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(77 min, MALS & Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Sixth Sense 8:27 2. Bird 9:23 3. On The Seashore 10:29 4. Prodigal Son 12:35 5. Consolation 4:24 6. Dream 3:17 7. Bonding 1:49 8. Turkey 4:25 9. I Am Polite With Modern Life 3:46 10. Pre-Memory 7:06 11. You And I 7:43 12. I Haven't Lived I've Suffered Through It 3:50 LINEUP: Gennady Ilyin - keyboards; vocals Alexander Malakhovsky - guitar Oleg Babynin - bass Yuri Skripkin - drums Aleksey Bildin - saxophone With: Alexander Mamontov - trumpet
Prolusion. Every now and then I receive a CD that just begs to be shared with my friends. I love sharing great music with people. Little Tragedies' "The Sixth Sense" (a follow-up to their fifth release, "New Faust") has been just such an album.
Analysis. The title track launches squarely into the band's sound, which combines classic prog keyboards with very contemporary metal tinged guitars. The Sixth Sense is full-blown symphonic prog, with majestic themes and varied sections. The vocals are all sung in Russian, which for non-Russian monoglots or non-Slavs could be a drawback, but for those who don't mind hearing another language coming from their speakers, the vocals are well sung. I'm rather partial to a band singing in their own language, even if I don't know what they're singing about. It allows the vocals to be simply another instrument without lyrical colorings. Bird starts off in a very Floydish fashion, with Bildin's sax and Malakhovsky's slide guitar sounding all the world like "Dark Side of the Moon". However, at about the 3-minute mark, the piano comes on like a gale, driving away the sleepy calm. The guitar and bass join the piano, while Bildin's sax and Manontov's trumpet provide some counterpoint in this central classically influenced section, shortly overtaken by some serious prog metal guitar with the synthesizer crying out over the top. As quickly as the storm blew in, however, it dissipates with a return to the original theme reintroduced by the piano, only slower and more relaxed, followed by sax and synth solos. On the Seashore begins peacefully and atmospherically, ambient in style through the two-minute intro. Electric guitar and harpsichord-like create an intimate chamber style framing for the vocals. At the halfway mark the guitar work could be likened to Sieges Even from their "The Art of Navigating by the Stars" album. This, section forms a driving, agitated bridge, bringing the listener back to the relative calm of the vocals for the remainder of the song. Consolation is quiet, like a lullaby. The sax and laconic electric piano would be well suited on a smooth jazz album. The vocals are soothing and at times a breathy whisper. Dream's rapid-fire vocals are delivered as an animated discussion or debate, sung from the right and left channels over Ilyin's flowing piano work. The tempo is a hurried 3/4 signature. Following the vocals, the sax and guitar fly away with the melody in tandem. It's a very energetic tune, ending in a very pretty and minimal piano ending. Bonding is the second track that slows the pace down and is quite similar to Consolation in its electric piano/vocal style, also the shortest track on the album. There's just enough time to catch your breath before Turkey's cheerful and energetic synthesizer work takes off, reminding me a bit of "A Glimpse of Home" from Kansas' "Monolith" album in its bouncy heroic theme. There is synthesizer a plenty throughout this upbeat song, with guitar and sax solos. I have no idea what I am Polite With Modern Life means. Most of the song is vocal over harpsichord, with a touch of electric guitar and synth work, the bass line very understated. Pre-Memory is another laid-back composition with the vocal this time laid in over finger picking on a rich sounding steel string electric guitar, with the synthesizer chirping along merrily in the background. The central bridge features Bildin's saxophone, again infusing the jazz element. You and I is another brightly colored song, a veritable potpourri of instrumentation, interspersing classical piano, organ, guitar and synthesizer throughout the instrumental sections, including a bit of synth-horn fanfare. This song is another good example of the Little Tragedies sound, blending classic symphonic prog with contemporary guitar tone. The drumming throughout the album is very tight and crisp, never overbearing. The finale track provides, I Haven't Lived I've Suffered Through It, a quiet, contemplative and somewhat melancholy ending.
Conclusion. Sometimes we try to be too analytical in how we approach our reviews. We tend to give a play by play of each track, dissecting it as though this were science. It's not science. This is art and Little Tragedies is a fine art-rock / symphonic prog band. At the heart of their music is well-crafted melody. This truly is the soul of their music. They blend classical intricacies with the power of modern metal. Do not mistake what I'm saying here, they are not a metal band, or even a prog metal band. They are an amalgamation of numerous styles and influences, including classical, jazz, pop and rock. Heavy guitar work is just one element, but by no means dominates. The vocals are emotionally charged and dramatic. This band has done a fine job of blending classic prog ideals and flavorings with a contemporary sound. Classic keyboard sounds stand squarely toe-to-toe with crunchy guitars and guitar hero type arpeggios. I highly recommend "The Sixth Sense".
KW: January 20, 2007
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