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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Russian ensemble ROZ VITALIS has been a going concern for just about a decade now. Initially the creative solo vehicle of composer and instrumentalist Ivan Rozmainsky, this project has slowly but surely grown into a band. "Revelator" is its most recent studio effort, and was issued by the Russian label MALS Records in late spring 2011.

Hard-to-define music inspired by classical music with a distinct symphonic character is what the listener is served on Roz Vitalis' latest studio effort. "Revelator" isn't a production that shares too many characteristics with what most would describe as symphonic progressive rock, however; the band's blend of acoustic, electric and electronic instruments is an innovative and fairly challenging escapade into this universe, rather original too I might add. If you can imagine a blend of brooding symphonic Italian-style art rock and Isao Tomita, liberally flavored with a variety of acoustic instruments, you wouldn't be too far way from what this CD has to offer. If you think this sounds intriguing, I'm pretty sure that this is a CD you will treasure.

Report this review (#525761)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a mostly midtempo avantish sympho prog album, with keyboards as main instrumentation, partly human, partly programmed (tracks 3, 6, 8, 9) drums and bass, different kinds of flutes, some occasional guitars (just one electric guitar solo), other instruments are even scarcer. The album features a song (Warm Tuesday) with NOT Ivan Rozmainsky as the main composer. So, technically it's a group effort, but it doesn't usually show here: keyboards rarely play supportive role, bot still more often than on previous albums. Instrumentation diversity from track to track also shows it's more of a track compilation than an album. Track by track thoughts with ratings follow.

4* Revelator 5:15

Flute and synths intro, then quirky synths and human rhythm section start. A robotic dance of lovely avant prog, this is wwhat ROZ VITALIS should have sounded like earlier, with better sounding drums! Then goes mellow slow interlude with flute, synths, soundscapes, quite for long. Abrupt change to again quirky synths, drums and bass with some flute passages, growing into the opening theme. Flute just "happens", no tension builts, also it's as robotic (!), not pastoral as in later albums.

3* Warm Tuesday 3:59

This is a 3 section composition with no lengthy transitions. It starts with acoustic guitar theme, electric guitar pinches, bass, hand drums, some keyboards on background, then abrupt change to a faster upbeat section, switch to drumkit, keyboards more to front, electric guitar present slightly more, good keyboard part in the end, then agin abrupt change to a piano section with cello joining in later, all melancholy. Although compositionally and instrumentation-wise uncommon to ROZ VITALIS these are just 3 pieces glued together.

3* Deadlock of the deceiver 4:10

Flute, sonorous bells and synths, all add to atmospheric start, then darker avantish synths at length with scarce percussion, Ivan shines here, all slow to mid tempo, more playful synths in the end, then soundscapes and solemn ending. Interesting and sounds like a leftover from previous almost solo albums.

5* Painsadist (Hit version) 3:27

This is another all time concert hit. Although the concert versions have more pronounced guitars. Here we have keyboards, human rhythm section, some electric guitar inserts, interchange between mid and fast tempo, main parts are keyboards and drums. I literally walk the ceiling every time I listen to it, it's so full of drama and intricacy and energy! Concerts usually feature a thematic animation video with climatic moments synced to music! Well, really a hit version. This track alone makes the album worthy.

3* Underfrog 7:12

This dark tune starts with gurgling (froggy) keyboards, then a slightly oriental flute kicks in, after that a sudden switch to just bass (froggy again) with occasional drums and different effects from guitar and synthesizers. Then more gurgling with keyboards and drums, tension builts with keyboards and bassoon (?, anyway, froggy again :) ), only to an abrupt change to drums and soundscapes. The motif develops to moody ethereal keyboards part, again, now even darker, but more electronic dramatic tension builts, again just to a soundscape ending, what a waste! Composition ends with trumpet psychedelic sounds on top of soundscapes. Trumpet is used much better on their "Lavore d'amore" album.

2* Midwinter tulips 2:11

This is a acoustic guitar, piano and other keyboards piece, all mellow and pleasant but nothing to write home about.

3* La combattimento spirituale 6:30

Slow solemn synthesizers start with some bass and acoustic guitar inserts, then some flutes join. After that keyboards shut down for a while to let sonorous bells play with exceptionally warm kind flute. Then same bells with quirkier synths, switching to a lengthy part of _dominating_ bass, human drums, keyboards paint over rhythm, all slow to mid, this goes for long, maintaining pressure, from less to more robotic keyboards, but no climax. Then again sonorous bells but now with church ones also. This is an early prototype of current ROZ VITALIS' psychedelic tracks like "What are you thinking about?" from "Lavore d'amore" album, but still with quite an avantish tint to it. The composition is very good but I feel most of the ideas went underdeveloped to warrant 4*. I also remember nearly falling asleep on the bass-heavy section on concert once...

3* Persecuted 10:17

This is a hugely varied piece. It's all slow, hardly mid tempo, but instrumentation constantly changes: shvi (a kind of flute), different keyboards, acoustic guitar, harpsichord start, electric guitar (with said solo), soundscapes, horn, trumpet, programmed drums, looong piano solo with both pleasantly bright and tense moments - all these team up in very different ways. I believe it takes some talent to compose such tracks, pity is I usually don't favour the slow ones. But if you are into slower tense keyboards/brass music, it's easily a 5*.

2* Silver melting 2:58

For me it's just a psychedelic filler with futuristic slow synths effects, some flutes and soundscapes.

