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(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
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