Style : Fusion, symphonic, neo-classical...
Rating : 4.25 / 5
Summary : A challenging piece that gets better with each listen. The 24-minute epic is a classic.
One word: Challenging. And intellectual and demanding. Okay, that's 3 words. And avant garde. Energetic. That's ... can't count that high? Well you get the picture. Imagine King Crimson crossed with Univers Zero by way of the Energizer Bunny.
The standard of musicianship on this record is very impressive, particularly considering that it was played live. The style runs from fusion to progressive symphonic to neo-classical and all the way back to jazz. Kostarev's guitar is mostly fuzzy and fast - providing more of a tone than a tune - and most pieces run at a frantic non-stop pace with crazy guitar solos, tons of violin, Hammond and breathless flute, and a relentless bass and rhythm section. The instrumental line-up includes tablas, flutes, harmonica, violin, keyboards and sax - and the array of sounds and the diversity of textures seem to be endless. Even the soft, quiet sections have an impatient vibe to them that leading you to imagine that Alexander Kostarev would have joined so many of us at the front of the Ritalin line at school.
The fusion is given a rest in the second half of the record during the 24-minute "Concerto Grosso #1", an epic in 5 parts that has far more in common with modern classical music than with any form of rock or jazz. Kostarev must have been classically trained (the web site is purely Russian, so who knows) and besides the musicianship, the strength and the subtleties apparent in the compositions yield a body of progressive music that will appeal to the purist but may alienate the novice.
If these guys had appeared in England in the '70s they might have stolen King Crimson's thunder. As it is, they're Russian and are trying to break into the western market - and with this quality of musicianship they deserve every success they can muster. This is the kind of band that could headline NEARfest, if they were better known. Yep - it's that kind of music.