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(68:34 / Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Prelude 1:27 2. Blessed Paul's Phantoms 7:27 3. Sliding On the Surface 5:10 4. The Destruction of Faena 12:06 5. Pastoral 5:56 6. Underwater Sermon 16:13 7. The Waltz At the End of Times 11:05 8. Calm Light 4:17 9. Walking Down the Burning Scores 2:06 10. Hymn 3:39 11. Postlude 2:27 SOLO PILOT: Aviva - grand piano, keyboard; programming, sampling
Prolusion. The man behind this project is Dimitri Loukianenko, a classically trained Russian pianist. Whether AVIVA is the artist's old nickname or his newly made 'scenic pseudonym', he uses that word as a moniker for his solo work, whose beginning has recently been marked with the release of the lengthy CD, "Rokus Tonalis". The recording is presented as being based on the Revelation, but I will not draw parallels between the music and the story when reviewing it, as (to be as brief as possible) I find Loukianenko's attempt to create a concept album to be a failure.
Analysis. I'd like to mention from the outset that a sound more or less well suiting our concept of a classic keyboard trio playing Symphonic Prog is typical of about two thirds of this recording, ELP being the primary influence, yet at the same time the only outside factor I've noticed here. Save for the guitar on the seventh track, which is credited to Andrew Pruden, it is Dimitri himself who, metaphorically speaking, painted all the instrumental colors of the album - mainly by playing grand piano and using samples of vintage organ and some modern synthesizers. The drum machine is the last ingredient that is always recognizable here, unlike the bass tracks, some of which, though, are certainly related to the piano. There are no vocals as such on "Rokus Tonalis", but are plenty of spoken, whispered etc words, quite a few of which are delivered in the manner of oral buffoonery. Thankfully, it is the destiny of the less interesting pieces to be littered with verbalism, though these, namely The Destruction of Faena, Underwater Sermon and The Waltz At the End of Times, are all the longest tracks here, ranging from 11 to 16 minutes. For sure, there is no place for voices etc where the music is driving, intense and dynamic all alike, yet I just wanted to say these three aren't too rich in such, particularly the first of them. There are some amazingly adventurous sympho-prog arrangements to be found here; the piano can surprisingly turn to a clearly avant-garde mode, from time to time also starting on its solitary sailing - over the waves of Classical academic music (all of which is also typical of five more tracks), but most of the music is both atmospheric and pastoral, contrary to what the track's title suggests. The other two, Underwater Sermon and The Waltz At the End of Times, are both richer in academically progressive maneuvers, but still not enough to justify their length. Apart from the stylistic and other ingredients I have listed when describing The Destruction of Faena, these additionally contain episodes whose content can hardly belong to anything else but space music and related stuff. Nonetheless compositionally, meaning on their instrumental level, these are good pieces of music, and it's only their 'voice background' that prevents me from fully enjoying them. The highlights include Blessed Paul's Phantoms, Sliding On the Surface and Walking Down the Burning Scores, all being fully-fledged art-rock creations, where the primary genre can be classically inspired (the influence of Holst being obvious on the former cut), can flirt with avant-garde features or even border on quasi Jazz-Fusion, but never digresses from, well, itself. Allusions? Still classic ELP overall, though much of the music is original, which I sincerely appreciate, perhaps most of all. The opening track, Prelude, is indeed a classical-like introduction to the album and is fine, despite its shortness. I have no idea why, but the remaining four pieces, Pastoral, Calm Light, Hymn and Postlude (the latter two are situated at end, following one another), are all for some uncertain reason recorded at extremely low level. You'll have to turn up the volume of your amp a long way to catch these, though there's nothing worthy to listen to on any, each musically being just a makeweight.
Conclusion. Aviva's first offering leaves the impression its maker has squeezed all the creations he had at that time into there, a couple of those being pushbutton music rather than compositions. On the other hand however, from this imaginary double-LP release I can easily compile either a very good 48-minute or an excellent 37-minute album (which besides would've been a masterpiece had it been played by a real band). So I think fans of classic keyboard trio sound should give this "Rokus Tonalis" a spin. After all I will not be discovering America if I say there are quite a few of those among you who, unlike me, either pay no attention to any narrations etc if the music itself is captivating or even welcome those.
VM: July 5, 2007
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