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5 stars The album "An Ambassador in Bonds" is as good (and atmospheric) as the first one. The same turns and twists, the same "Petersburg" mood of the Silver Age of Russian poetry. Poetic images are felt in every note. If the poets of this era could clothe their words in music, then it would be just like that. The alternation of light and dark sections of musical constructions reminds me of Russian periods in general, without which they do not exist. Either wandering in search of the meaning of existence, then the joy of finding it run like a red thread through the tracks and lead the audience out of any dead end that prevents them from reaching the heights of flaming optimism. Listen to this! And you will have an even greater desire to learn, to work and to make yourself. Further wishes to this collective: "move" their works towards symphonic ones. And there it is not far from ready-made requiems.
Report this review (#2598240)
Posted Friday, October 1, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars Remembering the kind of music that Yes were doing back in the Seventies, Steve Howe writes that he used to think about it as a sort of "soft rock" (no kidding!). Maybe the tag "progressive rock" had not evolved yet, or they were just leaving behind the then well-known genre definitions, in any case, what it really matters is how comfortable you feel with the new step that an artist takes at a given moment of time. And I can say that I like this step, the new album by Compassionizer.

Even when this sophomore effort by the Russian combo shows a definite spiritual concept emerging from the track titles and the ascetic atmospheres imposed by the keyboards, we don't have to fear the weight of any religious tradition. The search for spiritual enlightenment develops itself in a very creative and self-contained way, in a chamber-rock fashion that adds ethnic instruments to the classic ones, without ever disdaining the melodic element.

Whenever you like to feel and breathe a lot of tonal and rhythmic space inside and around the music, anytime you are concerned with its scope and transcendence, then this record may be an excellent addition to your library.

Report this review (#2598477)
Posted Saturday, October 2, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars Minimalistic, introvert, challenging and beautiful, the new album by Compassionizer is for sure one of the best albums of the year. I personally like it more than their first effort, because it has a cleaner and more accesible sound.

This work is full of details, and several listens are required to fully appreciate them, as it mixes neoclassical, chamber, world and ambient music, with hints of Canterbury here and there (check that first half of the fourth track!).

Favourite tracks: Follow after Meekness, the gorgeous Caress of compassion Part 4, I am sitting on the pier and Bear ye one another's burdens.

Highly recommended!

Report this review (#2600642)
Posted Saturday, October 9, 2021 | Review Permalink
Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars Simple and relaxing but complex and mysterious. Such a phrase could be fit for a COMPASSIONIZER's musical attitude. "An Ambassador In Bonds" was released in October 2021 as their second full-length opus, which the frontman Ivan (ROZMAINSKY) recommended for us with much confidence. The trio launch a mystic, flavourful soundscape full of bright, gorgeous melody lines and percussive, tribal rhythm bases, plus their unique aromatic atmosphere. As the depressive painful sleeve pic says, their sincere serious play in this creation gives tough messages and difficult problems to us the audience under the pandemic situation. But at the same time, we can feel they would mention via this album that all of us will overcome such a crazy troublesome circumstance together. At least for me, it sounds like this creation involves lots of positive suggestions like the clear blue sky in the future. Never be hasty but strictly done ... this could be the most important manner for us all.

Their rigid settled attitude and opinion can be heard via the titled track in three pieces. An ambassador is coming near us slowly with crazy melodic distortion like a heavy, difficult orders and requests. Leonid's slowtempo, tragic, but stimulating saxophone should be impressive really. The melody lines are repetitive and simple but who cannot get absorbed into their inner space? The last physical approach in Part 3 shakes our brain in a spacey hallucinogenic manner. The departure "Follow After Meekness" consists of light-tasted, ethnic, and epic phrases. Their percussive plays are comfortable, although some complicated dissonant structures come and go over. We can get impressed especially in colourful sound appearances all over the track, regardless of the word meekness. The stream created by their instruments is soft, smooth but not easily analyzable ... such a fascinating visual and auditory world goes forward with stepping firmly until the eclectic epilogue "Bear Ye One Another's Burdens" featuring jazzy movements, psychedelic vibes, oriental moments, and electronic madness.

