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(50:14, RAIG Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Invisibly Join 5:33 2. Corridor 5:02 3. From Where the Wind Blows 7:05 4. 888 3:09 5. Autumn Velvet 5:05 6. RUNNN 6:07 7. Mensura Zoili 6:08 8. Chinese Butterfly 12:54 LINEUP: Garry Uporoff – guitar Dmitry Chernishev – guitar Alexander Meshcheryakov – bass Oleg Anurin – keyboards; flute Denis Kurlaev – trombone Igor Sokur – trumpet KS - drums
Prolusion. INFRONT is a Russian band that can trace it roots back to 1999, when two kindred musical souls met, found out that their goals and thoughts on composition coincided, and quite soon found two more musicians eager to create compositions not confined to the traditional boundaries of rock or jazz. For the next 6 years the four musicians (see lineup above) developed, evolved and refined their ideas, and in 2005 a concrete result was made available to the public at large – the CD "Wordless", released by RAIG Music.
Analysis. Diversity and versatility are the words that first come to mind when trying to summarize this creation. Instrumental progressive rock is a description that, although correct, doesn't even come close to describing the music on this fine debut release. The abundance of adventurous explorations really merits some keywords on their own in this case. At the time of the recording of this album, this act consisted of one drummer, one bassist and two guitarists, and it is kind of obvious that the six-stringers are the central sound and melody providers in such a setting. In this case we're presented with rather more flavors of it than on the average guitar-dominated production, though. Quite a few of these compositions will start off with an acoustic or mellow guitar-based motif, in some cases following just after an intro sequence, while in others this is the actual as well as musical start. This motif will then gradually evolve by instrument additions or breaks, with a second guitar coming in to add nuances, providing atmospheric melodic lines or to add a harmony layer. The next phase of the compositions will often be a change into more hard rock influenced patterns, quite often a distinct riff-based guitar theme unfolding with harmonic or dissonant additions from the second guitar as the compositions gradually changes and quite soon a guitar soloing pattern will come in. A characteristic trait of this production as a whole is the absence of shredding and similar technical explorations; whether utilized as melodic overlay, distorted or drawn out notes of highly distorted screeching bursts, the guitar soloing has a clear and distinct focus on atmosphere and melody. The guitar soloing aspect of the compositions has varying degrees of dominance as well. It's rare that the songs as such are a foundation for the soloing; instead they add to the existing melody line and will quite often be an interwoven part in it, and it may nevertheless serve purely as a melodic overlay for the main theme explored. As the song moves forward we're also treated to distinct metal-tinged elements in some cases, utilizing highly distorted riffs and chords to explore this facet, more often than not with a raw and wild sound as the result. The guitar riffs, chords and licks tend to have a quirky quality to them, and appear to be rather complex and challenging to perform in many instances. This quirky approach is to be found in the compositional structure as well; few compositions have a linear evolvement. Stylistic exploration may go back and forth, mellow melodic parts of distinctly jazz-tinged parts may be inserted, and it seems that this production has been made with an – expect the unexpected – philosophy in mind. There are other instruments in addition to guitars forming the soundscapes here too, obviously. Drums and bass provide rhythms and drive, with the bass guitar given some freedom to roam and provide some melodic motifs of its own. Keyboards are sparingly used to add nuances and textural details. The track Autumn Velvet includes trombone and trumpet for a groovy jazz and funk inspired creation with fusion tinges, and the final tune Chinese Butterfly deploys keyboards and flutes to help in providing an atmosphere that probably is more Chinese-inspired than directly influenced. This last composition is to some extent in contrast to the other explorations on this release, and as such a good choice for ending this album.
Conclusion. This talented Russian outfit explores a complex brand of guitar-based instrumental progressive rock, with a fondness for quirky structural arrangements and adventurous musical details. It focuses on mood and atmosphere, and does so in a setting with technically challenging music that demands listener attention. It's not a perfect release, but a very solid one - one worthwhile to check out for followers of instrumental progressive hard rock with some leanings towards jazz and metal.
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