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(45:27, Dreaming Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Kleti Quatro 4:42 2. Reversal 9:18 3. Joining 7:53 4. Light Transmission 7:03 5. March of Schizophrenics 5:49 6. Ashkhabad Story 10:42 LINEUP: Andrei Petrov – guitars Valery Berestov – bass Alexander Kravtsov – drums Andrei Alekseev – synths Alexei Klabukov – organ
Prolusion. The Russian quartet GDEVA was formed in St. Petersburg in 2005, and has been an active live and recording unit ever since. The band members' aim is to improvise and avoid repeating themselves and they draw many of their influences from the psychedelic rock of the 60's and 70's according to their self-description. "Kleti Quatro" is their second full-length album and was released by the French label Musea Records in 2011.
Analysis. Psychedelic rock in general and space rock in particular have always been fascinating aspects of the art rock universe for me. Decades ago my interest in sophisticated rock was fuelled after encountering Hawkwind, and I have enjoyed many other artists described as space rock in style since then, to a lesser or greater degree admittedly. And in the case of the Russian band Gdeva, this is very much a case of the latter. This all-instrumental band has managed to create half a dozen workouts here that are highly effective specimens of the genre, despite a subtly minimalistic approach. Or to put it that way: those fond of majestic arrangements, multilayered synth and guitar textures, crafting massive soundscapes heavily spiced with sounds and effects, might not feel quite at home in Gdeva's rather more desolate universe. Less is more is a description that often comes to mind while exploring this disc. Steady bass and drums make up the foundation for this band as with so many others exploring this type of music. The former is given occasional free rein to wander about and in one case provides a driving, distinct-sounding base motif, the latter moves back and forth between energetic displays and quirkier, sophisticated patterns as needed. No big thrills or limelight-inducing performances from either instrumentalist, but rather skill utilized with carefully controlled restraint. The synthesizer has more of a subservient role than is common for most contemporary space rock acts, however, adding nuances and slight details to a much greater extent than providing soaring textures, distinct effects and fluctuating motifs more commonly used by others. Occasional surges and effective use of sampled voices appear on occasion, but by and large the tangents and effects cater to the finer details on this production, leaving the limelight for the guitar. And those fond of this instrument utilized in a fine, nuanced and skilled manner will find plenty to enjoy on this disc: careful, plucked motifs, gently wandering soloing, fragile, lightly distorted riffs and licks. Massive riffs and darker, brooding atmospheres are generally avoided, the sound being most commonly frail, instances of distortion applied with care, and mostly staying put within the lighter register. And with occasional application of the guitar to provide textured motifs in a similar manner to what some post-rock outfits do. Within this framework Gdeva has produced six fine efforts, where careful developments, subtle alterations and gentle variety are key elements in maintaining nerve and interest. Transitional inserts are used sparingly, but effectively, in particular on the brilliant March of the Schizophrenics, but apart from that minor adjustments of pace and the intensity, instrument expressions cater for the development of these improvisational sounding journeys in an elegant and refined manner, without ever needing to use any kind of dramatic effect whatsoever.
Conclusion. Space rock made and performed in an elegant, subtle manner is what Gdeva has to offer on their second album "Kleti Quatro". Light-toned guitar riffs, licks and soloing take the driver's seat, backed by dampened synth textures and effects, while a steady bass and drums combination caters for drive and energy. If you generally enjoy psychedelic rock and space rock, and approve of a less-is-more approach to this kind of music, chances are good that Gdeva is a band you should get better acquainted with.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: January 7, 2012
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