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5 stars "Touch the Mystery" is the first album of the Modern-Rock Music - a project of a Ukrainian musician, composer and producer Vladimir Gorashchenko. Vladimir has been composing music for more than 30 years and this album is to certain extent his musical biography. The leading Ukrainian musicians were involved in recording this album, including Antony Kalugin (Karfagen, Sunchild) and Max Velichko (Inside the Sound, Karfagen). The album consists mainly of instrumental pieces, with 2 out of 6 having Vladimir's vocal. Three of the compositions are real epics with fantastic fusion of jazz-rock and sympho-rock. After listening to "Meditations", "Touch the Mystery" and "The Swamp" for the first time the only question I asked myself was: "Why almost nobody has heard about this project?". According to many reviews, "Touch the Mystery" should be positioned among the best prog rock albums of the recent years. I am sure that the album will get the world-wide recognition among the prog rock fans, since in my opinion it really deserves it.

Report this review (#1668254)
Posted Friday, December 16, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars It took a long while but it was worth the wait. It was in August that I received this album. Right on the first listen I felt there's something special about this release from Ukraine. The music itself is of course very finely crafted; the bandleader, composer and keyboard player Vladimir Gorashchenko indeed seems to be a perfectionist as the liner notes reveal. But what's most important, it goes beyond being just good music. I mean, one can sense the personal passion, dedication and the urge to express all the emotions and the view on the world via music. That's what makes it special.

Vladimir has a decades-long musical background, and it's suitably present in this release, in terms of both the texts and the music. His group "Modern Rock Ensemble Putnik" was active in the latter half of the 80's. The opener 'Meditations' (featured also as a Russican-language version in the end of the album) was recorded in 1988 in Italy, and in 2013 the piece was finished with new recordings of vocals in English, lead guitar, basses and a few synth lines. It's a fine epic of nearly 12 minutes. Sonically it reminds some solo efforts of FISH, especially his debut Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors. For example in the way the fretless bass effectively comes very audible here and there in the spatial soundscape (I'm thinking of Fish songs such as 'State of Mind'), and in the emotionally loaded dynamic range of the composition, in which the vocals are in a larger role than generally on this instrumentally oriented album. Vladimir has a warm baritone voice.

The fifth track 'Swamp' was recorded live in a jazz festival in 1989, by Mk. 2 of Putnik. This 10-minute instrumental is dedicated to to the legendary art-film director Andrei Tarkovsky who struggled against the swamp-like Soviet ideology. Also this composition is mostly rather slow-paced and thoughtful, with both jazzy and New-Agey nuances. Excellent playing! Two short pieces between the long tracks are delicate keyboard solos; 'What Will Happen to My Country?' is touchingly melancholic, and 'My Angels (decicated to my fiwe and daughters)' expresses gentle love beautifully.

The central piece is the 20-minute title track, a multi-part epic that is said to be a "musical biography" of Vladimir. It's full of emotions and wide dynamics. I'm not sure if the brief spoken parts are doing good for the music, but on the other hand they increase the sense of personal passion that I mentioned before. The composition has both some sections that many would consider a bit sleepy, and cathartic highlights. Impressive! Now the hard question of the rating: I'd give 4½ stars if possible. This album might be slightly over-pathetic (and a bit too sugary on the short pieces), and to have a same song in two languages is not so valuable for me, but for the perfection in the production and for the emotional depth I want to give the full rating. I hope there'll be more releases from Vladimir's music archives, as the text suggests.

Report this review (#1668446)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars I guess it was a year ago when I received a message asking for my opinion on some music composed by a Ukrainian artist, Vladimir Gorashchenko. It's never easy for me to say when I will have time to listen to someone's request and then comment or write a review, but a hole opened up in my music schedule and I gave it a listen. And I was duly impressed. I listened to the whole album and gave my thoughts to my contact. The main question was, "Would this album be welcomed in the PA community?" or something along those lines. What a question! Do cows eat grass?

Then this summer a package arrived for me from the Ukraine. It was the album I had heard now here at last released on CD. "Touch the Mystery" by the Modern-Rock Ensemble. It's a simple name to be sure. Nothing like Destiny's Draught or Three Quarter Triangle or anything like that. Simple but very apt. The music is a rock band with an orchestra-worth of other instruments for the main compositions "Meditations" and the title track, and the live recording "Swamp" is also more than just a simple rock band sound. I was immediately interested when I heard the opening "sitar" notes (actually a sound created on acoustic guitar after laborious experimentation) and the slow building of the music, which made me feel I was witnessing the sunrise from some ancient temple. Vladimir provides his deep vocals for "Meditations", singing in bass baritone and sounding a bit like the late Leonard Cohen. The 11-minute track is a wondrous composition weaving acoustic ethnic sounds with guitar rock that features Max Velichko's guitar work. It is one of those 10-12 minute mini-epics that have just the right length and attention to detail that make it a great pleasure to listen to. From this track I was sold on the music.

The title track flows from the same spring but at 19:50 it weaves across a broader plain. There are moments of waves in the music with a rich rock performance that changes to softer, soothing music, and then switches back to the rock, and back to the softer music again. I confess that after several listens I haven't dissected the song perfectly, but there are "parts" with the music changing and a reprise near the end, and Vladimir offers his vocals once more. I think he originally worried that people might not like his low register but I feel the deep warm tones are a welcome change from the usual.

Two other tracks, "What will Happen to My Country?" and "My Angels" (a tribute to his wife and daughter) are keyboard compositions that are very pleasant, though I can't help but think about the weight behind the interrogative title of the former. What will happen to the Ukraine indeed?

There are two other tracks on this disc. One is a live recording from 1989. It was recorded on a single tape recorder and so the sound quality is not as good as the rest of the album, and Vladimir confesses that the fretless bass is lost a little in the sound. But sound quality aside (it's not bad really), the performance shows already the kind of skill that went into not only the writing but also the playing. The other track is a version of "Meditations" sung in Russian. There are some minor differences in the mix and instrumentation here and also Vladimir sings in baritone here as opposed to bass baritone.

Vladimir's musical background includes early interests in "Sergeant Pepper's", Deep Purple "In Rock" and Genesis' "Selling England by the Pound". By 1983 he was composing music of his own and as we can here, he was performing his music as early as the 1980's. Working closely with guitarist Max Velichko, Vladimir is involved in Max's forthcoming album and will work with him further on a second album for Modern-Rock Ensemble.

There is a special quality to this album that makes is stand apart from most of the other stuff I have in my collection. It's a wonderful debut though certainly one that took a long time coming. I will look forward to hearing what Vladimir has to release next.

