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(50:01, MALS Records)
Prolusion. Keyboardist and composer Gennady ILYIN is the founder and mastermind of Little Tragedies, one of Russia’s most important progressive rock bands. “The Sun of the Spirit”, originally recorded in 1998, was released in 2000 as Little Tragedies’ second album. In 2009 MALS Records re-released it and its predecessor, “Porcelain Pavilion”, as Gennady Ilyin’s solo projects. Like most of Little Tragedies’ albums, “The Sun of the Spirit” is based on the lyrics of early 20th-century poet Nikolai Gumilev.
TRACK LIST: 1. Parrot 6:16 2. Witch 7:54 3. I Saw a Dream 5:06 4. Reader of Books 8:43 5. Thoughts 6:29 6. Marquis de Karabas 3:49 7. Post Officer 3:53 8. The Sun of the Spirit 3:51 9. Christmas 3:59 (b/t) LINEUP: Gennady Ilyin – keyboards; vocals Igor Mikhel – guitars
Analysis. Fans of Ilyin's band Little Tragedies will most certainly recognize this production, as this album was issued under the band's moniker rather than as a solo venture first time around. So although recorded 11 years ago and issued the first time 9 years ago, 2009 is the first time that Ilyin's debut solo effort has been issued under his own name. What we're served on this production is a pretty diverse offering of symphonic music: quite a few of the nine creations presented belonging to that particular dimension of the art rock universe, but not all of them. The opening three compositions in particular could hardly be described as rock within any definition of the genre, exploring musical territories somewhere in between classical symphonic and symphonic electronic in style. On these three efforts the keyboards do a good job in providing classical symphonic textures and the tracks end up as pretty captivating numbers overall, as individual as well as combined descriptors. These are creations that I hope some day will be performed by a symphony orchestra, where Witch in particular is an effective track with its at times frantic pace and bombastic tendencies. The following track, Reader of Books, seems to explore similar territories at first, until a sudden break 3 minutes in adds techno-inspired rhythms to this effort; a surprising turn of events that actually comes across as successful for this release. With Thoughts the album moves on to art rock territories - the song in question a grandiose creation I presume has been inspired by ‘70s greats Emerson, Lake & Palmer – especially since Ilyin apparently is a major fan of Keith Emerson, but also because the song in question combines explosive keyboards with energetic guitars and rhythms in a manner many followers of ELP would find familiar. For the following two efforts classical symphonic elements are combined with folk music tendencies for a lighter, joyful musical expression where the first of those, Marquis De Karabas, stands out as a really intriguing effort of the kind you'd listen to on a gray day to get in a better mood, and hot on the heels of those two excursions comes the title track, a gentle atmospheric venture more in the vein of what is generally spoken of as Neo-Progressive rock. Album closer Christmas, a bonus track that did not appear on the first pressing of the disc, represents yet another aspect of Ilyin's work: This time a gentle piano effort that evolves into a majestic, multiple layered effort that wouldn't have been out of place on a ‘70s album by a pomp rock outfit exploring the symphonic subset of the genre. This is a diverse album, obviously dominated by the keyboards of Ilyin, and as such it is a fine effort. One aspect of this production that may be off-putting is Ilyin's vocals which are a blend of spoken voice and song that is pretty unique and with Russian lyrics as well. The end result is vocals that some will have a hard time appreciating.
Conclusion. The main weakness of this effort is a distinct lack of original elements. Despite the diversity at hand this venture covers musical territories pretty extensively covered back in the ‘70s. As long as you aren't underwhelmed by Ilyin's vocals this disc is an interesting one. Well made and well performed, this is a strong effort that should find an audience among those who enjoy symphonic art rock.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: September 19, 2009
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