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.