Report this review (#1668459)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was aware that in this project participated 2 musicians whose music I already know well: Anton Kalugin (Karfagen and Sunchild) and Max Velichko (Inside the Sound and Karfagen) therefore I was expecting to hear similar music on this CD. In the end of the day Touch the Mystery by Modern-Rock Ensemble happened to be very different from what I expected. Great surprise! I like both Kalugin's projects and I like Inside the Sound furious compositions but this album is very different and it penetrated over me on the level of heart feelings. At first I was captured by "Meditations". Even very specific vocal of Vladimir has not frightened me off. Certain hints of Indian music are not dominating in the piece, but just adding some atmosphere and propose to the listener to meditate together with the author. It works. So the beginning looks like tibetian monks chant and then the piece slowly develops in music and in passion according to the lyrics of the poem. One of the key roles in this piece is played by cello varying from electrical sound to a clean chamber sound. 12 string and lead guitars have done well. Bass and drum players added jazz and rock flavour to the track. The second piece to draw my attention happened to be "Swamp". Great synergy of "fusion" and "sympho-rock". Electric violin slightly reminds me Jean-Luc Ponty. Two keyboard players are exchanging solos supported by guitar. Yes, I forgot to say that a fretless bass plays mostly melodic rather than a rythm section role. Great job for a live concert! I am not a big fan of long epics, quite often they are dull and boring. But once in a right mood at night I listened to the "Touch the Mystery" ? and it knocked me down. Such a unique, organic and distinctive fusion of the prog-rock, jazz-rock and art-rock!!! The main theme is permanently developing composition-wise and sound-wise. 20 minutes've passed very fast and the only question was ? why Vladimir hasn't done it an album long? Listening to this composition I found myself in the mood to listen some more and more variations of the charming main theme. So many beautiful melodies and cleverly arranged culminations. Inclusions of the saxophone in the counter points all over the piece are very beautiful. Though in two parts saxophone sounds very aggressively and is even fighting with a synthesizer. Lead guitar as well changes many moods through the piece. It looks like "Mystery" is one of my favorite epics now. My first idea was to propose Vladimir to extend variations in "Touch the Mystery" finally to at least 35 min. But finally I came to idea that this composition looks like great art-rock masterpiece and what one can do to the masterpiece is not to touch it and let it live with its own life! There are two short keyboard pieces on the CD - they are nice and melodic, however they are intended to give us a break in-between the epics. I've read certain comments on the forum that Vladimir is using many styles in his music. For sure. "Meditations" has elements of ethnic-oriental music (1986), "Swamp" (1989) is a jazz-rock/ fusion piece and "Touch the Mystery (2016) is a sympho-rock piece, however each and all of them have for sure a distinctive composition style and ensemble sound of the Modern-Rock Ensemble - that's the main point. "Touch the Mystery" by Modern-Rock Ensemble is a wonderful album. Yes, you can hardly digest it "on the run" or during the party, but one dark night it will creep into your room and will get you unarmed. Beware!
Report this review (#1669474)
Posted Sunday, December 18, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Maybe this is one of the albums that I have been waiting for many years. After the great explosion of prog rock in 70th, very seldom we are facing a fresh sound and a new approach to prog rock. I am absolutely sure that there will be comments that Vladimir is using in his Modern-Rock Ensemble project too many styles ? why not? If it serves his understanding of music and composing, in my opinion it is very positive. Otherwise we might have been drawn by clones of Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd.

Meditations: this composition opens the CD. For me (a big fan of Ian Anderson) at first the voice of Vladimir was nearly shocking. However, later on I realized that this piece could be hardly sung differently. His voice is deeply integrated with musical development, forming short duos with cello, bass and guitar. In culminations Vladimir's bass/baritone can be very powerful and passionate. I would like to mention a very unusual and interesting use of cello, which is flirting at first with a 12 string guitar, then ? bass, and then ? plays solo parties with ELECTRIC GUITAR. The piece is slowly transforming from ambient, philosophical, mellow parts ahead to two strong and powerful culminations. Lead guitar of Max Velychko in this piece is sometimes nice and fragile, but as well strong and powerful. Nice oriental flavor is created by real tabla drums and "electric sitar". The music is complimented with enough philosophical lyrics. I wonder how Vladimir could interpret Valery Bryusov's poem. A very strong track.

What will happen to my country: Beautiful track which shows a lot of emotion and grief for the Vladimir's native country.

Touch the Mystery: A true Epic! It is different from my beloved "Thick as a Brick", "Tales from Topographic Ocean" and "Supper's Ready", very different. However, it is an essence of symphonic prog. Fusion of rock, jazz and classical musical is very natural and proven by development of the piece. Duos of Max Velychko's guitar and Vladimir's keys sometimes played at the edge of dissonance are very fresh and strong. String quartet is going through the metamorphoses from classical quartet to a rock rhythm SECTION replacing rock guitar's functions, changing its role from supporting arrangement to a leading soloist. Since Touch the Mystery is commented by Vladimir as his autobiography ? he might have very tough life experience with many ups and downs. It is a pity that following his ensemble concept of sound Vladimir has reduced his keyboard presence in this piece on purpose giving a more space for guitar, saxophone and fretless bass. Nevertheless, great keyboard skill is present through-out the whole piece.

My Angels. A very melodic and beautiful piece with a synthesizer solo in a good tradition of HTM. I like this piece.

The Swamp. Very emotional intro is followed by ambient, Biblical and philosophical part with great electric violin. I wonder how such a complicated piece which constantly develops on two synthesizers, ELECTRIC GUITAR and bass, could be played live on such a level. A very special and strong piece of music.

Meditations (in Russian): one point ? it is the same piece as an English version, however it is sung in a different voice and with slightly different emotional character. In Russian it was sung back in 80th, with a much more hope and beliefs in the future. Now in 2014 Vladimir is matured and obviously not that optimistic. He tries hard to attract our attention to the fact that we have already reached the edge of the Abyss. In fact, that's true.

Like an artist by education I would like to comment the great job of Sergey Shulima ? the artist whose paintings were used in design of the album. Great work, Sergey.

With the open heart I would definitely propose a 5 star qualification to this great album.

Report this review (#1669786)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album deserves the attention of fans of progressive rock, primarily because the Ukrainian composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Vladimir Gorashchenko presents his very special approach to progressive rock music. The album is hard to attribute to one particular genre of progressive rock. However, fans of different genres will surely find a lot interesting in this music. And they are already enjoing it - Modern-Rock Ensemble was included to Progarchives only on the 16-th of December 2016 and from this date 4 days occupies the 1-st position among "Most Popular Groups" for last 24 hours.

Obviously the best is the central composition of the album - "Touch the Mystery", which is framed by two beautiful, melodic compositions. In "Touch the Mystery" Vladimir joined vivid musical pictures of peripetias of life and searching of mystery of life in an unwrapped composition - a call to all of us: to find yourself and to create own story.

