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Arsenal (Russia)
Overall View


Part I: 1980/2000 - "Arsenal" (78 min, "Boheme Music")
******

Part II: 1982/2000 - "Created with Their Own Hands" (75 min, "Boheme Music")
******

Part III: 1984&1985/2000 - "Pulse & Second Wind" (76 min, "Boheme")
*****

(soon) Part IV:

Part V: 1990/2000 - "Scorched by the Wind" (77 min, "Boheme")
****+


Part I: 1980/2000 - "Arsenal" ******

Tracklist:

Dangerous Game 13:29
(A. Kozlov)
The Tree 8:53
(Yu. Saulsky)
Suitein a Flat Major 12:00
(A. Kozlov, lyrics by Rasul Gamzatov)
Ivory Tower 10:07
(A. Kozlov)
The Lost Song 9:43
(A. Kozlov - on the theme of Russian folk song)
Ragtime 7:47
(A. Kozlov)
Genesis 7:54
(A. Kozlov)
Gavotte And March 5:26
(S. Prokofiev, arranged by A. Kozlov)

Line-up: Alexey Kozlov - alto & soprano saxophones; Igor Saulsky - piano, electric organ; Vyatcheslav Gorsky - piano, keyboards; Vitaliy Rosenburgh -electric guitars; Victor Zaikin - bass (tracks 1,2,3,4,7); Anatoli Kulikov - bass (tracks 5,6,8); Anatoli Sizonov - trumpet; Eugeny Pan - trumpet; Boris Kuznetsov - trumpet; Vadim Akhmetgareyev - trombone; Valery Taushan - trombone; Alexander Gorobetz - trombone; Stanislav Korosteliov - drums; Vasily Izyumtchenko - drums

Guest vocalists on track 3: Mehrdad Badi and Tamara Kvirkvelia.

Prologue. Arsenal is undoubtedly the most significant phenomena within the Progressive Rock movement in the USSR / C.I.S. where there's no other band of the genre with such an array of released (let alone the unreleased ones!) material. Arsenal's discography contains no less than ten full-fledged LPs and almost all of them are presented on 5 CDs I'm going to tell you about. Arsenal, however, has some more original material recorded mainly during their live performances in different countries and years. Partly those tracks are included in a series of 4 CDs released by "Boheme Music", but some of these recordings have been irretrievably lost. Arsenal's debut self-titled studio album was recorded in Riga in 1977 during their Latvian tour, but the only Soviet "Melodiya" label released the "Arsenal" LP only in 1980 and solely thanks to the help of the truly progressive Soviet composer Yuri Saulsky. Additional tracks presented on this CD together with the Arsenal debut LP's tracks (1-4) were recorded in 1978-1979 mainly in Moscow.

The album. All the four compositions from Arsenal's debut LP, including even a piece with vocals, represents an absolutely unique 'progressive formula': this is a really innovative mixture of structures typical for Classical Music, complex arrangements of truly Progressive Rock and some improvisational 'details' obviously related to the Classic Jazz Fusion genre. Despite the presence of lots of the wind instruments there is a little of 'jazzy spirit' in these pieces. Prolonged in conformity with the unwritten laws of serious Progressive Rock (and Classical Music too, though) such instrumentals as Dangerous Game, The Tree and Ivory Tower are really wonderful musical works and each of them has a distinct classical feel. But, constant changes of themes and tempos, rises to a powerful playing of all the band's musicians together and falls into the very quiet 'spacey' musical spaces, full of mysterious and as if unearthly sounds, are typical rather for some classic 'side-long' pieces of the Progressive Rock genre. Arsenal, however, was the very first (and remains the only to this day) band to create such musical forms using quite an 'unusual' instrumental base with trumpets, trombones, etc as lead and main soloing instruments. Three more songs on the album have practically the same structures. These are Ragtime, Genesis and Gavotte And March, and a direct addressing to such a well-known classical piece as the latter with the following arranging it in the spirit of Progressive Rock was a wise decision regarding the album as a whole. Vocals based Suite in a Flat Major and The Last Song, an adaptation of Russian folk song, of course, both sound a bit differently in comparison with the other tracks here, but their instrumental parts are very close to the aforementioned "mixed" structures. So, on the whole this 77-minute CD has a very monolithic, practically conceptual overall sounding.

