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(79:40, Trail Records)
PERFORMERS / TRACKS: 1. Eastern Syndrome / Celt 10:22 2. The Moon Pierrot / Moon Dream 5:09 3. Do Major / To Rake Your Fingers through the Grass 7:08 4. Decadance / Dream No 5 Love 4:54 5. Disen Gage / Solaris 5:26 6. Rada and Ternovik / Interlude 7:05 7. KRTL / Soda 5:23 8. Deti Picasso / Happy End Is Inevitable 8:24 9. Vespero / Inna Burst Into Tears 8:01 10. Kafedra.org / Entrance to Invisibility 9:21 11. Liompa / Thee 8:27
Prolusion. The US label TRAIL RECORDS has been a fine addition to the roster of US-based indie labels for the last few years, specializing in psychedelic music in general and remastered reissues of overlooked bands and releases in particular. For its tenth full-length production the label has opted to cover more ground than usual, releasing a thematic sampler featuring solely Russian psychedelic progressive artists.
Analysis. I'll readily admit that the Russian music scene isn't one I'm overly familiar with. Even when writing for a website based in what was once a part of the Soviet Union, my knowledge about artists from this part of the world in general and Russia in particular isn't the greatest. What I have come to learn over the last few years is that there is a lot of beautiful, stunning and extremely well-made music yet to be discovered as well as uncovered from most parts of what was once described as the Eastern bloc, in all genres of music, be it progressive or not. The "Tripwave" collection does a fair job of representing some of these uncovered gems. As with most samplers, it suffers from compositions being taken out of their natural context, tracks that may have been stand-out tracks on the albums from which they are pulled, and in the cases of the previously unreleased efforts pieces that may well represent a creative peak for the artist in question. But as stand-alone features amongst many others they don't impress one that much. As with most types of music, this one will also to some extent be a matter of individual perception based on taste, and dedicated fans of the genre will most likely regard this production in a somewhat different light. Personally, I was most taken with opening number Celts, by Eastern Syndrome. Featuring compact instrument surges, subtle guitar details and occasional saxophone flourishes, combining in a very nice and distinctly psychedelic manner with a freak-out passage just over the halfway point, it should delight fans of 70's psychedelic progressive rock to no end. Other noticeable efforts include Disen Gage’s elegant piece Solaris, opening with atmospheric futuristic cinematic sounds that develop into a slightly Kraftwerk-tinged mood prior to exploding into an energetic, futuristic-sounding space rock delight complete with screeching, richly-textured guitars before heading into a calmer end phase sporting reverberating instrument details as the dominating element. KRTL presents an improvised-sounding space rock journey of a kind that should interest fans of acts like Oresund Space Collective, while Liompa showcases how to best utilize a constantly developing, tight bass and drum foundation to support subtly dissonant, lightly distorted guitar motifs with a sickly sounding expression. Quite a few of the additional artists presented have many fine ideas too, and while the end result to my ears does leave a bit to be desired in making a grand impression, the main flaw in my perception is one of a lack of restraint and planning rather than a deficiency of good ideas. Deti Picasso is as good an example as any of this, their track Happy End Is Inevitably would have come across as a much stronger effort if it had ended around the five minute and 30 seconds mark; the elongated two-part mood piece that follows would have been much better suited as a stand-alone feature to my ears.
Conclusion. "Tripwave" represents a fine collection of Russian psychedelic progressive rock made in the last 20 or so years. And while the material presented may only partially have the strength to impress anyone beyond a core audience, I'm pretty sure that those with a heartfelt interest in music of this kind in general and Russian artists exploring this type of music in particular will find plenty to enjoy on this 11-track-strong, 79 minutes-long thematic sampler.
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