The first track of the album - "Meditations" due to complex and multifaceted structure, elegant arrangement and experimental vocal can pretend on role of central composition in a separate album.

The composition "Swamp" is a tour in the jazz-rock past of Vladimir. Nevertheless, it is organically fit into the composition of the album, emphasizing profitable creativity of the author and still reflects the distinctive style of the Modern-Rock Ensemble.

In this project, Vladimir has managed to collect some of the best musicians of Ukraine. The soundtrack is full of the sound of live instruments.

This album is a great contribution to the Progressive rock.

Report this review (#1669790)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars My personal interest to prog rock started with Genesis and Procol Harum. The music they made was unique, at that time it was a breakthrough. Since then a lot has changed, but what I don't like about the development of prog rock is that it is going mainly in circles. On very rare occasions a new group appears which generates something new, being a new level of music.

In this respect I was astonished by this album. Ukraine is not that musically famous for its traditions like UK, Italy or States. However this project is definitely not only a fusion of the best achivements in progrock, it adds to the heriitage significantly - the intricate melodies, deep emotions, constant possession...

I wouldn't be afraid to give 5 to this album. It is a landmark. Since the first time I listened to this project I am their sincere fan. Give it a listen and the last remaining doubts will leave you. The guys in Ukraine can compose prof rock and play it. I personally am sure of it.

Report this review (#1669925)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review Nº 100

Today I celebrate my hundredth review on Progarchives. As you can imagine, today is a very special day for me. Since a long time I planned to celebrate this date with a very special album from my country, the album generally considered the pinnacle of progressive rock of my country, "10.000 Anos Depois Entre Véus E Marte" of José Cid. However, I changed my decision and I decided to celebrate this date with this new album of this new musical project. Why? Because this new musical project has won a very special place into my heart since the first moment I listened to it. All begun in the end of 2015 when I was contacted asking my opinion about the album. As many of us know, we are often contacted by many groups to review their albums. And as we know too, we can't review all those albums. However, in this case, I was very impressed with this project. Despite not only the music is great but also Vladimir is a man with great skills, as a composer and performer. So, soon I became interested in this project and decided to review it.

Modern-Rock Ensemble is a musical project of Vladimir Gorashchenko, a composer, poet, keyboardist, guitar player and producer from Ukraine. About the project's name, Vladimir comments that his musical style was influenced by a great heritage of art-rock, jazz-rock, cosmic rock, symphonic rock and ethnic rock which he considers as essential parts of modern rock music. It also means that Vladimir wants to get more complex ensemble or orchestral type of sound. To this project Vladimir invited many talented Ukrainian rock and jazz musicians as well as a string quartet.

"Touch The Mystery" has six tracks. "Meditations" is the English version and the last track is the Russian version. It's one of the lengthiest tracks on it. It begins with some eastern musical influences that develop progressively all over the track. It's one of the two tracks on the album with some vocal work. This is a very good track, very well developed and with some original musical moments. It oscillates between slow and more aggressive parts. "What Will Happen To My Country" is a soft, melodious and emotional track that shows the feelings and the concerns of the composer with the future of his country. It's a very beautiful and nostalgic piece of music composed only for keyboards. It represents for me the most beautiful moment on the album. "Touch The Mystery" is the title track and the lengthiest track on the album, and is also the great highlight of the album. This is truly a majestic track. It has all the ingredients to be a masterpiece. Despite being another epic as the first one, musically it's very different. It's magnificently constructed and orchestrated, and has a great strings work. The music flows and develops naturally all over the track. It has also a very beautiful tune. This is really a great piece of progressive music. It's not a surprise that this track gives its name to the album. "My Angels" is another very soft, melodious and emotional track of the album. It's another piece of music composed only for keyboards. This time it shows the deep feelings of the composer's love for his wife and daughters. It represents the second most beautiful moment on the album. About the short pieces in the album I must say that they are absolutely beautiful and lovely. Both show Vladimir's own feelings about two very important things for him, his country and his family. "The Swamp" despite be the third lengthiest track on the album, is very different from the other two. First this is a live version and second it's strongly influenced by jazz. This is also an excellent track, more experimental than the previous tracks and where the strings work is also very beautiful. The track is also magnificently constructed. This is really another great piece of music. In my opinion this is the second highlight of the album.

One more thing. My compliments to Sergey Shulima, he made a great job with the paintings used on the album cover.

Conclusion: "Touch The Mystery" is a very interesting album, magnificently composed and orchestrated and with a very professional work. It has some beautiful and emotional moments and also some great job from all the performers. The strings work is really impressive and beautiful. The album is very well balanced and the inclusion of two small and soft pieces in the middle is really an excellent idea providing some of the most beautiful moments on the album. They break the most emotional moments of the lengthiest epic pieces. The vocal work of Vladimir is very curious and interesting. His voice is very deep and strong. Some can consider it too much deep for their tastes. But I think the use of his vocals on the album was very well balanced. The musical performance on the album clearly shows to be an album made by a keyboardist. However, Vladimir gives a lot of room for the other musicians shine on their own performances. I must say that I'm very impressed with the keyboard skills of Vladimir. I must confess that I didn't know anything about his musical education. His keyboard work is really great and I always presumed that he had a classical training. Now, I know that I was right. This is simply one of the best progressive albums I've heard to in the last years.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

P.S. : There is only one thing that worries me about this musical project, which is its classification. I'm not really sure if consider it a neo-prog project was the better option. I can see why, but I continue with many doubts. Despite I never was a great fan of the expression neo-prog (I like very much of bands which are caracterized as neo-prog bands), I think the music of Vladimir is much more profond. I always thought that the neo-prog style is nothing more than the symphonic prog style more simple, more melodic and more commercial. So, this is what bother me with this project. Despite Vladimir's style be very melodic it has nothing to do with simple, and especially, it has nothing to do with commercial. In my humble opinion, Vladimir's style has its roots very profond in the symphonic prog, as his classical training as a musician shows, we can clearly see it on "Touch The Mystery". By the other hand, and as himself says, his musical style is very much influenced by many and varied music styles, as we can clearly see on the track "The Swamp", which has clearly fusion musical influences. So, it would be more natural to me to put Modern-Rock Endemble in the sub-benre of Eclectic Prog or even Symphonic Prog. However, the decision was made and I accept it.

Report this review (#1669968)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Modern-Rock Ensemble "touch the Mystery" This project spans thousands of miles and several decades.

It involves some of the cream of the national progressive rock musical community- Antony Kalugin of KARFAGEN, Max Velychko, and others.

It arises from Ukraine- a land of deep history, culture, and sometimes upheaval.

It displays poetry, almost in a "Beat" style, spoken word passages, and topnotch musicianship throughout, interspersed with very occasionally insipid cinematic keyboard sounds.

