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(79:03, MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Snow 7:58 2. Another World 12:36 3. Behold 5:50 4. '86 7:21 5. Then and Here 5:23 6. Motion 10:32 7. Space Wanderer 5:34 LINEUP: Dmitry Shtatnov guitars, bass; keyboards; vocals Pavel Barabanov el.& ac. guitars Sergey Nikonorov drums Vladimir Yanovsky bass Elena Kanevskaya backing vocals
Prolusion. The Russian band QUORUM was formed back in 2003, but didn't actually settle as a unit until sometime later. Following an initial demo recording they released their debut album "Klubkin's Voyage" in 2011. "Another World" is their sophomore production, and was released by the Russian label MALS Records in 2015.
Analysis. From what I understand, this album is actually a reworked version of their initial demo from several years back. Originally planned as their debut album, but then put aside for a bit as they progressed so nicely with the development of the material that would see the light of day as their official debut album "Klubkin's Voyage" instead. Thus, the material on this CD was actually written a decade or so ago. As with other albums I have encountered where the material hasn't seen the light of day for some time, the contents of this production come across as well-developed and withstanding the toll of time rather well. It also appears to be the case that the band was playing around a bit with the type of music they desired to create at the point when these compositions were developed, and as such this is a fairly diverse collection of songs. The main part of the album hovers around a blend of vintage-era symphonic progressive rock and a subtly more dramatic variety of it that ties in closer to the neo-progressive bands of the mid 80s. The former aspect with a plethora of swirling, surging and otherwise playful keyboard details as dominant features, often in tight interplay with guitar solo details and otherwise with acoustic and electric guitars adding depth and a tight foundation, the latter aspect with more prominent dramatic keyboard details and with the guitars also placed more up front in the mix. Both aspects are explored in calm and elegant as well as more forceful and dramatic manners, but always with a focus of the songs being compelling and accessible. On one occasion, the probably aptly named '86, the neo-progressive aspect of the band is explored more in full as well. Title track Another World expands the canvas explored ever so slightly by including some trademark Pink Floydian aspects to the proceedings, in an often atmospheric and careful manner, but with more spirited keyboard details than what Pink Floyd circa 1979 had a tendency to incorporate. Some elegant jazz-oriented guitar details here and there also add a certain expanse to the style Quorum explores on this occasion. Concluding piece Space Wanderer hits off on a rather different tangent altogether though, as this elegant, tight and firm piece is a guitar-dominated affair, where the keyboards have a distinctly more subservient role, and the general sound and atmosphere explored here should feel familiar to those who know and enjoy the Canadian trio Rush from the "Hold Your Fire" / Presto period of that band. Up to and including the lead vocals.
Conclusion. While Quorum does incorporate a fair bit of variety on their second album, featuring details that will be recognizable to fans of bands such as Genesis, Pink Floyd and even Rush, I suspect that those with a taste for 80s neo-progressive rock will most likely be the key audience for this specific album. A tolerance for non-English lyrics will be needed, but as long as that isn't a problem, the CD comes across as a quality release.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 16, 2016
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