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Iamthemorning - The Bell CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.88 | 203 ratings

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4 stars "Iamthemorning" is a classically-trained, yet crossover prog band from Russia that was formed in 2010. The core of the group is made up of a duo, however, in their live shows and on their albums, they often recruit several musicians, ensembles and orchestras to help them create their vision. Live shows can sometimes feature up to 8 individual players, not including ensembles and such. They have released four full length albums since 2012, including the album "The Bell" released in August of 2019. This album is inspired by song cycles in the style used by Schubert, and center around the topic of human cruelty and the pain caused from it, and the ways we deal with it. According to Bandcamp, the album is based on themes from the art and culture of Victorian England, yet strives to show that we haven't really made any changes in our emotional maturity since then. The album is made up of 10 tracks with a total run time of 46 minutes.

The core of the band is made up of Marjana Semkina on vocals and Gleb Kolyadin on grand piano and other keyboards. As guests, Vlad Avy plays acoustic and electric guitars, Zoltan Renaldi on bass, Svetlana Shumkova and Evan Carson on drums and percussion, Andres Izmaylov on harp, Grigory Osipov on marimba, Dmitry Tsepilov on sax, Ilya Leontyev on trumpet and Mr. Konin on bells, accordion and clapping. Also featured is the St. Petersburg Orchestra string ensemble.

"Freak Show" (7:09) starts off with the classical, pastoral feel, immediately beginning with Marjana's vocals, piano, synths, harp and strings. The melody is easy enough to follow even though it doesn't follow any real standard structure. At 2 minutes, the drums and bass all kick in and the music starts to move forward, still heavily and well-orchestrated. As it continues, it moves from pastoral to a more rock style, taking turns, but with plenty of flourishes among the instruments. Just before 4 minutes, it all gets surprisingly heavy when the piano and electric guitar join forces, but the track is not one to rest on any one style for too long. The music calms, but then the piano brings in the heavy chord progression again, this time accompanied by the sax and the drums again. It all softens to an atmospheric section where wordless vocals persist, intensity builds a bit, then it all stops leaving an acoustic guitar all by itself. This opening track should impress any prog lover or anyone with a love for classically-inspired rock. Excellent show stopper of a track.

After this, the tracks shorten for a while with times lasting between 3 and 4 minutes, and the music is mostly in the same song style as Schubert, simple, yet classically inspired, in other words, easy to listen to, but more complex than any standard pop music. "Sleeping Beauty" is a nice, laid-back song mostly led by acoustic and soft electric guitars, vocals and piano. "Blue Sea" uses tender piano flourishes and strummed acoustic guitar (played on this track by Marjana herself) to back the lovely vocals. Marjana gets to show off her range a bit more here, and it is quite impressive. But so is Gleb's piano work. "Black and Blue" continues with the soft sound as the vocals are more subdued, yet harmonized, and soft, minimal synths and acoustic guitar play around her vocals. The string ensemble joins in and the music swells with the piano taking the spotlight with some beautiful soloing.

"Six Feet" has a more careless attitude, but starts like the previous tracks, soft and gentle, but with a bit of a lilt to the vocals. The piano plays more dissonantly in this case also, but never to the point of being overbearing. Vocals strengthen as the track continues. Drums suddenly come in after minutes for the first time in a while, and then the music crescendo's to an emotional climax, then back off again. "Ghost of a Story" retains the piano, acoustic guitar and vocals, but also includes a harp and bass with a bit of percussion. This leads up to a nice, folkish style dance beat as it continues to an instrumental break as the keys take up the melody and then bring the song to a close. "Song of Psyche" is more pensive with acoustic guitar accompaniment and harmonized vocals. The piano comes in later adding a more dramatic effect to the song. "Lilies" (4:28) brings back a bit more length to the tracks, and a fast piano arpeggio accompanies the vocals this time, bringing in more intensity for this track. The last half of the song belongs to an amazing piano interlude.

"Salute" (7:27) again begins with fast piano and vocals. Soon, the acoustic guitar plays along with the pianos fast notes, a crash of a cymbal brings in percussion and drums, chimes, bass and other instruments. The music swells, then a nice regal trumpet comes in and just a hint of electric guitar. After some more vocals, the piano leads the other instruments into a nice instrumental break. Vocals come back at 4 minutes, everything is a bit more forceful now as tension builds. A squealing guitar comes in at 5 minutes and plays a solo above the other instruments, mostly egged on by the piano. This continues until the end. The last track, "The Bell" (5:04) begins with a thoughtful piano and hesitant vocals. This track features the original duo in a lovely and pensive track, simple, yet elegant and, just like the rest of the album, romantically and classically inspired.

This is quite an enjoyable album, mostly featuring the talents of the duo, but bringing in others to help give personality to the individual songs. The music is mostly simple, yet in a classical way, its music that probably won't offend the neighbors or anyone else for that matter, but, yet, it is complex enough to not be your standard fodder. The best tracks are the longer ones, but that doesn't mean that the other tracks should go unnoticed because there is still a lot of beauty and ingenuity and excellent performances among those also. It is quite a nice album, but would have been even a bit better with a little more usage of the other guests here, especially the string ensemble. However, the classical influence is very evident throughout and that makes this album shine. The vocals are lovely and the piano work is excellent. The songwriting is also great and that becomes more evident as you listen to it more. Great album for those who love their prog on the softer side, but still don't mind if things occasionally get dynamic from time to time.

TCat | 4/5 |


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