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TRACK LIST: 1. Free Fall 4:14 2. Defiance 7:05 3. Canopy 4:08 4. Sunday 6:58 5. Autumn 9:25 6. Life on the Crescent 3:55 7. Beautiful Calamity 7:56 8. Snow 8:01 9. Wide Open 8:16 10. Catharsis 5:38 All tracks: by The Thicket. LINE-UP: Andrei Poukhovski - keyboards; theremin; vocals Ivan Poukhovski-Sheremetyev - same Produced & engineered by The Thicket.
Prolusion. I haven't heard of this duo before, though it's clear that the eponymous The Thicket album is their debut.
Synopsis. To be honest, I didn't expect something special from two men using no other instruments but synthesizers to express their musical ideas. Surprisingly, it turned out that I was mistaken in my supposition, with which I am really glad, because I am always happy to support honest and inspired performers. The music on the 65-minute "The Thicket" is outstandingly original and tasteful, and there are only two - the first and the last - tracks on the album that are unnecessary here, to say the least. Both Free Fall and Catharsis are done in the traditions of a traditional electronic music (sorry for the tautology) and are completely out of the predominant stylistics of the album, which represents quite a serious electronically symphonic Art-Rock with pronounced elements of Classical Music and those of Prog-Metal (I didn't make a slip in saying this). The music on all three of the songs: Defiance, Sunday, and Beautiful Calamity (2, 4, & 7) and three long instrumental pieces: Autumn, Snow, and Wide Open (5, 8, & 9) is definitely progressive and, overall, conform to the said definition. There are neither dreamy landscapes nor sequenced solos on each of these compositions, and the arrangements here are almost as diverse as those in the works of Classic Art-Rock. The musicians use the performance capabilities of modern synthesizers so effectively that even the heaviness of Metal-related structures is very convincing and is almost physically perceptible. The stylistics of both of the remaining instrumental pieces: Canopy and Life on the Crescent (3 & 6) should, in my view, be defined as Electronically Symphonic Ambient with elements of Classical Music. And while these two are accessible in comparison with any of the best six tracks here, they're not without essential progressive features and are still tasteful and impressive. Most of the instrumental and all the vocal arrangements on the album are really well thought out and are mostly dramatic in character.
Conclusion. It's impossible to simultaneously please such different categories of listeners as those into Symphonic Progressive and the lovers of electronic music etc. Since most of the contents of "The Thicket" are destined for the first of them rather than the latter, the inclusion of two very simple compositions in the album was a gross error. Nevertheless, the debut of the duo clearly shows that these men have serious compositional ambitions, and I believe their second effort will be marked by the definitive choice in favor of large-scaled musical forms.
VM: July 24, 2003
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