Fundamental chamber music produced by the fantastic trio should locate the audience out of the conventional sense. Beyond expression.

Report this review (#2601067)
Posted Saturday, October 9, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars Compassionizer bring us a unique blend of ambient RIO, and yes, that's possible, yet seems contradictory. And within the blend, there's this wonderful feeling of total composition, derived from improvisation.

The traditional classical music, small ensemble, is so wonderfully augmented, and at times led by, electric guitar and single note Moog type lead and bass synth lines. Within this wonderful conceptual composition is a new beginning for music that is felt, thought deeply and intelligent.

For me, this is an answer to question that I have had, and that is: Yes, there's new directions in progressive music, if one just opens their mind and lets these unique "blenders of styles" into your heart and soul.

Thank you Compassionizer for bringing this to us in times of need for light and inspiration.

Report this review (#2604544)
Posted Sunday, October 17, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars "The wind bloweth where it listeth" may be the best epigraph to the entire works by Ivan Rozmainsky. Yet paradoxically this album combines a free flight of the musical thought in every individual piece, typical for this artist, with an elaborate and strict design of the collection as a whole. It is why some compositions require to be listened several times for better understanding them in the context of the whole album. Yet although each element of the entire construction plays its role perfectly, some of them do it especially well. A real gem of the album is the opening piece, Follow After Meekness, with its mysterious sound and nervous pace. To continue this journey we travel up Different Sides of Ascension, another masterpiece, truly inventive in depicting the stages of the human spirit's adventure, to justify its title. A warm, mundane (in a good sense of this word) and very human sound of Hard-Won Humility (may be my favorite piece of the whole album) can adorn any prog rock collection. Definitely an amazing work by Ivan and his team. Hopefully, we will keep on enjoying the different sides of ascension of these great artists to new peaks of the musical perfection.
Report this review (#2607996)
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2021 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Compassionizer, the latest music project related to Russian prog musician Ivan Rozmainsky, has been rather interesting to follow along so far. Their expansive, atmospheric compositions have felt so far removed from many conventions of progressive rock as a whole, and yet, there's nowhere else I'd really consider putting them either. The rich instrumental palettes that often evoke a range of deceptively intricate, complex soundscapes ended up making their first album, Caress of Compassion, a good album that often felt like an exploration into mysterious lands underpinned by a distinct melancholy. An Ambassador in Bonds is really the album that's sold me on Compassionizer however, as it demonstrates a strong sense of tonal variety without feeling like a total departure from the core sound established in order to facilitate this. While Caress of Compassion felt like it was exploring the endlessly large world around us and how overwhelming it can feel at times, this one feels far more personal and introspective, maintaining a a degree of darkness while also balancing this with a powerful sense of drive, optimism and ambition.

As a whole, I find that this album kinda lacks a sense of individuality between a lot of the tracks, clearly bringing forth a variety of instruments in each one, but remaining fairly similar in terms of what each song is trying to achieve. While this makes it a bit harder to pick apart specific moments too well, I don't mind either, as this works very nicely as a singular, cohesive experience anyway. That's also not to say that this is completely devoid of such qualities either however. Follow After Meekness sets the stage so well and reflects some core songwriting conventions Compassionizer utilises in their music. The track has a distinct ebb and flow to it, being unafraid to densely layer countless elements in such a way that there's a lot of nuanced interplay at hand, but also being able to take a step back and allow things to breathe, especially notable in the isolated harpsichord melodies that build upon themselves in a very satisfying fashion. Different Sides of Ascension is one of my favourite songs here for what it represents. It feels like the strong juxtaposition between the upbeat, pastoral atmosphere and melodies and the eventual uneasy sense of dread that engulfs everything in the song mirrors the creative experience in a lot of ways, and the give and take nature of it. Moments of amazing inspiration and greatness can feel followed up by self-doubt or bad circumstances, but what this song also highlights is that the beauty of that original spark remains just as powerful, with a constant sense of hope and passion being something important to hold onto. This sense of underlying beauty and optimism in even the darkest, bleakest sections of music here is ultimately what makes me appreciate this album as a whole so much, as it manages to feel so uplifting and empowering without feeling as if it's trying to mask challenging aspects of reality in art, it shows optimism without naivety, and I love that.

