the glory days of the grunge era a decade ago, offering insights close to Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains. And in this respect it's more of a revival album than anything else.

Sinch have been on the scene a while - they released their debut album 'The Strychnine' in 1996, just as the first grunge wave had effectively blown itself out - but it's with this self-titled effort that they've come of age. To put it into perspective, this is yet another indication that grunge is about to make a massive comeback - and that there are new heroes ready to step into the shoes of the immortals.

Produced by Malcolm Springer (with an involvement from Rival Schools' Walter Schreifels), 'Sinch' has an air of authority and belief from the moment 'To Die In Fall' comes into focus. Jamie Stern's voice has that essential downbeat quality of angst, but certainly offers more than a passing imitation of Staley or Vedder, and he's clearly helped by some superb guitar work courtesy of Tony Lannutti. Listen to 'The Silent Acquiescence Of Millions' or 'Seven' and you'll hear a band comfortable with their roots, yet offering a growth beyond those influences.

Unlike, say, Creed who are definitely locked in a retro cycle, Sinch are a band looking to the future. And when the grunge revival gathers momentum in the coming months they will be well placed to take it to another level. A future classic? Very possibly. - Metal Hammer

"Central Pennsylvania's Sinch rocks the 105.7 XLX 5 concert"

Guitarist Tony Lannutti and the rest of the guys from Doylestown's Sinch rocked the stage at 105.7 The X's XLX 5 concert in Lancaster last Saturday.

Sinch just finished a tour with fellow hard-rockers Stone Sour and Chevelle, but Lannutti said the band was still geared up for The X's show. "The radio shows are usually real cool," he said. "The station is really into our album, and they asked us to play and we thought it would be a great show."

Sinch are real, genuine guys who just do their own thing musically and don't try to be like anyone else. They also put on a great show with unique audio and video effects provided by their one-of-a-kind ocular noise machine.

Their self-titled Roadrunner Records debut album, which is out now, provides a refreshing break from the typical radio rock sound.

Along with Sinch and Trapt, The Exies, Stereomud and Trust Company also brought the house down into the early hours of Sunday morning.

- Hershey Chronicle

"Merging Rock Music and Multimedia: It's a Sinch"

Twenty-first century music fans, reared on MTV and its successors, have come to expect dynamic visuals along with music, whether they're watching TV or attending live concerts. And, if it's something they've never seen before, well, so much the better.

Multimedia performance artist Jay Smith understood the power of combining compelling visual media with original, innovative music. Whether performing solo at gallery shows or art installations, or collaborating with friends on stage, Smith, a graduate of Philadelphia�s University of the Arts, hoped to someday expose his unique style of video-based performance art to a broader audience.

Multimedia Jamming
That occasion came after he and his long-time buddies, musicians Tony Lannutti and Jamie Stem, started jamming together in local clubs as an experiment. "It was kind of like improv electronic music, video and multimedia jazz, experimenting to see what would happen," says Smith. At that time, Lannutti and Stem were members of Sinch, a rock quartet formed in 1994.

"When I go out to shows, I get bored," Stem told Philadelphia Weekly in a recent interview. "We thought, 'Why not add a visual element to the show and have it be played onstage?'" So in 2001, the same year Sinch signed a recording contract with Roadrunner Records, Smith joined the band.

A Viditar Virtuoso
What Smith brought to the party was his virtuosity on the Viditar -- a multimedia instrument he invented and patented. The Viditar lets him weave a wide range of custom video elements and special effects into the band's performances in real time. With its guitar-shaped Lucite frame supporting a myriad of switches, sliders, toggles and buttons, a video screen and a natty strip of green neon around it perimeter, Smith's Viditar almost resembles a futuristic sitar, with its electronic innards clearly on display.

Instead of connecting the Viditar to an amplifier, Smith plugs it directly into the FireWire port of his 800 MHz PowerBook G4 which he brings onstage with him. While the band plays, he triggers videos using buttons on the Viditar neck, which call up any of 128 individual QuickTime files per song. Smith also adds real-time effects to the videos using the Viditar's hardware controllers.

"I can get a lumakey effect, kaleidoscope effect, make the videos faster or bigger, scrubbing them back and forth like a DJ does to a record," he explains. "I can even take live feeds and manipulate them in real time using a pedal I plug into the Viditar. Through FireWire, I can hit the pedal and that will switch to the live feed, grabbing it in real time. The possibilities are endless."

So how does Smith know which button triggers the exact video he wants? -- Practice. It's just like any instrument. I can look at a pianist and ask him, how do you know what notes you're playing? It just takes a lot of practicing."

