Back in 2013 I reviewed the album Of Things That Never Were (see review) released by The Worm Ouroboros from Belarus. A band which at the time really sounded a lot like the British band Camel. The mainly instrumental compositions have been evidently inspired by albums such as Music Inspired By The Snow Goose (1975), Mirage (1974) and Rain Dances (1977). Furthermore I noticed influences of bands from the so-called Canterbury scene. Beside those influences I also heard some touches of pastoral and folk music. And now many years later the follow up album was released in December 2019 and sent to me in 2020 for a review. Are they still sounding like Camel and do they have a musical identity of their own? Can this band still be proud of what they achieved on this second album as on their fine debut? That are mainly the questions I asked myself when I started listening to Endless Way From You.
The band still consists of Sergey Gvozdyukevich (keyboards, bass, acoustic guitar, flutes, voice) and Vladimir Sobolevsky (keyboards, bass, acoustic and electric guitars) who can be seen as the most important members in the band. On drums they now have Mikhail Kinchin. As on the first album, you can find guest musicians from the Five-Storey Ensemble. They had some musical assistance from Vitaly Appow (bassoon), Aliona Sukilyan (oboe) and Alexandra Gankova (vibraphone, xylophone, timpani).
Right from the start the opening tune Cycles tells me that Camel is still upfront on their musical style. On this 14 minutes long instrumental piece it is mainly the flute and organ parts which reminded me of them. Also tracks such as Stone And Lydia and The Reality You Can't Stop Dreaming move very much towards a musical style which Camel was known for. But what is most striking is the unusual instrumentation of the Belarusian trio. Woodwind instruments such as oboe and bassoon meet distorted guitars. This mixture is enriched by piano, Hammond organ, vibraphone, a voluminous bass and powerful and variable drums. Using the sounds of a flute, in combination with Hammond organ and guitar, conjures up the Canterbury feeling already described. Most compositions are instrumentals, however the musicians did try two pieces with vocals. Namely Ascension and The Whistler Thrill, which sometimes reminded me of the wordless vocals done on the earlier mentioned Camel album Music Inspired By The Snow Goose. Also when they use the oboe and bassoon on some of their songs this reminded me of the earlier mentioned album. But you can say mainly that the sound of the band is based on organ and guitar with a remarkable use of flutes and other wind instruments, as well as the sustained beat of drums and percussion.
But it's not all Camel and the so-called Canterbury music that can be heard on this release. Also elements taken from Zeuhl come to the surface making it for the listener, not always easy to stay focussed on the music. If you like massed, chanted choral motifs, martial, repetitive percussion, sudden bursts of explosive improvisations and just as unexpected lapses into eerie, minimalist trance-rock this album is worth checking out.
But you can mainly say that lovers of the early Camel albums and those who like Canterbury should get their money's worth. Above all they still they managed to have a musical identity of their own, which gives this band the right to exist in the progressive rock scene. And yes they can this be still be proud of what they achieved on this second album! So bravo to them and thumbs up!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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