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Pesniary (Belarus) - 1980/2000 - "Gusliar"
Gusliar 36:54 (I.Lutchenok/J.Kupahla/V.Muliavin)
Line-up: Vladimir Muliavin - guitars, vocals, keyboards; Cheslav Poplavsky - violin; Valery Daineko - cello; Vladimir Tkatchenko - bass violoncello; Vladislav Misevitch - flute, vocals; Mark Pekarsky - drums; & others
Prologue. With this review I begin a long series of materials dedicated to Progressive Rock performers of the USSR / C.I.S., whose brilliant works have been so wonderfully reanimated by excellent Russian label "Boheme Music". It's great to know that "Boheme" will carry on in the same direction in the future to familiarize us with one of the most unique and important Progressive Rock movements, still very little known in the rest of the world, in the world in general. That's for sure, as the majority of Prog-heads in C.I.S. especially the new generations know about the true Russian Rock by hearsay only. So let's begin with Pesniary (I didn't say the best "Soviet" band or album yet). I've always sympathized to this band from Belarus for their genuinely good, interesting and, that's the main thing, very original music. Already as a boy, I understood that Pesniary were in some ways a really great band, but I haven't listened to this album until now, because then I was just beginning to get into serious music and my musical orientation was distinctly Western. Only now do I really understand that throughout the "dark 80's decade" the USSR was the richest country in regard of masterpieces of Progressive rock. Don't you believe me? But I think visitors to ProgressoR understand that the true purpose of my work is first of all to be honest with the readers.
The album. "Gusliar" contains only one self-titled epic and conceptual composition, stylistically close to the genre of Rock Opera. It was created by the well-known in USSR / C.I.S. composer Igor Lutchenock on the basis of the "Kurghan" poem by the remarkable writer Yanka Kupala (his name sounds almost like Yankee, yet both aforementioned authors are Belorussians) and arranged within the frames of Rock Music by Pesniary leader Vladimir Mulyavin. From the first till the last note "Gusliar" is a true "child" of Progressive Rock, as both the vocal and instrumental thematic palettes of the album amaze with richness of colours, and especially of varieties of them. That said, "Gusliar" definitely induces me to think about its relation to Rock Opera, though already in the fact of creation of such a monolithic epic musical piece on a text basis lies the same idea. First of all, though, it's connected with vocal themes and arrangements, whereas instrumental canvases are so intensive that listening to them I clearly see these are arrangements of the pure Classic Symphonic Art Rock, full of varied and sometimes totally unpredictable breaks and time signatures. Besides typical progressive structures, there are some sonatas of classical music, as well as motives taken from Byelorussian folk music clearly audible, too. Arrangements, made by Vladimir Muliavin, are brilliant. The main instrumental parts are prolonged, in compliance with "the laws of the genre", and the majority of them are sustained in up-tempo with cascades of surprisingly masterful "crossing" solos from all the band's instrumentalists, including some really amazing interplays among both the lead violinists. Vocal themes are also magnificent: composed and sung on the whole in an obvious dramatic key of singing, they practically never repeat themselves, carefully reflecting each emotion of an appropriate text episode, and so they're in constant development all throughout the album.
Summary. Despite the high level of complexity of this work, especially in its instrumental parts, I am sure this still obscured yet unique, really wonderful Rock Opera of one of the leading USSR ensembles will amaze not only mature Prog-heads , but also those mainly into the Neo forms of progressive music. Thanks to "Boheme Music" the lovers of Progressive Rock have now a unique chance to discover a whole new world of the music they love, and especially those of them who have a flair for unknown and original musical forms. Even the experienced can be sure - there's a treasure out there on "Boheme", for you to touch it and make yourself happy again and for a long time.
VM. December 1, 2000
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