There are portions of intense passion, vocals sung in a "countercultural" bass/baritone voice (when the prevailing progressive "culture" is powerful tenor vocals), and orchestral majesty.

All of this is brought together by a musician, Vladimir Gorashchenko- who according to his liner notes in the beautifully appointed CD digi-pak, said he was influenced by '70's art-rock and jazz, AND who also happens to be a business tycoon in Ukraine.

To say that this CD challenges, perhaps DEFIES, easy critique, is an understatement.

I think all these factors and more must be considered when listening to this experience, this music, in this context.

For example, liner notes explain that the title track is "musical biography"of Vladimir, divided into sections (not easily discernible without the heads up given), each section titled and probably laden with personal meaning.

We can learn based on these notes that he weathered Soviet political oppression, whether directly or indirectly, during which dark days, artistic expression was to follow rigidly prescribed paths.

We can sense a husband's and father's love for his family, and as a citizen, for his country and its people.

In the context of a music project, we can definitely hear that since the late 1980's if not longer, Vladimir has been making high-caliber music, and is an exacting, perhaps obsessive perfectionistic leader.

Because portions of the music actually date back to the 1980's (and were used as kernels to build upon, then to improve by remastering and re-recording parts), there can hardly be said to be a clear theme or concept.

What comes through most is the respect the rest of the artists and musicians and producers hold for Vladimir, and their urging him to put together some of his musical legacy in easily accessible form.

The lyrics provided reveal the almost mystical bent of poetry, and the poetry used in the extended "Meditations" urge deep reflection with soaring images, and some melancholy.

In another case, "The Swamp" is dedicated to a film-maker who apparently stood up against the Soviet oppression, which gives the sense that Vladimir had such sympathies as well.

Finally, the artwork of Sergey Shulima must be noted- vivid, graceful, gorgeous. It's a fitting setting for this retrospective and biographical music laden with many layers and meanings.

Set aside preconceptions, and give yourself to the experience provided by Modern-Rock Ensemble and Vladimir Gorashchenko.

Report this review (#1670154)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's very cold in our region of Canada now. That is why it was very comfortable during our Saturday men-beer- party at the mantelpiece with Modern-Rock Ensemble album. We've not been disturbed by wives and kids to attentively listen to the album. Afterwards we discussed our impressions; however I would like to present my personal opinion. How can we comment the greatest progressive rock albums that most of us admire, for example: "Close to the Edge" by Yes, "Foxtrot" by Genesis, "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd? Great music with distinctive style, unique or special sound production, highly professional performance of musicians, interesting lyrics, strong epics, innovative approach to compositions, impressive album sleeves (in all of these albums) having great synergy with music. What can be discovered in Touch the Mystery album?

Music ? obviously this album presents very distinctive style, influenced by quite a number of genres moulded together with the great skill. However, I prefer a bit more edgier and sharper guitar sound. Nothing can be done ? I like progressive metal. So for this feature of the album I would put a rate ? 4.

Sound production ? after the second spin of the album I loved the sound. It's deep, very thick, though each instrument can be nicely heard. For this album it is very important, since every instrument is playing an interesting individual party. I will rate "production" at 5.

Performance of musicians ? it is hard for me to indicate somebody in this band who was not extremely skilled or even unique. Guitar, saxophone, strings and synths are going through numerous transformations and culminations from very nice melodic sounds to a powerful rocky storm. Fretless bass player made a great job. To my opinion only the drummer was less emotional and I would love to hear from him more aggression. I will rate "performance" at 4+.

Lyrics ? I am absolutely sure that to share with Vladimir his deep and sophisticated lyrics and messages one needs to be definitely in his thirties at least. However many prog rock fans have already reached this age or are even older. I will rate "lyrics" at 5.

Epics ? to my opinion Vladimir is cleverly enough leading us to the central epic "Touch the Mystery", starting from mini-epic "Meditations" and finishing album with another mini epic "Swamp". All of them are nicely done but to my taste portion of jazz rock is a bit too high. Nevertheless I will rate this feature of the album at "4+".

Composition ? isn't it fresh and attractive ? absolutely yes. I will rate it 5.

Album sleeve ? it is vivid, picturesque and reflects the battle of "Good and Evil" in the music inside the album. It as well provides us with an idea that violin (or other strings) will serve as the main weapon in the album. I will rate it 5.

Summarizing my thoughts I've reached the rate of "5". Do you agree? Not? Please come to Canada to our mantelpiece and our beer party and you'll agree. If to put humor aside ? "Touch the Mystery" is a great album.

Report this review (#1670251)
Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2016 | Review Permalink
2 stars Underwhelmed. Don't get it. Sounds like any number of derivative albums but without any depth. After buying Meal Morses epic, I was led to this because it is more highly rated than that album. It just drones on and on and on. Nothing actually wrong with this except it just isn't very good. I did find a live video on youtube and it sounds like a band just formed, in a rehearsal session. I listened to the album on bandcamp, where I see nobody is actually buying it. Maybe I have missed something but I appart from deciding to write this, I will get on with listening to some music. Marillion maybe.
Report this review (#1670483)
Posted Thursday, December 22, 2016 | Review Permalink
2 stars There were some nice reviews about this album and it had quite good rating. So I went to Spotify and gave it a try. And a second one and a third one. I just don't understand the fuzz about this. I consider myself as a big fan of neo-prog and like the genre but his album does not hit any chords with me. I don't find anything memorable about this album. Songs aren't that good in my opinion and I have to give this album two stars. I really thought that it is in me that I just don't get it but after three listenings I have to conclude that album is not meant for my neo-prog taste.
Report this review (#1670622)
Posted Thursday, December 22, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Sounding much like 1980s Rick Wakeman comes Ukrainian Vladimir Gorashchenko's Modern-Rock Ensemble (with a little help from Anton Kalugin). Touch the Mystery presents a collection of songs that Vlad has been reworking since the end of the 1980s. These nice sounding, mature, emotional songs are a welcome addition to the Prog lexicon.