Summary. First, here's an important note. Early compositions of Arsenal, particularly those included in the first CD and described here, are probably the most complex and mind-blowing works Arsenal ever created. It's necessary to listen repeatedly to this CD to be able to comprehend its wonderful nature and get great pleasure with each new listening. A pure narcotic sorry, masterpiece! However, we musical addicts (moreover, progressive music addicts), who have this brilliant passion, are perhaps healthier than those with no passions at all, especially men.

VM. December 3, 2000


Part II: 1982/2000 - "Created with Their Own Hands" ******

Tracklist:

Mystery 7:49
(A.Kozlov)
A Dedication to Maha Vishnu 9:08
(A.Kozlov)
Lighton the way 6:31
(A.Kozlov)
Hubble-Bubble 4:24
(Mark Colby, arranged by A.Kozlov)
Electric Dreams 4:40
(John MacLaughlin)
Fromthe Second Piano Concert of S. Rakhmaninov 11:17
(arr. by A.Kozlov)
Foxtrot 6:07
(Palle Mickelborg, arr. by A.Kozlov)
Shadowof the Past 7:16
(V.Zintchuk)
Tandem
(V.Gorsky)
SuiteIn F Minor
(A.Kozlov)

Line-up: Alexey Kozlov - synthesizer, alto-sax; Vyatcheslav Gorsky - grand piano, keyboards; Victor Zintchuk - electric & acoustic guitars; Vitaliy Rosenburgh - electric guitar, sitar; Anatoli Kulikov - bass guitar; Valery Brusilovsky - drums; Valentin Diomin - percussion

Another absolute masterpiece from the USSR's leading progressive band and another unique jewel for the arsenals of Progressive Rock. "Created with Their Own Hands", unlike its predecessor, so greatly influenced by Classical Music, is a work of pure Classic Jazz fusion genre. Stylistically (only!) created in the same vein as Mahavishnu Orchestra or Return To Forever, Arsenal's second album, however, has no other similarities with the music of these Titans of the '70s nor with any other band from the first to the last note. What is more, I would say, "Created with Their Own Hands" represents a sort of stylistic quintessence of both previously mentioned Titans taken together. On an album such as this you'll find every possible spectrum of the so called Prog-Fusion genre. Some pieces contain speedy, often really violent playing with cascades of mind-blowing, very diverse arrangements, changes of themes and tempos, time signatures, passionate soloing and interplays among the lead instrumentalists. Some others are performed in mid-tempo with a lot of gentle, colourful passages that bring a distinct Eastern flavour, and some of which are obviously influenced particularly by Indian music. Long, perfectly complex and virtuosic passages like stories full of wonderful events are rendered by Victor Zintchuk's strings of acoustic guitar on Shadow of the Past. The musical world of "Created with Their Own Hands" is extremely diverse in a musical sense, but at the same time these separate and so diverse compositions actually are just parts of one beautiful picture "Created with Their Own Hands".

VM. December 5, 2000


Part III: 1984&1985/2000 - "Pulse & Second Wind" *****

Tracklist:

Second Wind 10:44
Constellationof Leo 5:46
Forgiveness 5:41
Funky-Charleston 5:08
Provincial Tango 3:42
Invasion/Enigmatic Dream 12:06
Relay Race 4:08
Rondo 4:29
Holiday 2:15
Photo-Robot 3:22
Russian Epic 5:21
Manipulator 2:45
Electronic Barrel-Organ 2:43
Mannequin 4:05
Nostalgia 4:42

All pieces composed and arranged by Alexey Kozlov.

