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Uphill Work - Dribs/Drabs CD (album) cover


Uphill Work


Crossover Prog

3.88 | 13 ratings

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4 stars No uphill battle to dig this!

Uphill Work is a band from Moscow who began around 2002 and 'Dribs/Drabs' is their third album officially, although their debut is now largely unavailable. They began as a duo but are a four piece in 2011 featuring Lev Gankine (keyboards, vocals), Konstantin Benyumov (guitars), Evgeny Semiletov (bass), and Konstantin Provorov (drums). Keyboardist Gankine lists Procol Harum, Gentle Giant, Supersister, Caravan, Curved Air, and Cardiacs amongst his influences. He says Moscow is a good place for bands but that Uphill Work sometime suffer from being 'too complex and weird for the indie crowd, too pop for proggers.' Well I like both prog and indie rock and I had no trouble getting into this band.

Recorded live in the studio, the new album features a unique sound anchored by a relentlessly energetic grand piano fused to the rhythm section's solid bass and percussion, quite unusual indeed, almost recalling Italy's Festa Mobile in the importance and usage of the piano in the sound. Atop this is just a touch of post-punk and eclectic, light-hearted experimentalism. These guys are having fun here and it shows. Clever lyrics and numerous twists and turns in the song structures keep everything off kilter and intoxicating. The guitar work is brash as well, often heavily distorted and crunchy, while the leads are quite fluent. The mostly monotone, low-key vocals further the punkish feel, they remind me a bit of 'Ed from Ohio' of the legendary Firehose. In fact the band's combination of deep talent with a sense of playful humor is something Mike Watt would approve of very much, I can almost hear him guesting with these guys in my mind. They even pull in some accordion for a bit of folk at one point. In other places the piano will move out from the background and lead the songs with upbeat grandeur. While they keep things mostly structured and economical there are some tracks where they stretch out with interesting improvisational sections. There are so many plastic sounding bands out there these days, Uphill Work is one that sticks out for the right reasons: they have an authentic and discernable personality which is complex yet direct, and they seem to care more about pleasurable music than they do about grand concepts or impressing people. (For more about this group, search for the interview in the PA interview section of the forums.)

Highly recommended for art rock fans and those who love a shot of indie mischief in their prog rock. This band should get far more attention.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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