While the album as a whole finds itself following this pattern regularly, I feel like this emotional core focusing on an unflinching artistic drive is conveyed with enough power to warrant its length. Each individual track also contributes to the greater whole in the way that each one seems focused on capturing different points in the highs and lows in life. This is why you get tracks like part 2 of the title track feeling as impactful as they do. The central melody from the brass feels like it should sound very grandiose and majestic, yet it's filtered through this malaise, it sounds warped and wrong, as if it's a desperate attempt to reach a certain sound while feeling unable to actually achieve it. This tone is reinforced by the droning clarinet harmonies that are laden with minor imperfections and squeaks in a way that nothing else on the album is. As to not dwell too long on negativity, you've got an immediate jump into more energetic territory, but funnily enough, I am Sitting on a Pier cleverly lacks a strong sense of emotion for the most part. It's driven, sure, but it feels deliberately empty, as if it's moving forward for the sake of it, as if it feels obliged to, simple empty forward momentum, and as a result, this feels like one of the most impactful songs on the album that is strengthened by the way the remaining content of the album slowly introduces a warmer tone to complete the ultimately positive message that this pushes to the forefront throughout.

I feel like writing down my thoughts on this album have helped me appreciate it way more than I could have imagined . While this is texturally rather similar to Caress of Compassion, the meaning and message behind this, or at least what I gathered from it, feel so well-realised with this one. It of course doesn't hurt that the music itself sounds extremely solid, with its complexity bringing a lot of nuance into every facet of the album while sounding extremely elegant and tasteful in its presentation. It took a few listens for this to click with me, but I really love this and am looking very forward to whatever comes next .

Best tracks: Different Sides of Ascension, Follow After Meekness, I Am Sitting on a Pier

Report this review (#2608498)
Posted Thursday, October 28, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars The new album of Compassionizer project "An Ambassador in Bonds" seems to be medieval style. I mean spirituel music that used to sound in temples. Not necessarily in christian church, but in temples all over the world. It is music of spirit. It is full of the sublime motives of the journey of lonely soul in effort of reaching it's god. This music doesn't belong one precise culture - it can be Indian, Chinese, Mexican, African, European or any else. It doesn't belong to place and time. It seems to be wind instruments, percussion and bells that creates this effect. But the music is not only music ? the soul of musician is the thing that feeds the roots of such full-of-existential-experience music. It is special and obvious for people that survive in the contemporary world full of anxiety that this music is a kind of ray in the darkness and can bring hope to the heart of listener.
Report this review (#2634269)
Posted Monday, November 15, 2021 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ivan Rozmainsky is back with his new band, Compassionizer. Their 2020 release, Caress of Compassion, received a lot of respect (as do most of Ivan's projects). "Ambient RIO"? Are they going for the John Zorn look?

1. "Follow After Meekness" (8:15) an unusual collection of themes and sounds--as if we're being led through a fun house or house of mirrors at an amusement park. (13.25/15)

2. "Different Sides of Ascension" (3:54) almost like a traditional Christmas song being offered for year-round/every day use--and perhaps played by UNIVERS ZERO. (8.75/10)

3. "Caress of Compassion (Part 4)" (3:35) pretty but perhaps a little too bare and under-developed/unrefined. (8.25/10)

4. "The Man That Sitteth Not in the Seat of the Scornful" (3:34) cutesy and yet slightly unnerving. (8/10)