1. "Meditations" (11:43) A nice song with welcome guitars and an interesting baritone voice. Twelve minutes seems a bit long for the little development that occurs but it works! (9/10)

2. "What Will Happen To My Country?" (3:02) one of the two keyboard instrumental solos from Vladimir. They both sound a lot like 1980s Rick Wakeman pieces (including the use of dated synthesizers and New Age-y electronic piano). This one is a bit more developed in terms of multiple tracks and the use of multiple instruments. (8/10)

3. "Touch The Mystery" (19:50) This is the most developed, prog rock-like song on the album, with many shifts in tempo, melody and dynamics, instrumental orientation. The only song with the presence of sax (soprano) this works very well for this song--as does the nice lead guitar work of Max Velichko (KARFAGEN). Some of the sound reproduction and sectional shifts remind me quite a bit of UNITOPIA's 2009 prog epic masterpiece, "The Garden." I also quite enjoy the use of both fretted and fretless bass in different sections here. Nice work, Igor Zakus! Altogether an interesting, engaging song with competent flow compositionally and great performances throughout. The sound of the keyboards used throughout are often feeling dated, and the transitions sometimes feel a bit predictable and/or cliché. (9/10)

4. "My Angels" (Dedicated To My Wife And Daughters) (3:16) pretty enough but a bit over-saccharine for my tastes. Same criticisms as for #2. (7/10)

5. "Swamp" (Recorded Live During The Jazz Festival In 1989) (9:51) despite the poor sound quality, this is an interesting song, very spacious and full of pretty melodies. Though apparently from a live performance, the song feels as if the band were experimenting with being together as well as the use of various sound effects. Also, each section feels somewhat rehearsed while the transitions are a bit rough, feeling forced. (7.5/10) 6. "Meditations" (Version In Russian) (11:43) as intimated by the parenthetical addition to the title, this is the same music tracks as song #1 with the lyrics sung in Russian. I always prefer songs sung in the artists' native languages. (No rating.)

Though I am well aware of the prolific presence of Anton(y) Kalugin in the past decade (I own several albums of projects of his [Karfagen and Sunchild]), I am not as intimately familiar with his personal instrumental sytlings to differentiate between his contributions to this album and those of its composer. It works.

A 3.5 star album; good but certainly not extraordinary. Rated down for brevity of original and unrepeated material.

Report this review (#1670737)
Posted Thursday, December 22, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars What is Music? Notes, sounds, rhythms? Not only. Music is emotion, music is philosophy, music is impression, music is joy... and I really found all the above mentioned in the Touch the Mystery album! For sure the target audience of this album is of mid-age. I listened to it several times and every time I discovered something new. This album touched me very much, gave new impressions and ignited my imagination. It is also worth going in more details. If we speak about music, overall sound is very stylish, classical on one hand and contemporary on another with very nice keyboard, guitar and saxophone solos, accompanied by interesting rhythm section. Strings quartet added proper feeling to the music style. If we speak about lyrics, it brings a lot of philosophy unlike some other examples of famous songs with incredible music but absolutely senseless lyrics. The most important is that this album is very sincere, it opens the soul of the composer and passion of musicians. It's really an extraordinary well done composition! I appreciate this music very much and am proud that Modern-Rock Ensemble is from my country, Ukraine! If you have not listened to Touch the Mystery yet, just do that - I am sure after you discover this artwork you will have very positive emotions. Have a nice listening.
Report this review (#1670802)
Posted Friday, December 23, 2016 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The Ukrainian outfit MODERN-ROCK ENSEMBLE may only be getting around to releasing their first album in 2016 but despite it all, Vladimir Gorashchenko finally releases his musical labor of love and at long last unleashes his poetic prowess, instrumental skills and proud self-taught maestro of production. This band actually has roots all the way back in the 80s. The first project began as Modern Rock Ensemble Putnik from 1985 to 1989 with two distinct versions having emerged but by 1990, Gorashchenko was compelled to care for his ill mother and other family matters thus putting his musical endeavors on hold for extended periods of time. Like any musician who is passionate with that enduring flame of creativity, the pilot light may have been put down to simmer but never truly extinguished and as a result the ideas and techniques simply accrued over the years until finally after over a decade and half into the 21st century the very first album TOUCH THE MYSTERY has finally seen the light of day.

The modern rebooting of MODERN-ROCK ENSEMBLE was resurrected in 2008 when Gorashchenko (who handles guitar, keyboards, sitar and vocals) met Anton Kalugin (who handles synth, guitars and special FX). Their shared passion for progressive rock, particularly the symphonic side of the spectrum inspired them to search for other talented like-minded musicians in their native Kyiv to fulfill their musical visions. The biggest hurdle in recording this album was in finding a producer which is apparently quite difficult in Ukraine so in the process Gorashchenko took on the role of learning from scratch how to produce the album himself and as a result added many more years than it should have for completing the project.

Given that TOUCH THE MYSTERY is really a patchwork of several decades' worth of material, it therefore has a true epic feel that has aspects of a long extended timespan and a sense of perfection where every little detail has been scrutinized and tweaked to obsequiously adhere to its intended role in a truly staggering project that includes a whopping 18 musicians contributing different parts of the album. TOUCH THE MYSTERY only has six tracks with the majority being close to or well over the ten minute mark. It also contains two shorter tracks but as a whole manages to barely clock in at under an hour long listening experience. According to the liner notes Gorashchenko has written over 50 songs in his creative musical life time and has whittled this album down to a mere six tracks. While this is a studio album, it does contain the live track "Swamp" recorded all the way back in 1989 at a jazz festival which does include some jazzy workouts and is virtually unperceived as a live track.

The album begins in an exotic way with sitars, ethereal ambient eddies of sound and and immediate vocals that sound like a progressive version of the baritone bard of the north Leonard Cohen. The music immediately establishes a vibe and overall sound for the entire playing time. It resides on the mellow and subtly sophisticated mode with occasional outbursts of amplified guitars and rock regalia for contrast's sake. Tablas perform percussive dottings of an insinuated Indo-raga rock type of album run but as the music morphs in and out of a dream sequencing chain of events that perpetually change the mode and mood as if reality itself has been influenced by invisible gravitational pulls outside of the human perceptive senses. It all flows across as if a meditative trance has been magnetically manipulated and tweaked to the left and to the right as if some unforeseen forces have masterminded a musical coup in the regularly scheduled program.

MODERN-ROCK ENSEMBLE has been described and placed in the neo-prog category but also exhibits healthy doses of space rock, symphonic prog, Indian raga music as well as scant examples of pure heavy rock. There are many example of Rick Wakeman influenced keyboard note bends as well that often provide the very symphonic backbone of certain parts of certain tracks. While the two shorter tracks "What Will Happen To My Country?" and "My Angels" can certain give an impression of the oft-hated genre of AOR vibe (aka the "neo-prog cheese syndrome" coming into play and admittedly my least favorite tracks of the lot, the longer more multifaceted have much more to offer but because of the inherent nonchalant methodology of marching into procession, the music could possibly inhibit the listener's expectations of something more raucous brewing in the mist. This was my initial expectations but have found a new lease on the sophisticated subtleties upon subsequent listenings.

