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(45:29, ‘Sumo Elevator’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Overhead 4:41 2. Ksyushing 4:12 3. Laundry 5:20 4. Pedal Horse 5:25 5. Additional Weight-2 5:14 6. Patamushta 6:22 7. Track 07 4:50 8. Best Retards 4:08 9. Dust Soap 5:14 LINEUP: Alex Furman – synthesizers, electronics Yevgeny Kushnir – el. guitar Oleg Szumski – drums Ian Gleiser – bass Artiom Lichshtein – effects, scratching
Prolusion. “Breakfast” by Israel’s SUMO ELEVATOR is a follow-up to the band’s debut EP “Ho Muwa-ku”.
Analysis. So, here is Sumo Elevator’s second, the outfit now featuring one more member, whose ‘effects/scratching’ credit applies exclusively to DJ devices (who isn’t a musician, in other words). While “Breakfast” is a full-length album, it is less cohesive than the EP, sounding like it was created by two, if not three, groups with a completely different vision of music. It’s made up of nine compositions, but – just like its 4-track predecessor – it’s a one-trick pony of a sort, as there is also only one tune that has really impressed me, namely Pedal Horse (a huge pony – only why not a hand one?). Full of splendid space rock symphonic landscapes, it seems to be right out of Porcupine Tree’s mid-‘90 songbook of classics with a little Ozric Tentacles thrown in for good measure, and even the scratching that appears somewhere in its middle (not for long, thankfully) doesn’t mar its overall effect, arousing remote associations with sand that creaks under the feet when walking on a beach. However, this is the sole episode on the disc where the appliance is used properly – more or less so, actually. The three tracks that precede Pedal Horse, i.e. the ones that the album begins with, Laundry, Overhead and Ksyushing (have no idea what does the title of the latter mean), all fall into the Radiohead/late Ozric Tentacles camp of melodic Art-meets-Alt Rock of a mixed electro-symphonic nature, Sumo Elevator’s approach to the former style more minimalist/primitive than that of either of the English bands. Yevgeny Kushnir dominates the arrangements with his fluid guitar soloing, but the electronics (as well as that very scratching in the former case) at times almost edge him out, and then the material verges on what appears as e-music with a real rhythm section. After the fourth track the band goes downhill, revealing three poor tunes one after another, Patamushta (which means “Because” in Russian), 07 and Additional Weight-2. The first of them is a heavily repetitive bi-thematic opus, alternating moves of a full-band sound with ones that are ‘driven’ by the DJ; the second does the same, only using a drum machine (sic), whereas the latter seems to be totally programmed, one of the very worst tracks I’ve ever met with as a reviewer. Closer to the end of the album things get more interesting again. Best Retards is the band’s first creation that features elements of jazz, but is a standout only in terms of style, revealing no profound arrangements. To be more precise, this is predominantly no-nonsense Jazz-Fusion that’s more sort of alternative Fusion than the progressive one. Anyhow, sounding original enough to be appreciated, this is my second favorite track here. The album finishes with Dust Soap, which is of the same style as its first three tracks, albeit delivered in a more balladic manner.
Conclusion. The band’s name refers to heavy music, but these ex-metalheads have completely lost their roots while developing their newly-found ‘electro-fusion pop rock’. I don’t mind the electronics, but the use of scratches and suchlike DJ devices is excessive and is really annoying. Containing – a lot of – features that no self-respecting rock band, let alone a progressive rock one, would ever use, the album comes across as being worse than the EP. Even the best track here is musically too shallow for a progressive music fan to dive into it more than once.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: December 13, 2012
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