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Dan Palladino – Leaving Cygnus


Dan Palladino’s “Leaving Cygnus” has the quality of a well-written science fiction short-story. Its otherworldly atmosphere and ambient melody take our mind on an enjoyable and relaxing voyage into deep space. The most fascinating aspect is perhaps the combination of electric sitar and synths, which is inspired. Palladino has found a sound that is as unique as it is bold.

“Leaving Cygnus” was released today! Be among the first to hear it: 

Dan Palladino is a guitarist, vocalist, composer, and music instructor based in Central New Jersey. He began his journey on guitar at the age of seven, played his first gig at the age of 12, and has continually performed in public for the past 45 years. Along the way, he has backed Broadway stars (Cady Huffman, Tamra Hayden), opened for comedians (Joan Rivers, David Brenner), appeared with contemporary jazz groups (Todd Collins Trio, Offramp), and performed live and in the studio, with various singer/songwriters, jazz ensembles, and R&B groups. Last year he released “Pastoral Memory”, his first soundscape release. In our review, we wrote: “The sounds of nature are recorded with skill and love, and the arrangement is inspired. It is easy to overproduce such delicate sounds, but Palladino has done a terrific job in extending the atmosphere that was already there, in nature.”

Leaving Cygnus

There are two different ways to interpret “Leaving Cygnus”. You can think of it as a meditative piece, ideal for relaxation. Or you can use the music as the starting point for reflection around the title and cover artwork. Whatever you choose, the listening experience will be mind-blowing!

“Leaving Cygnus” starts slowly. We hear a small bell, confirming that the meditation begins. The soundscape consists of two radically different elements: analog synths with a nice Berlin school touch, and two string instruments: an electric sitar and a small harp, giving the piece Eastern flavor. It is this mix of otherworldly synths and down-to-earth, yet mystical, string instruments that make “Leaving Cygnus” unique and different. It is a sound we heard on Palladino’s “Counting Stars” (from “Pastoral Memory”, 2019) – and Palladino has refined it even further. I think he is really onto something here. I would love to have a full album with this sound and expression!

Here is a video by Dan Palladino about the electric sitar used in “Leaving Cygnus”: 

As “Leaving Cygnus” develops, a strange land unfolds. It reminds me of “The End” intro by The Doors, and it has some of the same complexity and depth – but where “The End” communicates utter hopelessness, “Leaving Cygnus” takes control and pushes onward. This is not about destruction and failure, but success. Suddenly the intensity rises. The electric sitar and small harp duette is both remarkable and alien.

I’m fascinated by both the title and the cover artwork. Cygnus is, according to Wikipedia, a prominent constellation in the northern sky. Its name means “the swan” in Latin, and it is also known as the Swan constellation. Cygnus is associated with the myth of Zeus and Leda in Greek mythology and is 6197 lightyears away. If you were leaving Cygnus, you would – interestingly enough – still be in the Milky Way (which makes me think of Enigma’s “Goodbye Milky Way”; a very different kind of song, but has some of the same atmosphere).

I love the dramatic cover artwork, a painting by Jorm S, and how it fits with the music. Sometimes leaving is the only right thing to do – and getting away from Cygnus was the right move. I think the melody is triumphant, but it might take a few listens before you pick up on that. There is also lovely percussion around 4:50 and onwards.

In conclusion: Dan Palladino’s “Leaving Cygnus” is a brilliant and complex meditation piece. There are so many levels of meaning, so many details. It is storytelling on a grand scale, even without lyrics. It is also a surprising development in Palladino’s music (from the very down-to-earth soundscape “Pastoral Memory”).

8 minutes and 40 seconds is perhaps much for a single track. Still, when it comes to “Leaving Cygnus”, it is almost nothing. It seems to contain a whole cosmology, like an open-ended sci-fi short-story written by masters such as Ray Bradbury or Arthur C. Clarke. One word: Bravo!

For more music samples and information, visit danpalladinomusic.com