First and foremost this album reminds me of the 60s Moody Blues with Gorashchenko's narrations interpolating themselves into the overarching musical developments. You know, the kind that was heard on the extended version of "Nights In White Satin" as well as some of the symphonic elements on board. Beyond those obvious influences lies the early neo-prog leanings of Genesis, the 80s extended neo-prog offerings as heard by Arena and IQ as well as other space rock pioneers such as Pink Floyd, however despite all the influences this is a shimmering rotisserie of ideas coming into play and taking turns in the spotlight much like the performances evidenced during a Cirque Du Soleil show where certain aspects are in the spotlight for a while and then fade to subordinate roles so that others can shine for a while. This is particularly true for the third and most lengthy title track which clocks in at a staggering 19 minutes and 53 seconds. While the brilliance of TOUCH THE MYSTERY may not lie in the sonic inventions that are on display but rather the performance artistry that allows it to ebb and flow in a unique set of circumstances. The music is impeccably produced and every little tiny note slide and percussive beat shines brilliantly and the juxtaposition of sounds is almost perfect.

Personally i find this one growing on me after every listen. While upon first listen i felt a bit underwhelmed because of my own expectations, after several spins i have accepted the album on its own terms and have been seduced by the subtle sophistication that resides in ever twist and turn of the album's majestic magnitude. While melodically very accessible from the very first spin, this one is much like a Porcupine Tree album that has elements that will hook you immediately but yet draw you back for more and only then unleash new ways of interpreting the album. True that the baritone vocals of Gorashchenko can be unexpected because this type of music often insinuates a much more versatile vocal style but i have to admit that the limited vocals that only sporadically enter the musical arena are rather perfect for the rare moments that a musical direction requires some sort of verbal directional force. TOUCH THE MYSTERY is certainly a sophisticated album that is the product of several decades of creation. So don't expect to understand this on a few short listens that are not without full-on attention span aroused. While i wouldn't consider TOUCH THE MYSTERY an all-time classic, i do find this an extremely beautiful album that keeps me entertained throughout its entirely.

Report this review (#1671299)
Posted Friday, December 23, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Released in 2016 this album has a great synergy with a progrock of the 70-th. Ukrainian musicians made a great job.

An album starts with Meditations. 12 string guitar's nerve is uniting together the whole piece. It revives back nostalgia for the 70th prog rock. A simbio of oriental rock and symphonic music in this piece is natural and fresh. I like the way the piece is developing increasing its power by each verse. Electric guitar and cello are changing places, playing around with the voice, being either a duo at one moment or two rivals in the following part. In the beginning this piece is seemingly mellow, however the mood is constantly changing, leading us to the end of the first part with deep synthesizer bass and a change of time signatures.

Reappearing of the voice in the second part supported by nice and simple synthesizer lines might lead us to an optimistic final, however very on the contrary the final is much more dramatic if not pessimistic with the great work from Alex Fantaev drumming. It is the first time that I have seen the important role of cello in a rock piece. Very strong progressive rock epic. After a short and melodic piece we are coming to the central piece of the album - Touch the Mystery. It combines many styles, sometimes classical, sometimes fusion or ambient, few parts are even close to a hard rock. In the beginning of the piece Vladimir's synthesizers are playing around saxophone, guitar and string quartet, but further in the piece they start to fight, quarrel and argue with each other. Each and every musician in this piece played his important role to reach the target of Vladimir in his Modern-Rock Ensemble style and sound. Then after a short breath of a fresh air we are getting in the "Swamp". I can understand that maybe one of the reasons why Vladimir doesn't want to re-record this "live version" ? it was played "on courage" during the festival and one can fill real emotions, drive and synergy of musicians playing during the concert. It is obviously hard to reproduce it in a studio atmosphere now. Great electric violin part supported by 2 strong synthesizer players and fretless guitar. It is great fusion of jazz-rock with sympho-rock.

Vladimir has spent on this album more than 5 years not for nothing. He had chosen great musicians for this album. He reached his composer's goals in each epic. I would like to positively comment as well his producer's skills ? interesting sound, each instrument (out of more than 20 used) is clearly heard in this ensemble.

Report this review (#1671343)
Posted Saturday, December 24, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars More often than not end of a year brings a lot of precious gifts, prog rock is luckily not an exception in this respect. A number of very beautiful albums have been released recently, with Touch the Mystery being one of the most outstanding ones. Unlike many of the modern music this album has nothing to do with the wider young audience and commercial success is hardly achievable for them. But i hope this was not their goal. They play old good art rock, and nostalgia was the first impression i had after listening to the album. Nostalgia for those years when I was young and composers and musicians were sincere in their music. Now it is another world, and while amount of different groups and projects is enormous and one can hardly hope to grab it over its life span, only rare birds of new projects apply to what we loved about Genesis, Pink Floyd, PFM, ELO... If you are in your 40th and older ? this album is for you.
Report this review (#1672519)
Posted Monday, December 26, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Quite pleasant but forgettable. I have seen reviews putting this in the same league as Foxtrot. It is not. I also see another review saying 80s Wakeman. That is closer! Not his greatest era. The title track is pretty good but I can't hear anything that stands out on the rest of this. Eighties progressive rock ended up sounding a bit like this album to me. No surprises or great vocals of the past. There have been some great inventive music from Eastern Europe in the last few years, so I am surprised by this one. Some nice moments and that's the best I can say.
Report this review (#1672705)
Posted Monday, December 26, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars As a professionally trained musician, I must admit that I was really impressed by that album. The most important factor for a successful performance is the ability of the artist to not just invite the listener into his/her music, but alos make them (listeners follow the performer). That album does have that unique factor. I wanted to continue listening the music, and, frankly truly enjoyed it. I think that everyone should take a note of that group, and that album, in my view, a beginning of a great and extremely interesting path for that group. I must, of course, mention Vladimir, his commitment and dedication to the music, which, in my view, is admirable, and should be noticed by listeners and young musicians.

The reason I gave that album 5 stars is the fact that I want to listen the music again and again, and that is what defines a true artist, which in my view Vladimir and his group are. I want to listen the next album, buy that album, and enjoy it as much as enjoyed Touch The Mystery.

Report this review (#1673979)
Posted Friday, December 30, 2016 | Review Permalink
2 stars Disappointment of the year? Not exactly because I had not heard of them before but a great album? Not even slightly. Elevator music comes to mind. The first track is ruined by vocals. It could be quite good due to the Indian sounds mixed with guitars. The 80s electronic piano from track 2 are the elevator music component I think. Overall the band may be competent but I have no clue as to why some reviews state this is special. I have many samplers from magazines a long time ago that sound like this album. Candle and perfume shop music.
Report this review (#1674271)
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars In late 2015 I received a private message asking me to listen to this album. At that time it still was not released and so it also was not included in the Prog Archives database yet, so I could not write a review about it then. The album was finally released in September 2016, and it really took several more months to be included in the Prog Archives database. Finally, it was included in mid December 2016. I listened to the album four times in their website. And my opinion about this album has not changed.

The MODERN-ROCK ENSEMBLE is a band from UkraIne led by composer Vladimir Gorashchenko. It seems to me that this "Touch the Mystery" album, their first, took several years to make. It has a line-up of several very good musicians from Ukraine. The recording and mixing is very professional and good, too. I also like the cover design.

