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(64:02, MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. And the World Will Be 9:18 2. So Far and So Near 10:01 3. Mounds 7:08 4. Energy of Light 8:35 5. As You Wish I Care Not 9:04 6. A New Day Will Come 5:21 7. Thread of Love 8:37 8. And I Will Follow 6:05 LINEUP: Tatyana Kanevskaya – guitar; backing vox; sampling Elena Kanevskaya – vocals; keyboards, sampling Dmitry Shtatnov – bass, b/v, theremin Dmitry Drogunov – flutes, b/v Sergey Rogulya – drums With: Sergey Nikonorov – drums Leonid Semirukhin – trumpet Georgy Mansurov – clarinet Anton Nikita – French horn Mikhail Mirity – trombone Anton Baltsevich – oboe Denis Pashchenko – violin Dmitry Shishkin – violin Sergey Sivolgin – violin Dmitry Efimov – violin Pavel Bezinsky – viola Sergey Shavrin – viola Alena Babakhodzhayeva – cello
Prolusion. The Russian band ETERNAL WANDERERS was formed by Elena and Tatyana Kanevskaya in 1997. The two of them were the only permanent members for many years, but in 2006 the addition of a bassist and a drummer made it a true-bred band. In 2008 they released their debut album "The Door to a Parallel World", and "So Far and So Near" is their second full-length effort. This latest production was issued by MALS Records in the summer of 2011.
Analysis. One look at the line-up and instrumentation credits for this production should make most people realize that we're dealing with an album a bit out of the ordinary on this occasion. It's not unusual to get a token few acoustic instrumentalists to add color to your recordings, especially not in the progressive rock universe, but including what basically appears to be a small-scale symphonic orchestra-worth of guest musicians isn't something one encounters too often these days. Especially not when the band in question has instrumentalists of their own that could cater for most (if not all) of these aspects themselves. The most surprising part is still that this CD isn't at all firmly based within the centre of the symphonic parts of the art rock universe. And while diversity is something of a key word for this creation, it's not of the kind that might be described as challenging either, at least not within the context of being demanding from a listener's point of view. Personally I'd describe this disc as one with a foundation in some sort of cinematic symphonic art rock. Added to acoustic instrument arrangements aplenty, keyboards and organ are near ever-present elements, be it as subtly refined subservient motifs or majestic, dominant theme providers. Both old-school symphonic progressive rock fans as well as those with a soft spot for more atmospheric neo-progressive rock will find themes and passages to their liking of the darker, mournful-sounding variety as well as the lighter-toned, dream-laden one. The occasional longing guitar solo, evoking Camel’s Andrew Latimer in style, is just as common as massive, majestic guitar riff and orchestration combinations, the latter closing in on progressive metal in the most intense moments. But as intriguing as these dual and contrasting expressions are, there are many additional details to enjoy: traces of free-flowing jazz rock by way of nifty guitar passages for instance, true to life cinematic sequences with sampled sounds and voices taking the lead; joyful, relatively simplistic escapades where the acoustic guitar and flute invite the listener to a joyful folk-inspired flirtation, nicely accompanied by appropriate percussion details. The odd acoustic classical insertion fits in quite nicely too, and it feels both natural and logical when Eternal Wanderers opt to include a few avant-garde moments in these passages. And in the odd-one-out department, there's A New Day Will Come, which in a natural and logical manner manages to go from swirling, Depeche Mode-style synth pop in the verse parts to joyful art pop at the onset of the chorus, further evolving into a spirited progressive folk-oriented finale that flows gleefully back to repeat the process. Not the best composition at hand, but most certainly amongst the more intriguing. Another strong candidate for the latter is the following Thread of Love, where the use of different arrangements for the main, recurring theme is a joyful trip into an innovative and (dare I say it?) original approach to the art of composing. The instrumentals impress one just as much as the songs featuring lead vocals do, some of them greatly. Not quite an instant classic in my opinion, but a production that has the potential to be regarded as one in hindsight. Time will have to tell how that one turns out.
Conclusion. "So Far and So Near" is an album that comes across as a clear highlight of productions issued in 2011 as far as I'm concerned. The cinematic, symphonic foundation obviously makes the symphonic art rock crowd something of a key audience, but with a width in scope and innovative touch that should intrigue a majority of art rock fans. Not a band that will be to the taste of all and sundry however, at least not initially, but one that merits a check by those who tend to enjoy high-quality music in general. A warm recommendation from me, with hopes of artistic and commercial success to follow for this fine Russian ensemble.
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