Viditar to the Max
To create the custom software needed to interface with the Viditar, Smith worked with independent programmer Peter Nyboer, who used Cycling 74's Max, an object-oriented multimedia programming environment. "What it basically lets me do is manipulate QuickTime objects in real time," says Smith.

To project the images during the concert, Smith connects a video distributor to the Video Out port on the PowerBook to hook up two large-screen TVs and a video projector with an 8-foot screen.

Making the Video
Each video Smith uses during his show is a mini art film of his own creation. "What I do is create short QuickTime movies, ten seconds or less," he explains. "I use a Canon Mini-DV camera, the Elura. I start by filming various things, from my own narrative stuff to just general observations -- filming things in public, filming news, taking stuff from the public domain. Tony, who is our guitarist, does some modeling and 3D animation and so I'll take that and mix it in with my work.

"I capture everything through FireWire onto my PowerBook and edit it with Final Cut Pro. I store everything on an external hard drive, do my editing on the external drive. Then I'll bring the files onto my computer once they're compressed. I use [Discreet] Media Cleaner to compress files; it's the lowest compression I can get. Each file is under 1 MB, so they're very small."

Audio Flexibility
Smith uses the Viditar primarily for video experiences, but he also incorporates audio samples into some of his QuickTime movies. "I'll include audio within the video, so I'll have either spoken word stuff, or just someone talking," he says.

Because the Viditar can control straight audio samples as well as video, Smith says he could play the Viditar as an audio synthesizer if he wanted to -- something he's done in recordings but not yet used on stage.

A New Dimension
As video makes an increasingly important contribution to a contemporary band's identity, some would argue it's already as defining as song lyrics, melodies, or the performers themselves. Yet in so many cases, t -

"'Viditar' offers feast for music lovers' eyes"

As a member of the hard-rock band Sinch, Jay Smith gets to do a lot of improvising on stage.

That wouldn't be surprising, except he doesn't play a musical instrument. He plays an invention of his called a Viditar, which, when plugged into a PowerBook, allows him to call up and manipulate video files. The resulting output is projected onto an 8-foot screen behind the band while it plays.

Smith came up with the instrument while he was a student at the University of the Arts, from which he graduated last May. The school awarded him a Presidential Scholarship for his creation. Smith has patented the Viditar and would like to produce and sell a line of video instruments.

"The amount of e-mails I get a day from people wanting them is just absurd," he said.

Smith, who, like the rest of his bandmates, hails from Doylestown, began his college career majoring in film, but learned he wanted to do something else. "I didn't like making film. I just liked manipulating images," he said.

After switching majors to multimedia, he began thinking about ways to do that and came up with the Editar, an experimental, wooden version of the Viditar.

The Viditar is an editing console that Smith built in the shape of a guitar because he thought it would look cool. He could have built it in any shape and plans to have a variety of shapes in the line of video instruments he hopes to market.

The Viditar is made of transparent Lucite with three rows of buttons on its neck and knobs and sliders on its body. Used in conjunction with a PowerBook, the buttons allow Smith to select a folder of files he wants to manipulate and pick individual files from the folder. The knobs and sliders allow him to manipulate the video image produced by the file he has open.

The files are QuickTime movies of 10 or fewer seconds made by Smith. He has a folder of 128 QuickTime files for each song his band performs, which gives him about 1,000 files to use in a 30- to 45-minute set. He also can use a foot pedal to switch to real-time video feeds.

Smith worked with a computer programmer named Peter Nyboer to devise the software that tells him what he's doing with the Viditar.

"I'm slowly building a group of people who are hopefully going to go in on [the line of video instruments] with me," he said.

Smith began playing the instruments he developed by himself. Eventually, he told Sinch, which is made up of longtime friends of his, about them, and he and the group's vocalist, Jamie Stem, and guitarist, Tony Lannutti, started jamming together in clubs to see what kind of reaction they'd get.

His reward has been a lot of hard work. Sinch recently completed a tour in which it performed five to seven nights a week for six months.

Although Smith wants to start a business based on the Viditar, he doesn't want to run it. "I just want to keep performing and creating," he said. - Philadelphia Business Journal

"Brothers of Invention"

Local hard-rock band Sinch has a major label debut and something you've never seen before.


At the risk of sounding like a publicist, you have to see hard-rock quintet Sinch perform live to get the whole picture.

They've got this thing--actually, band member Jay Smith has the thing. It's a see-through, guitar-shaped invention called the Ocular Noise Machine. He plays it along with the music to provide customized video images, twisted visual effects and audio samples that turn the band's brainy hard-rock thump into a multimedia sensory assault.