A song by song review:

"Meditations": a song with some musical influences from India, even with the use of some electric sitar and tabla sounds, at least in some parts of the song. The rest of the song also includes some very good distorted lead guitar parts and some Prog Rock arrangements. This song also includes lead vocals by Gorashchenko.

"What Will Happen To My Country?": an instrumental musical piece played by Gorashchenko with keyboards, bass and programmed drums. It is one of my favorites from this album, and it remembers me a bit the sound of CAMEL in some parts.

"Touch The Mystery": the title track of this album, with a length of almost twenty minutes, with a lot of Prog Rock arrangements, some Classical Music influences, and lead vocals by Gorashchenko, who also recites the lyrics in some parts. This song presents a "musical biography" of Vladimir Gorashchenko, as they say in their website. It also includes some very good guitar parts, some wind instruments and other orchestral instruments. This is maybe the best and most Progressive song in this album.

"My Angels (dedicated to my wife and daughters)": another solo performance by Gorashchenko on keyboards, and also it is a very good musical piece.

"Swamp (live)": a live recording from 1989 from a Jazz Festival. This song shows a lot of Jazz-Rock influences with Latin-American rhythms, very well played. But the drums and percussion sound to me like being played on an electric drum kit, and also some of them sound to me like being programmed (maybe I'm wrong).

This album as a whole is very good, and it really has a variety of influences from several musical styles, as I wrote in my review about every track.

You can listen to this album (and also to buy it) in .

Report this review (#1677212)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2017 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Another day, another prog project out of Ukraine.

Modern-Rock ensemble is essentially the solo project of band leader, singer, guitarist, synth player, and producer Vladimir Gorashchenko. A longtime member of Ukraine's prog scene, Gorashchenko drives much of "Touch The Mystery" along, though he is joined by a whole slew of musical collaborators, including Karfagen veteran Antony Kalugin. Genre-wise, Modern-Rock Ensemble sits comfortably in the symphonic and neo-prog style, but doesn't get too complacent; there are occasional nods to jazz and ethnic music, and a certain new age vibe weaves its way in and out of the whole affair.

Although these atypical flairs make themselves apparent at various points in the album, I find that "Touch The Mystery" still falls well within the realm of predictability that enshrouds most symphonic prog. The album's two extended compositions, the opener "Meditations" and the 20 minute title track, are each par-for-the-course symphonic/neo fare. Each one contains extended instrumental passages that allow the band to explore, blend, and contrast different timbres. While very tastefully constructed, I can't help but feel that they never develop into any substantial. Each one just seems to be a showcase of sounds, without any underlying tension, conflict, or narrative. Pleasant listening, but not the kind of thing that really captures you and draws you in, or creates new worlds in your head.

In a similar vein, the music, while brimming with competency, often lacks in energy. And that isn't necessarily the fault of any of the musicians' performances. It's just that the production, crystal clear as it is, seems to have overshot the fine line that keeps it from sterility. The softness and clarity of the production actually works to heighten the album's two ballads, the piano instrumentals "What Will Happen To My Country?" and "My Angels". Melancholy and contemplative, these two pieces are actually quite suited to the subdued sound of the album. During the two epics, though, and the more unorthodox live recording, "Swamp", a lot of the dynamic power that should be there is flattened out and lost. It also doesn't help that Gorashchenko has what may be the most offensively mellow voice in the world. Imagine the guy from the local DMV reading out a book on tax code. And then imagine that getting played back at half speed. Or remember that one teacher you had back in school whose class you simply couldn't not sleep through? Those sorts of memories were really coming back to me whenever Gorashchenko started to chime in between instrumental passages. I digress. There is one welcome respite to come from the vocals, though; when they start to sing out "Touch it! Touch it!" at the end of the title track, its comes across as excellent comic relief. Indeed, that line may be one of the most awkward, least tasteful things to hit prog since the cover of "Love Beach". Truly a laugh-out-loud moment in the middle of an increasingly lacklustre song.

So, I suppose that Modern-Rock Ensemble falls prey to the typical symphonic quandaries. Tasteful ("Touch it" aside), but not overly creative. Competent, but not overly exciting. On the whole, I'd consider this to be very middle of the road prog. It's a very safe listen, so if you're not necessarily looking for anything too risky, "Touch The Mystery" should be a thoroughly enjoyable choice of music. With all things considered, I'd consider this to be a good album. No more, no less; 3 safe stars.

Report this review (#1679636)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Some of the PA fans are sincere admirers of this album, while others have different points of view. This album obviously proves a well-known proverb: "as many heads ? as many wits". Being a journalist and reviewer at other musical editions and magazines, from time to time I visit PA to see new names and albums. This year PA helped me discover a number of very interesting albums and Touch the Mystery by Modern-Rock Ensemble was one of them. If not for PA it would otherwise be very difficult to find the first album of this Ukrainian group. Due to my occupation hundreds of albums go through my ears, but more often than not the first listening is, sorry to say, simply jumping through the songs. To continue with listening an album should attract me by its interesting sound, melodies, development of pieces, as well as vocals and lyrics.

First, this album simply intrigued me and made return to it once again to listen all through. By now I have listened to it 5 times and am now one of its followers. Even though it was quite a task to get used to the Vladimir's peculiar vocals, I liked his sincerity and emotion; it reminded me of love of my youth to Iron Butterfly and Steppentwolf. I liked a lot sound of the album which has something in common with "In the Court of the Crimson King". Along the whole album the sound combines transparency, but at the same time - deepness and power. I was also very impressed by professionalism of the musicians that Vladimir involved into his project ? now I see that we know very little not only about Ukraine, but also about its musicians.

The album proposes a lot of melodic and beautiful themes which are further developed and very interestingly performed by different instruments. It turned out that lyrics and emotions of Vladimir are very similar to those of mine. The style of the Modern-Rock Ensemble, which Vladimir describes as fusion of sympho-rock, jazz-rock and classical music, in my opinion is the most attractive facets of the album. I will not assert that everybody can or should like this album - it is not "easy listening". But from my side I would highly recommend anybody to listen to it.

