Way back in time when I still was filling the position as main editor of this fine magazine, I recall receiving a couple of CDr's from this Russian band from Saint-Petersburg. They exist since 2001 as a studio project, since 2005 as an electroacoustic chamber ensemble and since 2008 as a full-blown prog rock band. I had to check my archives and it turns out that my experiences with their music is limited to their earliest period as an electronic/experimental act. My opinion on L'Ascencione and Painsadist from 2002 and 2003 respectively was not necessarily positive, I'm sorry to say, but let's find out what has happened in the past decade.
On their latest album Roz Vitalis consists of founder Ivan Rozmainsky (keyboards) with Vladimir Efimov (electric guitars), Alexey Gorshkov (trumpet), Yury Khomonenko (drums and percussion on two tracks), Ruslan Kirillov (bass, ukelele), Vladislav Korotkikh (flute, low whistle), Philip Semenov (drums and percussion) and Vladimir Semenov-Tyan-Shansky (electric and acoustic guitars, bass).
The album's title Lavoro D'Amore means 'labour of love' and the first impression is good. The CD starts with The Acknowledgement that offers flute, Camel-like guitar (actually, the somewhat distorted soaring guitar reminds me a bit of the first album of Dutch band Arkus) and great keys. Briefly they launch into a hectic, heavier part, but return quickly to dreamier realms and fast paced sympho leading into a fiery and dramatic finale. A very fine opening track all in all and surely one of the tracks to try out. Next we get the dreamy title track. One of the best elements is once again the guitar work that is very melodic and fits well with the piano. Il Vento Ritorno is a classically influenced piece with nice lead flute that interacts with guitar and keys and the trumpet that places some accents. Rather 1970s sounding, which is meant in a strictly positive sense! On the other hand There Are The Workers Of Iniquity Fallen (WTF??) is more abstract and experimental with vague chords and trumpet.
Need For Someone Else is a forward rolling track that grates on my nerves. It's like a circus-polka grinding out of control and I guess the 'someone' indicated in the title would have been a producer who advised the band not to include this track, or at least not in this form because the final minutes are quite okay with soaring guitar and then dissolving in a dreamy part led by flute and piano. The 8 and a half minute long What Are You Thinking About is one of my favourite tracks that interestingly fuses the pulsating guitar patterns that often characterised Twelfth Night's music with bits of space rock and Jarre-like synths. After that the CD closes off with Ending (surprising title, eh?) that has trumpet which sounds like it would fit nicely into an Italian-western and classical harpsichord and flute. Nice.
As a whole I think that the CD goes a bit back and forth over its whole length of playing and after a great start I tend to lose my attention halfway through only to find it again just before the end (which is exactly why I haven't described a couple of tracks above - to me it feels like there is just a lot of piano between the seventh and the tenth track and I have no other recollection, even after playing the CD for a couple of times). The album does have really interesting moments, though. I should check out their more recent work, I presume.
*** Carsten Busch (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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