Time-weighted score 3.15

Report this review (#1462706)
Posted Saturday, September 12, 2015 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Moving on to the sixth album by ROZ VITALIS after really digging "Compassionizer" and "Lavoro D'Amore". REVELATOR finds the band continuing to utilize their own unique style of using classically inspired keyboard music while adding all kinds of interesting additional layers of percussion, woodwind instruments, progressive electronic, strings and horns as the icings on the cake. As with the other albums i've heard REVELATOR is in the same vein however this band is very masterful in keeping a different feel for each album as not to sound like they're just repeating things and going through the motions.

REVELATOR seems to rely a bit less on the classical elements and has more of a folky flavor all the while adding the touches of avant- prog quirkiness to the mix. It is all instrumental like the other albums i've heard. The music has a kind of tug-of-war effect between an enthusiastic happy feeling and a dark somber depressant. Once the melodies hook you and reel you in then starts all the stranger elements. As with the other albums this is one that ratchets up the differences and never slaps you in the face. Once the hooks are in place then comes the slight time sig changes, electronic embellishments, occasional flute and horn runs and shuffling of expected roles in instrumental behavior.

It's always hard to convey unique music in linear written language, especially music that is as eclectic as this. Suffice it to say this qualifies as a form of avant-prog for its quirkiness but it is also very symphonic in its sound as Ivan Rozmainsky's keyboards dominate the overall sound pretty much for the entire run while other instruments which include cello, flute, shakuhachi, viola, bassoon, trumpet and flugelhorn interpolate their respective timbres intermittently into the nooks and crannies of the melodic procession that hops from one track to the next. The tracks are all fairly distinct and the keyboard parts sometimes completely drop out to let in segments that sound very avant-garde but no matter how weird things get they are always resolved as to make a pleasant listen that isn't too out there for the listener.

What can i say? ROZ VITALIS may be one of the biggest surprises for me of the last year. It's rather innocuous to take in upon first listen but just quirky enough to take you on a wild ride in ways that seem logical yet totally unexpected and keeping me wanting to hear more, so without further ado i will check out yet another album. Very cool stuff.

Report this review (#1506658)
Posted Monday, January 4, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars The early, more experimental-oriented stuff of the instrumental Russian act Roz Vitalis really isn't for me. And once again, after reviewing Compassionzer (2007), I'm a bit disappointed for this album not to resemble more notably the excellent, finely produced Lavoro d'Amore (2015). I can repeat my thoughts on slightly hollow sound, playful but rather nonsense keyboard-centred compositions and the overall direction for the better. First, the list of five musicians looks better than how the album actually sounds. This is to say that keyboard player and main composer Ivan Rozmainsky keeps the spotlight too much on himself, ie. the arrangements still leave guitars, flutes and rhythm section way too much in the background. Or is it just amateurish production that makes the sound somewhat cold?

The opening title track is a typical slice of RV: lots of changes in tempo without the certain flow. The music feels like a backing for an avantgardish silent film of slapstick. 'Warm Tuesday' starts as a pretty, moody tune in which acoustic and electric guitars play softly, and wanders into the more eclectic direction. The Finnish album Ultramarine (2000) by GROOVECTOR comes to my mind, but Roz Vitalis's music lacks the similar symphonically structured, natural flow. The next track is nothing but that hollow-sounding organ quirkiness. 'Painsadist (Hit Version)' has a humorous title but although the rest of the band is well involved, the track gives nothing to me. 'Underfrog': flute and bass have their nice supporting roles in this cold, swampy silliness. Delicate 'Midwinter Tulips' starring piano and acoustic guitar is a highlight and a breath of fresh air, and it's short enough not to suddenly shift into the typical RV style.

Perhaps the album gets better towards the end and slightly increases the emotional substance in melodies, but for my taste there's still too much of that slapstick flavour around. The closing track 'Silver Melting' is another ambience-oriented moody highlight. For the most part this album remains quite meaningless to me, but I can recommend it to avant-minded listeners who are less emotionally oriented than me.

Report this review (#1683694)
Posted Monday, January 23, 2017 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars There was a gap of four years between their fifth and sixth studio albums, with 'Revelator' coming out in 2011. By this time there had been a total change in the band, with only keyboard player Ivan Rozmainsky left of the musicians who were involved in the previous work. It was at this point that the band really started to spread their wings, as they moved away from the trio to a quintet of Vladimir Efimov (guitars), Vladislav Korotkikh (flutes, whistle), Philip Semenov (drums, percussion) Vladimir Semenov-Tyan-Shansky (bass) and Rozmainsky, along with additional musicians providing cello, flute, shakuhachi, viola, bassoon, trumpet and flugelhorn. While still playing music inspired by both classical and RIO, based around the keyboards, there were now more complex dynamics and layering of sounds.

Using a real drummer also added to a difference in the overall sound, although it must be said that I am not a great fan of the production of that, as there are times when it sounds as if Semenov is hitting a box as opposed to a drum, but he is definitely adding a more driving force to the sound. The strong use of woodwind, especially when combined with electronica, such as on "Underfrog", is inspired and quite different to anything else I have come across. I can only describe the introduction as if I were listening to bubbles of sound that kept popping in my ears. Early Kraftwerk has been an inspiration on this album, as has of course Art Zoyd with whom Ros Vitalis have quite an affinity, while Can have also had their part to play. There is a real depth here, with the unusual choice of instruments and arrangements combining to make something that is incredibly compelling, melodic and enjoyable.

Report this review (#1998821)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2018 | Review Permalink

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