Report this review (#1686312)
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars For many years I am visiting the PA site to find some new prog-rock music. I was not having intention to register on the site being mostly a fan of Jazz and Classic music. However, after listening to the "Touch the Mystery" by Modern-Rock Ensemble I decided to write a review. Thanks to PA, one can get an access to sometimes very interesting musical projects. To my taste there are not too many bands with such a mixture of jazz and classical music as the Modern-Rock Ensemble. I like the sound very much and production as well as great synergy between strings, saxophone, guitar and keyboards. Great fusion of styles, rhythms and time signatures. It is even more interesting and exciting to see what the next album of Modern-Rock Ensemble will be like.
Report this review (#1687177)
Posted Monday, January 30, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars According to the information on the CD it was a long way for Touch the Mystery to be released, even longer to get to Hong- Kong. However, it was worth the wait. Once in a while there are albums that can not only impress, but stay in the memory and moreover fill an urge to listen the album more and more times. First, this is really an ensemble sound and I can imagine why part of the audience will have negative comments ' this music is far too sophisticated. However, in the prog- rock of 70th there were many examples of sophisticated music: Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, VDGG and others. Yes, it is much more complicated than just drum-bass-guitar-keys-vocal. There are many intricate tunes and melodies and even more important is that they are further developed through the pieces. There is as well some impressive 'musicianship' in the album starting from the fretless bass, playing rhythmical and melodical roles; cello, playing great solos, second voice and rhythm; string quartet being classical in one moment and 'heavy metal' in another part. Arrangements and orchestration sometimes are very fresh and help a lot to get the whole idea of Vladimir's composing. No matter how many people will love this album, but it is definitely important to listen to it.
Report this review (#1705586)
Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars It was interesting and unexpected to find such an authentic album coming from Eastern Europe. I don't depreciate progressive rock from that part of the world in any way, but it is really striking to hear, how former USSR country representative absorbed Western music and gave it it's vision. I love how diverse this album is. You can follow the style and musical "habits" of the author, but, at the same time, each piece is something new. It shows especially with the help of "Meditations", which, represented in two versions, not only vary in languages and arrangements, but also has different moods and feels to it (with Russian version being more acoustic and, as a result, more pure and young, full of clear hopes and tender dreams. At the same time, more drive and " hard" emotions are given through the English, re-analysed, meditating process, with the composer going deeper in his thoughts and bringing some darker and more mature results from the depth of the soul). The title piece, "Touch the mystery", is well-composed and arranged. It might sound primitive, but I love the bold decision to use that many musical instruments - the richness of the sound is amazing. And it really takes you more than once to hear all of the parts each instrument has, which is great, because you tend to discover more with every " Touch". I also love the voice, which, though, in the above-mentioned Russian "Meditations" was more light and flexible and now has more mature and deep feel to it, but still is well-presented in both cases. My favorite piece from this album would be "Swamp". First of all, it is impressive that this was played live. Secondly, the strings here are amazing. Big heads up to the drama and sorrow they give. Honestly, I am trying to keep myself away from thinking about the actual swamp while listening to this piece, even though I think there can be more philosophical explanation of the name, with " swamp" being a symbol of the unfortunate events and happenings in composer's life. But I will probably keep these thoughts to myself and to Vladimir himself. As a final resume, I can do nothing but hope that we can expect more albums from "Modern Rock Ensemble" in future and that the project will give life to more interesting and fascinating music in the nearest future.
Report this review (#1742659)
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars I discovered this album quite suddenly getting the info that Max Velichko from 'Inside the Sound' was partially involved as a guitar player.

From the opening track my attention was captured by oriental flavor and great synergy between the lyrics and music. No hurry - 'Meditations' is capturing you more and more after each verse. Culmination of the piece is a bit unexpectedly hard rocking and not too optimistic, while the final is more symphonic.

'Meditations' is followed by beautiful piece 'What will happen to my Country' - these two pieces presume that Ukraine will still have some more challenges.

I was not ready to digest at once the title track 'Touch the Mystery' and it took 2 more days to understand and enjoy this epic. Basically I am not a big fan of long pieces, but 'TTM' is quite nicely divided into 8 parts with different tempos, time signatures and moods. I loved the keyboards, strings, Max's guitar and floating fretless bass as well as brief sax inclusions. Very organic, however very special sound and mixture of classical music, jazz-rock, hard-rock and sympho-rock. It reminds me the 1-st King Crimson.

To my opinion it was very good that Vladimir included 1989 live 'Swamp' on the CD. It shows that even then Vladimir already reached his own style and that the band musical skill was of the upper level. Nice tunes, melodies, arrangement and powerful culminations. Electric violin plays one of the leading roles. I understood that Vladimir has some classical musical backgrounds since he often uses cello, violin and string ensemble. It works to my opinion.

Great album - 5 stars. Looking forward to the new Modern-Rock Ensemble Mysteries and Meditations.

Report this review (#1775519)
Posted Saturday, August 26, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An eclectic journey!

This time I feel lucky once again for being introduced to projects I never thought I would discover (thanks Andrew Nazarenko), and the least I can do is to write a bit about it, because it simply deserves to create people's attention. This is a project of Vladimir Gorashchenko, a veteran artist that has here gathers a magnificent blend of sounds and genres, providing to us, the listeners, a complex trip around the world. The album consists of five different compositions and a repeated track but sang in a different language.

It opens with "Meditations", a song that was actually composed in the late 80s but rearranged this decade. Here we can listen to the English version of it. I mentioned above this album offered a complex trip around the world, I think with this sole track we can notice it, due to the blend of eastern sounds (far and mid) and some nice rock elements. The song flows and shares a diversity of passages, some calm moments and some explosive ones in which the voice seems to be more emotional. Sometimes the tag neo-prog can be evident, but overall, I wouldn't dare to tag the music, only progressive music, whatever it means to you. It is important to say there is a wonderful fretless bass here, which in my opinion is a very important element. "What Will Happen to My Country" is the shortest track, a 3-minute delicate song with piano and a disarming atmosphere that represents a contrast with the previous song.

Now the longest one is "Touch the Mystery", whose 20 minutes delight us with paradoxical passages, several changes and countless atmospheres created by the string ensemble. This is a challenging track, one magnificent composition that would easily be the album's highlight, but what a highlight! It is impressive how the song flows in spite of its several changes, and it is delicious how new elements appear while the minutes pass and contribute adding new nuances and textures. There is a saxophone here and there, so there is an evident jazzy feeling. Keyboards is also a main instrument here, taking the leadership and making the direction of the music. There's even spoken word here, so while the minutes pass the band keeps surprising us with the addition of new elements. Great!

"My Angels" is another short piece that Vladimir dedicated to his wife and daughters. It is just like the second track, a soft piano solo piece in which the composer shows his love not only for his "angels" but also for music and life. Well, at least I could feel it this way. "Swamp" is the final track, and it is a different one because it was recorded live back in 1989, long time has passed indeed. This track is more in the jazz vein; its first moments are more experimental, then the addition of violin creates deeper atmospheres and the strings cover the composition wonderfully. The album finishes with the Russian version of "Meditations", nothing new to add, but the language.

A great and quite interesting album this is, not quite easy to dig, but highly recommendable for those who are seeking for a new prog experience.

Enjoy it!

Report this review (#1889236)
Posted Monday, February 26, 2018 | Review Permalink

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