ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Andrew Roussak - 2007 - "No Trespassing"

(49:20, 'Roussak' / MALS Records)


TRACK LIST:                                 
1.  No Trespassing 4:31
2.  Prelude 2:59
3.  Lost in the Woods 4:36
4.  Wartime Chronicles 7:18
5.  Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring 3:56
6.  Rhythm of the Universe 5:27
7.  All Good Things 4:10
8.  Do Without Me 5:01
9.  Vivace Furioso 5:15
10. Maybe 5:35


Andrew Roussak – keyboards; programming; b/v
Hendrik Plactzik – vocals; drums 
Sebastien Sauberlich – drums 
Jorgen Wannewetsch – bass 
Oliver Weislogel – guitar 
Steffen Hehrer – guitar 
Alan Graham – ac. guitar; sax (1)

Prolusion. Formerly a citizen of Russia, Andrew ROUSSAK has been resident in Germany ever since 2001. He is a professional musician, classically trained in fortepiano, and was recognized as the best independent keyboardist and instrumental soloist by the German Pop & Rock Awards in 2006. “No Trespassing” is the debut solo album by the artist. It consists of ten tracks, two of which, Prelude and Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, are Andrew’s interpretations of the pieces by Johannes Sebastian Bach, and all the others are his original compositions.

Analysis. Besides European Classical Music, Andrew names ELP’s Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman as his primary sources of inspiration, but personally I find him to be much more influenced by the Yes keyboardist, especially as regards his performance technique, two instrumentals, Prelude and Vivace Furioso, being on all levels strongly reminiscent of Rick’s work, instantly bringing to mind “The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table”. Since analog keyboards play a key role on most of the tracks, the album’s overall sound comes across almost exclusively as vintage, but nevertheless only the said two pieces depict classic Symphonic Progressive in a form that was most widespread at the heyday of the genre, which I see as a positive factor, though not because none of the other compositions come across as being derivative. Of the remaining three instrumentals, Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring and All Good Things both have strong leanings towards Classical music and are dominated by a virtual symphonic orchestra, very convincingly reproducing the sounds of various string and woodwind instruments. Finally Wartime Chronicles is symphonic Prog-Metal rather than anything else, a highly diverse multi-sectional composition perfectly reflecting its title in mood and eventfulness alike. Regardless of the style or even the wealth of outside factors in a couple of cases, each of the instrumentals is a success due to an excellent blending of writing, arranging and delivery. The songs vary in style also, but first of all I’d like to point out for you what unites the five tracks from this category of compositions. Although Andrew and his band mates still prove to be resourceful musicians, providing solos much more often than playing chords, they rarely start on an all-instrumental raid here. In other words, the vocal-based pieces all feature few instrumental interludes, while it’s exactly during those movements when the music there (as well as everywhere on the disc) is especially compelling, at least from a classic progressive viewpoint. Owing to their specific sound, the title track, Lost in the Woods and Rhythm of the Universe all may at first seem to be steering in the same direction as the two compositions described first, but are in fact pomp rock creations, close to early Saga in construction, though neo-proggers preferring vintage keyboards (Oliver Wakeman was the first:-) to come to my mind in this respect) can also serve as reference points. Maybe is a light Classical music-stylized ballad and is fine as it is, probably a perfect ending for the album. Only the eighth track, Do Without Me, is not to my liking at all and seems to be generally out of place on this recording. This is a blend of Blues and ‘50s commercial Jazz whose old-fashioned nature is far-fetched, the vocals being delivered in a playful manner very much like Marilyn Monroe’s in the “Some Like it Hot” movie.

Conclusion. Showing versatility and skill while handling his massive array of keyboards, Herr Roussak appears to be quite a good disciple of his teachers in absentia, particularly on the instrumentals. Overall, “No Trespassing” is a solid debut effort and should delight many art-rock fans, especially those who don’t put musical complexity at the head of their list of priorities.

VM: May 1, 2008

Andrew Roussak - 2007 - "No Trespassing"


Analysis. When keyboard players make solo albums you expect to get served keyboards by the dozen. Many like to do everything themselves, trying out on instruments they're not that skilled in playing; others may try to emulate all instruments on one keyboard set-up or another, while others play with samples of various instruments. Keyboard players associated with a regular band might get their fellow band members to help out on drums, guitar, bass and whatever other instruments they need for the performance of their compositions. Roussak's approach is one somewhere in between these. There are a score of guest musicians covering guitars, sax, bass and drums, but some instruments are provided in simulated or sampled versions too, and the keyboards are the key instrument. Piano and guitars serving rhythmic melody lines, organ and drawn out guitar chords for that ‘70s Deep Purple feel, but first and foremost multilayered keyboards – adding nuances and textures to all style variations explored, and mimicking classical symphonic music in some instrumentals as well. In some instances we're served up to 4 different melody lines by means of the tangents (that I could count, that is), either harmonizing or slightly contrasting, used to create detailed, intriguing moods and atmospheres. We're served typical ‘70s synth soloing in the Keith Emerson tradition on this production, variations on works from the likes of Bach, even some creations adding folk-inspired elements, but also several songs where Roussak and his guest musicians rock out following a style closer to ‘70s hard rock mixed with vintage progressive rock, with a highly jazz-tinged segment thrown into the mix as well. Although several style variations are explored on this release, they all seem as pieces of the same puzzle, and the mix and production get much of the credit for this. Besides being a more than able composer and keyboardist, Roussak is a skilled producer to boot, seeing to it that the dominant instrument gets a similar sound and placement in the mix, which enhances his style of playing to produce a distinct sound that ties the different individual pieces together to a whole. The compositions are well planned; the individual performances are of good quality, mixed in a well-produced package where the focus is on versatility and melodies rather than flamboyant virtuosity.

Conclusion. Keyboard-dominated symphonic rock is the main feature on this production, where the focus seemingly is to showcase different aspects of this style in compositions highlighting moods and melodies rather than technical abilities. As such this is a good release: perhaps lacking really brilliant songs but highly enjoyable nonetheless. Recommended to fans of the genre and those intrigued by keyboard-dominated progressive rock in general.

OMB: October 25, 2008

Related Links:

Andrew Roussak
MALS Records


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