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(69:33, Caerllysi Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Postcards from the Past-1 1:40 2. The Invisible Line-1 6:22 3. Raindrops 6:29 4. Amalgama 5:08 5. A Moment in Time 5:13 6. Time & the Tide 11:20 7. Fading Light 3:31 8. Recollections 1:33 9. Line in the Sand 14:36 10. Postcards from the Past-2 5:20 11. The Invisible Line-2 8:21 LINEUP: Antony Kalugin keyboards; percussion; vocals Roman Gorelov guitars Sergey Balalaev drums Kostya lonenko bass Sergey Kovalev bayan; vocals With: Olya Kaganyuk vocals Victoria Partincho percussion; b/v Dmitriy Bondarev trumpet, flugelhorn Artem Vasylchenko saxophone Alexey Khorolskiy guitars Bogdan Gembik guitars Yulya Bilchuk bandura Alexander Pastuchov bassoon Lesya Kofanova flute Helen Bour oboe
Prolusion. SUNCHILD is one of the three main musical ventures of Ukrainian composer and musician Antony Kalugin, the other two being Karfagen and Hoggwash, respectively. This project was set up by Kalugin and involves young, aspiring musicians from his homeland. The first album made by Sunchild, "The Gnomon", was issued in March 2008. Two more albums followed hot on the heels of that creation in the shape of "The Invisible Line" in 2009 and "The Wrap" in 2010. All three albums were released by the UK record label Caerllysi Music.
Analysis. The symphonic part of the art rock realm has been a territory frequently explored by artists ever since its invention back in the late 60's. Over the years it has become a niche of progressive rock, covering a vast multitude of different expressions with gentle, ambient-tinged excursions and quirky, challenging endeavors representing the outer borders as far as the general approach goes. And while some artists will choose to follow the sound and approach crafted by the different giants of the genre in the 70's, others embrace some or all aspects of the neo-prog variation that developed in the 80's. There aren't too many artists that have opted to combine these approaches, but Sunchild is among the notable few which ventures out into these challenging waters. The main difficulty of blending the vintage symphonic sound and an approach with elements from the world of neo-prog is that the latter is a subset of art rock that is the subject of some derision from dedicated followers of the progressive rock that emphasizes compositions and arrangements of a more distinctly challenging nature. Mood-laden melodies and an emphasis on atmospheres are among the best-known features of the Neo style, and it is something of a contrast to the challenging instrumental flamboyance that is so much a part of the proceedings in the world of progressive rock music in general and vintage symphonic art rock in particular. Kalugin and his fellow musicians focus on those particular features throughout this CD, but opt to jump back and forth in time in terms of stylistic expressions and arrangements. Thus we're treated to careful classical-inspired arrangements with acoustic symphonic instrumentation, organ and guitar interplay as utilized by bands such as Genesis in the early 70's, Mellotron and flute combinations reminding one quite a lot of Camel at times, as well as more contemporary sounding parts with a driving, steady bass line backed by layered, gentle synths and keyboards that are closer to what the neo bands in the late 80's and early 90's had a tendency to craft. While this disc is an enjoyable romp through the different variations outlined, I didn't find myself highly enthralled by this production as a whole. I found Sunchild to be at their most interesting when utilizing themes contrasting in mood and arrangements, where lighter toned, gentle sequences are followed by richer sounding, layered parts with darker toned undercurrents. The stark differences in expression successively following each other on those efforts craft a tension that makes for a captivating musical experience, and personally I found this best exemplified on Postcards from the Past-2. And while the compositions that don't adhere to this particular expression also incorporate themes and textures with a fair degree of variation, like the jazz-rock and slight blues tendencies that eventually appear a few minutes into Line in the Sand, there are still some details missing for me to find these efforts as anything more worthwhile than pleasant experiences.
Conclusion. "The Invisible Line" is an album catering quite nicely to the tastes of those who have a passion for symphonic art rock with a distinct emphasis on mood and atmosphere. Organ, Mellotron and synthesizer nicely and easily combined with acoustic strings as well as those digitized from the sound of them, not too inclined towards quirky or challenging excursions but with pastoral and richly layered arrangements aplenty. Sporting vintage-inspired as well as slightly more modern neo sounding arrangements, it is a disc I surmise might have a key audience among those who enjoy the gentler part of 70's Genesis and Camel as well as neo-prog.