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Tracklist: 1. Castle of Elves 8:55 (Pozdin, Alexandrov) 2. Jasper Garden 1:52 (EJO) 3. Tea Ceremony 10:17 (Pozdin, Alexandrov) 4. Cave of Delusion 3:19 (EJO) 5. Knightmare 4:55 (Nemirovsky, Oakman) 6. Pilgrims 8:37 (Pozdin, Alexandrov) 7. On the Hill Again 7:22 (Oakman) Arrangements: by Er J Orchestra. Line-up: Alexei Alexandrov - piano; recorder; various percussion instruments (+ harp on 7) Gregory Nemirovsky - various brass- & wood-winds (+ piano on 2 & 4) Oakman - drums & percussion (+vocals on 7; vocalize on 1) Vladimir Sorotchenko - bass Victor Krisko - violin Alexei Kabanov - Russian harp (+ lyre on 6) Valery Koshman - guitar-synth (on 1, 4, 6 & 7) Andrey Chuguevets - accordion (on 1 & 7); acoustic guitar (on 1), & Ukrainian mandolin (on 4) Dr.Kobtsev - percussion (on 1, 4, 6 & 7); vocalize (on 1) Alexander Blinov - glockenspiel (on 1) & vibraphone (on 4 & 6) Anjey Pozdin - lead vocals (on 1); acoustic guitar (on 3) Produced by Alexandrov, Oakman, & A. Vikhorev. Recorded, mixed, & mastered by Arkady Vikhorev at "ArkadiA" studio, Kiev, Ukraine. Tracks 1, 4, 6, & 7 recorded live in Kiev's Planetarium; edited, overdubbed, & mixed at "ArkadiA". Tracks 2, 3, & 5 recorded, etc, at "ArkadiA".
Prologue. "On the Hill Again" is the second album by Ukraine's premier Progressive Rock band Er J Orchestra (EJO hereinafter; not to confuse with ELO -:). All the compositions that are presented on this album are new. To read the review on the debut EJO album "Gabrielus", click here.
The Album. Despite the fact that "On the Hill Again" has the same distinctly original and unique sound, which was laid on the debut EJO album, there are a few of the notable differences between these works. Above all, the composite structures of this 'hill' are truly composite. They're more complex than those of a monument to Gabrielus. Now, the band refused to use the melancholically meditative shades that were present here and there on their debut album, but concentrated on the further development of their unique style. All five of the long compositions of this album: Castle of Elves, Tea Ceremony, Knightmare, Pilgrims, and On the Hill Again (tracks 1, 3, 5, 6, & 7), were created within the framework of a unified stylistics. And this stylistics is so unique that it deserves to be described in detail. So I have to tell you about all the principal constituents of it before labeling EJO as a band of some of one progressive genre. Classical Academic Music, Classic Symphonic Art-Rock, Jazz-Fusion, Avant-garde, Slavic, Eastern, pagan, and medieval tunes: all of these genres, etc, are mixed in the new music by EJO (which, of course, is a chamber ensemble rather than a Rock band). It's clear that such a polymorphous stylistics (that is a real hallmark of today's EJO!) just cannot fit any of the first four 'chief' Progressive Rock genres, namely Art-Rock, Jazz-Fusion, Prog-Metal, & RIO. So the number of units of Progressive's Fifth Element genre has grown again, which, with regard to the Slavonic band (or the band of Slavonic Progressive, if you will), happened for the first time. There are almost no repetitions on those five compositions that I've mentioned above. In other words, the arrangements that are featured on them develop almost constantly, which is in many ways close to Academic Music. All five of the said compositions contain from a few to a dozen of the different musical palettes, most of which consist of very exotic shades. Although the arrangements that are present on these pieces are moderately quiet rather than powerful, all of them are highly complex and, at the same time, very intriguing. The slow passages of piano change with diverse and, often, contrasting interplay between passages of acoustic guitar, piano, violin, and Russian harp, and solos of various woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments, etc, again and again, and over (the hill, most likely). While listening to Castle of Elves (1) with its quiet musical atmosphere and vocalizes that reproduce the voices of drunk elves, I had the impression that this way, EJO assert that a decent drunkenness of elves just cannot be compared with people's hard drinking. Although the album's title-track (7) contains a few of the (excellent) vocal parts (lyrics are in English), there aren't repeats on it as well. Apart from a wide variety of the joint arrangements, On the Hill Again features also a wonderful episode where the simultaneous solos of acoustic guitar and recorder were performed in fourth and fifth. (To my surprise, it turned out to be that the lyrics of the album's title-track have nothing to do with the Hill of the USA -:). Have a look at the album's track-list, and you'll see that both of the remaining tracks, Jasper Garden and Cave of Delusion (2 & 4), present the collective creation of EJO. The first of them is a very short piece that, moreover, fluidly flows into the next track. In that way, Jasper Garden can be regarded as an intro to Tea Ceremony. As for Cave of Delusion, which is a separate track that, in addition, lasts more than three minutes, it is completely unstructured and filled with chaotic, spontaneous, etc, "solos" (okay, let's call them 'free improvisations') by the band members and noisy effects. In my honest opinion, this track should not have been included in "On the Hill Again". However, its presence on this unique album just cannot deprive it of the status of masterpiece. (After all, does "45 minutes" sound really better than "40 minutes"?)
Summary. I would be happy if this band would find a way to distribute their CDs all over the world. Such a wonderful creation as EJO's should not have to be lost for present and future generations of the Progressive Music lovers.
VM. June 20, 2002
Er J Orchestra's web-site:
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