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Lost World - 2006 - "Awakening of the Elements"

(49:15, Musea Records)


******
                 
TRACK LIST:                   
                               
1.  Awakening of the Elements 4:23
2.  Infinity Street 6:44
3.  Simoom 3:42
4.  Over the Islands 3:55
5.  Scenery With a Guitar 3:30
6.  Schostoccata 5:18
7.  States of Mind-1 3:47
8.  States of Mind-2 3:42
9.  States of Mind-3 3:26
10. Paranoia Blues 2:26
11. Collision of the Elements 5:13
12. Sky Wide Open 3:02

LINEUP:

Andrij Didorenko - el. & ac. guitars, bass, el. & ac. violins
Alexander Akimov - keyboards, piano, programming
Vassily Soloviev - flute; percussion    

Prolusion. The three graduates of Moscow's conservatory whose names you can see above formed LOST WORLD some fifteen years ago, but their first brainchild, "Trajectories", saw the light of day only in 2002, via Boheme Music (a Russian label which, however, was located in the Czech Republic - already defunct to all appearances). "Awakening of the Elements" is the second album by the trio and is their first release for Musea Records. Whether rightly or not, but I associate the band's name with the novel of that name by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Analysis. The sound of this album is so lush that I'd easily have believed its makers to be a five-piece group or even a sextet had I not known the real state of affairs. Please have a look at the lineup above. Thanks to the frequent yet always appropriately deployed overdubs, most of the instruments listed share the leads between them on most of the disc's twelve tracks, the group usually keeping a fast pace, playing in a way that is at once jovial, lively and masterful. Besides, their broad use of acoustic and classical instrumentation (almost everywhere on the recording) - violins, flute, piano and acoustic guitar - makes me often perceive them as a chamber rock mini-orchestra. Okay, they utilize programmed drums instead of a real drum kit, but the engine has a surprisingly solid sound and is additionally so well programmed that only complete purists may be dissatisfied. In any event, Lost World's music is genuinely spirited and is in most cases winningly unpredictable, filled with dynamism, notable for its passionate thematic evolution, which is nowadays a rare rather than frequent occurrence on the Art-Rock scene especially taking into account the relative shortness of the tracks. Yes, much of the music falls squarely into the idiom of Symphonic Progressive, where the harmonic coexistence of different subsidiary elements (metal and classical ones in this particular case) is secured by the collective nature of the genre itself. After listening to the title track, which is assuredly something halfway between Can I Tell You from the eponymous Kansas debut album and Caesar's Palace Blues from UK's "Danger Money", I came to the thought those influences would be widespread on the recording, but it was a hasty conclusion. Infinity Street merges already familiar structures with those suggesting Folk Rock, the tune arousing completely different associations. The acoustic guitar, that runs almost all through it, constantly changes its patterns, evoking now Ian Anderson, now Steve Howe or even Tony Iommi's style of playing, whilst the overall picture reminds me somewhat of a cross between The Morrigan, Jethro Tull and Skyclad. However already the third track, Simoom, while being much in the same style as the title number, reveals no traces of outside factors, most of the consequent ones just proving that Lost World has a sound which is very much their own. The four pieces that follow each other from the sixth to the ninth position are the ones on which the group's passion for Classical music reaches its apogee, the latter three being distinguished from all the other cuts by their abundance of string patterns, often with both the violins credited figuring prominently. The Great Russian classical composers, Rimsky-Korsakov and Shostakovitch, are both an obvious influence on Schostoccata, although the cut's title suggests only the latter, whereas on each of the three parts of States of Mind, the classical component appears naturally, coming from inside or, rather, from the musicians themselves. While suiting the prevalent style too, Collision of the Elements is for the most part organ-driven Prog that many symphonic art-rock aficionados, but especially those of ELP, will welcome wholeheartedly. All the described cuts are pleasantly complex and magical alike, being generally brilliant, getting better every time I listen to them. Paranoia Blues and Sky Wide Open, each reminds me of a more atmospheric and, at the same time, mellower version of Schostoccata and Infinity Street, respectively. The remaining two pieces, Scenery with a Guitar and Over the Islands, are both completely outside the primary style. The former begins and ends as a sort of ambient Space Fusion with fluid guitar solos slightly resembling those by Allan Holdsworth, whilst its mid-section, with only tambourine, bass drum and acoustic guitar in the arrangement, has a distinct medieval (or, maybe, even pagan) feeling. The latter is heavy Rock-&-Roll with some fine slap bass solos in the funk style.