5. "An Ambassador in Bonds (Part 1)" (5:00) This is the first song in which the "John Zorn" alarm went off. To be sure, it's soundtracky and "unsettling dream"-like. I'm not sure I can appreciate it much less like it: it's so personal/subjective. This ambassador must be a hedge fund operator. (8/10)

6. "An Ambassador in Bonds (Part 2)" (3:05) UZed comes to mind during this whole-band synchronized chord production. It is, surprisingly, engaging and certainly very interesting. This ambassador is a realist--and a team player. (9/10)

7. "I Am Sitting on the Pier" (3:12) a bit of an Asian flavor to this one: a pier in Hong Kong? The shift at the one minute mark is cool--as is the one 30 seconds later and again at 2:45. My favorite song on the album. (9.25/10)

8. "Hard-Won Humility" (7:17) the opening two minutes of this song remind me of Eric Satie, but then there is a cinematic shift in instrumentation and pace--a drive that reminds me of a motorized gondola in the canals of Venice. At 3:35 another shift takes us on land--in a Gator ATV! into the jungles alongside the Nile River Valley! At 5:10 every thing stops, we get off, and we look around at the spacious star-filled night sky (thanks to piano and clarinet). Interesting journey! Very cinematic. (13.25/15)

9. "An Ambassador in Bonds (Part 3)" (4:10) harpsichord! plus clarinets and electronic keyboard MIDI flutes and tuned percussives. The harpsichord is quickly lost (or abandonned) (too bad: I love harpsichord), replaced by clarinets and all electronic sounds/noises (bells, buzzes, sounds meant, I think, to imitate animal noises). Definitely the ambassador to some Banana Republic. (8.5/10)

10. "Bear Ye One Another's Burdens" (13:20) establishes a rather engaging melodic structure--over jungle rhythms-- despite the pitch-bending nature of many of the sounds. At 3:27 we open a door into a totally different section of the jungle: with a banjo and chain-saw-like electric guitar! (It's the Texas bayou!) At 5:40 slowly picked zither notes run solo until an eerie synth-wash chord takes over at 6:15--all by itself. At 6:55 a heavily-reverbed electric guitar arpeggio and strummed chord announce the labyrinthine entry into yet another section: Laurie Anderson's Blue Lagoon! A trumpet at 9:50 announces the emergence of a royal procession--riding on lumbering elephants! Another entertaining and cinematically evocative musical journey. Like any dream, some parts are surreal, absurd, and/or beautiful and, thus, memorable, while some parts are banal and forgettable. (26.5/30)

Total Time 55:22

I can see where the "avant garde ambient" description came from. Nothing here is too fast, dissonant, or muddled to be straight avant, and the music is generally low-key and slow, yet there is often a slightly unsettling melodic line or odd combination of instrumental sounds. My usual issues with Ivan Rozmainsky releases are not so present here (i.e. sound engineering choices, qualitative inconsistencies in the levels of both composition and performance), though the typical scatteredness in stylistic musical choices could be said to be here--are what, perhaps, give the compositions their dream-like cinematic qualities.

B/four stars; an interesting musical listening experience that I would recommend to others--with the precautionary warning that one should probably give it your full attention for at least the first listen as there are instances and events that might prove jarring or even alarming if one were not braced in the safety of a chair or tub.

Report this review (#2650883)
Posted Thursday, December 9, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars "An Ambassador in Bonds" is the second album of the solo project of Ivan Rozmainsky titled Compassionizer. Released not so long ago, it resembles the conceptual continuation of the previous release "Caress Of Compassion", in fact this title is not only the name of the first album, but also the name of three tracks from it - three parts of the title composition.

On this disc we have all the best traditions of previous years, just as surprisingly woven together. But, unlike the first album, the music became sharper, and at the same time, as it were, more "directed upward", carried away into the distance, through the "fragments" of percussion. The leader of the project, as well as the leader of Roz Vitalis, Ivan Rozmainsky, I believe, being a deeply religious person, wanted to put into almost every composition a kind of "opening gate" effect for unfortunate souls dreaming of compassion. The composition "Hard-Won Humility" conveys this feeling especially sharply. This track, in my opinion, is the leitmotif not only of the album itself, but of the entire work of this wonderful collective as a whole. Sadness, harmony, compassion ? these features are revealed here by the depth of musical accords and nuances, where each note is someone's soul.

