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(40:22, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Sisoehtopa 0:52 2. Overture in Fury 5:07 3. Heavy March 6:58 4. Children of the Damned 4:29 5. The Frozen Doll’s Town 6:34 6. Dance of the Tea Giants 4:55 7. Flower Fever 2:28 8. Coda Cold 6:01 9. Apotheosis 2:54 LINEUP: Dmitriy ‘Aviva’ Loukianenko – keyboards (+vocals – 4) Vika – keyboards (+violin – 2, 3) Vladlen Beryozin – drums; bass Yuri Molodoy – guitars
Prolusion. Dimitri Loukianenko is a classically trained Russian pianist and songwriter who issued his, so to speak, exclusively solo album “Rockus Tonalis” back in 2007, using his scenic nickname Aviva as the project’s moniker. On his sophomore release, “Nutcracker in Fury”, the man appears as a leader of a full band, AVIVA OMNIBUS. (Whose drummer Beryozin’s first name, Vladlen, is rarely encountered nowadays, as it’s a derivation of ‘Vladimir Lenin’, and Lenin was the man who, as you might know, created the USSR).
Analysis. If Aviva’s first – all-instrumental – album is presented as being based on the Book of Revelations, this one is inspired by “The Nutcracker”, a ballet by the Great Russian classical composer Peter Tchaikovsky (which, in turn, is an adaptation of the Great German writer Ernst T. A. Hoffman’s novelette “The Nutcracker & the Mouth King”). To my shame, I haven’t heard Tchaikovsky’s creation in its entirety, and although I’m inclined to think that the band resorts directly to it only on one of the disc’s nine tracks, I wouldn’t assert that there are no more excerpts from the ballet suite on the recording. What I can tell you for sure is that such pieces as Heavy March, Overture in Fury, The Frozen Doll’s Town, Dance of the Tea Giants and Apotheosis are all to a greater or lesser degree marked with classical influences, the first being stamped with those in a way, as about a half of it represents variations on a theme from the ballet. Save Apotheosis (a slow, melodic, yet still a bit sketchy keyboards-laden piece with an anthemic feeling in places), all these are efficiently evolving, predominantly intense and edgy compositions, combining harder, Prog-Metal-related and purely symphonic arrangements, the first of which reminds me to some extent of those on Mekong Delta’s “Kaleidoscope”, though on the other hand I’m not too sure whether I can cite the German metal-headed protagonists of Classical music as a reference point here, because they have never had a keyboardist in their lineup nor even hired one as a session musician. Otherwise, think for the most part pretty original music too, with literally a few hints of classic ELP and Yes, since only Loukianenko’s fast-to-rapid soloing lines are somewhat derivative, evoking the names of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. Coda Cold and Children of the Damned each reveal few full-band maneuvers, only one of those (progressive metal-evoking) being full-fledged in both cases, whilst otherwise each reminds one respectively of a synthesis of and a mongrelized hybrid between Electronic music and Art-Rock. The point is that the symphonic component is underdeveloped on the last of these which, though, is generally weaker than Coda Cold. The only ‘song’ in the set, the aforementioned Children of the Damned contains two brief vocal lines, neither of which are impressive, to say the least, particularly the one in a screaming style. Besides, it is additionally stuffed with various (generally speaking) radio voices, as is Flower Fever – the worst track here, a complete makeweight compiled of several, mostly randomly done, ‘effects’ which just clutter up what is certainly nothing other than the lack of any musical ideas. As for the disc opener Sisoehtopa, I don’t take it into consideration for two reasons (of which the latter is the main): it’s extremely short and doesn’t come across as an intro to its follow-up. I really wonder what the last four, and particularly the last two, described pieces have to do with the source of Loukianenko’s inspiration.
Conclusion. As evinced on more than half of this recording, Aviva Omnibus is a talented group, which has its own original voice as a creative unit and whose members possess a fairly remarkable mastery as performers. However, bearing in mind that only four of the nine tracks presented are excellent, it is impossible to give a correspondingly high rating to the entire release. The band should collect enough high-quality compositions for their next effort in order to earn recognition from the public – which they certainly deserve.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: December 2, 2009
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