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


Modern-Rock Ensemble



4.05 | 180 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars The Ukrainian outfit MODERN-ROCK ENSEMBLE may only be getting around to releasing their first album in 2016 but despite it all, Vladimir Gorashchenko finally releases his musical labor of love and at long last unleashes his poetic prowess, instrumental skills and proud self-taught maestro of production. This band actually has roots all the way back in the 80s. The first project began as Modern Rock Ensemble Putnik from 1985 to 1989 with two distinct versions having emerged but by 1990, Gorashchenko was compelled to care for his ill mother and other family matters thus putting his musical endeavors on hold for extended periods of time. Like any musician who is passionate with that enduring flame of creativity, the pilot light may have been put down to simmer but never truly extinguished and as a result the ideas and techniques simply accrued over the years until finally after over a decade and half into the 21st century the very first album TOUCH THE MYSTERY has finally seen the light of day.

The modern rebooting of MODERN-ROCK ENSEMBLE was resurrected in 2008 when Gorashchenko (who handles guitar, keyboards, sitar and vocals) met Anton Kalugin (who handles synth, guitars and special FX). Their shared passion for progressive rock, particularly the symphonic side of the spectrum inspired them to search for other talented like-minded musicians in their native Kyiv to fulfill their musical visions. The biggest hurdle in recording this album was in finding a producer which is apparently quite difficult in Ukraine so in the process Gorashchenko took on the role of learning from scratch how to produce the album himself and as a result added many more years than it should have for completing the project.

Given that TOUCH THE MYSTERY is really a patchwork of several decades' worth of material, it therefore has a true epic feel that has aspects of a long extended timespan and a sense of perfection where every little detail has been scrutinized and tweaked to obsequiously adhere to its intended role in a truly staggering project that includes a whopping 18 musicians contributing different parts of the album. TOUCH THE MYSTERY only has six tracks with the majority being close to or well over the ten minute mark. It also contains two shorter tracks but as a whole manages to barely clock in at under an hour long listening experience. According to the liner notes Gorashchenko has written over 50 songs in his creative musical life time and has whittled this album down to a mere six tracks. While this is a studio album, it does contain the live track "Swamp" recorded all the way back in 1989 at a jazz festival which does include some jazzy workouts and is virtually unperceived as a live track.

The album begins in an exotic way with sitars, ethereal ambient eddies of sound and and immediate vocals that sound like a progressive version of the baritone bard of the north Leonard Cohen. The music immediately establishes a vibe and overall sound for the entire playing time. It resides on the mellow and subtly sophisticated mode with occasional outbursts of amplified guitars and rock regalia for contrast's sake. Tablas perform percussive dottings of an insinuated Indo-raga rock type of album run but as the music morphs in and out of a dream sequencing chain of events that perpetually change the mode and mood as if reality itself has been influenced by invisible gravitational pulls outside of the human perceptive senses. It all flows across as if a meditative trance has been magnetically manipulated and tweaked to the left and to the right as if some unforeseen forces have masterminded a musical coup in the regularly scheduled program.

MODERN-ROCK ENSEMBLE has been described and placed in the neo-prog category but also exhibits healthy doses of space rock, symphonic prog, Indian raga music as well as scant examples of pure heavy rock. There are many example of Rick Wakeman influenced keyboard note bends as well that often provide the very symphonic backbone of certain parts of certain tracks. While the two shorter tracks "What Will Happen To My Country?" and "My Angels" can certain give an impression of the oft-hated genre of AOR vibe (aka the "neo-prog cheese syndrome" coming into play and admittedly my least favorite tracks of the lot, the longer more multifaceted have much more to offer but because of the inherent nonchalant methodology of marching into procession, the music could possibly inhibit the listener's expectations of something more raucous brewing in the mist. This was my initial expectations but have found a new lease on the sophisticated subtleties upon subsequent listenings.

First and foremost this album reminds me of the 60s Moody Blues with Gorashchenko's narrations interpolating themselves into the overarching musical developments. You know, the kind that was heard on the extended version of "Nights In White Satin" as well as some of the symphonic elements on board. Beyond those obvious influences lies the early neo-prog leanings of Genesis, the 80s extended neo-prog offerings as heard by Arena and IQ as well as other space rock pioneers such as Pink Floyd, however despite all the influences this is a shimmering rotisserie of ideas coming into play and taking turns in the spotlight much like the performances evidenced during a Cirque Du Soleil show where certain aspects are in the spotlight for a while and then fade to subordinate roles so that others can shine for a while. This is particularly true for the third and most lengthy title track which clocks in at a staggering 19 minutes and 53 seconds. While the brilliance of TOUCH THE MYSTERY may not lie in the sonic inventions that are on display but rather the performance artistry that allows it to ebb and flow in a unique set of circumstances. The music is impeccably produced and every little tiny note slide and percussive beat shines brilliantly and the juxtaposition of sounds is almost perfect.

Personally i find this one growing on me after every listen. While upon first listen i felt a bit underwhelmed because of my own expectations, after several spins i have accepted the album on its own terms and have been seduced by the subtle sophistication that resides in ever twist and turn of the album's majestic magnitude. While melodically very accessible from the very first spin, this one is much like a Porcupine Tree album that has elements that will hook you immediately but yet draw you back for more and only then unleash new ways of interpreting the album. True that the baritone vocals of Gorashchenko can be unexpected because this type of music often insinuates a much more versatile vocal style but i have to admit that the limited vocals that only sporadically enter the musical arena are rather perfect for the rare moments that a musical direction requires some sort of verbal directional force. TOUCH THE MYSTERY is certainly a sophisticated album that is the product of several decades of creation. So don't expect to understand this on a few short listens that are not without full-on attention span aroused. While i wouldn't consider TOUCH THE MYSTERY an all-time classic, i do find this an extremely beautiful album that keeps me entertained throughout its entirely.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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