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Modern-Rock Ensemble - Touch The Mystery CD (album) cover


Modern-Rock Ensemble



4.05 | 183 ratings

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4 stars I guess it was a year ago when I received a message asking for my opinion on some music composed by a Ukrainian artist, Vladimir Gorashchenko. It's never easy for me to say when I will have time to listen to someone's request and then comment or write a review, but a hole opened up in my music schedule and I gave it a listen. And I was duly impressed. I listened to the whole album and gave my thoughts to my contact. The main question was, "Would this album be welcomed in the PA community?" or something along those lines. What a question! Do cows eat grass?

Then this summer a package arrived for me from the Ukraine. It was the album I had heard now here at last released on CD. "Touch the Mystery" by the Modern-Rock Ensemble. It's a simple name to be sure. Nothing like Destiny's Draught or Three Quarter Triangle or anything like that. Simple but very apt. The music is a rock band with an orchestra-worth of other instruments for the main compositions "Meditations" and the title track, and the live recording "Swamp" is also more than just a simple rock band sound. I was immediately interested when I heard the opening "sitar" notes (actually a sound created on acoustic guitar after laborious experimentation) and the slow building of the music, which made me feel I was witnessing the sunrise from some ancient temple. Vladimir provides his deep vocals for "Meditations", singing in bass baritone and sounding a bit like the late Leonard Cohen. The 11-minute track is a wondrous composition weaving acoustic ethnic sounds with guitar rock that features Max Velichko's guitar work. It is one of those 10-12 minute mini-epics that have just the right length and attention to detail that make it a great pleasure to listen to. From this track I was sold on the music.

The title track flows from the same spring but at 19:50 it weaves across a broader plain. There are moments of waves in the music with a rich rock performance that changes to softer, soothing music, and then switches back to the rock, and back to the softer music again. I confess that after several listens I haven't dissected the song perfectly, but there are "parts" with the music changing and a reprise near the end, and Vladimir offers his vocals once more. I think he originally worried that people might not like his low register but I feel the deep warm tones are a welcome change from the usual.

Two other tracks, "What will Happen to My Country?" and "My Angels" (a tribute to his wife and daughter) are keyboard compositions that are very pleasant, though I can't help but think about the weight behind the interrogative title of the former. What will happen to the Ukraine indeed?

There are two other tracks on this disc. One is a live recording from 1989. It was recorded on a single tape recorder and so the sound quality is not as good as the rest of the album, and Vladimir confesses that the fretless bass is lost a little in the sound. But sound quality aside (it's not bad really), the performance shows already the kind of skill that went into not only the writing but also the playing. The other track is a version of "Meditations" sung in Russian. There are some minor differences in the mix and instrumentation here and also Vladimir sings in baritone here as opposed to bass baritone.

Vladimir's musical background includes early interests in "Sergeant Pepper's", Deep Purple "In Rock" and Genesis' "Selling England by the Pound". By 1983 he was composing music of his own and as we can here, he was performing his music as early as the 1980's. Working closely with guitarist Max Velichko, Vladimir is involved in Max's forthcoming album and will work with him further on a second album for Modern-Rock Ensemble.

There is a special quality to this album that makes is stand apart from most of the other stuff I have in my collection. It's a wonderful debut though certainly one that took a long time coming. I will look forward to hearing what Vladimir has to release next.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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