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Although I have reviewed both the album before this, ‘Shum-Sir’, and the album after, ‘The Four Zoas’, I had somehow missed this 2018 release so now is the time to rectify that. Formed in 2003 in Astrakhan (south of Russia), they have been not only a prolific outfit (this was their ninth full studio album), but also incredibly stable with Alexander Kuzovlev (guitars, mandolin), Alexey Klabukov (keyboards, synthesizer), Arkady Fedotov (bass, synthesizer, noises) and Ivan Fedotov (drums, percussion, ñajon, wave drum) there from the very beginning, while Vitaly Borodin (violin, accordion) joined in time for 2016’s ‘Lique Mekwas’. Over the years they have experimented with singers and other instruments, often bringing in guests, and that is the same this time with Pavel Alekseev providing tenor saxophone. It is impossible to break down this album into individual tracks, but instead far better to let the whole experience just wash over you. There are some interesting bringing together of styles, as there are times when the violin feels very Russian indeed, while the percussion can be South American in flavour, yet it works incredibly well indeed. King Crimson and Ozric Tentacles are obvious points of reference, yet there are some splashes of Hawkwind here and there and the result is something which tends towards space rock, but more about being on the fringes than right in the middle. There is a large use of mandolin which gives it a very different feel indeed, while the introduction of tenor sax in certain places is inspired, very Nik Turner. The percussion is always driving and at times sounds double-tracked, providing a harsh counterpoint to what else is going on. The mandolin is very staccato, the bass almost constant, and then the flowing sax sits over that. The repeated melody with new additions works well, and the listener is never sure where the music is going to take them as it can twist and turn on the point of a pin. The result is something which need to be played and listened to in the foreground, and never become part of background music. Yet another album worthy of investigation from Vespero.
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