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Stop Motion Orchestra - Lightworks CD (album) cover


Stop Motion Orchestra


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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Brilliant instrumental chamber prog from Austin, Texas, some very melodic and beautiful, all very abrasive and technically sophisticated. Composer/leader Mohadev is an absolutely brilliant guitarist!

1. "Serafini's Cat" (6:10) angular and irregularly rhythmed in an avant/RIO way. Like Spirogyra with an attitude. Nice weave in the third minute followed by some delightfully melodic whole-group chord ascensions--which is then followed by the descent. Charming and simpler interplay for the following minute. These guys can really play! They're really working hard to be together--and it's working masterfully! I am truly impressed. Great stuff! (9.5/10)

2. "Way To Sarov" (8:45) opens with a similar sound palette and style, rhythm and even melody to the previous song, but then things get a little heavy/abrasive and then alternating with banjo (banjitar?) sections. Impressive instrumentalism, timing, and cohesion, but there are lacking melodic hooks and other accessible elements. The wordless vocalizations added in the fourth minute are one such attempt. It almost works. (8.5/10)

3. "Nerve Hurdle" (4:56) Wow! this guy can play guitar! And the drummer can lay down some interesting, amazing beats. All instruments seem to be playing the subsidiary support role to the drum and bass--in order to set up the foundation for the seething guitar in the second minute and the seering guitar for the rest of the song. (10/10)

4. "Metal Pants" (2:28) violin and sax playing off the bass and drums--as if they are playing in each others' spaces-- for the first minute. Then the band gels and fills the spaces together--guitar and bass stepping in to help this. Could use more melody (more than Middle Eastern/klezmer twang). (8.5/10)

5. "Oceano De Leche" (7:00) gorgeous neo-classical chamber post rock for seven minutes (not "11:26" as posted), except for brief passages, the instruments are all gelling and melding for the smoothest, most melodic run of the album. Nice piece--especially the smooth second half. (9.5/10)

Thus, this album is not 33 minutes long, as posted, but 29 1/2 an EP's worth of songs. Too bad: This is definitely one of the best albums I've heard this year!

Five stars; a masterpiece of progressive rock music downgraded for unacceptable brevity.

Report this review (#2025083)
Posted Thursday, September 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Lightworks" is a long awaited sophomore album by the Austin, TX based instrumental prog-fusion group STOP MOTION ORCHESTRA which is directed by composer, multi-instrumentalist and sound-producer Mohadev. Released as digipak-CD and 12" vinyl by the alliance of Knock'em Dead and Megaphone Records, the album includes 5 instrumental compositions clocking in at 30 minutes.

"Lightworks" was performed and recorded by a renewed line-up: founders Mohadev (guitars, synths, piano), Alden Doyle (violin) and Henna Chou (cello, keyboards) cooperate now with Leila Henley (saxophones, vocals), Sam Arnold (bass, acoustic guitar, banjitar) and Charlie Duncan (drums, percussion). Their music can be described as modern melodic Instrumental that blends together multiple Art-Prog-Rock, World-Fusion, Chamber, Contemporary Classical, and Soundtrack-Cinematic influences in a very own way. Oh yes, it also can be labeled as RIO/Avant-Prog. But it needs to be said, that STOP MOTION ORCHESTRA are at the light and positive end of Avant-Prog spectrum. So, the album title reflects the essence of music pretty well. It's intricate, dense, sophisticated, polyrhythmic and polymorphic work, but never abrasive, abrupt, provocative, or epatage. And it's very illustrative and picturesque? In fact, when you plunge into the fairytale and phantasmagoric world of "Lightworks" you'll forget how complex the music is? you'll simply get caught by the expressiveness of created images and visions. In other words, STOP MOTION ORCHESTRA are fantastic storytellers, and their stories (or music pictures) are always pleasant, captivating, and enjoyable. And they definitely know how to deliver their message to a listener without any words being said or sung. The female voicing you can hear in "Way to Sarov" is used as just another instrumental tool in a rich pictorial palette of the sextet.

To sum up, "Lightworks" by STOP MOTION ORCHESTRA is nothing short to a masterpiece which cannot be described properly in words. So, those who enjoy intricate, intellectual, yet entertaining cross-genre instrumental music should try the album for sure. Let me say my "Bravos" to this incredible ensemble! P.S. Of special note is the top-notch sound quality of the CD-edition. The general audio panorama is much better (to my taste) that of the digital version. Whatever it is, huge respect to Mohadev who is both recording and mixing engineer-producer of "Lightworks".

Report this review (#2039155)
Posted Friday, September 28, 2018 | Review Permalink

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