iamthemorning – Ocean Sounds

On the back notable career highs, Russian Progressive duo iamthemorning quickly became one of the modern Prog scene’s most recognisable and heralded entities. Most recent album Lighthouse (Kscope) particularly found a wider and fawning audience with varying aspects and artistry throughout. Perhaps commemorating this career high point, Ocean Sounds (Kscope) is a live performance filmed and based in a studio, as opposed to a live show, which provides a twist in comparison to the usual live release affairs.

The most striking aspect of this visual presentation and live studio recording is the beauty of the surrounding scenery, which is clear to see through the studio’s panoramic window structures. The remote location encased by the sea and the gorgeous coastal landscape perfectly encapsulates not only the oceanic imagery that iamthemorning have used prominently on recent albums; the solitude of the location matches the escaping, melancholic but enriching quality that their music possesses. Natural sunlight flows into studio as the openness almost follows the sun, being particularly magic with the even-time red light pouring through, or during the late evening/night-time period which matches the calming serenity that iamthemorning are craftsman at.

Laid out with the duo’s live setup and accompanying backing musicians, and with a set list mostly consisting of their most recent albums, Ocean Sounds sees the band on top form and shows exactly why they have been embraced so strongly by the Prog fraternity. The live versions of many of these songs reveals further nuances in part, and shows and enhances tones more greatly, for example how ‘5/4’ from Belighted (Kscope) feels a much more cheerful number than its studio version. The set showcases the dynamics, as subtle as they are, throughout their recent catalogue; ‘Os Lunatum’ is a modest piece which alternates between a ballad-like vibe that builds up to some subtle Jazz elements, all of which works well with the more classical reminiscent ‘Matches’.

Whilst the whole band ensemble shines, it is the partnership of Gleb Kolyadin and Marjana Semkina that, unsurprisingly, stands out here. Kolyadin shows just what a virtuoso talent he is as he moves between grand piano and keyboard, ranging from complex pieces to more minimalist but equally emotive and powerful passages, whilst Semkina’s voice is a majestic and suitably delicate and powerful when required throughout, showcasing just why she is undoubtedly one of the greatest voices in Progressive Rock in this current day.

A live album/performance DVD is often evidence of a band’s live prowess and the love and reaction from the crowd, but whilst there is enough of a performance component here to praise iamthemorning on, the contained and near private feel of Ocean Sounds actually suits the band perfectly and works better than a traditional live offering. iamthemorning’s music is meant for individual immersion, for escaping, whilst maybe getting lost in the great outdoors, and Ocean Sounds nails that without losing any of that characteristic heart and sense of tranquillity. Ocean Sounds is the culmination of a huge rise for the band and should hopefully mark their continued ascent into upper echelons of Progressive Rock, and the hearts of its many followers.

8.0/10

CHRIS TIPPELL

Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin

As one half and the musical engine room of one of contemporary Prog’s most beloved groups Iamthemorning, Gleb Kolyadin is one of progressive rock’s hidden gems and undeniably one of its greatest pure musical talents; a virtuoso pianist and a proven composer with Iamthemorning, whose brand of chamber music and progressive rock has gained not only critical and fan acclaim, but earned Gleb plaudits for his talent from peers such as Daniel Cavanagh and Steve Hogarth. Further cementing that reputation, this solo effort (Kscope) further shows off his compositional and playing talents, all in a manner that surprisingly branches out from his main act. Continue reading

Myrkur – Myrkur

myrkur album art

Many times the the world of underground music is portrayed by those that cover it just as they would a team sport. It is very much a tribal and gang mentality of sub-genre police between music scribes and it seeps down to the tastes of fans. No place does this division exist than in the varied, and varicose world of Black Metal. The many factions alternately give it life, while others are trying to raze it to a stump. Still, it is great music that is the elixir for this illness, and great music is what the debut full-length, self-titled recording from Myrkur brings us.

Scandinavian in origin, Myrkur’s singular name and haunting sound conjure a myriad of mental images with a cross between brutal passages couched between somber motifs, and the cold claustrophobic feeling of an inescapable ice floe. From sorrowful vocals to crushing dynamic swells, this album has all the best touches of the genre. Raw, but not too raw, but very well done overall.

The songs are really the thing here, not just the atmospherics. From the Opera and chamber quality canticles, to bleak harshness, every nerve is uncovered. The gentle hush of the opening of ‘Ravnens Banner’ gives way to apocalyptic barrages of blastbeats and killer riffs. Tracks such as ‘Frosne Vind’ and ‘Må Du Brænde i Helvede’, lull you into a soft chill out moment, before roaring to life with anguish. The entire album is a gem, but my favorite track is ‘Nattens Barn’. Not only is it crushing and deep, it has a proggy part to it that almost sounds like ‘Bolero’ by Ravel, but that may be my inner classical nerd trying read too much into a good jam.

Unlike most black metal that comes across my headphones, the production on this album is pretty impressive, well thought out and not lacking by accident or on purpose in a hipster way. It’s possible that some readers may be wondering why I waited until this point in the review mention that Myrkur happens to be a solo woman act rather than a band. That fact that she is a women, or a lone artists making great black metal is immaterial for review purposes here. Women fronting killer black metal bands is not a novelty, but the opportunity to have such a high profile release on a label like Relapse for one, well I hope that doesn’t go unnoticed by anyone.

Emotionally gripping from first note to last, this is a powerhouse release that has already clawed it’s way into my year end top albums list.

myrkur promo shot

 

9/10.0

Myrkur on Facebook

KEITH CHACHKES