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Vespero - Hollow Moon CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.97 | 49 ratings

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4 stars You've got to credit the Fedotov brothers and company: they keep coming, they keep evolving, and they are great musicians. Must be some good stuff in the waters of Astrakhan!

1. "Watching The Moon Rise" (3:36) an unusual item for this band: an atmospheric, spacey intro! Nice though there is nothing very new or exciting here. (7.5/10)

2. "Flight Of The Lieutenant" (8:28) I hate the rhythmic foundation chosen for the first minute of this song. It changes slightly to start the second minute while guitar, violin, and synth do some pretty cool things but then that super annoying drum beat and machine gun bass playing returns intermittently. The third minute gets more interesting as the drumming begins to play more within the spirit of jam band improv that the rest of the band are using. Thinkgs slow down into a near-Rasta rhythm pattern in the fourth minute as heavily-treated funked-up bass is given some solo time. When the music returns to the breakneck pace of the opening sections there are some very cool violin and sax solos with all kinds of interesting stuff coming in from the peripheral instruments! At 6:30 there is return to the slow-down section for some cool guitar work. The tommy gun bass and return for an all-out race to the finish for the final minute. Wow! (17.5/20)

3. "Sublunarian" (7:56) opens with a cool multiple acoustic guitar finger-picking weave before bowed cello, double bass and congas join in. The melody of the bridge has a bit of a "Classical Gas" feel to it. At the two minute mark the song shifts into an early Jean-Luc Ponty sound and feel--gorgeous. This is a side of Vespero I've never heard before-- a jazz fusion side. I love it! The mid-song interlude for the slow synth-saw solo is a little prolonged and distracting, but then some almost-trip-hoppy drums enter to perk things up while a sax wails away. The final minute is a bit disappointing as all of the energy from the start and previous acoustic weaves are removed and an unexciting solo plays out. Still, this is a top three song for me. (18.25/20)

4. "Moon -Trovants" (8:39) Another interesting weave kicks in straight out of the starting block with synth master Arkady Fedotov having fun with his signature noises. A King Crimson "Discipline" weave establishes itself while a heavily treated violin solos. The violin's three note arpeggi used within the support weave thereafter become a little annoying as I think they are mixed a little too loudly into the soundscape. The bare bones fabric of the sixth minute unfortunately destroys some of the momentum and engagement established in the first five minutes. A little too staccato and repetitive--but I get it from the point of view of a band's exercise in discipline. Luckily it fills in again in the eighth minute so electric guitar and then sax can solo. (16.5/20)

5. "Mare Ingenii" (3:19) sounds like an outtake from an early 1980s Bruce Cockburn studio jam session with Hugh Marsh's electric violin, Bruce or Hugh's mandolin and Fergus Marsh's bass/ChapmanStick. (7.5/10)

6. "Feast Of Selenites" (11:05) opens with two minutes of playful experimentation with weaving muted string instrument pickings. At the three minute mark the structure becomes heavier--the rhythm section falling into a Mahavishnu Orchestra like groove while searing electric guitar, chunky bass, and violin take turns in lead and supporting roles. At 5:00 the rhythm structure again shifts, this time into a groove much more familiar from previous Krautrock-influenced Vespero albums. Within the next two minutes there are more subtle yet distinct stylistic shifts over which violin and synths take turns managing the leads. I like this song for its interesting twists and and turns and strong melodies while also wish a few of the sections could have been returned to or explored further than they were. The final minute sees a return to the Mahavishnu jazz fusion theme in a bit of a slowed down, watered down way--though the lead guitarists work is really fun. Another top three song for me. (18/20)

7. "Watershed Point" (2:01) another space interlude performed by synths and strings (synth strings?) Prettier than the album's opener but cut short. (4.5/5)

8. "Tardigrada's Milk" (7:12) another attempt at an acoustic-based jazz fusion piece, this one using more familiar Vespero melodies for the first two minutes. It opens with an acoustic guitar-led melodic "hook" that just doesn't work for me. Sounds like LOST WORLD BAND's Andy Didorenko's guitar! The Hugh Marsh-like violin work is nice. The third minute sees a rather radical shift into carnivalesque music laden with Arkady's frequent synth ejaculations. The fourth minute opens with a complete breakdown of all musical accompaniment while an accordion/harmonium-like instrument takes on as the sole companion to Arkady's synth spews. The end of the fifth minute sees a breakout into a kind of folk jam with chunky bass the only instrument that would not fit into a great MIKE OLDFIELD weave. This is actually quite a remarkable Oldfield imitation! Great song despite being a bit disjointed. My third top three song. (9/10)

9. "Space Clipper's Wreckage" (8:39) more attention grabbing but ultimately annoying drum work. The STEVE HILLAGE imitation guitar wanderings in the third minute are spot on and awesome but then the band decides to shift into some kind of blues rock territory. NO! I was so liking the GONG work! The countrified drum sound and beat is really bothering me. Luckily there is a break in the fifth minute--a weird GOBLIN-PULSAR type of piano-based wonky-bass and Arkady frenzy-fest. At 5:48 this explodes into a kind of MAGMA/KING CRIMSON heavyiness over which Alexander Kuzovlov's obvious "Ship of Fools"-like Robert Fripp work wails emotionally. This is cast aside at the seven minute mark for a rollicking punk-rock-ish section over which sax wails which is then replaced for a return to one of the earlier themes for a frenzied dance of frenetic cacophony exiting for a slow barebones piano arpiggi ending. Whew! What a ride! (17.5/20)

10. "Watching The Earth Rise" (3:26) is the album's final ambient space exploratory--this time using treated accordion, synths, and violin. (8/10)

Four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection. Though I really enjoy the adventurous spirit Vespero has displayed on this album--an album that is, in fact, quite different from their previous work precisely for this diversity--this is is the album that has made me decide to say that I have not enjoyed the progression of drummer Ivan Fedatov's stylistic choices nor do I enjoy the sound engineering choices the band has made for recording/presenting the kit drums. In my opinion, the Vespero drums are to often at odds or even detrimental to the cohesiveness of the songs. And I say this with great disappointment as Ivan's drumming and drumming potential were the first thing about this band that drew me in and one of the things that have kept me coming back for ten years now.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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