The instrument itself--a utilitarian gizmo with visible guts (an army of wires and switches)--is called the Viditar. The Viditar is run into a laptop that feeds the images--anything from CNN footage and old government films to trippy color collages--onto video screens. When played with the music, it becomes the Ocular Noise Machine.

Confused? You should be. It took several detailed explanations and a demonstration for this writer to understand the purpose of the contraption, and that it doesn't really make noise, per se.

"It's visual noise--you know, ocular, of the eye," says Smith, who recently graduated from University of the Arts and holds a patent on the ONM.

"Like any new thing, people might not understand it right away. 'What's that clear thing he's got? I don't understand.' And then halfway through the show you'll see them pointing at it and then pointing at the screen and saying, 'Oh, now I get it.' Some people actually say, 'Man, that sounded great,' and I'll say, 'No, it didn't sound like anything!'"

Smith and his Ocular Noise Machine joined Sinch late last year after they signed a deal with Roadrunner Records and recorded their label debut. And though you won't "hear" Smith's instrument on the band's forthcoming self-titled album (due July 30), his presence is an integral part of the Sinch experience.

"The main reason we were interested in Jay and the Ocular Noise Machine is that when I go out to shows, I get bored," explains singer Jamie Stem while the band takes a break from recording B-sides at Conshocken's Studio Four. "The band's playing and it's great, but after a while I'm getting bored. We thought, 'Why not add a visual element to the show and have it be played onstage?' And it's inspiring to watch it as you're singing. It definitely takes me to another level."

Tucked away in Doylestown, where they operate out of the Stem family garage, Sinch has existed pretty much under the radar of the local music scene since forming in late 1994. They've played anywhere that will have them--bowling alleys in Reading, a VFW Hall in Glenside, a sold-out Trocadero opening for Linkin Park, the Chameleon Club in Lancaster--in hopes of building a following and selling their self-released cassettes, EPs and full-length CDs.

The countless shows, along with constant recording and rehearsing, have helped Sinch refine a dramatic sound that keeps a safe distance from nu-metal's nails-on-a-blackboard shrillness and rap-rock's chest-thumping knuckleheadedness. Guitarist Tony Lannutti, bassist Mike Abramson and drummer Dan McFarland play with virtuoso precision, weaving from straight-ahead hard-rock grinds to jarring tempo shifts without batting an eye on songs like "To Die in Fall."

The solidly built Stem uses a potent set of pipes to sing--not rap, shout or bark--with paint-peeling intensity. When the spirit moves him (and he sounds moved beyond all get out on "Passive Resistor," a provocative tale of sex offense and muted regret), he screams bloody murder like his foot is caught in a bear trap.

Roadrunner A&R executive and Philly-area native Paul Conroy signed Sinch in early 2001. Following preproduction with former Quicksand/current Rival Schools member Walter Schreifels, the band headed to Nashville to record for two-and-a-half months with producer Malcolm Springer (Full Devil Jacket, Liquid Gang). Despite being homesick over the extended stay ("Especially on Sept. 11," says Stem), the band members still light up when recalling their first foray into the world of big-league recording.

"There's nothing quite like working with people who know what's up," recalls Stem. "They give you opinions that can improve your music."

Adds bassist Abramson: "We've been an internalized band for years. When we went to Nashville we had to start opening up to other people's ideas. There was a little creative headbutting. But if that didn't happen, the album wouldn't have been as good."

Now Sinch are major players. There's a tour of radio station festivals on tap for late July, and they recently filmed their first video for the song "Something More"--which has been receiving local airplay on WMMR and WYSP--in Los Angeles. (The video will be premiered at the Pontiac Monday.)

While perfectly at ease recording and performing, the whole business of image makes them squirm a bit.

"It's not even l - Philadelphia Weekly


Albums / EPs
Sinch (2002) - Roadrunner
Imitating the Screen EP (2002) - Roadrunner
Clearing the Channel (2005) - Rock Ridge Music
Live Cuts 2005 EP (2005) - Rock Ridge Music

Compilations / Soundtracks
Road Rules MTV (2003) - Roadrunner Records
Ginger Snaps OST (2002) - Roadrunner Records
Maxim Rocks (2003) - Universal

Video Games
Greg Hastings' Tournament Paintball (XBox)

Radio Play
"All That's Left Behind" was recently featured on HardDrive, a nationally syndicated radio show, and has received airplay in other markets as well. (No "independent radio promoters" involved)

"Something More", from the self-titled album, was the second most added Active Rock track the week of its release (in the US) and went on to be one of the top 100 Active Rock tracks of the year. It also received generous airplay in Europe, Australia and Japan.

Other tracks from "Sinch" -- "Tabula Rasa" "Bitmap", "433", "The Arctic Ocean" and "To Die in Fall" also received airplay both in the US and Europe.

