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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Romislokus

Vinyl Spring Digital Autumn

Review by Gary Hill

Break out the Borsht and pour the vodka, Russian prog has come to the music scene. Romislokus is a project based in Moscow and their album was recently released. Since I have always had a fascination with the Russian people and culture, I looked forward to hearing Romislokus with definite anticipation. The CD was not quite what I expected, but this surprise was not a bad thing. The music is a bit on the low-key side. Don't expect massive flourishes of keys or guitar solos. Instead, look forward to atmospheric tones and a style that is somewhat of a techno take on prog. This music shares a lot with that of Kraftwerk, but it also has moments that call to mind Marillion, Hawkwind, Lands End and Genesis. Still, it is all combined into a very original motif. The Russian lyrics make it a bit hard for an English speaker like myself to fully grasp the material, but still, the music does grab you.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Snow of the Rails
An ambient, almost techno texture takes this cut up to the verse, a balladic and dramatic one. Waves of keys wash over, and I don't know why but it feels a little like Kraftwerk meets Marillion (Hogarth era). The intensity increases after a time, just building on the same structures.
The Face of A City
Beginning with more organic prog ballad tones, a pretty melody line quickly ensues. This one changes to a more straightforward, fairly hard rocking jam after a time. It gets rather powerful in its alternating modes. The arrangement also gets quite lush with strong neo-classical tones for a time.
78
An acoustic guitar bouncing about starts this, and dramatic washes of keys overlay it. The track begins a building process in a very dramatic and somewhat off-kilter mode before dropping back to atmospheric tones with vocals overlaid. This one also moves into melody lines that feel like traditional Russian music. It is quite an interesting composition with a lot of changes. It turns to a playful style that seems a bit like classic Genesis for a time. Potent keys take over temporarily. A dynamic one, this covers a lot of ground.
Absolute Control
Hawkwindesque tones start this one off. Then a slightly mysterious and vaguely dark melody takes over, building on what came before. The ghost of Kraftwerk again makes an appearance on this piece. This is another does a good amount of building and expanding. It shifts gear late to a rather neo-classical and melancholy type of texture. A new keyboard based melody ensues from there to end the piece.
It Is Winter
A great melodic segment opens this number. Then the track shifts to a more contemplative and fairly classically oriented melody line. It integrates those two modes, building upon them in fine fashion.
Miss The Target
Weird keyboard textures are the first sounds we hear on this cut, for about the first minute or so. Then the first semblance of melody emerges and begins building very slowly into a pretty, somewhat moody number that feels a bit like Hogarth era Marillion.
A Tree By The Wall
More atmospheric tones start this one, and a balladic style that falls somewhere between contemplative and playful carries it on. It finally seems to choose the contemplative end as it drops to the verse. As the instrumental break ensues, the cut switches to a surprisingly entertaining piece of chaos. The jam that comes out of that chaos and takes the composition to its conclusion is especially effective.
Tuner
This is a fun techno based foray that calls to mind Kraftwerk more than anything else presented here. It also feels a bit like Herbie Hancock's journeys into electronic music. The somewhat R & B oriented female vocals add another interesting element to an already intriguing song.
Substance
A bit weird, this one has a great classical overtone to the powerful melodic strains that start the piece. It sounds like a poetry reading over a sedate melody before shifting to a segment of female vocals and dramatic string section that serves as the outro.
Smoke
Percussion starts this. The keys and bass join in, and a balladic prog melody eventually emerges. The cut begins building on that format after a time. It then shifts to a jazzy sort of jam that feels a bit like Lands End for a time. The arrangement takes on a triumphant texture occasionally and gets a bit more lush than most of the material presented here.
 
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