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Lunar Cape - Just Lunatics CD (album) cover

JUST LUNATICS

Lunar Cape

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.18 | 12 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The debut release by the eclectic Russian sextet Lunar Cape is an album of music even more colorful than its eye-catching folk-art 'cover' illustration (by one Arseny Lapin, who deserves a credit equal to the band itself for his distinctive visual branding of their musical style). The group, one of many notable acts to emerge in recent years from Russia, is Moscow-based (by way of the moon, according to their own fanciful creation myth), and play "music that could be the soundtrack to a film, cartoon, video game, or a certain performance"...quoting the awkwardly-translated official Lunar Cape biography.

Each of the album's eleven tracks presents a beguiling mix of influences, weaving eastern European folk-music traditions into a decidedly modern framework: part throwback '70s rock; part smooth jazz; and flirting at times with a local strain of oddball instrumental pop...textbook Prog, in other words, and immediately appealing from the opening notes of the kickoff song "Pink Slippers": a beautifully-crafted ray of musical sunshine almost guaranteed to cure your late-autumn existential angst.

The rest of the album follows the same optimistic trend, easy on the ears in the best possible way. Consider it the musical equivalent of a cloudless sky in mid-summer: warm, relaxing, and all the more surprising from a nation of artists notorious for their moody self-absorption.

It helps that these six musicians really know their stuff, and obviously enjoy playing together. Two-thirds of the group include recorders among their arsenal of instruments, best heard in a 100-second Gentle Giant-like 'Excerpts from Octopus' interlude called "Dudki". Showboat solos are discouraged, although guitarist Nikolay Petrovsky (Electro-Nick, to his friends) is allowed a brief, spotlight moment of mock-heavy blues jamming in "Cat Bite" (preceding the songs "Mouse Dirigible" and "Cats the Captain"). But if the album has a standout player I would nominate Olga Scotland, whose colorful flute and mandolin accents give the music its bright ethnic disposition.

You'll note an element of Space Rock fusion elbowing into the mix, in "Southern Harbor" and "The Realm of Sleep", adding further contours to an already irregular musical landscape. But for the most part it's an album of simple tunes and catchy melodies, more than a little moonstruck yet always grounded in the fertile soil of the band's native culture.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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