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(59:12; Eternal Wanderers)
I have been fortunate to hear quite a lot of Russian progressive rock over the years, and in many ways the scene over there makes me think a great deal of the Polish prog scene in that there are some amazing bands which many in the west would really enjoy if only they knew about them. A case in point is Eternal Wanderers who are now back with their fourth album, which for any proghead should be a time for much celebration. I first came across them was Andy Didorenko (Lost World Band – another great Russian outfit) put them in touch with me when they released their last album, ‘The Mystery of the Cosmic Sorrow’ and I enjoyed it so much I went backwards and discovered the others as well. The group was formed by the Kanevskaya sisters Elena (lead vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, samplers, theremin) and Tatyana (guitars, backing vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, samplers), more than 20 years ago while Elena’s husband Dmitry Shtatnov (bass, keyboards, synthesizers, lead vocal on “Homeless Soul”, backing vocals, samplers, sitar, custom DSP algorithms) has also been there since the early days while this is the third album for Sergey Rogulya (drums, percussion). So the line-up has been incredibly consistent in some ways, but the flute has historically been an important instrument to the band and now they have settled down to just the core quartet with some additional vocalists on one song and a violin on one more. Musically this is easily their most vast and compelling album to date. There are times when it sounds like a science fiction soundtrack, while at others it is almost modern classical with pretty much everything in between with pop, rock, prog, avant garde and even ethnic thrown into the mix. Elena is a wonderful singer, yet strangely for a band who has such a powerful weapon in their arsenal it is used rather sparingly and there are large areas in the album where the band operate as an instrumental quartet. Sergey is an expressive drummer who knows his way around the whole of what sounds like a very large kit, dramatically changing his attack according to what else is going on, while Dmitry is a multi-instrumentalist who changes what he is doing according to the need (the sparing use of sitar is both surprising yet fits perfectly in the context). Then there are the sisters. Elena is of course the main keyboard player, but with two others also adding to the mix there is a wide range of keyboard sounds and styles at play, yet it never seems massively over the top (and everyone loves a theremin, even Sheldon!). But what cuts through this bank of sound is not only the rhythm section but the guitar of Tatyana, who approaches the music in many different styles. She can be staccato and choppy, allow herself to provide Hackett-style influences, or even come at it in a few heavier manner altogether. It is the huge amount of musical styles on show which makes this such as compelling album, yet always with a cinematic quality which makes me think of ‘Blade Runner’, and “Homeless Soul” in particular would have been a perfect fit, even though it does seem rather strange to hear it as Dmitry here is providing the lead as he plays the part. This is an album which takes the listener on a journey, one where the destination is unknown, as is the route one is taking to get there, but it is a case of sitting back and enjoying the ride. It may have been a few years since the last album but there is no doubt this is their finest to date, and one which I heartily recommend. If you have yet to come across the wonderful progressive sound of Eternal Wanderers then start here.
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