"Something More" (2002)
Received airplay on MTV, MTV2, MuchMusic and other video outlets.
"Tabula Rasa" (2003)
Received airplay on MTV2, MuchMusic, and other video outlets.
"All That's Left Behind" (2005)
Debuted as a featured video on and as the Daily Download on FuseTV

TV Appearances
Road Rules - MTV - (2003)
Sinch was featured in a 2003 episode of the MTV show Road Rules. The episode featured clips of a live performance attended by the cast. Three tracks from the album, "Something More", "Bitmap" and "The Arctic Ocean" were also used in the episode.

The Screen Savers - TechTV (2004)
Jay Smith (Ocular Noise Machine) and Tony Lannutti (Guitar, Sound Design) appeared on an episode of The Screen Savers to showcase the Viditar and the Union software package that brings it all together.
After an interview the performed a short musical piece to show the Viditar in action.

Early Independent Releases
Project: Bluebird (2000)
Diatribe (1998)
The Strychnine (1996)
Demo/EP (1995)


Feeling a bit camera shy


“Other people’s music is my biggest inspiration” Sinch drummer Dan McFarland says, “and I just want to create something that affects other people in the same way that the music I listen to affects me.” This pretty much sums up what Sinch has been doing in vocalist Jamie Stem’s parents garage since their humble beginnings in 1994. It’s no surprise that four bored, white suburban kids might decide to start a band in high school, maybe play a few “gigs”, maybe even stick together for a few years and try to make it in the “big city”. Despite hitting a myriad of roadblocks along the way, the group has remained completely intact for the past ten years and continues their pursuit of a dream that never seems to die.

Sinch consists of five essential members that come together to create and construct music from their collective experiences. They seem to interpret feelings and emotions in such a way that it comes out through their pores when they play. From guitarist Tony Lannutti’s dark ominous guitar tones, to Jamie Stem’s ability to switch, with ease, from soft passionate melodies into taut unnatural screams, the band creeps its way into explosions when performing. With Mike Abramson’s driving bass lines and Dan McFarland's intricate drumming providing the engine and fuel, there is just something special about this band that you can’t quite put your finger on, and maybe don’t want to.

Anchored in the Philadelphia suburbs Sinch’s popularity has grown year after year and in 2001 it became impossible for record labels to ignore their success. Sinch soon signed on with Roadrunner Records and began recording their self titled debut album with Malcolm Springer (Saliva, Fear Factory, Matchbox 20), a producer known well for his capacity to make an incredible record. This artist/ producer combination proved to be quite powerful and soon after completion of the record their first single “Something More” was released to the airwaves of radio stations worldwide. With no expectations and every ounce of hope Sinch was able to witness their message spread globally. “Something More” became one of the top 100 active rock singles of the year in 2002, and Sinch’s self titled album had one of the best first week of sales in Roadrunner Records debut release history.

They have toured all over the country and shared the stage with such acts as Linkin Park, P.O.D., Seether, Chevelle, Stone Sour, Rob Zombie, Nickleback, Jerry Cantrell, Sevendust, Filter, Korn, Trapt, and Hatebreed. Even with all that and a video on MTV to boot, there is an element of Sinch that remains in the shadows until you actually see them perform for yourself. Armed with an Ocular Noise Machine and a hard drive full of CNN footage and odd visual loops (like Osama Bin Laden morphing into Jesus morphing into Hillary Clinton, and so on) Sinch’s fifth member Jay Smith, edits and cuts at breakneck speed on stage, playing alongside the band, sweating out each and every loop of video brilliance. His contribution is essentially unexplainable, you really have to be there to see for yourself the connections between the images, the lyrics, and the sound to completely understand what Sinch is.

After ten years of the same line up of players Sinch has progressed beyond the boundaries of tradition and formed a creative brotherhood that is not only apparent on stage, but also within their every note. There are no choreographed antics or rehearsed speeches, just five guys operating on a different plane than any band I’ve ever seen. Taking chances and mixing innovation with tradition, the Sinch boys have been dubbed the “brothers of invention” by Philadelphia Weekly and continue to evolve their already intriguing live show with each and every performance. With a new album (Clearing The Channel) recorded with Drew Mazurek (Gwar, HIM, Linkin Park out on Rock Ridge Music (March 2005), Sinch continues to release great and innovative music for their world wide listeners while touring and writing. The video for "All That's Left Behind" was a featured daily download on iFilm and Fuse TV and the song Identity Theft was one of the top 5 downloads on With their sights set on touring in the upcoming year and releasing several digital EP’s as well as a DVD, Sinch has proven to be one of the most dedicated and self motivated bands in the music business.