But in any case, it is extremely difficult to understand such music "on impulse", "light-mindedly"; it requires considerable effort, or careful attention to beauty. But if for some reason you stumbled upon this review, then you should start acquaintance with the works of Ivan Rozmainsky from the Roz Vitalis's album "Revelator". This album is, in general, the starting point in the process of moving to a new crystallized style and sound of both the later Roz Vitalis and the fresh amazing projects of Ivan Rozmainsky Compassionizer and Fair Wind Pleases - in all their complexity and versatility. If this is too difficult for you and not available enough - stick with Revelator.

And finally, it is no coincidence that I remembered Roz Vitalis. It is the last composition on this reviewed album "Bear Ye One Another's Burdens" - with a characteristic prog-rock sound - as if it echoes the previous works of this wonderful collective, in all its splendor. Listen to the entire album for a full palette of exquisite aesthetic nuances and facets.

Report this review (#2651902)
Posted Monday, December 13, 2021 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

In late 2020, I reviewed the debut album from Compassionizer. Anyone who read that review will know that the files I reviewed from were not fully titled, so I was perhaps coming to the music from a different angle than had I known the full titles. And yet, much of the time what I heard in the music really wasn't far from what I think I would have heard had I known the actual titles and I somehow reached the same place, which says a lot for how vivid the imagery evoked by instrumental music can be, and how great a composer Ivan Rozmainsky is. Although I probably should have known (from my knowledge of Roz Vitalis), it didn't occur to me how much of the album is wrapped up within Christian imagery. Perhaps because I'm an agnostic atheist, I simply don't recognise this way of thinking unless it is presented overtly. Upon discovering the full titles of the tracks of Caress of Compassion, the Christian imagery does become overt. Yet, lest this puts anyone off (and it shouldn't), it is not overbearing. Rather, it seems to me that Rozmainsky uses the Bible as an analogy for events and circumstances occurring contemporaneously.

I'm going to quote my opening paragraph to my previous review, as I think it is still appropriate here: "Compassion sounds like a warm and fuzzy word. And yet, when you think about it, it is almost the opposite. Compassion is essentially the sympathetic consciousness of and concern for the suffering, distress and misfortunes of others. Its Latin roots translate it almost literally as 'suffer with'. Not so warm and fuzzy then? I mention this because it is something I hadn't thought about before listening to Compasionizer's debut album, Caress of Compassion. I was expecting something cosy and comfortable, warm and inviting, and what I heard did not always match those expectations. So, then a 'Caress of Suffering', an almost paradoxical combination of ugliness and beauty wrapped up in twelve exquisite and atmospheric tracks, at once subtle and grandiose."

The caress of compassion is possibly a nod to the compassion of Christ, which can also be called the suffering of Christ. But that Christian imagery is not so much the message of the music (at least, as I hear it), so much as a means to an end. I still reached that end without that means, but it's interesting now to look back and listen again with fresh ears. The first track of Caress of Compassion, I knew only as "Whole" when I was reviewing it. Its complete title is actually The Whole Creation Travaileth in Pain Together, which is a near quote from the Bible equating life as we know it to childbirth. It's a hopeful message of salvation that neither ignores nor dismisses human suffering. Pain is real, and we all experience suffering. There is acknowledgment that pain is not pleasant, and that suffering is miserable. The analogy is to a woman in labour, because we all know that no woman wants that pain, itself, but she is willing to endure it because of the joyful result it brings. That is a universal message, regardless of whether you are theist or atheist, gnostic or agnostic.