Line-up: Alexey Kozlov - alto & soprano saxophones, synthesizers; Vadim Lotkin - keyboards; Vitaliy Rosenburgh - electric guitars; Valentin Liozov - bass guitars, accordion (track 5); Victor Sigal - drums; Valery Diomin - percussion; Alexander Beliaev - keyboards; Andrey Vinogradov - keyboards; Michail Alperin - piano (tracks 2,3,4,5); Simon Shirman - tenor sax (tracks 1,4,5), soprano sax (tracks 1,4), violin (track 3); Nikolay Karsaulidze - drums (tracks 6-13); Sergey Katin - bass guitars (tracks 6-13); Ivan Smirnov - electric guitars (tracks 6-13); Andrey Baturin - electric guitars (tracks 6-13)

Alexey Kozlov and his unique brain-child Arsenal have won the first mass acclaim with their slightly eclectic yet very tasteful mixture of Classic / Neo Jazz Fusion / Art Rock presented on the band's third and fourth LPs "Pulse" and "Second Wind". Actually both these albums contain very original, colourful and bright instrumental pieces with distinct melody lines and relatively accessible arrangements, so that Arsenal's music in the mid '80s could be generally described as wonderful jazzy Art Rock with sense of humor. Unlike their two previous albums, most notably their debut, the music on this CD sounds distinctly 'modern', and Alexey Kozlov himself plays here mostly electronic keyboards, whereas his major instrument alto saxophone doesn't sound quite as often as usual. With these albums Arsenal musicians showed their truly brilliant ability to build such musical forms that will always keep on enchanting really vast masses of progressive music lovers from all over. Highly recommended to all those into accessible melodic forms of both Art Rock and Jazz Fusion genres, as well as to the majority of the experienced, true connoisseurs of these two from the three "whales" on which Progressive Rock reposes Finally, Relay Race is a mind-blowing fantastic thing. This is not just the best Jazz Fusion composition I ever heard, but IMHO, Relay Race is the Queen of all Gems ever created within the genre.

VM. December 8, 2000


Part V: 1990/2000 - "Scorched by the Wind" ****+

Tracklist:

Heavenly Voice 3:19
Gonewith the Wind 5:09
Silver-Blues 8:03
No More Tears 5:32
Prologue 6:44
Envy 10:31
Man from Jamaica 5:42
Gigantic Footprints 7:53
Young Girl is Gone 3:50
The World is a Cramped Place 8:59
The Dnepr is a Wonderful River 6:13

All pieces composed and arranged by Alexey Kozlov (except 9: trad., arr. by A.K.)

Line-up: Alexey Kozlov - alto saxophone, synthesizers; Andrey Denisov - keyboards; Andrey Vinogradov - keyboards; Ivan Smirnov - electric guitars; Anatoli Kulikov - bass guitars; Alexey Gagarin - drums; Valery Diomin - percussion; Alexander Pishchikov - tenor sax; Igor Javad-Zade - drums (tracks 3,10); Pavel Grigoriev - tenor saxophone (track 11)

The fourth and last CD of the Arsenal musical legacy released by "Boheme Music" (except Arsenal's "V" and "VI" albums-LPs that have been released as a double CD on "Melodiya" in 1991: see Arsenal -Part IV of an Overall View). This CD contains probably the most accessible and melodious music the band ever performed. However, each composition here composed and arranged by Alexey Kozlov was played by the band so masterfully that it would be impossible to call to mind any other album of the Neo Jazz Rock genre created with such a wonderful "formula" as traditional melodic Funk'n'Fusion that is yet raised to the power of this marvelous, on the edge of the artistic, while extremely tasteful way of performing, with. a unique 'scheme' of the 'construction' of the album when each composition sounds differently from the others. So, you'll not be disappointed in purchasing this series - the Anthology of one of the most innovative Jazz Fusion bands of all time. You can check out Arsenal's Bio on the "Boheme Music" official web-site at: http://www.bohememusic.com and order CDs via e-mail to: boheme@iol.cz.

VM. December 10, 2000


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