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Happy 55 - Точное время / Precise Time CD (album) cover

Точное время / PRECISE TIME

Happy 55

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.05 | 2 ratings

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TCat
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Happy 55 is a band out of Russia, but the lead keyboardist currently lives in the U.S. They have self released a few albums and E.P.s, which I have not heard yet. This is my first experience with the band, and let me tell you, it is an avant-prog party for the senses. "Precise Time" is the newest release to date, June 2018. It is listed under albums, but it only has 3 songs with a run time of only around 16 minutes, so it is really an E.P. But one thing for sure, it will leave you wanting more, especially if you are a fan of Rock in Opposition, or Avant Garde Progressive music.

I call these three tracks "compositions" because they are not songs in the traditional sense as much as they are compositions in the contemporary classical sense or the modern jazz sense. The sound is a combination of both styles with a lot of progressive aspects thrown in. They have quite a list of influences from Stravinsky to King Crimson, though it leans more towards the 21st Century classical music more than the rock influences, though they are definitely there. If anything, to me they sound more like "Henry Cow" than anything else, but even then, that's not completely right either. The best thing about all of this, and what makes me most excited about their sound, is that it is driven by acoustic piano. Drums are also in the mix, and they are used as both a standard rhythm generator and totally non-standard at other times becoming more than just a background sound.

The first track, which is the title track "Precise Time" is a very happy sounding track, but not because it's something you feel like whistling, because you can't. The piano drives this along with some great percussion, with support from electronics and synths. This added all together gives a very unique sound, never annoying, always interesting. They do consider themselves a combination of electronics and acoustics and it usually happens all at the same time. There are no standard sounding melodies here though, as there is a lot of dissonance, which makes it amazing that it is still a very happy sounding track even with all of these strange harmonies, scales, chords and sounds going on. The movement of the driving melodies (if you can call them that) are always moving. At about the 4 minute mark, there is a major change in the sound and things almost get frantic. This part gets me really excited as the speed increases and interesting repeating sounds come out of the synths.

The next track is "All Green" and this one immediately sounds different. There are 3 voices speaking in another language which I don't understand. They continue for a short time and then reverb is added slowly along with music until the voices are taken over altogether. This is more of a dark sound, again driven by the piano at first. About halfway through, the clarinet takes over the spotlight, and then eventually, both the piano and clarinet play notes that constantly move and weave around each other. It all seems to be done in a minor key, though I am not sure if there is a specific key here, and I certainly have no idea what mode they are using either, possibly even 12 tone. That would make sense since Prokofiev and Stravinsky are influences.

The last track is my favorite entitled "Tolk". This one uses the best example of standard pop rhythms at certain times and non- standard at other times. That is the only thing close to standard here because everything else playing here does not necessarily follow the rhythm. This is a very interesting combination. The standard rhythm drops out and comes back occasionally, but the non-standard percussion also continues. There is a lot going on here, lots of dynamics, rhythm changes, nice builds and releases throughout the track. Very enjoyable.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable EP that keeps you wanting more. It definitely has me interested in hearing their other releases. The production is excellent, the sound is mostly bright, but also dark in places. Dynamics are very, very well used here, and that is probably the strongest asset. These guys really know what they are doing, and I would say they sound like they are classically trained with an interest in Jazz and progressive rock. Nothing is predictable here, so don't expect that going in to this one. What it is though, is a lot of fun, which is something you can't always say about contemporary classical music since must of it (not all of it though) comes off sounding rather clinical, where this is anything but clinical. All lovers of RIO and Avant Garde Progressive need to listen to this, it is definitely an excellent addition to your collection. Besides, you are not out much as far as dollars go since it is only 3 songs, but you will probably want to invest more once you hear it. Excellent job by a very talented band.

TCat | 4/5 |

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