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

TOUCH THE MYSTERY

Modern-Rock Ensemble

 

Neo-Prog

4.05 | 178 ratings

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Magnum Vaeltaja
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Another day, another prog project out of Ukraine.

Modern-Rock ensemble is essentially the solo project of band leader, singer, guitarist, synth player, and producer Vladimir Gorashchenko. A longtime member of Ukraine's prog scene, Gorashchenko drives much of "Touch The Mystery" along, though he is joined by a whole slew of musical collaborators, including Karfagen veteran Antony Kalugin. Genre-wise, Modern-Rock Ensemble sits comfortably in the symphonic and neo-prog style, but doesn't get too complacent; there are occasional nods to jazz and ethnic music, and a certain new age vibe weaves its way in and out of the whole affair.

Although these atypical flairs make themselves apparent at various points in the album, I find that "Touch The Mystery" still falls well within the realm of predictability that enshrouds most symphonic prog. The album's two extended compositions, the opener "Meditations" and the 20 minute title track, are each par-for-the-course symphonic/neo fare. Each one contains extended instrumental passages that allow the band to explore, blend, and contrast different timbres. While very tastefully constructed, I can't help but feel that they never develop into any substantial. Each one just seems to be a showcase of sounds, without any underlying tension, conflict, or narrative. Pleasant listening, but not the kind of thing that really captures you and draws you in, or creates new worlds in your head.

In a similar vein, the music, while brimming with competency, often lacks in energy. And that isn't necessarily the fault of any of the musicians' performances. It's just that the production, crystal clear as it is, seems to have overshot the fine line that keeps it from sterility. The softness and clarity of the production actually works to heighten the album's two ballads, the piano instrumentals "What Will Happen To My Country?" and "My Angels". Melancholy and contemplative, these two pieces are actually quite suited to the subdued sound of the album. During the two epics, though, and the more unorthodox live recording, "Swamp", a lot of the dynamic power that should be there is flattened out and lost. It also doesn't help that Gorashchenko has what may be the most offensively mellow voice in the world. Imagine the guy from the local DMV reading out a book on tax code. And then imagine that getting played back at half speed. Or remember that one teacher you had back in school whose class you simply couldn't not sleep through? Those sorts of memories were really coming back to me whenever Gorashchenko started to chime in between instrumental passages. I digress. There is one welcome respite to come from the vocals, though; when they start to sing out "Touch it! Touch it!" at the end of the title track, its comes across as excellent comic relief. Indeed, that line may be one of the most awkward, least tasteful things to hit prog since the cover of "Love Beach". Truly a laugh-out-loud moment in the middle of an increasingly lacklustre song.

So, I suppose that Modern-Rock Ensemble falls prey to the typical symphonic quandaries. Tasteful ("Touch it" aside), but not overly creative. Competent, but not overly exciting. On the whole, I'd consider this to be very middle of the road prog. It's a very safe listen, so if you're not necessarily looking for anything too risky, "Touch The Mystery" should be a thoroughly enjoyable choice of music. With all things considered, I'd consider this to be a good album. No more, no less; 3 safe stars.

Magnum Vaeltaja | 3/5 |

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