Compassionizer's latest album begins with a similar message. Like The Whole?, Follow After Meekness appears to be an abbreviation of a Bible passage. Meekness is one of six traits that are suggested we follow, the others being righteousness, godliness, faith, love, and steadfastness. Meekness in this sense is often given as gentleness, and could even be called? compassion. So, in a sense (even if it is one only of my own thinking), it's the perfect title for the second album, showing us what follows after (Caress of) compassion, as well as providing what seems to me to be the central theme and concept of this new album. To me, An Ambassador in Bonds seems to be a reaction to the world-changing events following the introduction of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The advice given in the Bible, of which following after meekness is part, is mainly about the avoidance of evil, of false doctrine, and pseudo- intellectual debates. I don't think I need to say more, in that respect. Similarly, ?Seat of the Scornful in its title might also imply not taking this "counsel of the wicked".

But this is all speculation on my part, and I should probably attempt to concentrate on what I can actually hear, rather than what I infer. So how does An Ambassador in Bonds sound? Well, quite frankly, marvellous, and Follow After Meekness is not only an impressive introduction to the sound of Compassionizer's latest offering, but is also easily one of my favourite pieces on the album. It's a magnificent opening statement, which also makes clear right from the start, that the experimentation in instrumentation that was begun on the intermediate EP, Your Gold and Silver is Cankered, is continuing. The sound of the harpsichord which I enjoyed on the EP is integrated more effectively into Compassionizer's sound for this album, and never sounds too much. Neither too present, nor overbearing, it provides one more layer of texture and colour to music that blends beautifully with all the others. The sound of An Ambassador in Bonds is fuller than its predecessor, but still contains all the elements of the debut that made it such a delight to listen to.

I love the nod to continuity and connection with a fourth part of Caress of Compassion, before An Ambassador in Bonds serves up its own multi-part title track. The whole affair continues the wonderful melange of styles such as ambient, avant and classical. There are hints of the fabled Canterbury sound, via Constantinople. I love the quite different ways the three parts of the title track approach its melody from quite different directions. And, in a sense, the track Different Sides of Ascension is the album's sound in microcosm: on one side, there is a positivity and optimism that was almost entirely absent in Caress of Compassion; but on the other there remains an undercurrent of unease and uncertainty. But while these are, indeed, two different sides, the victor of the two is shown in the ascension ? for An Ambassador in Bonds is ascendant, and jubilant. This also dovetails nicely with the idea of an ambassador in bonds within the Bible, as while it might seem paradoxical for an ambassador to be in bonds (just as the combination of outwardly contradictory and conflicting styles and moods of Compassionizer might seem paradoxical), the message still rings clear, and is delivered despite any barrier, and without prejudice.

The album concludes with Bear Ye One Another's Burdens, which bookends the album nicely for me, with my interpretation of the album ? even though it may not be the intended one at all. During the last couple of years, those who have followed after meekness, and not sat in the seat of the scornful, and those who have worn the masks, and been vaccinated. Not to protect themselves, but to protect others. Ultimately all precautions against COVID-19 have been based on selflessness, not selfishness. There have been two different sides of ascension, with those who have faced adversity with positivity and taken up the precautions offered ? even when they offer protection more for others than oneself; and those who have expressed unease and uncertainty about those precautions, and even railed against them. I'd like to think that in the world, as on this album, the positivity seems to outweigh the uncertainty, and that the message of compassion and empathy and shared suffering is growing, despite any and all bonds. The bookending, for me, is not just with this album, though, but the predecessor as well. To return to The Whole Creation Travaileth in Pain Together, we are also waiting for the day when the suffering will end and all will be made right. With Bear Ye One Another's Burdens, we are getting closer to that day.

I know there is probably a more personal meaning for Ivan Rozmainsky, and my own interpretation is likely way off the mark, but every listener takes ownership of an album in their own way, and this is how An Ambassador in Bonds speaks to me. An album of the times, for sure ? but absolutely certainly also a timeless album that I shall treasure for years to come.

Report this review (#2688195)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2022 | Review Permalink

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