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(30:07; Fair Wind Pleases)
I have long been a fan of St. Petersburg-based outfit Roz Vitalis, and bandleader Ivan Rozmainsky has become a firm friend. One thing I have always enjoyed about his music is that he never feels the need to constrict or constrain himself to just one musical style, and in recent years has been involved with musicians in other groups, and here we have the second release from Fair Wind Pleases (I must confess to having not heard the debut). He has again aligned himself with bass clarinet player Leonid Perevalov who he works with in other bands such as RMP and Compassionizer, while the line-up is completed by Yury Khomonenko (drums and percussion), Andrey Stefinoff (clarinet) and Anatoly Nikulin (guitar). One thing which is readily apparent is that while Yury provides the foundation (which also means there are sections where he does not play at all), the two clarinets and piano interweave spells, yet the guitar seems almost superfluous at times, almost as if it is a later addition. It was only when I was reading the information on the Bandcamp page that I realised that drums, piano and clarinet were recorded at Babooinumfest on 20th November 2020, which means they are live recordings. I am not aware if Leonid and Anatoly were not there that night, or if there were issues with the recordings/performances and they had to be re-recorded, but whereas Leonid fits in seamlessly, providing the bottom end which can be melodic in its own right, Anatoly appears to have difficulties at times in finding his own space. This is always a potential issue when an album is not recorded in an organic manner, especially when there is such a tight quartet, as what we have here is a band who are creating some wonderful sounds, moving in whatever direction they feel, but always progressing and experimenting. Ivan is renowned as a pianist, and here he again displays his wonderful touch and musicality, intertwining especially with Andrey, with Leonid taking control of the lower register yet also allowing the others to play without him to create a hole for them to fall into. There is a feeling of restraint within the album, a control so that when the music swells it does so with passion and emotion, yet they never allow themselves to be fully carried away and instead keep everything on point at all times. They talk about the music being organic, and one can certainly feel how it grows and moves without ever being broken or interrupted. At times it is more like modern classical than progressive, different genres coming together in a manner which for me I can only imagine taking place in the Russian progressive scene which has been taking on far more prominence in recent years. Well worth discovering.
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