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TRACK LIST: 1. Summer Morning 3:15 2. Theme from Unmade Movie 4:13 3. When I Called You 2:30 4. Ballad of the Homeless People 4:18 5. March to Betlehem 4:25 6. Bossa Nova in G 2:07 7. Alleluia 3:42 8. The Final Hymn 2:33 9. Idyll 3:31 LINEUP: Svein Tormod Bekkhus – keyboards; violin; vocals Sashko Nevzhe – instruments Sergey Popyk – instruments With: Per Mathisen – bass Jorn Atle Stoa – guitars Anders Langset – drums
Prolusion. Svein Tormod BEKKHUS is a Norwegian composer and keyboardist, who is a church organist by profession, and one well-schooled and educated at that. "Idyll" is his first foray into the waters of commercially oriented music, and was self-released in the fall of 2011.
Analysis. I'll readily admit that this CD would never have come my way under normal circumstances, and that Bekkhus' main audience is most likely a rather different one than the people who normally spend some of their spare time reading review on the Progressor website, although some readers might want to check out his material anyhow, as the territories he does explore does touch ground with progressive rock from time to time. Be that as it may be, I guess the only reason for a reviewer’s copy of this production coming into my hands is that Bekkhus is a former colleague of mine, and that I was asked to cover this production while discussing the music scene in Ukraine with him. It is at this point that some interesting details surrounding the production of this CD arise. Most of this album was recorded in Ukraine, with Bekkhus musical friends Sergey Popyk and Sashko Nevzhe lending their skills to the project. And the end result does touch borders with progressive rock. Basically we're dealing with compositions that are relatively gentle piano constructions at heart, with a liberal amount of symphonic textures applied, the latter utilized in a manner that made me think of the pioneers of symphonic progressive rock: careful, unobtrusive and yet an integral part of the arrangements as a whole, sometimes as an ever present feature, on other occasions appearing more infrequent, but very much a presence throughout. Some nice guitar details further add a touch of refinement now and then. A creation like Ballad of the Homeless People appears to be some sort of miniature suite, arguably the most sophisticated of these pieces, while Alleluia is the one most striking in sheer musical beauty. And the performance is as good as one might expect when the composer and main performer is an educated musician making his living out of performing music: flawless and faultless, and with a natural flow that shines through on all matters tangents related. What ultimately will divide the perceptions of his material resides in the rhythm department I suspect. That part of the proceedings is of a substantially less intriguing nature, at least for someone accustomed to purebred progressive rock. Sometimes I'd halfway suspect that a drum machine was involved, and I'm unsure of just how much thought was given to the development of that part of the proceedings. And the case of the distinct biers-tube atmosphere of a piece like March to Betlehem, created by the combination of marching rhythms and a dark tuba-like sound, one I suspect will have a limited appeal. Opening track Summer Morning is also worth mentioning as the odd one out on this production, a more typical pop ballad recorded in Norway; the only piece of music featuring vocals, and topically dealing with Norway's encounter with extreme right terrorism on July 22nd 2011. As such, this is a creation with a different appeal and target audience than the rest of this production.
Conclusion. Compositions that by and large appear to have been worked out on the piano is what you'll find on this album, carefully flavored with gentle but richly textured symphonic backdrops. Not progressive rock or music per se, but bordering on the oldest parts of the symphonic art rock universe at it's best, where sheer excellence in the performance of central parts of the compositions is the aspect that does remove the material from many ordinary productions of this kind.
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