Conclusion. As should be clear from the review, not all of the tracks are consistently groundbreaking, but anyway there is not a single weak moment on this disc. The fruits of its makers' conservatory education find their reflection not only in the group's playing skills, but also in much of their music itself, and will generally not remain unnoticed on the part of the observant listener. If you like compositional inventiveness and massive classical influences within Symphonic Progressive, delivered with the energy of Kansas in a purely instrumental form, then "Awakening of the Elements" is certainly a CD you will want to have in your collection. Earnestly recommended.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: Agst 1, 2010
The Rating Room


Lost World - 2006 - "Awakening of the Elements"

*****+

Analysis. The connection between progressive rock and classical music is a long-standing one, though in the past few years it seems to have somewhat fallen out of favour, at least in the English-speaking world. Other countries, on the margins of the empire, so to speak especially those that possess a rich tradition in this sense still treasure their heritage, so it is not surprising to see bands from places such as Italy or Russia incorporate classical elements into their work. Though not by any means an expert in Russian prog, from my experience as a listener and reviewer, I can say that, without the influence of classical (especially Romantic) music, most of those bands would not exist or, at the very least, would sound very different. Unlike their fellow countrymen Little Tragedies, however, Lost World approach the classical/rock crossover from an angle that relies more on dynamics than on the grandiose sweep of the symphonic tradition. A trio of gifted, conservatory-trained musicians, their vision is supported by a solid background knowledge of the musical heritage of their country, as well as a thorough mastery of their instruments. The result of their collective efforts, while it can be loosely termed chamber rock, sharply differs from what we generally associate with such a label. Indeed, rather than sparse and eerily atmospheric like Univers Zero and their ilk, Lost Worlds music is quite upbeat, beautifully flowing and richly melodic. Besides the basic rock instrumentation of bass and guitar (the drums are programmed, though not as annoying as they can often be), Lost World employ a wide array of keyboards, as well as flute, violin and assorted percussion instruments. Though there is enough electricity in their music to remind the listener of the bands allegiance to the rock aesthetic, the main foundation of Lost Worlds sound is acoustic. Good examples of this are the energetic title-track and Infinity Street, the longest number on the album, and one of the most complex where acoustic and electric guitar chords are juxtaposed with somewhat discordant yet intriguing results, and further spiced by some Spanish-style percussion. More discordant, RIO/Avant-flavoured passages grace the dramatic Simoom, driven along by swirling violin and piano flurries bolstered by guitar and flute. Scenes with a Guitar, as the title implies, borders on ambient territory, with hypnotic acoustic guitar chords and rarefied keyboard washes; while both Schostoccata and Collision of the Elements are high-energy offerings with a clear classical matrix, alternating frantic-paced passages with more stately ones. However, the former revolves around the interplay between violin and guitar, while the latters organ-driven, dramatic scope brings to mind the grandeur of ELP. On the other hand, it should be pointed out that not all the compositions are equally strong. The three-part mini-suite States of Mind is only a partial success, mainly on account of the lyrical, violin-based Part 2. The other two parts often border on the cheesy, reminding me a bit too much of the dreaded classical pop adaptations that were so popular in the Seventies and Eighties, especially Part 1, with its disco-like beat and assorted electronic effects. The relaxed, Latin-flavoured Sky Wide Open, while by no means a bad track, comes across as a rather anticlimactic ending to the album: in my opinion, Collision of the Elements would have made a much more fitting conclusion. These are, however, rather minor quibbles, considering the overall high level of the performances and compositions whose running time Lost World have wisely kept under control. At just under 50 minutes, the album is the perfect length to allow listeners to enjoy the music without getting overwhelmed by sub-par filler material.

Conclusion. Lovers of instrumental, classical-based progressive rock will not be disappointed by Awakening of the Elements, an album that might have been intolerably pretentious, but sounds instead fresh and engaging. Even if a couple of tracks are not on the same level as the rest, the quality of the musicianship and the lively, upbeat nature of the compositions more than make up for that.

RB=Raffaella Berry: Agst 8, 2010
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Musea Records
Lost World


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