Pastoral, elegant, folk, rock, jazz, overall relaxed and relaxing. This was expected, but nevertheless it is surprising. Rich textures, ambient sounds and all on a summer’s day, as they might say.
Iamthemorning have been around for a while and this album has been waiting for a review. Sorry guys, we have experienced alien abduction and someone has eaten all the bourbon biscuits. But I am here now (or should that be ‘Iamherenow’?); so off we go.
Iamthemorning are Gleb Kolyadin and Marjana Semkina, Belighted being their second album, described as a Chamber Progressive Rock Band from Russia and as far removed from my first experience of Russian rock music, pre-perestroika, as I could wish. My ears rang for days.
With a format of songs linked by instrumentals, the ‘Intermissions’, it is an album that has attracted much attention and I can see why. I find Marjana’s vocal a little reminiscent of Lou Rhodes (Lamb) in the breathy quality and when she let’s loose having some of the power of Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil and, at times, Kate Bush. I love it!
The Howler represents the heavier side of the band, and they can rock it with the best. For purists looking for all their instruments in one area this might be a no, but give it a shot. In the loose canon that is labels, Chamber Progressive, Symphonic, Electronica – and just plain Rock – can all fit. Each intermission is a little vignette of styles; Intermission X‘s subtle jazz leads into Romance, combining strings, pizzicato strings and piano it delights. It’s a Simple Story, this album really works best in a single sitting as the intermissions join the complex structured songs to weave a sum of parts, not that the parts are not beautiful in their own right, but it flows better as a musical narrative.
54 is the “Kate Bush” track, not unlike Army Dreamers but different enough not to be a copy, it works well – , might even get this album passed the Missus! With a nice bass line throughout, the tune swirls like the aforementioned KB track. I would say that Kate’s influence is further travelled than these shores and those of the normal suspects. 54 is the next birthday for me, I may just make this the anthem for that year.
I wish to share space in the Crowded Corridors, this is an album that gives me more with every listen. It probably isn’t driving music, it is gentle at times, subtle, a warm duvet to cosset yourself in. Quite simply great. This is also the chamber music/classical interlude rather than an intermission, it deserves to be played loud. Ah, the joys of no connected neighbours…
Whoever Gerda is, lucky girl. Again the breathy vocals not unlike Lou Rhodes, just close your eyes and let this track wash over you. Lie back in a warm bath, candles flickering, such rich textures lifting to a more driven song about halfway through. It is easy to make comparisons but this album easily holds its own.
Os Lunatum is another meal to consume; just how many calories is there in an album? I find myself becoming lost in the music Gleb and Marjana have created, it deserves to be heard. Classic. Perhaps that says more of my musical tastes than anything, but if you like warmth and structure in your aural pleasure…then play on.
K.O.S. raises the stakes again, rising above the ballad, yet…a mood piece. To be honest every track is. There’s a slight Eastern European feel to this in places, more orchestration, building, building, changing direction and continuing to build; a skyscraper of a tune. Another creditworthy artist from the KScope stable.
Only two tracks left, Reprise of Light/No Light and a final Intermission XIII. It is everything and more, it is another country to visit, to stay a while, enjoy some fine dining, and dessert is included.
If not an immediate purchase for me, then it is definitely one on my wish list. Scratch that – buy it! Don’t rob yourself either, no MP3, if you must download, FLAC, or better still CD, and, if you love it, perhaps the vinyl if it exists (oh, please let it exist!).
In the words of Kscope: “Taking their influence, both musically and lyrically, from the greats of the progressive rock arena including the likes of Porcupine Tree, Philip Glass and Kate Bush, their song writing is rich with metaphorical layers: referencing Shakespearean poetry, images of modern culture, visual aesthetics of Pre-Raphaelites leading the listener to deep emotional places. Marjana Semkina explains ‘there isn’t just sadness, loneliness and pain in iamthemorning’s lyrical field; there is beauty, happiness and hope as well.’”
A thoroughly delightful album; I am Belighted.
01. Intermission IX (1:20)
02. The Howler (3:57)
03. To Human Misery (4:18)
04. Intermission X (0:53)
05. Romance (3:01)
06. The Simple Story (3:30)
07. Intermission XI (1:21)
08. 54 (3:50)
09. Crowded Corridors (8:44)
10. Gerda (4:54)
11. Os Lunatum (4:31)
12. Intermission XII (2:36)
13. K. O. S. (6:06)
14. Reprise Of Light/No Light (5:16)
15. Intermission XIII (0:58)
Gleb Kolyadin – Grand Piano, Keyboards
Marjana Semkina – Vocals, Backing Vocals
Gavin Harrison – Drums
Max Roudenko – Bass
Vlad Avy – Guitar
Mark Knight – Guitar (on The Howler & K.O.S.)
Andres Izmaylov – Harp
String arrangements by Gleb Kolyadin apart from To Human Misery and 5/4 by Grigory Losenkov
Nevsky String Quartet – Strings:
– Anna Tchijik – First Violin
– Kristina Popova – Second Violin
– Vladimir Bistritsky – Viola
– Vsevolod Dolganov – Cello
Turner Quartet – Strings on To Human Misery, The Simple Story and Gerda
– Robert Yeomans – First Violin
– Ruth Funell – Second Violin
– Holly Rouse – Viola
– Rosie Banks-Francis – Cello
Clapping in 5/4 – Jubril Oniyangi, Rishi Bradoo, Tom Leader, Ishani Chakravarty, Julian Blanco, Bjarni Freyr, Gulliver, Adam Park, Mark Knight, Gleb, Marjana and Rhys.
Record Label: Kscope
Year of Release: 2014
Country of Origin: Russia