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(62:25, Artbeat Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dilemma 5:54 2. By the Mountain River 3:50 3. To Catch the Wind 3:56 4. Submarine 5:23 5. James Pont 16:39 6. Mother's Tears 4:24 7. Red Rivers 2:10 8. Stones' Names 4:00 9. Dance Under the Bullets 3:10 10. After the War 4:53 11. Satori 8:06 LINEUP: Ulyana Gor - keyboards, vocals Oleg Gorgadze - guitars, vocals Kirill Klyushin - bass Artem Gareev - violin Igor Cheridnik - drums, percussion
Prolusion. Russian band PANDORA SNAIL was formed back in 2008, and solidified as a proper band unit from 2010 and onward. "War and Peace" is their debut album, and was released by Russian label Artbeat Music in the spring of 2015. Since then they have released the EP "Metamorphosis" and the live album "Live at Babooinumfest"
Analysis. Russian progressive rock isn't the most sought after in the western hemispheres as far as I know. Probably for a good number of reasons, where availability and visibility probably are some. While Pandora Snail may well suffer from this alongside many other artists hailing from Eastern Europe, they do have one advantage that should give them a broader appeal: As an instrumental band, they do not have to worry about language being a barrier. When listening through this album, my experience was a rather curious one. This is a skilled band, no doubt about that, where the instrumentalists all hold a high quality. They are able and clever composers too, ensuring that all the songs ebb and flow, surge and fall down and generally contain all the elements needed to maintain nerve and tension. Good and again clever use of contrasting elements and alternating passages adding a further element of contrast to the proceedings, and with smart transitions uniting the material when not moving forward by way of developing, expanding or contracting themes and arrangements. Almost like hearing the end result of someone practicing what they have learnt in an advanced study of how to create progressive rock. Musically they have a certain jazz and jazzrock swagger as an ongoing and recurring dimension to their material, at times seguing over to a more purebred excursion into jazz or jazzrock to boot, but flavor these arrangement with liberal amounts of keyboard textures with more of a symphonic progressive rock touch to them, as well as incorporating the occasional harder edged or dark, gnarly and more dramatic electric guitar. Tight, funk-oriented bass and guitar details have their natural place on quite a few occasions too, and gentler passages that include folk music elements is a part of the package too. And soaring on top throughout the greater majority of the album we have the violin, at times reminding me of classic era Kansas, on other occasions with a more expansive presence that may or may not reflect back towards the aforementioned jazz and jazzrock genres I find to be something of a core trait of this band. Another small facet brought in to the totality are piano motifs, alternating between more of a jazz oriented and more of a classical music oriented mode of delivery. In short: This album contains all of the ingredients that should make this production one that warrants an inspection by a fairly large segment of those with an interest in progressive rock. I have to admit that I do like and enjoy this album myself too, this is a CD I could pick up and play and find enjoyable most days of the year now, and will probably have the same sentiments a decade from now as well. There's nothing that really grabs me however, despite this being the kind of album that contain all the ingredients needed for me to normally really enjoy this production. A puzzling experience as a listener, as there really are no aspects of this production that comes across as detrimental in any way at all.
Conclusion. As with all music made, how much or not this debut album by Pandora Snail will be cherished will come down to the taste of the individual listening to it. Personally I rather suspect that their brand of instrumental progressive rock should find favor among a fairly broad audience in progressive rock circles, where those tend to appreciate well made and well performed eclectic progressive rock should take the time to give this album a check. In addition, those who enjoy their jazzrock just as much as their classic era Kansas appears to me to be something of a key audience for this band.
Progmessor: August 29, 2017
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